“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!” said Dr. Clark, Dixie Region Medical Trauma Center.
But, let me go back to the beginning.
You haven’t heard from me for several days because I was on a ride to southern Utah for the annual Shark Week gathering.
I’m not talking about the Discovery Channel event this week, but a semi-secret society of Shark Nose owners (a.k.a. Road Glide or ‘Glides’) that meet up on an annual basis and talk about the joy of wrenching and riding a ‘Glide’. More importantly was the opportunity to ride through Zion National Park and see Bryce Canyon up close. You know, those sorbet-colored, sandcastle-like spires and hoodoos that look like something straight out of a science fiction movie.
So we loaded up the iron steeds and rolled out of Portland early in route to St. George, Utah. It seems that ‘Gliders’ like to awaken and ride off early. Not me so much, but I conformed with the posse knowing that the previous 5-days had record heat and getting a lot of miles under our belt prior to the real oppressive heat would be a good thing.
We planned to take three days to cover the approximately 1100 miles to St. George.
On the first morning it was some good and quite riding with the gorge wind on our backs. The first bit of change was due to a fire near Goldendale, WA., which blanketed I-84 and much of eastern Oregon with a thick blanket of smoke, but we rode on. We did a quick ‘drive-by’ at the Oregon H.O.G. event in Pendleton, but it was largely winding down on Saturday (July 27th) so we continued heading east.
The first overnight stop was in Boise which seems to have a perpetual Basque street party anytime we arrive. I didn’t see any Basque athletes, but supposedly they are famous for their feats of strength. Something about dragging around a 1500 pound rock attached to a belt. We did see some husky dudes that likely played on the college football team. We ate dinner at the Reef Restaurant and enjoyed some refreshments in the Tiki Bar.
We rolled out early the next morning and were making good time on the interstate. We crossed the Snake River at Twin Falls and headed south on Highway 93. We decided to overnight in the small copper mining town of Ely, NV. It’s located at the cross-road of highways U.S. 50 (“Loneliest Road In America”) and U.S. 93. There is a newer La Quinta Inn that was quite nice and we ate dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican restaurant. There was a group of riders coming in from Cali that all rode Screamin’ Eagle touring models. It looked like a dealer convention and we chatted with them for a while and share some stories.
The next morning (Monday – July 29) we continued on U.S. 93 where the road stretches across the Nevada desert with very few services. We had a light wind at our backs and I recall Molly Hatchet’s, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” sounding especially good.
I know, a third-rate boogie band. But, it was different in the seventies. It was overplayed to death back then, and the boomers know it by heart and get a nostalgic thrill every time we hear it today. You see country records rarely had any presence north of the Mason-Dixon line, and southern rock bands dominated the airwaves, to the point where we got imitation acts, like Molly Hatchet, third generation stuff that was easily dismissible, except for the hits. And that’s what the rednecks and the northerners had in common. This sound. It brought us together. Because it could not be denied. And it was always played by southerners. First, the Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then the Outlaws and Molly Hatchet.
But I’ve digressed.
In the town of Panaca we took Highway 319/56. The road continued to be flat and most straight with a few zig-zag’s across the irrigated farm land. At the Beryl Junction, we made a brief stop at a John Deere farm implement business/gas station and then we rode south on Highway 18. It was too long and the heat became oppressive as rode down into the valley. Most of day we were at higher altitudes and it was comfortable, but about an hour outside St. George, Utah it felt like a furnace.
Off to our right I noticed that the afternoon sun was casting shadows on Snow Canyon State Park. It’s a canyon about 15 minutes from St. George carved from red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains. Finally we had arrived in St. George. We checked into the Shark Week III event at the Lexington Hotel and after a day of desert heat we were badly in need of food, showers, air condition and some rest. Mostly showers!
After showers and some dinner we thought about sitting outside with some chairs in the parking area, but it was too hot. We did wander the parking area and chatted up the planned events with the other ‘Gliders’. It’s a great group of folks and was nice to meet some fellow ‘Gliders.’
The blog post continues HERE which provides more details on the Dr. Clark comment.
Photos taken by author.