Journal June 8-June 24--Utah
June 8 Moab, UT to Provo, UT
We had a hard time leaving this town, with all the bike shops to visit, and health food store, bakery and post office stops to make. Out in the desert north of town we battled an uphill headwind and made a little progress toward the State Park at Green River, our destination for the night. The headwind changed to a side wind, and combined with the heavy truck traffic and no-shoulder construction zone, made for unsafe travel. We were far from Green River and just about ready to camp in the desert wind for the night, when we were rescued by Mike in a big glass delivery truck. He was happy to bring us to Green River. When we found out he was going all the way to Provo, through another 60-mile stretch of uninhabited desert, we agreed to ride along. That put us in Provo a couple of days ahead of our plan, which was just fine with our aching bodies. We got in late and found the last room at a Howard Johnson's Motel.
June 9 Layover, Provo, UT
Threatening weather (which passed to the north eventually) and the need to re-think our itinerary and route helped us decide to stay another night in this room. That and the fact that that we were featured in the Provo newspaper today (a reprint from a Freeburg, IL newspaper article) and Howard Johnson's wanted to give us a complimentary room. The local TV station wanted to do a story on us as well, so we scheduled it for tomorrow and took a day off.
June 10 Provo, UT to Deer Creek Reservoir, UT
Talk about a late start. The Provo newspaper and TV folks, while they couldn't have been nicer, kept us busy from 9:30 until 1:00, during which time we made about five miles. I can't blame them completely, because we had THE FIRST FLAT TIRE of our trip. I think it was because I upped the inflation in the rear wheel to 140 (from 125) at a bike shop in Moab, because the tube would still hold 50 pounds and I couldn't find a puncture or leak. It happened in front of a great health food store, which kept the rest of the family occupied while I fixed the tire with a microphone recording my comments and grunts.
By 1:30 we were on a paved rail-trail going up the canyon toward Deer Creek State Park with a slight tailwind. Although it was uphill, it was easier than fighting the headwind that had been dogging us lately. It was made all the nicer by the company of Pat Christian, a bicyclist and a reporter from the Provo Daily Herald. He was our guide to the history and natural beauty of the area. He took plenty of pictures, which you will see as soon as he scans them and e-mails them to Web master Christine Romp.
At the end of the rail trail we took a highway up over a dam and camped on a beautiful high-altitude reservoir. A bit of rain and wind forced us into an early bedtime, and we slept like babies after today's climbing.
June 11 Deer Creek Reservoir, UT to Park City, UT
Glorious sunrise. A few miles brought us to Heber City, where we met up with Patti's cousin, Denise Boney. She was celebrating her fifth annual yard sale with her three friends, Ellen, Jill and Roberta. We had a nice lunch there and gave rides on the quad to kids and grown-ups alike.
Still 26 miles from Denise's house, we let her take our luggage (and Timmy!) and enjoyed the six-mile climb to Park City in the company of Jill on her vintage Viner racing bike. Ellen and her sons Peter (on a BMX bike) and Ian (in a trailer) rode with us a while, too, which we enjoyed immensely. A huge pasta dinner in Denise's rustic/elegant mountain home with son Sam and daughter Noell was just the ticket. Husband Sam is out of town flying for Delta Airlines, and will return tomorrow.
June 12 Layover Park City, UT
Denise has arranged a lot for us to do during our stay here, and it started with a good night's sleep. We took Denise's car to the Unitas National Forest and went hiking on a high-altitude trail up near Silver Lake. We drove back on some rugged roads through breathtaking mountains and valleys. It's a lot greener here than in the Moab area south of here, there are more trees, and the snow-covered peaks (11,000 to 12,000 feet elevation) are much closer. Being near the populous Salt Lake City area, the highways and campgrounds and lakes are crowded with vacationers, but the trail up the mountain was all our own.
On the way home, still way up in the mountains, we saw herds of sheep tended by men who stayed in shepherd's camps, which looked like tiny cabins on wheels. Presumably it was on public lands. There was not a fence in sight.
June 13 Layover in Park City, UT
We are going to spend a few days here in Park City. This will be our longest layover of the trip. We are almost half way, and we can use the rest, the chance to catch up on correspondence and business, and the opportunity to do bike and gear maintenance. Besides, Denise and Sam are great hosts. They get a lot of practice in the winter, since they live in a ski town that boasts the greatest powder snow in the west.
