It had finally come, the last day for C & I to be riding together. The original idea had been for us to ride together as far as Phoenix, but events transpired and things happened in such a way that we ended up deciding to part in St George. That would work for me as I think I have mentioned in earlier blog posts, since San Francisco my goal has been to get to St George on the 19th. That had been one of the reasons that I found it easier to ‘cheat’.
Our final day had two routes to choose from, I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, and going over Utah Hill on Old Highway 91. I-15 would be shorter and apparently the ride through the Virgin River Gorge is spectacular, but I-15 winds its way through the gorge and there are parts with minimal shoulder on corners which may be dangerous. There are a lot of white crosses by the side and we were told that we should definitely not go along it. In C’s eyes, the problem was that Utah Hill would involve a couple of hours of climbing and she wasn’t too eager to do that. Chris looked confused that we were even discussing the idea, and was definitely going over Utah Hill.
After saying our goodbyes to Brenna we rode out with Chris. He had warned me in advance that his average speed is a good way below ours, but I was eager to ride with him for at least a while. He had proven interesting to talk to both the night before and in the morning. C seemed less patient and was riding ahead of us. We caught up with her at a traffic light and she explained her frustration of going so slowly, I explained the route to her and told her to ride on ahead so off she went. That was the first time that she had taken me up on the offer.
I rode with Chris for a short distance more before he pulled in to a grocery store to get supplies for the ride ahead. He told me his blog and we promised to be in contact. I got a picture then rode off to catch up with C.
I found C going up a small climb about a minute down the road. As we crested the paw print covered road we crossed in to Arizona, our 23rd state. We stopped for the obligatory picture and found a lady out running to take it for us.
Our ride through Arizona would be similar to the one through Wyoming. We would be only in the state for a couple of hours before we made it to Utah. Before doing that however, we would make it to I-15 and need to make a decision.
I pulled up at the entrance to I-15 and asked C if she’d made up her mind. She was still very split by the options and after a few minutes of discussing decided on I-15. We asked a guy who was trying to hitch a lift where we could fill our water up and he pointed us towards a golf club a couple of minute down the road. We headed there and filled up our bottles. Talking to the bartender and a guy at the bar must have changed C’s mind as when we left with fresh water we turned right towards Utah Hill and not back left to I-15.
The climb was fairly gentle, but in to a headwind. The most notable feature was the lack of a Welcome to Utah state sign which I found slightly sad. Utah would be our 24th and final state and we had pictures of us going in or out of every other one. For myself, I’ll hopefully be able to get a picture of me riding out when I leave Utah to head back in to Arizona in the future, but there won’t be one of the two of us.
After a couple of hours of climbing, we came to the top at around 5600 feet. All that laid before us and the end of the trip was 20 miles the majority of which would be coasting down to 2800 feet. The descent started nicely, the landscape continued to be the yellow arid desert that we had seen for a while and then I was hit by the red rock of St George. Somehow I had heard about the red rock of St George, I think I might have read it on the internet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone had told me about it. Wherever I learnt about it, wow. The contrast in colours between the blue sky and then the red, yellows and green of the land was phenomenal and made the descent down towards St George one of my favourite. The vividity of the colours was absolutely spectacular. Yes, once again the Native American reservation was on land that would be incredibly hard to live on, but it was simply beautiful.
The end of the descent took us through the small pretty town of Santa Clara, just outside of St George. For those who don’t know, Utah is the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka LDS aka Mormons aka ‘The Church’. South Park made an episode a few years back about a Mormon family who moved to South Park and while it’s not what one could call politically correct, it gives an entertaining introduction.
We stopped in Santa Clara at the Jacob Hamblin home. Jacob Hamlin was a Mormon missionary who mainly worked with Native Americans. When we arrived, there was a tour on the go being lead by an Elder. Over the next 30-45 minutes, we were told about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Mormonism. Elder Mullins bent over backwards to tell us about the LDS. I know some people might have felt preached to, but I didn’t. When we went in, I had told him that I only knew bits and pieces about the church and was eager to learn more.
After the Jacob Hamblin house we had a snack and then headed over to Jamie’s dad’s place. Jamie wouldn’t get down to St George until 9:30 so C & I spent the evening trying to tie up loose ends from the trip. It felt a little strange to know that it was the final day of riding together, but I don’t think it will hit me until I ride by myself. That won’t be happening for a while as after St George I’ll be leaving my bike in Cedar City and driving up to Salt Lake City with Jamie until at least Halloween.
I have ideas about where the road will take me next, but I’m going to use this time in Utah to work it out while I relax and enjoy being off the bike for a time. I’ll also be looking in my bags to try to reduce my load and hopefully working on making the layout of the website more user-friendly.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Ride down Utah Hill