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Tom & Lori
 #1 
As concerns about flooding in the Fargo area became more and more of an issue last week, we decided it would be most prudent to find an alternate route to Moab.  We'd heard of some people who had recently traveled that way and reported that the roads were not that bad....however, as we scanned the North Dakota highway map, we decided it was better to avoid any potential issues.  So, Friday after work, we drove to Estevan, Sask and entered North Dakota Saturday morning.


So Saturday took us all the way to Cheyenne, Wyoming - around 11 hours of driving with stops.  


As often is the case, plan B turned out to be even better than the original.  We had a lot of fun on the drive, enjoying a wide variety of landscapes and new vistas. 


Once in South Dakota, the landscape still offered prairie like views, with frequent bursts of sedimentary hills here and there.

And then, almost without warning the Black Hills appear.  The short drive we took through them was beautiful.


Past the Black Hills we noticed less snow and a change in vegetation - more tumbleweed and yucca plants and classically western scenery.

The alternate route turned out to be a fantastic kaleidoscope of varying landscapes - a great drive.  And, the MobiCool made it possible.  More on that later!
Scott
 #2 

Looks like it's been a good road trip so far guys.  When will you drive out of the snow?  It's finally starting to melt again here - none too soon.  I'm ready for spring (can't exactly ski anymore anyway).  Keep us posted!

Tom & Lori
 #3 
Today we drove from Cheyenne to Moab, Utah via Denver and through the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  The weather was great, except for some super strong winds on the west side of the mountains in Colorado and Utah.  It was so strong that it created an almost dust storm of reduced visibility.


Approaching the mountains, we were still seeing snow from a recent storm that had come through a few days before, even though the temps were up to 16 C.


The first of many tunnels ... this one seemed to be like a gateway to the mountains ahead.  Cool.


Here we see the first bit of red sandstone rock that would be more prevalent as we went west into Utah.


This section of the Interstate Hwy was very cool ... with two levels to the freeway.


Speaking of cool ... tunnels ... what's not to like!


Had to stop for gas and snacks ... so ... we "came and went" at the "Kum & Go" !


At the turnoff from the interstate hwy onto the scenic route to the Colorado River way to Moab, the windstorm was reducing visibility to almost like a fog!  Bad for sightseeing, but kinda cool.


Yup, we were now in open range land!


Driving down into the Colorado River valley the scenery changed completely!


Even with the reduced visibility the drive was breathtaking and Lori snapped a lot of great shots using Tom's GoPro helmet-cam camera to capture the field of view better.


Tom took this picture because it looked neat, but also to show the reduced visibility ... normally in this pic you would see the snow capped LaSal Mountains in the distance.  We will have to come back on a better day.


Even just this one hour drive along the Colorado River was worth the long drive down south!


Checking out the scenery near the trail head/end of the Porcupine Rim MTB Trail, sure made us anxious to get our bikes on the trails.


At our destination ... our cozy little cabin in a campground right in the town of Moab.

Tomorrow ... hopefully a ride up Hurrah Pass and some slickrock riding at Dalton Wells !

Jim and Sharon
 #4 
Your blog was very interesting. Amazing to see from the Amazon! Hope you are having a great trip. Note, we have another e-mail address we forgot about. You can use it until our shaw is up and.  We do hope to set up a blog from herear.
Bye for now.
Love,Jim and Sharon 
Deanna
 #5 

Looks like an awesome adventure guys, and you haven't even started riding yet! Have fun- I'm looking forward to hearing about it and seeing all the pics and videos!

Tom & Lori
 #6 
Our first full day in Moab was a great adventure of riding, driving and hiking around in an awe inspiring world of amazing scenery.  Temps were still only just climbing up into the high single digits (C) and there was still some gusty winds to deal with, so we dressed in our cold weather riding gear.

So we drove up Kane Creek road (incredible canyon route!) toward Hurrah Pass trail, hoping for wind shelter from the ridgeline, but it was not to be.  Tom was debating, but Lori was a trooper and we geared up.  It was hard going at times, but Lori and Tom pressed on and we conquered the Hurrah Pass trail.


The drive toward Hurrah Pass led us along the Colorado river.


Along the way we came upon this adobe shelter, built against the canyon wall.


It looked to be a fairly modern structure, but it was still very cool to step inside.


We happened upon some roadside petroglyphs circa 1000-1200 AD.  Lori is touching the godlike figure who seems to be overseeing a dramatic hunting scene.


The sheer cliff walls continued to rise as we proceeded down into the canyon.


 As we enter the canyon, you can see the switchback jeep trail ahead.   Yikes!


The wind was strong and cold, but the sun made up for it.  Time to start climbing!  However, soon after we start, Tom notices that his front brake is gone (ya know, a Karate Monkey for winter riding would probably fix that !).  Oh well, up we go anyhow. 


Hanging out for a break on the side of the mountain!


We brought some wine and cheese with us for a little picnic! Tom hauled that up of course!


Looking toward the Jeep in the distance, it's hard to believe how far we've come!


Well, we did it!  Whew - can I feel my legs or what!


Lori peers over the cliff is on her belly!  The expanse below is disorienting!