Today Sam and I took a three-hour mountain bike ride on the Crest Trail, which, as its name implies, keeps to the high ground between East Canyon and Parley's Summit. I really enjoyed riding with Sam; we are well matched in ability and temperament. It was a great ride, and I was pleased to find enough oxygen at 7500 feet. Being up there on the trail was so different from our "road" experience that I began to plan off-road camping adventures with the family. This trail, for instance, goes on for miles and would provide weeks of prime riding and camping.
June 14 Mount Timpanogos, UT
Today was a memorable day for me. While the rest of the family went with Denise to Salt Lake City to swim and shop for food, Sam and I and Dan Lowell climbed to the top of Mount Timpanogos, 11,750 feet above sea level. We started climbing at 7:00 AM. Soon we found ourselves in snow, on a steep slope, climbing in the sun for hours. Near the top, the snow face was nearly vertical, and it was only with Dan's expert advice and the use of ice axes that we were able to make it at all. Although I was short of breath on the lower slopes, I found my stride and made the last pitch to the summit without too much trouble (and without setting any speed records!) We ate some food at the top at noon and started down immediately, since the weather was deteriorating. Going down was easier, and much scarier, than going up. I really want to thank Dan and Sam for taking me up there. It was an experience that I will remember for life.
June 15 Park City, UT
Well, I had no trouble sleeping last night. Walking down stairs is a painful procedure today; I thank God that I am married to the world's best masseuse.
Rest, writing, and phone calls were the activities today. I made a lot of arrangements for next week in Salt Lake City and beyond. I find that the phone calls and contacts with the media are fun (journalists and TV folks are a great lot, usually in the business because they like people). It is also time consuming, and time is our most precious commodity on this trip. It is worth the effort, though, because we are reaching more and more people with our simple message, "Anything is Possible!" It also gives us a chance to repay our sponsors with some publicity. And if you know us, you know that we are hams anyway and we love the attention!
While I rested, the family toured the Park City Silver Mine (www.netpp.com/pcsilvermine) and had a great time. Thanks to Randy there for the complimentary passes.
Denise and Sam have surprised Patti with airline tickets to the East Coast on Thursday, June 17, so that she can attend her parents'' 50th wedding anniversary party. It's a surprise for Patti's mother and father, too, so we have been pretending that this long layover is for rest and relaxation, when we really had another motive. Denise is going, and they will fly back on Saturday night. Hey, MUMS THE WORD!
June 16 Park City, UT
As a long awaited reward for being such good team members, today Dad took Ellie and Henry trail riding on rented mountain bikes. A morning ride with both kids was a bit challenging for all of us; we rode on a ski area service road and got on some steep and rocky trails that overlooked historic Park City. A couple of hours of that was enough for Henry, who was at a disadvantage on the heavy kids' bike that was available for him. I was really pleased with his energy and enthusiasm, though, and he had a great ride. After lunch Ellie and I headed for the same trail that Sam and I had done a few days earlier. After three hours of spectacular riding on ridges and through groves of huge pines, we were nearly at the highest point of the ride when we heard a wild howl in the canyon below. We were sure it was a mountain lion, an animal that is on the increase in this area. When we heard it a few minutes later, much closer, we were doubly sure. Although we never saw it, a third howl was so close that it raised the hairs on my neck, and put Ellie into race mode on her bike. Unfortunately, the trail still tilted upward for a quarter mile before a two mile descent. Just before we reached the summit we heard another sickening howl and saw the brush moving just downslope from us. Adrenaline is such a powerful fuel. We were a mile away before we dared to slow down and look behind us. Ellie will remember this day.
June 17 Park City, UT
Patti and Denise got off early, and Sam is flying somewhere for Delta. So the five kids and I had a huge breakfast. Between working on the bike and organizing our gear, we enjoyed the perfect, high-altitude Rocky Mountain weather. In the afternoon we drove down to Salt Lake City, bringing Sam and Noelle to their friend's house for a sleepover. Its a clean and nice city, well laid out and easy to navigate in. At the city's oldest bike shop, Guthries, Dave the manager knew all about us because his folks are from Middlebury, Vermont, just down the road from our home in Shoreham.
