Throughout the night, the cold breeze that drifted through my uncovered tent chilled my exposed face, waking me a small handful of times. The first time, I simply adjusted my sleeping bag and rolled over before falling back to sleep. The second, I caught sight of hundreds of small lights outside, blurred by tent’s mesh screens. Stars. I unzipped one of the doors and poked my head out to get an undistorted view. Hundreds and hundreds of stars filled the nighttime sky, more than I had ever seen before. Some large and bright, others small and dim. Still chilled and groggy from my interrupted sleep however, I chose not to take the time to set up one of my cameras. Death Valley was coming up in another few days, and I would see this magnificent sight again there. A handful of hours later, our own star had risen above the horizon, casting long shadows across the ground.
With my bike loaded once more I continued on, still so mesmerized by the foreign lands surrounding me that I barely noticed other campers waving hello as I rode by. After a few short miles, I rejoined the pavement and picked up speed. Soon, I had passed into Arizona for the second time of the trip, descending onto Monument Valley. Surprisingly, I was slightly disappointed in the scenery that surrounded me having spent so much time in the Valley of the Gods earlier. That’s not to say that this wasn’t impressive terrain, only that it didn’t seem as impressive as what I had already been through.
The batteries in the microphone I had brought with me had died, and being the thorough planner that I was, I hadn’t any spares. Stopping at a Wal-Mart in Page, I picked up a package of double-A’s and chose to get a new rain suit as well. Aside from the rain over the first couple of days, and the thunderstorm in Oklahoma, there had good (if not windy) weather over my trip, but I felt the suit would come in handy on a side adventure I had planned for later. Purchases made, I headed to a local BBQ place for lunch.
I left Page, crossing back into Utah, and as I passed a sign posting the fees for Zion National Park, I was again amused by the benefits extended to motorcycle riders. $25 for private vehicles, yet only $12 for the two-wheeled crowd. Being active duty military however, I was extended an even better deal: free.
People have different focuses when they travel. Some enjoy the people they meet along the way. Others enjoy trying local foods. I was interested in the landscapes, and though I had seen a varied array of terrains in the short time I had been on the road, nothing had compared to what encompassed me now. The road twisted and curved through the canyon and I was speechless, awestruck. As much as I wanted to stop for photos, I forced my way through the park, afraid that if I left to wander, I’d choose to never return to the bike again.
Outside of the park, I passed into the small tourist town of Springdale. Something about the town struck me as charming, and as the campsites in the park were filled, I chose to stay in a hotel. I parked the bike and, as I brought some of my gear indoors, I noticed I had picked up a small hitchhiker. My stuff secured, I left to go wander around the town. I passed a rock store, “The Zion Prospector” and, remembering Alyssa’s request for me to bring her a rock from out west, I walked inside. I walked back out a little while later, having made a couple of small purchases, and continued on to find a place I had passed earlier, the “Zion Canyon Brew Pub,” for dinner.