Ahead is a narrow outcropping jutting out from the same cliff edge.  How many idiots have actually climbed onto it to show off???


Miramac and Monitor - two giants named after the fated Civil War ironclad ships.


Dead Horse Point - an amazing isthmus of land jutting out into a great expanse of air rather than water.  At one point the ridge is merely as wide as the road that takes you onto it. 
 
 
The drop is so incredible that one struggles to gain perspective. 


The levels of rock drop in increments until finally, the Colorado river continues to cut its way through the valley.


Sunset at the top of the world, or so it seems!


We ended the day with a delicious Thai supper.  We'll sleep well tonight!

Tomorrow - some slickrock riding at Dalton Wells and the world famous Slick Rock Trail ... after Tom recovers his bike from the Poison Spider Bike Shop!
Scott
 #7 

All great pics guys.  The shot of the large curve in the Colorado River reminds me of Red River (or even Roseau River) oxbows, only a dozen times larger (and much harder to portage over if you want to try to take a 'shortcut').

Tom & Lori
 #8 
Yesterday was a stupendous day of slickrock riding at Dalton Wells and valley cruising the Colorado River!  Weather was a lot nicer with temps up to 12 C and only a mild wind (whew).  Lori said this was the most fun she had ever had on a bike !  Tom was very impressed with Lori's go get'm attitude and quickly improving riding skills on the slickrock (she's always been a good trail rider, but slickrock is a whole new world of uber friction riding ... unless it rains that is, then it is slick!).


The Dalton Wells trailhead was a short drive north of Moab and right off the main hwy.  We geared up, after Tom changed out Lori's Time clipless pedals for some grippy flat ones (this was exactly what Lori needed for increased confidence riding on technical terrain).

 
The jeep trail out to the slickrock area was fun and had some deep sandy spots for challenge as well ...


There was a mixture of terrain and rock types on the way that made this short ride in interesting ...


Finally ... the slickrock playground !  The area started out with a gentle slope up hill and moderate crevasses ... perfect for Lori to get her slickrock riding confidence up ...


It didn't take long ...


Before Tom knew it ... he stopped to change camera batteries and ... off she went cruising and looking for more challenge ... she found it!



The cool thing about this ride was that Tom was able to challenge himself and get a proper workout while Lori could ride within her comfort level.  Both of us got an excellent workout from this 3 hour ride !


Lori has been increasingly curious about the geology of the area - the various seaming and coloration in the rock is apparent everywhere.  On the way out we stumbled upon an odd black rock that appeared to be from a small coal seam. 


We drove up to a viewing point to eat our lunch - both of us very pleased with the ride.


We took a sunset drive along the scenic route to revisit some of the sights obscured by dust as we first approached the park.


Here we stumbled upon 'Negro Bill Canyon'.


We hiked in as far as our legs would allow after our slickrock ride!


Amazing scenery along the way racing to one of Tom's favorite spots before the sun went down.


The snow-capped La Sal Mountain range was totally obscured during our drive in to Moab - here they are visible now behind the valley buttes.


We happened upon an old homestead on the Colorado circa 1900.  The owner was the mail carrier for the area and his elderly mother is buried behind the homestead. It would have been a breathtaking and imposing spot to live...



Hello!  A well earned dinner - with bubbly!!

Today's forecast calls for some rain ... so off to Arches Nat'l Park for a drive and some hiking ...

Whitey Scott
 #9 

"Negro Bill Canyon" - they don't name them like that anymore.  Looks like another great day of riding guys.  Really cool that you can both get in great rides at levels you are both comfortable with.

Whitey Farmer Tan Lori
 #10 
Yep...there's a story there no doubt....
Tom & Lori
 #11 
Well the weather forecast yesterday was pretty bang on ... cooler, moister, windy and some precip ... great day for adventuring in Arches National Park.  The drive through the park from early in the day to almost sunset was spectacular!  We went on a long hike to see some really cool arches off some trails that had more than a few vertical challenges in store for Lori (which she overcame like a champ!!).  Tom packed in a great lunch which Lori prepared and served like a banquet ... awesome !  It was a fabulous day and a great memory/foreshadow of a season of adventure ahead!!


Arches Nat'l Park is just a few minutes drive north of Moab and right after passing the gates you drive up a steep switchback road that quickly provides great vantage points to see the vistas.


We stopped a the top of the switchback from where you can clearly see the Moab Fault.  When the earth's crust breached here, the range on the right sunk many hundreds of feet.  Tom remembers biking up and down these switchbacks with Brian Dyck last year during a rather epic roadie ride through Arches ... good times!


Next came the Courtyard Towers ... you really have to see this spot in 360 to soak in the amazing vista!


One feels really small in places like this ... Wow!


Next up was the Balanced Rock ... which used to have a smaller cousin, but it fell in back in the 50s or so ...


While hiking around the Balanced Rock, the weather turned a bit more sour and we were glad to be not riding on slickrock ... with the moisture coming!


Next enroute to our main hike, we stopped for a short excursion to the Skyline Arch ... worth the stop for sure!


Lori doing her usual investigation of trail details and geological insights to the area at the Devils Garden Trailhead.


