Monday, October 10, 2016

Three Old Ladies in a Wagon and a Guy

Eric told me I should title this Three Hawt Gals in a Wagon and a Dude but I think I'll stick with what I have ;-)

About a week ago, my friend Lydia sent me a message asking if I wanted to attend Harrison Eurosports' weekend event at the Zion Ponderosa.  I had seen notice of this event previously but waited too long to sign up.  So, when Lydia's invite came, I jumped at the opportunity.  Yes, yes, yes, I'll take the little bed in the covered wagon at the Zion Ponderosa Resort!  Yippee, adventure time!

Zion Ponderosa Resort is just about 75 miles from home, just the other side of Zion National Park.  An easy two hour ride for me.  I checked out the  Ponderosa's website and was kind of wowed by it.  Our registration fee for the event included breakfast Saturday and Sunday.  They have an onsite restaurant so we wouldn't have to ride for meals.

Anyway, I was excited for another adventure and even more excited when Lydia told me that Kerri would be the third person in the wagon!  Yay!  I only knew Kerri from Facebook but knew I would adore her and was looking forward to meeting her in person.

Okay, the cast is set, Lydia, Kerri and I all going to share a covered wagon for two nights!
But, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.  First I had to get there!  I left Friday after lunch around 2:00 pm and rode to Zion National Park.  Oh my heck!  I think the line to get into the Park was the longest I've ever seen!  Gack....oh well, nothing to do but wait in line.  I finally got past the entrance gate and took the laboriously slow ride up, up, up the mountain.  Of course, there was a long line to enter the tunnel, so I waited some more.  I snapped these two pics while waiting because there wasn't anything else to do.  Unfortunately, my XM radio wasn't working - I think my dongle is dead :-(  The scenery was stunning so that did keep my attention for a bit!

 Occasionally I was able to get into second gear.  Yeah, that tells you how sloooooowwwww it was going through the Park.  I happened to get behind a tourist van with a big trailer and they would not pull over.  Although they did slow down and put on the brakes for every single curve and corner on the road.  My turn-off to the Zion Ponderosa was only two miles beyond the Park's east entrance so I just doodled along in first and second gear.  I was hoping once out of the Park where the speed limit goes up to 55 that this van might step on it.  No such luck and even worse......they took the turn to Zion Ponderosa!  No!  Crap....

More putt, putt, putt along.  Some bikes rode in behind me and one brave (or crazy) rider zoomed past me and the slow tourist van.  I stuck behind the van, waiting ever so impatiently until I had a good opportunity to pass and then I gunned it.  Success!  I was now in front of the van and had a couple of other bikes behind me.  I twisted the wick just a bit and dove in and out of the twisties with a huge grin on my face.  I found the turn for Zion Ponderosa and almost, just almost, dumped the bike because I had to stop rather quickly and make a left turn.  Good thing the bikes behind me were paying attention!  We all arrived at the Pondersosa in one piece, excited to get our lodging sorted and check out the place.

Here I am at the front of the resort.  I was the first of the Three Old Ladies group so I picked up the keys and went in search of the covered wagon that would be our abode for the next two nights.
 I wound around on a black top road and waved to the guys who had been behind me and already located their cabin.  I spied some canvas through the trees and thought, yes, that's it!  So I rode into that area over a bunch of sharp loose gravel, ick.  And guess what? They were the "glamping" tents, not the covered wagons.  Yay!  I had to get Beastie Bike turned around and back out the way I came.  On to another dirt, rutted road, looking left and right and there!  Yes, over there!  Yes, over that ditch I could see the wagons.  Pfftt, how to get there from here?  I had two choices, cross the ditch where there were two big culverts kind of covered with dirt or take a little road that had some serious ruts from erosion.  Nice choice, eh?  I choose the culverts and was very thankful when I successfully made the crossing.  I still had to ride a small section of the rutted road but managed to just point Beastie Bike in the right direction, pick up my feet and motor on.

I found a nice place to park just off some pavement.  Yeah, I later found out I could have ridden a paved road right to the wagons.  Hahahaha, my adventure was just beginning :-)  I unloaded my stuff and opened the wagon door.  First of all, I was surprised it had a door.  I expected canvas tied with a rope or something.  Anyway, it had a door and this is what I found inside!
 The bed in the back is a double and on each side a single.  The little space between the two single beds is no narrow (how narrow is it?) that I couldn't turn around with my boots on!  I had to pick up my foot and turn it and then do the other foot.  Hahahahaha, cozy!  I got my stuff sorted, changed into civilian clothes and made myself a cocktail.  Yeah, sure I did!  But, I didn't have any ice and then I remembered the guys who followed me in had ice and their cabin was just around the corner.  Resourceful person that I am, I hike up to their cabin and begged a cup of ice.  I didn't want to leave the wagon until the rest of the Old Ladies showed up because I had the only keys and I expected them soon.  Well, eventually.  Well, sometime that night.

