#97 PNW - Storms on the Open Plain

2007 July 25
385 miles
PNW Trip
Day 18

After having a HoJo waffle I started rolling at 8am.It's 70 degrees under a cloudy sky, but I see the sun trying to come through as I ride toward to the northeast.About 25 miles later I arrive in Logan, Utah.
Logan Temple
It strikes me as odd that the deer in Utah don't run across like the road like deer in the rest of the country. According to this sign, you watch out for deer making a mad dash directly at you...as if charging you. In the rest of the country the signs warn you of deer leaping up and over the road.

This technique can be viewed in this video of a deer leaping over a motorcyclist. I do not know the motorcyclist or deer involved. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvCOiFcWNHE Leaving the city of Logan on US 89, I enter into Logan Canyon. US89 through Logan Canyon is about 25 miles of great twisty roads with great little jewels to see along the way.The road runs along the Logan River. This is Ricks Spring. For years it was thought to be a spring and people would drink and collect the water coming up out of the mountain in the cave. But then people started getting sick. Turns out this is NOT a spring after all, but a part of the Logan River that runs underground then surfaces here. There are now signs warning people not to drink the water...it contains e.coli.Just goes to prove that you can't tell if water is safe by looking. The water looks clear and refreshing, but watch out!Leaving the deep narrow cuts of the canyon and entering a valley area before reaching Garden City, Utah.Bear Lake Summit offers scenic views from a visitor center as you drive down into Garden City toward Bear Lake.UT30 runs along Bear Lake outside Garden City. A guy that happened to be from San Antonio offered to take this photo for me. Riding along UT30, I found an open gap gate in the Sage Creek Junction area, but I didn't venture to far down the dirt road. The sage part of the name is very appropriate.
Leaving Utah behind.The road named UT30 turns to WY89 when it crosses the state line into Wyoming. Have I mentioned that the roads out this way don't overwhelm you with too many signs with route options? Here's the most complicated sign for this section of about 100 miles.
Not a hard decision...I'm going to Fossil Butte.
This is an example of other common signs I've been seeing. I've been criss-crossing the Oregon and California Trails and here is the point where all three of us intersect.Fossil Butte NM. This area is rich with fossils left behind when the area was full of aquatic life and other animals that lived around the huge lake that used to fill this basin. There it is...Fossil Butte itself. A view of another Butte of lesser fame as I ride along US30 heading east across Wyoming.US30 shares pavement with I80 through most of Wyoming. And today, this is what you see if you're eastbound on that stretch of pavement. I do not have much experience at looking across this kind of distance to guess at how far away that storm really is, but it's close enough that I can see the frequent lightening flashes filling the dark blue sky. I am a bit concerned. My guess is that this is a better than average storm that you wouldn't want to ride into, but I don't see many options for shelter along here either. My plan is to keep riding closer and hope that I reach my turnoff where my route turns south before I reach the storm. Question is: Is that storm closer than my turn which is in about 40-50 miles. Out here in the flat open it's amazing how far you can see into the distance. My turn came first -- WY789. So now I am traveling south along side this storm. Now the question is: What direction and how fast is that storm traveling? I take time out from my storm watching and distance calculations long enough to snap a quick photo of the Continental Divide sign. I've crossed it a few times, but this is the first time I had a descent opportunity to get a photo.
I tend to be a multi-tasker, but that storm watching had me so busy that I forgot to double check my fuel levels and about the time I took the photo of the Continental Divide sign, I had to flip over to my reserve tank and I don't have any idea how far away I am from a gas station. I was thinking that I would gas up as I turned off the Interstate onto the state highway, but that was a lonely looking intersection with only a closed down firework stand and an adult entertainment establishment. I was so glad to be turning before I hit the storm that it didn't register that I may have a fuel issue to deal with. So now I am about 20 miles (at least) from the last gas station I might have passed. I hate to back track and besides that might be all the time needed for that storm to catch up to me. What to do? I slow my speed and keep going, but it's not looking good. I run a "find fuel" with Jill and she comes up with the closest option being over 75 miles away if I keep to my current route. Boy, I don't want to turn around!
I decide to flag down the next vehicle I meet and ask them if there is a fuel stop in the direction I'm heading and how far.
The first vehicle I see is a white pickup. I quickly pull over to a stop and start waving my arms for him to stop. I
He does, and I ask. He said there is a convenient store that sells gas in Baggs, Wyoming that should be open until 6pm. Plenty time for me to get there, but how far away is that? He can't remember... is it 30 miles or 40 miles? I push him for a more precise answer... 30 miles I have a chance to make it... 40 miles probably not....
He guesses it's closer to 30-35 miles. I decide to try to make it to Baggs. My motoring style significantly changes in this situation. I slow down from 70-80 mph to 55-60 mph (which seems like I might as well be walking along this open stretch of road!) and I tuck in as much of myself as I can behind my small wind deflector...and I talk to Fleeter, telling him to go easy on the fuel so he won't run dry.
Sure enough I make it to Baggs, Wyoming and the valuable fuel stop. I went 175 miles on that tank and still had about 1/2 a gallon left - according to the fuel pumps calculations of what I pumped in. Fleeter did good!
By the way, I'm pretty sure that is a dog roaming around looking in the door of the store, but it sure does look closely related to a wolf.
Just past Baggs, I cross into Colorado.
I've put enough distance between me and the storm to the east and I have a full tank of gas. It's 5pm and I have only about 45 miles to go to reach Craig, Colorado -- Where I figure to stop for the night.
Life is looking pretty good. Until... I see more storms growing. Looks like two descent size storms running together... not looking good.This time it looks like I'm riding right for them. Yep. That looks like that party might serve some good punch.There is quite a lightening show going on in those clouds and I just can't help to pull over to watch and get some photos before the rain hits.
And it did hit. Hard. I was riding down the road hoping to run right through it. I knew it would be intense, but I was hoping it wouldn't last long. There's no place to pull over for shelter, so I just keep riding. But then ... the hail starts. Do you know that when going 30 mph or so that hail hurts when it hits even through your gear? I turn Jill downward to protect the GPS screen from the hail, then hunker down and ride on. I would pull over, but there is no place to pull over - not even a ditch and it is so dark with limited visibility that I don't want to stop on the road and get hit by another vehicle that's still moving through it.
Sure enough...it is intense, but short. I pull out on the other side to dry pavement and cool view of what I just rode through. So, of course, Now I stop to take more photos.I make it to Craig with out further incident and start looking for a place to eat. Something I haven't taken time to do yet today. I stop and ask a local about a good place to take a "sit-down" meal. She directed me to Bad to the Bone.It's the kind of place you wouldn't likely come across on your own. It's down a side street in a mixed-zone area. There is a business across the street, but other small homes on either side. It's a small frame house converted into a restaurant with a deck built on for outside seating. Good food for a good price. Good tip.
I arrive at the Super 8 just outside the town of Craig and I see the storm looming in closer. They need the rain in Craig, but the storm doesn't venture into town. The town stays dry for another night.
As I was unpacking and getting settled into my room, I saw a small herd of antelope in the field behind the motel. It was too dark to get any good photos of them, but still a cool sight.

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