The trail starts out rather spectacularly and on a wide easy trail.


Approaching Landscape Arch the snow started to come down with a crisp wind and we noticed most hikers were suddenly heading back ... not us Canucks though!


In 73, hikers were eating their lunch under this Landscape Arch, when they heard a cracking/popping sound ... they ran away before a huge chunk fell away from under the right side of the arch.  You can see where it broke away from and the remains below.  Unfortunately, now we can not hike underneath. 

 
Beyond this point, the trail gets a lot more challenging (due to some recent re-routing to avoid a trail section where another collapse happened last year).  Soon we came upon a high exposed rock fin crossing just when the snow and wind picked up!  To go ahead of not?


Lori was very nervous (not so happy with heights normally), but also wanted to press on (Carpe Diem ... you're gonna die some time anyways!).  Tom lead the way ... hand-in-hand guiding Lori up onto and across the fin ... awesome job Lori (Tom's very proud)!


And this was the reward on the other side ... the clouds moved by and the view was clear!


Then we hiked on a fair ways over a few more challenges to arrive at our destination ... the Double O Arches ... worth every step!


 
We were all alone at what seemed like the top of the world (except for the high arch above us) and we just soaked in the view for awhile.


Lori in her own space, absorbing the landscape, while Tom tools around ...

 
The sun came out when Lori prepared our lunch ... and right above us was the top arch framing our view of the sky !


On the way back the lighting changed and each view looked different than on the way up.

 
So ended an unforgettable 4 hour hike!


On the drive back, we stopped at the "Windows" area to check out more arches ...


This is the main Windows arch, but there were at least four others as well ... in the surrounding landscape.


The sun was setting on our drive out and the great views just seemed to continue ...


A well earned supper at the end of another great day!

Today's plan:  riding Klondike Bluffs and possibly more time at the slickrock playground at Dalton Wells....

Scott
 #12 

Boy, that terrain is unlike anything else huh?  I've driven thru the area but have never spent any real time there - it looks like quite the experience.  Keep enjoying it!

Tom & Lori
 #13 
Our last full adventure day in Moab was a momentous one to say the least!  We planned to complete a bike ride up to Klondike Bluffs (a fairly long one of varied terrain) and a trip to Canyonlands Nat'l Park for a scenic drive (that's what Tom promised anyways!)  It turned out to be a perfect day for both activities.  We will always remember this day because it was outrageously fun and Lori challenged herself on slickrock, sand and a super fast technical ride down ... and came out unscathed!!


We parked right off the highway and rode the 4 miles in on jeep road to the trailhead/parking lot.


We set out with Klondike Bluffs ahead on the horizon, with a packed lunch we hoped to eat on at the top.  The variety of terrain and riding surfaces made the journey unique and motivating.


Not long after we started riding up onto a slickrock section we noticed the first of many dinosaur foot prints that we had been told to watch for ... funny enough these are not protected except for some rocks surrounding them!  We felt like we were in some kind of surreal time warp as we casually rode by the evidence of these creatures from eons ago!


Finally the temperature warmed enough that we could peel the layers down and enjoy riding in the sun !


Close to the end of the riding section up to the bluffs we reached a view point where we could see all the way back to our starting point.  Tom was very pleased with how strong Lori had ridden and with her improving slickrock skills.


At the boundary of Arches Nat'l Park you have to leave your bikes and hike up to the bluffs.


The view at the top was amazing and worth every effort!


This attempted panorama still doesn't do the view justice.  Tom climbed further out to a narrow ledge to capture these pictures ...


... Lori preferred to be in her secure little hole (still only a dozen feet from the edge) and get our lunch ready.  Our snacktime view included the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the distance.


When we started riding down the rocky trail and slickrock, Tom was a little concerned about speed and technical difficulty for Lori ... not to worry, Lori rode with control and aggression, picking good lines and using speed as her friend!  Every time Tom looked back, over or ahead at Lori, she was smiling !


Once again, Lori felt like this ride had been the most fun she had ever had on a bike (even better than our great ride at Dalton Wells) !!!


Next up, we drove to Canyonlands Nat'l Park to checkout the Shafer Trail/Road that Tom had heard about from Brian D.  As it was, once we started driving around the White Rim road section it became clear that the drive down the Shafer Road switchbacks was going to be a lot steeper than expected!


Quote from Lori: "You want us to drive down that??"!  During our careful slow descent, we really appreciated our trail rated Jeep (thanks Scott & Deanna for the tip).


The drive out of the canyon on the rest of the Shafer Trail was full of scenic views and more than a few challenges for our Jeep!  This is a really rough road!!


Catching a glimpse of the Colorado River across from our recent Hurrah Pass ride was cool.


The rough and slow drive out of the canyonlands lead to use just making it back to the pavement by nightfall.
... a full day and a relief as well !
Scott
 #14 

Looks like another awesome day guys.  Lori, your arms are looking pretty good btw (looks like you've been doing a little delt work ).  More great pics! (and commentary).

Lori
 #15 
Why thank ya Scott!  As a matter of fact, I have been working very hard on my upper body since Christmas and it is nice to see some of it pay off.  Lot's more work to do though ...
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