Actually, they were coming from Salt Lake City and making stops for a photo game along the way.  I thought they would show by 6 or so.  I hung out at the wagon and eventually I spied a rider coming across the culvert just like I had done earlier.  I yelled out "Kerri!", she turned her head, gave me a wave, rode up the same rutted road I had and arrived at the wagon.  Yippee!  Not to much longer, Lydia, the smart one, rolled up on the asphalt to the wagon.  Okay, the Three Old Ladies in a Wagon were finally all together.  The party could start!

Everyone got situated with Lydia in the big bed, after all, she organized our little group.  I found out later that Kerri was also late to the party.  As a matter of fact, so was Lydia.  Lydia managed to pull it together so we could all have an adventure together.  Good stuff.  It was getting late and we headed toward the restaurant for dinner.  It was quite crowded and the hostess told us it would be a 50 minute wait.  What?  That meant hanging around the restaurant for almost an hour?  Naw, I wasn't going to do that.  I looked in the dining room and it seemed to me there was plenty of open space.  So, me being me, I walked into the restaurant and started chatting with peeps at the tables.  Most of them were with the Harrison Eurosports event so I used that as an opening line.  Something like, "Hi, you guys with the Harrison group?  Oh cool, you riding street or dirt tomorrow?"  That kind of stuff.  Anyway, as I made my way around the room, I saw a guy sitting at a table for four.  I asked if anyone else was sitting there?  No?  Cool, you with the Harrison group?  Yes.  Cool, can we join you for dinner?  Sure!

And, that's just how it happened.  The "Guy" was Tom Brooks and he very generously allowed the Three Old Ladies in a Wagon to share his table.  Ha!  We didn't wait 5 minutes much less 50!  Yippee!  We have a table, we have menus and we now have a new friend.  How cool is that?
During dinner, Troy B. of Harrison Eurosports stopped by to say hello and ask our plans for tomorrow.  We had a choice of a street ride to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or a dirt ride through the south central Utah mountains.  We quizzed Troy as to the difficulty of the dirt ride.  Both Lydia and I were rather keen on getting a bit dirty.  Troy alluded that the dirt was a bit more difficult than he had planned.....hmmmmm......  Kerri had already said she was going to the North Rim, having never been there and Tom was also in for the North Rim.  Lydia and I decided we'd see how we felt about it in the morning before making a commitment.

Turns out that Tom was staying in Wagon #3 so he was across the tiny "yard" from us!  After a delicious meal, we headed back to the wagons.  Well, Kerri and I did.  Tom and Lydia were busy charging their cell phones at the restaurant/lodge ;-)  Kerri and I refilled our drinks and decided to walk down to the bonfire being hosted by Harrison Eurosports.  Probably only a dozen or so folks left at the fire but we had a good time meeting people, visiting, enjoying the blazing fire.  Then, back to the wagon for bed.

We met up with Lydia at the wagon and we all got ready for bed.  Now, the beds had decent (clean) linens with a blanket and then a big, fluffy sleeping bag on top for additional cover.  I had brought a winter weight bag but seeing how the wagon was outfitted, I opted to climb between the sheets and pull the provided bag over me.  But, it was getting COLD.  Very, very COLD.  I climbed into bed with socks, yoga pants, tee shirt and my buff folded into a beanie to keep my head warm.  Quite ridiculous but it worked.  Now, we're Three Old Ladies in a Wagon!  With not much space at all.  How was this going to work out?

Hahahaha, it worked out just fine.  The first night, just like schoolgirls at a slumber party, we giggled and told stories then tried to be quiet and sleep until someone said something and started the whole giggle and stories all over again.  This happened at least four or five times.  We actually kind of worried that we might be annoying other campers.  But, dang, we were having such a silly good time!  Finally, we all fell asleep and the alarm came way to early the next morning.  And it was frickin' COLD!

We decided to go ahead and gear up before brekkie and then traipsed down to the restaurant for a fairly decent buffet brekkie where we again met up with Tom.  By now, Lydia and I had decided that maybe the dirt might be a bigger bite than we wanted to chew so we told Kerri and Tom we'd go along on the North Rim ride.  Sweet, we now have a group of four for the ride!

