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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Flipping Through The Pages Of Our Lives...

"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple."
--Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Sometimes, a simple photograph tells the story for which you can't find words...

Back in early March Bobbie and I started keeping an eye on the weather while recreating in and around the Village of Oak Creek. Ah, March...a transitional month that can't seem to make up its mind. Sweet as a lamb one minute, sour as an unmerciful beast the next. 

In Rv life, as well as life itself, timing is everything. March is when we think about pointing Rv Dazy north to Eastern Utah, only 4 hours from home in Lovely Ouray. I prefer sweet lambs over sour beasts, but one thing for sure: If you stay there a few days you will likely get both.

Thus, we don't normally head for Utah until mid to late March. Better too sunny and warm than being pinned indoors by wind and cold. No matter how loud the Moab Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau trumpets March's daily average of High and Low temps, the truth is that the weather in and around the Klondike area is seldom "average" in Eastern Utah. "Average" temps and wind speed are at best, misleading, and at worse, an outright lie, because "Averages" are derived from two oppositional extremes. Translation? In March, you will likely freeze to death or fry like bacon...or Both. 

So, feeling the departure time "noose" cinching tighter and tighter, we figured we had two options. One, move north to our Klondike boondock and grin and bear Old Man Winter's sputtering fury for the first half of March, or two, backtrack south to McDowell Mountain Park near Fountain Hills where the weather better suits my clothes. Both options offer hiking and biking opportunities, so that's a "wash." That pretty much made our decision dependent on an accurate extended forecast for the Moab area (FYI: there is no such thing). 

McDowell Mountain Park's extended forecast projected highs in the mid to upper 60s, while the Klondike area in Utah called for highs in the mid 50s, but with lows dipping at or below freezing. Hmmm. Not too bad if you are working hard and there is no wind (FYI: there's always wind in March around Moab). 

Still, "glass-half-full" optimists that we strive to be, we continued to check long range forecasts right up until departure day. Verdict? Cooler than we'd like, but doable. "Bang!" We rolled the dice and pointed Dazy's bug-splattered grille north.

Eight sore-bun hours later we rolled through greater Moab, barely awake and still wiping winter's sleep from it's eyes. Having been run off by the Pandemic last year, we were surprised to find that at least 4 new hotels had been built. I guess it's true, find a purdy place and you can't stop "progress." Obit will read: Moab: Death caused by location. Another once quaint town bites the dust.  

Another 30 minutes north put us at our favorite boondock, a hilltop camp only a stone's-throw from Arches National Park's western border. Life is Good, till it isn't...

Having been disappointed many times (almost every time, actually) we knew better than to base our plan on a likely fickle forecast. But since it didn't waver for a week leading up to our departure day, well, we assumed (ass/u/me). 

I have a running question that no one has ever been able to answer to my satisfaction: Why do forecasts always seem to fail toward the miserable side and rarely to the pleasant side? Not to be a weather-whiner, but I can't remember the last time we planned a weather-based outing where the weather turned out to be better than the forecast. You'd think it would be a 50-50 chance. But noooo. 

So, as you might have guessed, one day after arriving in camp the forecast crumbled like an unwrapped week old slice of banana bread left in the microwave. 

I've been here over three weeks at this writing, and have broken a sweat only twice. Since the wind is a constant here (except for summer, when you really need a breeze), any temp below 50 feels like thirty something. I've even been forced to don long pants, damnit!

But at least Bobbie is happy, coming and going from home in Lovely Ouray and "cherry picking" weather windows. 

I guess I'll spare you all but one of the many "stories" that's happened since arriving here in the Klondike (you're welcome). 

While Bobbie was at home in Lovely Ouray—in full command of the TV remote and fully warmed and reclined in my hearthside chair—I decided to take on the Alaska Loop bike ride. 

The Alaska Loop is a 25-ish mile ride (from camp) that involves 7 trail changes to circumnavigate the outer perimeter of Klondike's inner maze of mountain bike trails. My past times range from well under four hours on cool days, to over 6 hours on hot windy days, one in particular that required all my water, two Gatorades, 3 Cliff Power Bars, and multiple caffeinated Shot Blocs to get me back to camp. But this was a "cool day" ride, a joyful romp where I crashed only once :).

The Alaska Loop, for me anyway, is not a trepidation free ride. There's more than a few places that'll clinch your butt cheeks to the saddle. What can I say. The overall experience is challenging enough, long enough, and rewarding enough to put a smile on my face that lasts till head hits pillow. Then I get up and get to do it again. Life is really good.

I've went OTB twice on this section before "cleaning" it a couple years ago

Red dirt, boulders, white sandstone and snowcapped La Sal Mountians. What could be better when it's mud season in Lovely Ouray?

The Alaska route climbs an up-and-down thousand feet before it culminates on a rambling ridge line where the trail scenically snakes along offering 360 degree panoramas suitable for framing.

Salt Valley, with Arches National Park beyond. Definitely a No Claustrophobia Zone.

A good portion of the Alaska Loop bounces over rough sandstone. A color-coded dotted line marks the route...

Another vantage point of the La Sal Mountains in the distance, Salt Valley below, and Arches National Park to the left. So alluring, Utah.

The mesmerizing trail snakes between car-sized boulders

Yet another ridge top view

 Needless to say, I made the ride and lived to tell the story. What I saw and felt though, could fill a book.

Below is a representative collection of photos from various hikes and bike rides since we arrived in The Red Desert...

