Monday, December 24, 2012

Seeing things

I'm up here mostly alone in the house for the break. It's quiet, clean, and I love it. But before I knew it, I was going stir-crazy. You see, I stepped out the front door one day to find this message in the snow. See it?
Too small for a mere human to urine-write. It must've been a small local canine with advanced, under-appreciated intelligence. I was sure it said something. But in in what language?

I had to get out of here. 
So out came the maps. Moab is nice this time of year, right? It's a desert; there'll be clear trails and warm temps. I'll have myself a weekend, riding getaway.
The further west I got, the less hope I had for those warm temps. Glenwood Canyon on I-70 was an hour long traffic jam. Car in park, engine off type of traffic jam. Icy roads led to a multi-car and tractor trailer pile up. Grand Junction: snow. Fruita: snow. A little farther, surely it'll all be gone...
Wait a minute...that's a lot of snow. This is Utah?
And then I crossed the border into Utah. I really should've checked if there'd be snow. Now, before you completely write off my western adventurer credentials, I did check the temperatures before I left. It wasn't much warmer than Estes Park, but 40 and sunny sounded doable. I just didn't expect as much of the white stuff as there was. I'm gonna consider this a learning experience. 
Cold enough for icicles  
After a long morning exploring my options and a parking lot breakfast of bacon n' egg croissant sandwiches, cooked up on a whisperlite, I settled on a route. I parked at the end of Willow Springs Rd and ventured into the trail network between 191 and Arches National Park. I had my Salsa El Mariachi and my All City Nature Boy with me. Unlike the guy who's route I was trying to re-create, I opted for skinnier tires. Glad I did. The gravel roads I stuck to had truck tracks to follow and I appreciated the taller gear and speed. Plus, cross riding in the snow is just a good time.
Slick rock enhanced with a thin layer of ice and snow
What was far more disturbing than driving 7hrs to ride in snow when I could've stayed home and done the same, was all the evidence of fracking. I'm fairly familiar with it's nasty environmental effects and knew exactly what all the pipes and pumping stations scattered throughout the relative wilderness were. Last year some time, back in State College, I went to a protest against this dirty energy extraction. Not necessarily because I thought it mattered that I was there; more for the experience. Maybe I could look cool one day in a hippie round of never-have-I-ever.  Not so sure what the point of standing around looking pissed-off is. Anyway, I learned even more about how the Mid-Atlantic is dealing with it, or more so how the gas industry was taking over. Out in Moab it's clear they're winning as well. 
I nearly gagged holding this pose @ a fracking site. Or was it the fumes??
polka dotted saddle compliments of mud on the way back
Before I tucked tail and drove back east to Testes Park, I dished out the ten dollars to do a quick drive through Arches. I could almost hear Edward Abbey rolling in his grave. I didn't feel too good about it myself. It was worth it, but was more like the protest: just for the experience. It seemed a strange thing to do to drive around incredible rock formations for less than an hour that took millions upon millions of years to form. It's all hard to grasp, and in my cold, tired, and bitter state of mind, I didn't really try to.

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