I have lots of topics to write about from a recent dualsport moto tour through the High Uintas area of Utah and on into Flaming Gorge. For a later post, I’ll talk about the new Cardo Scala Rider G4 Powerset communication system that Darth and I were testing out. It’s a pretty cool new toy that works well for two-way communication between riders, and connects via Bluetooth with my iPhone (or other Bluetooth devices). I’ve never been much of a fan of wearing headphones while riding, but it sure is nice when your mind starts to wander on long stretches of nowhere road to be able to roll some tunes from the “Moto Playlist.” This post is more simply about how amazing it is to live in a place like Utah and have so many options right out your backdoor to go from garage to middle of nowhere in a matter of hours. Places like Hoop Lake and Beaver Meadow Reservoir. John Jarvie Ranch and the Swinging Bridge.
The one limiting factor this season has been the record-setting snowpack, and how long it has stuck around. Keep in mind we’re hitting mid-July, and some of the passes we rode on this last trip were not possible just a weekend or two before. For example, Elizabeth Ridge, the 10,235 feet high summit of the North Slope road still had considerable snow on top, and they (not sure who they are, but it’s got to be someone) are just now grading the road from the decay that results from a brutal winter. Another thing to note: some of the stream crossings in the High Uintas that you might normally blast through are pretty deep and swift. It seems like the water is just starting to come down off the mountains. We crossed one stream that required a two-man push to get the bikes across. Water was up to mid-thigh, and while walking across without a bike to hold onto, you could really feel the force wanting to carry you with the current.
After getting one bike across said stream crossing, a rider on a new KLR appeared coming from the opposite direction. He watched us wade back across to get the 2nd bike and do our routine. We told him we’d gladly help him get his bike across since we were already wet, or video him, if he was game to try to ride it. But he thought better and turned around to follow us in the direction we were heading, to the North Slope Road. At that point, our new friend Steve said he better head back to SLC, and he had quite a ride ahead of him to get back before dark. We still didn’t know if we would make it all the way through to Mountain View, Wyoming, as the road was still posted as closed, and there were some rumors of a bridge being out. On the way down the North Slope Road, we stopped a Jeep coming up the other way. He told us it was pretty rough for the next 10 miles, but it ended up being more like 2, so we had no problems getting down to Mountain View for gas and a Red Bull stop.
While resting for a moment at the Maverick in Mountain View, we made a call to Mark Wilson, the owner of Red Canyon Lodge in Flaming Gorge, to see how late the lodge’s restaurant would be open. We had to decide whether to get something to eat in Mountain View, or if we had enough to take a scenic dirt route to Flaming Gorge. Mark said definitely take the scenic route, and if we happened to arrive after 9:30 pm, when the kitchen shuts down, he’d set aside a couple hot plates for us. Turns out that was the right choice, and we still made it before 9:00 pm, giving us plenty of time to get a table and sit down to an excellent and civilized dinner with Mark at his place.
If you were thinking this was going to be a lengthy post about all the different beers we sampled while touring Morocco on KTM enduro bikes, sorry to disappoint. Morocco is predominantly a Muslim country, and they just don’t drink a lot of alcohol. So if the kind of motorcycle touring you like to do is from pub to pub, I’d suggest another country. But we did have our beer. Had it not been for our fearless leader and local fixers, this posse of Americans would have had a rough time chilling after the daily dosage of 250 kilometers or so per day. We became quite fond of the Speciale Flag pilsner, mostly because that’s what was available, and even better if it was ice cold. We encountered another beer called Casablanca only once along the way. According to a Wikipedia article about beer in Morocco, there is also a light lager in Morocco called Stork, and Heineken is available, but all of them are brewed by Brasseries du Maroc. We started and finished the tour from a home base of an oasis outside of Marrakech called Jnane Allia. Our man Mohammed always made sure there was a platter of ice cold Speciales, all you had to do was wish for it, and it would happen. We were also quite amused to arrive in the Erg Chegaga dunes bivouac after a particularly arduous ride through hot temperatures and rocky terrain, to discover ice cold Speciales waiting for us in the main tent.
The most-often asked question I’ve heard since returning from a 10 day motorcycle tour around Morocco: How was the food? The food was amazing. Simple and traditional would be the best way to describe it.
Our guide Tim assured us that all of the places we would eat on this trip were “safe” as he and his staff only took clients to clean and reputable establishments, and the key was to avoid drinking the tap water. That would also apply to ice, or eating leafy salads washed in tap water. Pretty much the same ground rules as if you were going to Mexico. I guess our candy-ass western stomachs can’t handle the bugs in the water, which is why I brought an emergency prescription for Cipro, just in case.
Back to the food. Most days, we had a simple euro-style breakfast consisting of coffee and tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, bread with butter and jam. On some days we also were offered Moroccan pancakes which were thin and light, more like a crepe. Closer to the city of Marrakech, we had yogurt, but way out on the route, there was none to be had. Lunches were usually at cafes chosen by Tim along the route, and most often we ate Brochettes of lamb, chicken and beef, always accompanied by heaping plates of hot frites. Another common lunch item was Tajine (also spelled Tagine, or Tajin). Tajine refers to the meal, as well as the traditional earthenware dish it is cooked in. The dish is a shallow baking dish with a volcano-like cover, that seals in all the juices while the contents are being baked or cooked over an open fire. We had many varieties of Tajine along the route. The main ingredient is usually chicken or Kefta (meatballs made from seasoned ground lamb), usually with a couple eggs cracked over the topped.
Dinners consisted of traditional Cous Cous, usually with a meat and steamed vegetables, and accompanied by a broth to pour over your pile. Sometimes we had simply seasoned pasta, and one time we had an interesting salad made up of cooked rice and tuna, garnished with all sorts of vegetables. After awhile, we got used to the plates of green and black olives that would always be offered prior to the meal. I got used to Steve always asking for vinegar. Desserts were usually cold and fresh local melon slices, very refreshing. But by the end of the trip, I think I may have had one too many servings of Tajine, and I was looking forward to a big El Chubasco burrito in Park City. The Cipro stayed in my travel bag, as any disturbances in the force were minor.
Deal O’ The Day
Words I’ve Heard
"I'm not a businessman. I'm a business, man." --Jay-Z
"The only thing keeping us from going is leaving." --Ewan Mcgregor
"Adventures suck, when you're having them." -- Anonymous Rally Car Driver
"It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a twatwaffle."--RULE #4, Velominati.com
"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."--W.C. Fields