More Jeeps than you can shake a tire iron at…

From the incredible solitude of our wonderful spot out at Goblin, we rolled into Moab, – and the craziest week of the year there. It was spring break, and the annual Easter Jeep fest, where 90,000 4-wheelin’ fans descend upon the area to climb anything over curb height, including curbs. We knew we wouldn’t be able to reserve a campsite, and most of the boondocking (dry camping out on BLM land) spots were pretty full too, but we managed to find a pretty good spot in an OHV area, on the fringe, somewhat hidden in the rocks. Normally this would not be our first choice, but, hey, we weren’t in a position to be choosy right about now. It was fun seeing everyone playing on their dirt vehicles and starting up conversations with the nearby campers.

We met our neighbors, a couple of nice guys working for a company that made portable vehicle refrigerators and had a booth with their wares out at Jeep fest. They had brand new, matching 4-Runners, all decked out with roof tents and the latest adventure camping gear. That was their life — drive around, camp, and talk about the high-tech coolers with anyone who would listen. Pretty fun job! Although they admitted that setting up the roof tent every night, especially in the rain, could get old.

Our camp mates informed us that we were lucky it was quiet here last night. They were there the previous night and the people camping next to them had kids ripping around on ATVs in circles until midnight, and the dad was drunk off his ass and yelling at someone until a similar hour. Fortunately, they moved on and we had a much quieter evening.

The next day, Clare and I took a moto ride through the 4WD back road into Arches National Park and explored Delicate Arch and surrounding areas. It was a beautiful day and the spring break families were out in full force. As I sat up on cliff next to the Delicate Arch monument, after huffing and puffing our way up the steep grade for a mile-and-a-half, I looked at the crowds of people crawling around like little ants next to a beautifully carved giant sugar cube. Normally I would be put off by crowds, but I began to feel grateful that so many people were eager and willing to make the trek up here to appreciate this natural wonder. This is a good sign. They could be at Disneyland, but they chose here – at least for this trip.

We then returned to camp, switched to our mt. bikes, and hit the trails of the Klonzo riding area. Slick rock and cinder trails that spider webbed the rolling hills made for some fun riding -– although our styles of navigation differed wildly. I made some concessions, and we eventually ended up right where we started, no problem.

With the next sunrise, we packed and headed out to Valley of the Gods. I have to admit, I took a lesson from my son and watched a few YouTube videos on boondocking in the area, and I saw one spot out there that looked amazing. I dropped a GPS pin and decided we’d head out there. Sure, it could likely be taken already, but we held a positive vision of camping at this spot, or something better. As we entered the area and drove up the winding dirt road, there were campers here and there, but it wasn’t very crowded. We neared our pin-dropped spot and to our amazement, it was waiting for us! Such a beautiful spot, with a panoramic view in all directions of the incredible monuments. We marveled at the sunset, then slept like babies in absolute peace and quiet. (I don’t know where that expression ever came from as many babies I’ve known don’t always sleep that reliably)

Up before sunrise, we hurried outside to bask in the morning glow. It was magical. We took some photos, and soaked up the wonder. We then decided to pack up the moto, Leo, and drive the dirt road through the Valley of the Gods. About a mile into our ride, my motorcycle started acting weird and would not shift down from 4th gear. This could be a problem if we actually wanted to stop and start again. It is especially hard with a bike loaded with 2 people, backpacks, and a dog in a box. Just about the same time, Leo decided he would rather run than ride and jumped out! Although he was still tied to the box, he somehow managed to hurl himself out and was now dangling by his harness above the ground. Fortunately, this happened just as I had slowed down due to my shifting problem and we were barely moving, and we quickly stopped and untied him, but of course, it freaked us out — and that was the end of his riding in a box. He had done perfectly on our other rides, sitting nicely in the back without moving, so it was quite a surprise. We turned around and Clare walked Leo the mile back to our camp, while I hobbled the bike back in 4th gear.

I inspected the bike more closely and found the shifter to be sticking, so pulled out the trusty toolbox and did some adjusting. It now worked perfectly again, and just in time as Clare and Leo returned on foot. I realized that this was a good thing. Our little Yamaha knew that Leo would not be safe on this ride so he gave me a little mechanical mishap to slow me down and safely discharge Leo without anyone getting hurt. We were close enough to walk back and keep Leo safe in the camper. We could have been miles and miles from camp, and going much faster when he jumped. Now Clare and I could head out again on our own and have an amazing afternoon.

We toured through the Valley of the Gods, then headed up a steeply graded gravel road, called Moki Dugway. The views were incredible and although the switchbacking, single-lane passage was a bit nerve-wracking, we arrived at the top and found yet another beautiful viewpoint. We returned to camp, packed up, and hit the road for Durango.

Just past Mesa Verde, we stopped for the night at an Alpaca farm, part of the Harvest Host network. Tomorrow morning we’ll meet the alpacas and maybe help feed them!

Believe things will work out, and they will.

When your motorcycle tells you to slow down, there is usually a good reason.

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