Now Bond, her daughter Julieclaire, and goddaughter, Laura Maxwell, have gone on an extended getaway: They’re biking cross-country to raise awareness about bone health, and blogging about their experiences at Bond Girls Bike America. We asked Bond for some highlights of the trip so far, and she sent us a collection of photo postcards. Read her other post here.
Many of the small towns we biked through in Utah were similar. They have a gas station, a convenience store, a hardware store, a graveyard, a church and a brick town hall. In one country town we had a hard time finding the hardware store, named the “Implement and Feed” because it was located in the gas station.
Our favorite small towns were Torrey and Blanding; nondescript crossroads in southeastern Utah. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and RV’s blast through them en route from Bryce to Capitol Reef National Park, Moab, Monument Valley, or the Grand Canyon. We probably would have done the same if we were not on bikes, traveling at a snail’s pace. We’re often forced to camp in country towns in the middle of nowhere.
At first glance Torrey and Blanding have few attractions for tourists; no Starbucks, McDonalds, candy stores, bike shops, or bars with “Happy Hours.” Remember, we’re in Utah.
Torrey, with a population 171, doesn’t even warrant a mention in the AAA Tour Book. We liked the looks of the one-street town and were ready to stop so we found a place to lay our heads for the night. We stopped at the log cabin General Store on the main road for milk and eggs. The door handle was a pair of elk antlers. Hand-tied fishing flies and wild game jerky filled the shelves. You’ve got to love a store and a town like Torrey.
When we checked into the campground we chatted with the owners, a middle-aged couple, Donna and Duane, who have lived in Torrey for 30+ years. They live off the land, eating from their garden, fishing, and hunting deer, elk, and antelope.
While I was doing a few loads of laundry in their backroom, Duane dropped in to talk. I pummeled him with questions about their lives in the mountains, the long winters and his hunting skills. He refuses to hunt using a bow and arrow because he’s seen too many animals maimed by poor hunters.
A few hours later as a storm blew in from the mountains and shook our little RV, Duane tapped on the door with a gift of fresh-caught rainbow trout and a shoulder of elk, which he had killed, dressed, and frozen the previous winter. With no experience in cooking wild game, we asked for his advice. Duane’s favorite marinade for elk is a half-bottle of Italian Salad Dressing, and he warned us not to overcook the meat or it would be really tough. We followed his directions and both the trout and the elk were delicious.
One kind person can transform a ho-hum crossroads town into a friendly place.
After a spectacular day of cycling through some of Southeastern Utah’s most dramatic red rock canyon lands through Capitol Reef National Park, a gem that’s mostly undiscovered by American wanderers, we ended the day in another small town: Blanding Utah, population 3,162. We weren’t far from Natural Bridges National Monument or Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but we were far from other tourists.
As we checked into the campground at the office in the Trading Post, we were blown away by the dusty curiosities in the glass cases, such as a dinosaur rib and leg bone. Apparently Blanding is known for its dinosaur fossils. Before cycling out of town we stopped at the Dinosaur Museum, housed in a red barn, to see fossilized dinosaur tracks, skeletons, a pelvic bone the size of a fire hydrant and a 360-pound meteorite the size of a watermelon retrieved from China. The history hall of Hollywood dinosaur movies displayed 1950’s kitsch, movie posters and an original mechanized dinosaur model used in a 1929 movie.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
If we had more time and weren’t on bicycles, we could have explored the circular route around eastern Utah and western Colorado called the “Dinosaur Diamond” to see fossil sites, trails, Native American petroglyphs, and more dinosaur museums.
Our last stop before pedaling out of town was a State Park on the site of an ancient Puebloan Indian village, with a remarkable museum showcasing a large collection of pottery, photos, videos, and narratives’ of local Ute and Navajo peoples’ lives. The coolest part of the experience was climbing down into a thousand-year-old Kiva, a place of religious festivals and worship.
With a name like Blanding, we pre-judged the town and expected it to be boring. How wrong we were. Blanding wasn’t so bland after all.
Photos: Marybeth Bond