The good: Take your breath away beauty of the park!
The bad: The heat.
The ugly: My new Shoei Qwest helmet SUCKS! Right about 45 minutes into the ride,
right after putting my helmet on, I get this vice grip like pain on the
sides of my head right above my ears. It's so painful it makes me have
to pull over to take the helmet off. Luckily, we weren't traveling very
far and were not in a big hurry because, we really did have to pull over
just about every 45 minutes to an hour. It sucked! My new prescription
glasses are also too tight. Between the two of them, it was miserable.
We left on Tuesday morning, not terribly early, avoiding morning rush hour traffic. Starting mileage:
Our destination, home base for the trips into the park, was Fruita, CO. It's a small town that makes it's living off the mountain bikers who come to the area. Fruita is less than 2 hours from Moab, UT. We stayed at the La Quinta, which was just fine. Across the parking lot was the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park
It was a nice little park with the names of the casualties from Colorado and the western slope engraved in a display. There was a helicopter as well. One of the names of the pilots was the same last name as two of the board members who built the monument. I'm guessing they were the children of the pilot. His name was not engraved on the list of casualties.
We ate dinner at the Rib City place in the background of the above photo. It wasn't untasty. I even had catfish that was pretty good. And the beer was ice cold, albeit they were small glasses. And it was right across the street; can't beat that.
On Wednesday we traveled to the Colorado National Monument
for the first time. Here we are, the happy couple, gearing up to go!
We were actually staying just outside the park so the views from the hotel were pretty amazing. As we walked to and from dinner, I would stop to stare at the cliffs. When we got to the park entrance, it was something else altogether. Amazing!
Here is the obligatory park entrance photo:
We stopped at the first scenic pullout which provided a view of a fault line that runs through the park. If you look closely you can see it. It's slightly above and to the left of the red roof and is a lighter colored rock just jutting out.
It travels all the way up to where we were standing. Here it is right behind me.
We rode a bit farther and stopped at another pullout. At this point I said to my hubby, "I hope you don't mind but I'm going to stop at every single pullout to look at the scenery." We'd only traveled a few feet into the park at this point. The road through is 23 miles. :-) I took this video (hopefully it works) to try to get the panoramic view. The colors just aren't as vibrant in the video as they actually were.
I also took this from my bike:
The next stop was at the visitors center which is 4 miles in from the west entrance. There was a short film about the geology of the area and the other usual things you'd find in a park service visitors center. We ventured out on our first hiking trail from here as well.
There was also a canyon view overlook:
The trail was fairly natural and flat. It was marked by rock cairns which were pretty easy to find. But, we did manage to get off trail a bit. Some of the cairns had been knocked over and there were other piles that looked like they had been cairns but really they weren't. But, I really liked the fact that there wasn't a well worn path to follow. It made the scenery seem less spoiled. Here are some shots from our hike.
We were heading towards the Bookcliff Overlook which was about a half mile from the trail head. We took our time, stopping often for photos, to look at cool rocks, to look for cool lizards, and to look for the actual trail. We found a neat shady spot with a nice view so we decided to have some lunch there. It was right below this building with a triangular roof. Were really weren't sure what it was but we thought we'd head up to it after our lunch break.
Hubby in our shady lunch spot:
Our view from out lunch spot:
Rippled rock, evidence of the forces that created this part of the planet:
This fire broke out while we sat there for lunch. It seemed to be under control after a bit. Although, we did see more smoke the next day.
When we walked up to the building above us we discovered, it was actually the Bookcliff Overlook!
We were not too far off the trail but we weren't actually on the trail either I suppose. :-) Apparently though, I didn't take any photos of the bookcliffs. (But, you can sort of see them in the fire photo above. They're the formation along the background.)
After lunch we headed back to the visitors center as it was getting quite hot. We didn't feel the need to walk the other half mile to the Window Rock view. Next time.
Back at the visitors center, a guy on a Harley pulled up and parked next to us as we were gearing up to hit the road. We greeted each other and I asked him how it was going. He said he'd had two flat tires and a busted belt all just that day! Bummer. He headed inside to refill his gallon sized water jug. It was hanging from the large carabiner on the back. Check out his bike! I wonder how many miles he has on it, where he was going, where he was coming from. He has several Gremlin bells hanging beneath the front end. There's also a vice grip that appears to be holding his rear tire on. Crazy! Love the ammo cans for saddle bags. And those are several bungee chords wrapped around his forks. (I love motorcycling!)
From there we got back on the bikes to travel the remaining 19 miles on the rim road. We made a few stops to take photos but didn't hike any more as it was getting too hot. We also decided to only stop at the pullouts on our side of the road. We'd decided to return the next day to ride the rim road in the opposite direction. We made stops at Independence Rock, the Coke Ovens, and Ute Canyon Overlook.
|We did not do this hike. Next time. Maybe. It looks hard.|
It was a long beautiful day!
For dinner, we had out eye on this pizza joint in town that serves New Belgium on tap. It was about a mile walk which was a nice way to stretch the legs after a long hot day in the saddle. The Hot Tomato Cafe
did not disappoint.
The beers were cold and we had a nice spot at the bar. It's a small
place with as much outdoor seating as there is inside. The bartender
gave me some stickers which I added to my side case. :-)
Did I mention that Fruita is a cycling town?
It was the best day! I was blown away at my good fortune to be able to ride my motorcycle, with the love of my life, to such a beautiful place.