June 18 Park City, UT
Patti is at Tom & Rita Gilmartin's 50th anniversary party in Cape May, New Jersey, and the rest of the Romp Family is enjoying the mountains in Park City, Utah. The bike is clean and shiny, adjusted and lubricated. Aside from a few paint chips, it looks as good as new. I have filled a small box with non-essentials, lightening our load by a few pounds. The kids were so good today that we had a party tonight. We made popcorn, listened to loud music (Credence Clearwater Revival), and watched a movie on TV. Timmy misses Mom, and so do the rest of us!
June 19 Park City, UT
Another classic Rocky Mountain June day. Cold at night, cool in the morning, clear blue skies, and a hot sun by late morning. We made a small excursion to the post office, but other than that we stayed here at the Boneys' house and packed. We are ready for a 5:30 AM departure tomorrow. Bill Sallaz, the photographer from People Magazine, wants to shoot pictures of us in the early morning light on Immigration Pass, a few miles from here. He came by this afternoon and we rode in his rented van to scout photo sites. Denise & Sam & Patti & Sam Jr. & Noelle all returned late. Patti & Denise had stories to tell of their action-packed 48-hour trip to the East Coast. Last minute preparations for tomorrow kept us up past our bedtime!
June 20 Father's Day Park City, Utah to Salt Lake City, Utah
This day began early. Bill Sallaz, the photographer hired by People Magazine, wanted to catch us leaving Park City, and the light in Immigration Canyon would be best at 5:45 AM. So we roused the family and got on the road early. Sam Boney gave up his Father's Day breakfast in bed to drive the van for Bill, who mounted strobe lights and hung out the door as they drove down the wrong side of the road. Up and down the steep canyon road we went, until the light gave out and Bill was satisfied that he had some good shots.
By then it was 9:30 and time to descend Immigration Canyon into Salt Lake City. This historic road marks the place where Brigham Young, traveling with the first Mormon settlers in 1846, stood up in his wagon and said, "This is the place." Salt Lake City has been the center of Mormon culture ever since.
We liked Salt Lake City a lot. Wide flat streets, lots of trees, and almost no traffic on this hot sunny Sunday. We spent the afternoon at a large park with a pool and an aviary, where I gave a dozen Hispanic children rides on the quad. In the evening we made our way to the home of Dr. Galen Birdsley, a third generation chiropractor and an inspiring man. After making instant friends with his wife Nancy, we met the rest of their large family (four generations!) at a back yard barbecue. The history of the Mormon faith and Salt Lake City are intertwined, and the Birdsleys taught us much about both before we finally succumbed to fatigue around midnight. A long day!
June 21 Salt Lake City
Another full day! At our morning appointment with Dr. Birdsley, three local television crews arrived to film our visit. Besides getting every chiropractic adjustment on tape, we rode up and down the street for each camera, and did interviews on the sidewalk. We just barely made our noon meeting with Kathy Free, the People Magazine correspondent, in a nearby park. Within fifteen seconds we had her on the quad, dress and all, while Patti carried her notebook and tape recorder.
Our time with her in the shady park by a duck pond turned into a party. Patti's cousin, Denise, and her two kids met us there, as did Galen and Nancy Birdsley. We were joined by the Reiser family: Rob and Susan, and Harrison, 10, and Amanda, 8. They had contacted us through the web site and this was our first, but not last, meeting. In a wonderful gesture that I will never forget, Galen Birdsley went to a nearby health food store and brought back a perfect picnic for fifteen. Way to go!! During our interview Patti remembered that it was our anniversary. I blushed. Everyone cheered. Great party.
After a round of good-byes, we rode to downtown Salt Lake City, with Rob towing Henry on a trailer-bike, and Amanda Reiser taking Henry's perch on the quad. We visited a pub where there was a quad on display, an older Co-Motion that was nicely outfitted. Then we visited the Mormon Temple and Tabernacle, where we picked up some more Mormon and Utah history. Then a few miles more brought us to a campground where the Reiser family had a site with their "LV" (Learning Vehicle) parked there.