Although we really tried (sort of) we missed the big group going to the North Rim by 1/2 hour.  Yeah, that's how hard we tried ;-)  Doesn't matter, I'd much rather ride in a group of four than 20 something!  We actually took turns leading over the course of the day.  We headed out and after a quick stop at Mt. Carmel Junction, I took off and waited in Fredonia for the rest of the group.  They stopped along the way to take some photo contest pictures.  From Fredonia, it was all about getting past the long straight stretch to the twisties that take you up the Kaibab plateau.  Oh man, was that FUN!  You know, all of us were having an "ON" day and it was fabulous.  The sun was shining, the pavement dry and no traffic in front of us (after we passed a zillion or so pokies).

Our next stop was Jacob Lake where you take the right turn to go to the North Rim.  We had a bit of fun here :-)  By the way, there is NO lake here.  This stop is named after a Mormon Pioneer, Jacob Lake.  The Inn has the most incredible cookies so some of our party had to run in and get a cookie!
While we were trying to organize ourselves for a photo, this dude (on the rock) attempted to photo bomb us but we caught him in the act and made him pose for our picture, lol.  Made his day :-)
Three Old Ladies in a Wagon and a Guy at Jacob Lake.
Kerri eyeballing that chocolate gooey moonpie cookie!
 Lydia's lemon raspberry cookie.  She very kindly gave me a bite - heaven!
Next, the North Rim.  We had a very pleasant ride with little traffic and we managed to easily pass the slowpokes.  We were fortunate enough to see a small herd of bison along the way.

I was really happy they weren't all along the road which has happened in the past.  Instead, they were just docilely grazing out in the meadow.  Very cool.

We finally reached our goal, the North Rim.  Parking was a snap as we grabbed spots just vacated near the lodge, yippee!  We made stops at the Visitor Center and Gift Shop before going into the main lodge where we stepped out onto the patios for the views to die for!  Point and shoot cameras just don't being to do it justice.

I think we're now feeling like the Four Musketeers or Mouseketeers but really, we're Three Old Ladies in a Wagon and a Guy ;-)

After a quick lunch of pizza from the Deli at the North Rim, we re-mounted our trusty steeds and headed to Cape Royal, a much less visited area of the North Rim that has stunning, drop dead, gorgeous vistas and views very unlike those from the Lodge area.  The road to Cape Royal is a motorcyclist's dream, twists, turns, beautiful foilage, oh my!!!  Especially lovely as the Aspens are golden and dropping their leaves like pieces of eight.  Yes, yes, yes......

Here I am, leading the way.
Tom enjoying the beautiful scenery.  It was absolutely perfect!

 On our way to Cape Royal, we made several scenic view stops.  One in particular had us all in stitches, laughing until our sides hurt.  We happened to meet two guys and a gal from Arizona who were riding bikes and camping remote.  We coerced them into taking our pictures and got them laughing as hard as we were!  Good, silly fun on motobikes, does it get any better?  I don't think so.

This photo is one of the vista pull-outs on the way to Cape Royal.  Stunning!  Oh, the bikes are pretty nice too :-)
 Yes, we were having a great time.  Riding twisties, stopping for silly photos, admiring the beautiful vastness and color of the Grand Canyon.  Oh, baby, it was good!

Sorry, point and shoot poor quality camera.  But, here are the information signs at our first vista viewpoint heading up to Cape Royal.

 And here are the peeps from Flagstaff, AZ that took photos for us and had a good giggle at our silliness :-)

 Ha!  Me taking a picture of Kerri, Lydia and Tom as they are taking pictures of our bikes and the scenery :-)

Okay, back on the bikes, riding at a nice brisk pace through the twists and turns that take you to Cape Royal.  Oh my, this is really a dreamy road!  Finally, we arrive at our destination and have to take a bit of a hike to get to the viewpoints.  Should have left my jacket on the bike but I didn't.  So, yeah, I got a bit hot and sweaty.  Hey, that's all part of riding a motorcycle!

We hike along the trail and find many, many reasons to stop for photo ops.  It is simply incredible!  I saw this sign.....yeah, please don't get to close to the I screamed at my fellow Old Ladies and the Guy.
This nice path takes you to the vistas up on Cape Royal.

We came upon this vista along the walking path.  Oh my heck!  See the little rock "window" on the right?  Well, it gets better.
 A view to the left...
 And the money shot!  Angel's Window with the Colorado River framed inside the window.  How I wished I had a decent camera for this one.
Here is the story.  It was simply beyond description.  Mesmerizing, beautiful, incredible.  This is our awesome earth and we are so lucky to have the opportunity to go to these places.
Tom, me and Lydia being silly at Angels Window!
 We did walk out to Angels Window and then walked on to Cape Royal Pt.  Huff, puff, sweat, that was okay.  It was well worth the trek.

