Traveling Back in Time
The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop (Monday Moop, sorry!)
I look back on the days when we were living in our house in Kenya, and how I would excitedly write up my Sunday Scoop blog post each week. I would have time to think about it, to write it just the way I wanted it, and to choose the right pictures... Those were the days.
Because ever since we've been back on the road in the US, things have been different. Our days are filled with getting miles under our belt, bracing the winds, or cold, or heat, or hail. Sometimes the bike would function, sometimes it wouldn't start at all. And all the while we were nervous about keeping to our strict schedule of Overland events. And we were nervous that we might never reach our destinations.
Even now that we're back in Chicago (we're settling here for the winter), I barely have a moment to write a blog post. So I apologize for the lateness of my stories, but this one I think you'll like. Especially if you know our origin story of Maiden Voyage, and how we took our motorcycle on its first trip out West to Colorado and Utah, you'll understand the significance of us revisiting some of those places.
We had just faced another catastrophic breakdown in Idaho, and with the help of wonderful friends, we had been able to tow the bike to Salt Lake City where it was repaired. Then, to test its "repaired-ness", we had an adventurous weekend in Moab with more friends. Things were really looking up for us.
But we had a schedule to keep, because the next Overland Expo was soon taking place in Flagstaff, Arizona. So we headed south, but realized that we were exactly in the same spot as we were seven years ago during our Maiden Voyage. So we decided to take a little detour on our way to Flagstaff, and retrace our steps from that epic journey seven years ago.
The first place on our list was one of our all-time favorite roads - Route 24 and Route 12 that flows through southern Utah.
This gorgeous piece of perfect pavement goes right through some of Utah's most jaw-dropping scenery - Escalante and its green Dixie forests, Capital Reef National Park and its red cliffs contrasting with white sandstone hills, and an area of gray sands that we like to think of as "straight from a lunar landing".
The road and views were the same as what we remembered, but we were able to see things with a fresh appreciation, and with wisdom that we didn't have before. We've been on so many other roads now, we've ridden through so much other fantastic scenery, that we were able to compare it all. And once again, this road through Utah was up there with some of the finest roads this world has to offer.
And as an added bonus, we decided to see something that we had missed the first time - Goblin Valley. Even though it had been recommended to us previously, we had just decided to keep going, not knowing how much time it would need or how expensive it would be to see.
Well, it turns out that we shouldn't have overlooked the place, because it wasn't very far to go see, and it only costs $10 (for motorcycles)! And once the twisting road made its way up to the apex that overlooked Goblin Valley, we were speechless at the bizarre sight in front of us.
It was like thousands of toadstools had been turned into rocks below us. Some of them were taller, towering into the sky above the tiny people amongst them, but some of them were small and squat, like a chair to sit on. Some of these strange rock-scapes had little windows through which we could see more other-worldly vistas. And I could just imagine myself as I child exploring this unbelievably weird landscape, and thinking that these things were trolls that had stayed out way past their bedtime and were turned to stone with the rising sun.
The day after our trek through this utterly weird world of the goblins, we went to a place that had been a highlight of our Maiden Voyage (besides getting engaged of course) - Bryce Canyon. Seven years ago, Tim had prepared a very special treat for me - he had booked a tipi for us to stay in while at Bryce! He knew that I loved tipis, and that I had once spent a summer in one. And so this was the perfect treat.
Now, nearly a decade later, we pulled up to the same tipi that we had stayed in, just for the fun of seeing it again. It was the one with the turkey painted on it, I remembered, and seeing that nobody was inside, I popped my head in. It was just the same, like those seven years ago were just yesterday.
Next we headed along the road that skirts the edge of Bryce Canyon. Apparently, Bryce Canyon isn't really a canyon at all, since it's one-sided. It's more like a step in a geological uplifting of the land, a place that the winds and freezing rains molded to how they saw fit. And these gods of nature must have liked the idea of making tiny towers of red and orange rocks everywhere, called "hoodoos".
Actually, they're not really tiny (maybe to a god's perspective they are), but again, it feels like another world there - maybe a distant planet, or a fantasy place conjured up in someone's imagination. The colors are just too rich, and the shapes too strange, for this to be anything but a figment of someone's curiosity. A reflection of someone's dream.
We took a hike into the spires, the same hike we had taken before, but this time in reverse. This was a conscience decision we made since we remembered how steep and horrible the final ascent had been. And although no ascent at high altitude is ever easy, the reverse way (going down Wall Street and up Queen's Garden), was much better.
But it almost felt like we had transported ourselves back in time to seven years ago, because everything was exactly the same. The log where we had eaten our snack, and the little fat chipmunk begging for scraps in exchange for posing for photos. The caws of the crows, the smell of the dusty oxygen-deprived wind that had a little bite to it, the weight of the sun's heat on our shoulders...
But most importantly, that same spirit of wanting to take a hundred pictures around every corner, and that excitement for what views would be around the next turn, it was all the same.
From Bryce, we continued our trip down memory lane as we visited some dear friends of ours, Dana and Bill, who have been supporting us on our crazy journeys from the beginning. Dana had first lent us a helping hand at a Walmart parking lot near her home in Utah, and even though we refused it at the time, after a horrible three-day storm in the nearby mountains, we finally took her up on her generosity. And since then, they've been like family. Dana and Bill even attended our wedding two years ago.
It was a wonderful reunion, and there's really nothing better than revisiting wonderful times, and reliving those moments of laughter with good friends. But we could not spend too much time with them, because before we knew it, we had to be in Flagstaff.
Once again, this would not be our first time to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff. The first time for me had been four years ago, and even though several continents of travel separated these moments, when we pulled up to our camp spot amidst the pine trees, it felt like no time had passed. This was truly our own wrinkle in time.
And once again, we were fully booked with presentations, round tables, and book selling (we sold out of our stock and had to order more for the next event!). But those weren't the parts that made the event truly great. It was all the wonderful people we met, people who we'd met before, and people we were meeting for the first time. They were people who knew and loved our stories, people who were just learning about us, and people who shared with us their own tales. Nothing makes us happier than being able to inspire others, and to have that precious exchange with fellow motorcyclists and travelers that the Overland Expo can offer.
But once the Expo was over, our time machine sent us spinning back into the present, as we faced our tires in a whole new direction, for a whole new set of experiences - Overland Expo East in Virginia, and having to cross the country to get there in just 10 days. Would the bike make it? Would this crazy fast-paced, break-neck schedule of ours sour our taste for traveling by road?
If only we could slow time down again... or add an extra hour to our day, or month to our summer. Or year to our travels. If only...
Stay tuned for our next installment of our Sunday Scoop (hopefully it will come out on a Sunday this time), and thank you for staying with us throughout it all.
By the way, the video from our documentary shoot in Colorado is out! It premiered at Overland Expo East to great fanfare. We love it, and I think you'll love it too. You can check it out below.
I'll see you next week.
PLUS, you can also watch our latest video on YouTube about some unbelievable mountain passes that we took through the Rockies! Also, I worked hard to get closed captioning on this one. So take a look!
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