This amazing family from Provo, Utah, has traded the ultimate corporate lifestyle (Rob was president of the Japanese division of Intuit, the company responsible for Quicken, among other things) for the ultimate home-schooling lifestyle, traveling the globe with their kids on learning odysseys on a par with the Romp Family's "Wind in the Face" tour. In North America, they use their "LV, a tricked-out 36-foot RV that would take an hour to describe, and you wouldn't believe me anyway. They drove it to Salt Lake City just to host us there. We ate a Dutch Oven meal, played with the technology (I e-mailed pictures to Chrissy so you could see them on the web site), and talked until after midnight. You absolutely must check out their web site at www.learningfamily.com. We have joined them as a Learning Family, and you can, too.
June 22 Salt Lake City to Antelope Island, Utah
Before we left, Henry needed to achieve one of his long-held dreams. Rob drove us to a nice beach on the Salt Lake and Henry walked in and floated like a cork. We also learned a bit about the lake and it's unique features. At 23% salinity, no large creatures inhabit the lake, only brine shrimp (whose eggs are harvested and exported for prawn food), and brine flies, billions of them, which never stray more than a few yards from the shore. Motorboats are corroded by the salinity, so only sailboats are in evidence. And a huge salt industry still harvests salt from hundreds of evaporating beds.
Saying goodbye to the Learning Family was hard, but the route north along the lake was a pleasure: flat and wide, with no wind. We cruised up to Syracuse, UT, where a 7-mile causeway led to Antelope Island. We have never seen a more beautiful natural area. Although we didn't see the antelope or buffalo which inhabit the island, we were moved by the most beautiful sunset, and we found beauty in every direction, from the Wasach mountain range, to the mountainous island itself, to the huge lake and it's surrounding hills.
June 23 Antelope Island to Willard, UT
Several million mosquitoes kept us cowering in our tent until 7:00 AM. A breeze saved our skins. Whew!
We have been taking lots of nutritional supplements on our trip, most provided by Prime Factors, Inc. They have made a huge contribution to our well being. We have had plenty of energy, very little muscle soreness, and good health despite a sketchy diet. We find that in this hot desert area, our favorite way to use the supplements is to find a place with a good blender; a fruit smoothie vendor, an ice cream parlor, or even a bar. With ice, a banana or other fruit, some water and our supplements, a good blender makes a fine drink for us. Today we found a great fruit smoothie place after about 13 miles, and there Mike Bucher found us. He had e-mailed us a few months ago, inviting us to ride with his tandem club in this town, Syracuse, but we were never able to make arrangements. Today he was free from his studies (he's an Air Force guy working on his masters degree in math) and he instantly offered to carry our gear up to Willard Bay State Park, our destination for the day. Timmy begged to go with him, so we were just four on a bike, no luggage or trailer, for 35 flat miles. We averaged 15 mph into a slight headwind, ignoring the 91-degree heat. When we arrived, Mike had our campsite all ready under a huge shade tree, with fresh spring water waiting, complements of the Tandem Club. What a guy!!
Mike had a recumbent tandem on his truck, and we all enjoyed riding around the shady campground. Even Timmy got a ride. Mike tried out the quad, then went on his way. Thanks Mike!
We sent Henry out with microwave popcorn packets in search of a microwave. He came back minutes later with dinner. All the big campers have microwaves, and Henry had made some new friends. We swam in this fresh water bay of the Salt Lake (dikes, I guess) and settled in to a good night's sleep.
June 24 Willard, UT to Tremonton, UT
More flat riding, we love it. The highway is called the Fruit Way, passing through peach, apple, cherry and apricot orchards in this once-desert lakeside area with mild winters. In Brigham we asked a nice older woman about a fruit smoothie place, and were told that we missed it by a few miles. Oh, well. In the next town, Corrine, while searching for a blender, the nice older woman pulled up with five large fruit smoothies. What a sweetheart! We were so busy slurping and thanking that we neglected to get her name.
In Tremonton at nearly 3:00PM, we had to make a decision. The next town was more than forty miles, mostly by interstate (where bikes are allowed because there is no other route). No water or food was available between. While Amy from the local newspaper interviewed us, Kim Wilson stepped up and invited us to her house for the night. We shopped for food and rode to her house, where we barbecued and ate a feast, helped out by some neighbors. Ellie went riding on a neighbor's horse, and now the family is watching a video about Mormon history while I type this update on her computer. Kim is an angel, a tandem owner, and the mother of two nice kids. Her hospitality is the comfortable kind; no time spent beating around the bush. We face two mountain passes, and forty miles of desert tomorrow, so we plan an early start.