 You can see ribbons of the Colorado if you look closely and use your imagination :-)
 Information signs....

 Ha, caught the temple, see?

 I love this picture.  It actually gives you some depth and perspective of the Grand Canyon.
  Rut roh, looks like rain over there.  Hmmmm, will that impact our ride?  I dunno...
After taking in the fantastic views, it was time for us to head back to Zion Ponderosa if we wanted to make it back to the wagon before dark, which we very much did!  Tons of forest rats and we didn't want any encounters.  On our way into the North Rim, we passed the entrance sign so on the way out we made a stop to get a photo and put on our rain/heated gear.  The sky was threatening up at Cape Royal and we saw lightening in the distance.  When we stopped to take the entrance sign picture I asked Kerri if she wanted to change gear now or wait until we got to the Country Store about five miles up the road where we were going to stop and buy some stickers.  Kerri looked at the sky and made a good call, let's get our gear changed here.  So, we dug out our heated jackets and winter gloves.  I inserted my pinlock visor and while we were doing this Lydia and Tom pulled in behind us for their sign picture.

Not two minutes later as we pulled back onto the road it began to rain, then sleet and it came down hard!!!  Oh, I love my heated gear!  We stopped at the Country Store, got our stickers and remounted the bikes.  As we were getting on the bikes, a man told us he had just come through a blizzard a mile or so up the road!  He said it was some pretty serious weather and guess what?  Yup, that was the way we were headed.  There is only one way in and out of the North Rim so we really didn't have a choice.  Onward we went and wow!  First, it just looked like powdered sugar on the meadows and then some slush on the road and got much, much, much worse!  We went from sunny, beautiful, pleasant temperature to holy f*ck in the blink of an eye!  I was behind a car so I just stayed in their tire track and stayed a safe distance behind wondering how far I would have to ride through this crud and hoping it wouldn't be long.

It was long enough to make a lasting impression!  I was so relieved when we got through the slushy area and could no longer see any snow.  I pulled into the service station at Jacob Lake, topped off my gas tank and the rest of the group showed up to do the same.  We all had that kind of stunned look on our faces about what we had just ridden through!  I think for Lydia and Tom it was their first experience riding in the snow and I don't think either one of them cared for it much ;-)

No matter, we were all safe, our gas tanks were full and we were ready to get back to Zion Ponderosa.  We made quick time getting off the mountain.  You could say we set a brisk pace, lol.  Like I said earlier, we were all having an "ON" day and it just came together in a perfect rhythm of road, machine and rider.  Oh man!

We made one more stop at Mt. Carmel Junction at Highway 9 for some ice and drinks.  It was just getting dusk so we were quick to hop back on the bikes and head up the hill.  As we turned onto the road for Zion Ponderosa it was littered with deer.  I mean a mega boatload of deer.  A goodly number of them were hanging out on the road, silly creatures.  Fortunately, we still had a bit of light left and Lydia was on super high alert as she was leading.  Yay!  We made it to Zion Ponderosa without incident.

Kerri and Tom were behind us but had stopped to take a few pictures.  It was worth the stop.  Just look at this breathtaking sunset image captured by Kerri.  Wowza!
And this one, also taken by Kerri, of the Resort entry.
Back to our cozy wagons, we changed out of our gear and went in search of food at the restaurant.  We had a delightful meal and celebrated our wonderful day of riding and making friends.

The next morning we again trotted over to the restaurant for brekkie and back to the wagons to pack our bikes for departure.  Lydia, Kerri and Tom were off to explore some of Utah's scenic Highway 12 on their way north to home.  I only had about a 2 hour ride through Zion National Park and home.  With our bikes packed, we said our goodbyes and gave big hugs with a promise to get together again.
Our parting photo!
I made it home safely although I had another long, long, long wait in line to get into and out of Zion National Park.  The weather was again perfect and I wore a grin all day long :-)

So there you have it, Three Old Ladies in a Wagon and a Guy.  What a great time and super awesome riding along with our adventure in the snow.  Although we didn't ride with the dirt group, we still had an incredible adventure with the four of us.  All the Harrison Eurosports staff and riders were friendly and fun and they put on a good event.  I will definitely attend another!

I was sorry to say goodbye but everything has it's time.  It was terrific to finally meet Kerri in person, make a friend with Tom and hang out with Lydia.  We all just meshed together with no egos, no drama, no bullsh*t.  Thanks Lydia, Kerri and Tom, it was a good time!

Who knows what's next?  Stay turned for the next adventure!