One of the things we’ve noticed during our campground stays is that out west, many visitors from foreign countries are often traveling in rental RVs, enjoying the spectacular scenery of America’s mountains, deserts, forests and national parks. We met one such couple recently, Wolfgang and Renate from Hamburg, Germany, who were camped next to us. Wolfgang ran a factory that made gas pump equipment that we use so often to fuel our cars. They were a charming and delightful couple, and commented that their trip had been much fun. They were traveling with another German couple, Manfred and Elizabeth, in a second RV. We often hear criticisms of Americans abroad not speaking the language or acting silly, but we haven’t noticed that quality among any of the many foreign tourists we’ve met. (Perhaps because they don’t watch American sitcoms???)
We left southeastern Utah heading for Hill Air Force Base, between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. Our first indication that we were no longer in the wilderness was when the Interstate went to 12 lanes, during rush hour to boot. My request of, “Pardon me, My Darling, but could you bring me back to Zion?” was met with a guffaw and a “Suck it up and keep driving, Sailor.”
Yesterday My Lovely Bride took me on The Bike Ride From Hell. Actually, it wasn’t the real Hell, because the temperatures were mild, but the bike trail’s setting was a ski resort whose snow had migrated north for the summer. She claims to have looked up “Best Mountain Bike Trails Near Ogden, Utah” on the Internet. I think she really looked up “Mountain Bike Trails to Kill Your Husband for His Life Insurance”. (She isn’t aware of it yet, but I cashed out my life insurance policy to buy a new tent and sleeping bag.) The trail started in parking lot #2 of the Snowbasin ski area. This should have been my first indication that it was not going to be an easy ride. (Note to self: ski areas are generally located in the mountains, and are rarely flat.)
The trail description is “1,500 feet of elevation gain and advanced beginner to intermediate technical sections makes this a moderately challenging ride.” Yeah, if you’re 25 years old! Here we see Wonder Woman laughing hysterically at my hyperventilating after only 20 minutes of uphill climbing… “Ty, you’re such a wuss!”
This was the only (relatively) flat area of the entire trail. MLB is scooting along through a field of wildflowers. I have sensibly taken the opportunity to catch my breath and hope for the miraculous appearance of a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for a caffeine and sugar fix. My hopes, alas, were dashed.
Other than several pairs of twenty-somethings who zoomed past us (and a few that we actually passed), the only people we met were a couple of hikers and this trail crew, volunteers all, who spend their weekends making hiking and biking trails safer for us loafers. Two of the guys were serious ultra trail runners, in training for one of several 100 mile endurance runs through the Wasatch Mountains. We gave them our thanks and appreciation. Suzanne wanted me to sign up for the Wasatch Front 100 (up and down hardly describes this event with 26,951 feet of elevation gain and 26,450 feet of elevation loss), but I demurred… I think I have a no-anesthesia, triple root canal appointment that weekend that would be a walk in the park compared to a 100 mile mountain run.
The downhill section was much easier physically, but the hairpin turns were often a challenge… why? Because you’re toodling along at 15 mph and all of a sudden have to drop four feet and turn 180 degrees in the space of 10 feet. Trust me, this ain’t easy! I don’t have any photos of this part of the ride, mainly because I was screaming in panic and using “Sailor words” which might offend some readers. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, knowing many of our readers personally… Of note, we were the oldest couple on the trail by two decades each. This doesn’t say much for our judgment, does it?