"Marching Men"

Spiral Petroglyph...some believe it is associated with water

Dinosaur Track

It is said that a professional writer is nothing more than an amateur who doesn't quit. Perhaps. But I have yet to get a check in the mail after over ten years of drivel. A real writer can fill a blank page on an "off" day, when there is little to no inspiration. It's their job, just like when we went off to our respective treadmills 5 days a week in order to get a paycheck. Imagine the self doubt and anxiety of being a writer who never gets published or paid. With a blog, well, at least I get "published." 

It seems I can only write nonfiction. My true life stories evolve from simple outings, albeit some of the most dramatic settings. They involve the usual suspects, you know, mountains, deserts, flowers, waterfalls. Easy peasy. It's not like I climb Everest or trek across the Sahara, for Christ's sake. Then I take a few (ok, lots) of my better photos and wrap them with a few paragraphs of ornamental drivel in hopes that it might inspire someone, somewhere to get outdoors and move around. I guess one could say it's my "purpose," small as it is, at least until something better or more productive comes along. 

But good things can come from aimless, small beginnings. It is those photos and that drivel that ushers me back in time, to memories of thoughts and feelings and inspiration that would have otherwise been long forgotten in a week or two. I mean, think about your last trip or any previous vacation. You have photos to remind you where you went, but how many of us can remember how we felt...our actual thoughts or ideas or goals that came as a result of visiting a certain landscape? What did you think and how did you feel the first time you stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon? A mountaintop? A rocky cliff face overlooking an angry sea? Did it not move you or inspire?

I think that's why we should write shit down more. Because someday, when mind, body and spirit are withered and wrinkled by toil and time, someone might just enjoy or possibly take inspiration from flipping through a few pages of our lives. I don't know, Me thinks it's better than a headstone with a brief epithet that summarizes an entire lifetime. 

If one doesn't live for something, they just might die for nothing. Think about it...      

Peace out, and try to get outdoors for a refreshing hike.

Mark, boondocked in the Klondike area of Eastern Utah, and Bobbie, coming and going from home in Lovely Ouray every other week or so.


  1. You inspire me, Mark. Another tiny dot in the universe here, but your words and photos reach me always. I wish I had written down more shit back in the days when my life was truly scary, amazing, challenging, and much more interesting. I did journal back then, but they were so full of drivel that last year I finally burned them. It was embarrassing to read how I thought back then. Thank goodness since I turned 60 or so, I am not embarrassed to read what I have written about how I felt when seeing or doing something new and wonderful, or experiencing something terrible. At least my brain is a little bit less stupid than it was back then.

    1. I always, always so appreciate your support, Sue. I enjoy your occasional photos of you at work as a Soil Scientist, too, way out in the middle of nowhere!

  2. Kelli and I just returned from a quick getaway before our season starts. The views were definitely not as breathtaking as your photos! I always enjoy your “drivel” ... it fuels me to keep grinding away at our “plan” to hopefully... someday... maybe walk in your red dirt foot prints or better yet pedal in those same tracks. Love you Big Guy!

    1. I honer your comment and your commitment. You and Kelli make a great team, so it's just a matter of time. I just hope I can still get around good enough to go with you and share some special places. This lifestyle is sure hard on old bones and muscles.
      Love you BOTH! Should be a busy season again this year :)

  3. Great post ... writing and photos! Now Utah is calling me.

  4. I always love reading your thoughts and seeing your lovely photos. While I don't miss blogging at all I am really glad that I have the blog to look back on and relive our time on the road. Who knows, when we buy our next RV I may actually blog about our trips once again. You are inspirational!

    1. Thanks Lisa, sounds like you get me, ha ha. Another Rv? It will be interesting to see if you downsize this time around :)

  5. Well it's nice to have boots on the ground feeding back both weather and trail reports. We roll out of LA on Monday, east to Flagstaff and then north to Moab with a few stops on the way. Plan to be in Moab mid April and look forward to a tour or two if you're still in the hills.

    1. I've got a tour for you :)...maybe 3 or 4 :). Hope it's not too hot by then!
      Let's Ride!!!

  6. Four more hotels? Really? Sounds like Moab is more overrun than the last time we were there. At times it felt like we were trapped in a Mad Max movie, given all the ATV's..........

    1. Moab sold its soul to satan decades ago and is now overrun with loud obnoxious ATV Razors zooming around in town and on the backroads. They seem to run in packs on the "trail" and you can hear them for MILES. Only a few take the time to slow down when passing a hiker or biker. If I had one wish to be granted I would legislate some sanity and quiet and common sense into that marketplace.

    2. Yeah it did, used to be a great place, now not so much. Know what you mean about hearing the damn things for MILES, we hiked the Jeep Arch trail in 2017 and there were a pack of them on roads the next hill over, sounded like a damn ATV race. For the life of me I don't know why that is fun. BTW, thanks for the kind words on Allison's blog. Rubber side down!! :)

  7. Thanks for the post mate.
    Although blogs are seemingly dying, you are spot on with your observation. A blog is simply an online diary (well, mine is) to record where, when and how it went for me to reminisce upon. If it inspires others to "get out and have a go" then all the better.
    I hope it warms up for you soon.

    1. Thanks for your comment from afar, Flyboy. I took a look at your blog and enjoyed a few of your outings!!

  8. Hmmm . . . always love your stunning photos, it's probably 60 percent why I follow you since I can't be there to see it myself. The other 40 percent is your wordsmithing skills! You've got a way with expressing your emotions and mindset. Your blog is much MUCH more than an online diary, it's more like having conversational buddy-time, a sharing of our humanity. And for that small pleasure in my life, thank you Mark :)

    1. Thanks for your gracious comment Terri, especially "wordsmith" one. It helps to refuel my oft empty tank and motivates me to not slip into becoming just another dull lazy blogger on the internet.
      With much appreciation, Mark

  9. Thanks for the trip! Love your photos and stories. Cousin Deb


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