Tour Day 1: Frutia, CO to Cisco, UT

April 27th, 2009

72.41mi / 5:01:29 time / 14.4 mph avg. / 31.5 mph max. / 2014 ft. climbing
Staying at Hittle Bottom BLM Campground

It turns out that the rain last night wasn’t just rain. Waking up at dawn, I discovered our tents were frozen stiff with a layer of icy snow. Actually snow is better than rain, because it has a harder time leaking through my tent!

We took an early-morning hike along some of the canyon ledges, where our internal instincts kept us from going right up to the edge, despite the fact that the photos wouldn’t turn out as nearly as badassedly if we’re timidly shying away rather than standing there confidently. Nice that instinct takes over when the conscious brain starts being stupid.

Then it was an awesome roll down off the cliff, giving back the altitude that we climbed yesterday. I think the western set of switchbacks were even more impressive than the eastern ones we climbed, but that might have been because it’s easier to gawk when you aren’t breathing so hard.

In camp in the morning, I plugged my phone into my solar panel and it started charging in a hurry, even though the sun wasn’t very high at all. Great news. (and thanks for the birthday voice message, Mom & Dad, I finally got to listen to it!) But then, after I added my 3 liter bag of water under the solar panel, it seemed to stop working (we would have no water sources until the next morning, so we needed to carry a lot with us). I couldn’t figure out why it broke; my best guess was that it got so much sun that it blew the fuse in the 12VDC-to-USB adapter. Oh well, nothing to do with it then, but it would suck to have the panel fail on the second day of the trip, since we were really counting on using it.

When we got into the town of Fruita after leaving the Monument, I noticed a Napa Auto Parts right across the street from the grocery store we were stocking up at. I went in and they checked the fuse and it was fine. I guess that would have been too easy of a solution. So then we jiggled the wire around where it connects to the solar panel and discovered we could get an intermittent connection. Must be a broken wire there. So after a bit of hemming and hawing, I gave Dennis to the go-ahead to hack off the connector box on the panel. Then connecting bare wires directly to the newly exposed terminals, we still had no voltage! How is that possible?! Finally, after Dennis did some more poking and prodding where he got a voltage, he realized that it was the bag of water under the panal that was bending it just enough to make it fail. Removed that, and it worked just fine! Argh!!!

So that was nearly two hours of work that we could have avoided if I had been thinking. Much thanks to the Frutia Napa Auto Parts who loaned us a voltmeter and a soldering iron to help us get everything back together again. And thanks to Dennis who reminded me to chill out and avoid crashing into things.

We finally got rolling for real around noon, on Interstate 70. It was the only good route into Utah, and as usual for an Interstate, it was pretty nice riding in the big shoulder, and not even that loud because it wasn’t very busy. Around the time we got off and headed to through the ghost town of Cisco, I really started flagging, partly due to my right knee/quad that was acting up again. A cleat adjustment on my shoe might have fixed it, but by then my rhythm was shot for the rest of the day and I struggled along while Dennis was nice enough to coast and let me go at the pace I could manage.

Eventually we turned into the majestic Colorado River canyon along SR 128, sort of replicating the views of the Colorado National Monument, except this time we were at the bottom of the canyon instead of on top of it. Red-rock cliffs and towers everywhere, with the blazing white snow-covered peaks of the La Sal Mountains providing the backdrop. Beautiful. When a campground appeared right off the road and along the river, I said to go for it, even though we were a bit short of our planned destination. I was useless in camp for the first hour or so, but at least we got everything set up and even finished dinner (Mexican, yum!) before dark, which is a first for us! The food helped a lot, so hopefully I’ll be a bit more normal tomorrow. Either way, it’s great to know that Dennis has plenty of ability of this sort of thing. The cool laid-back campground host here set us up with some free firewood, so we even had a fire, which Dennis expertly started using only his flint thingy. So, another successful day, even though it didn’t always feel like that to me.

2 Responses to “Tour Day 1: Frutia, CO to Cisco, UT”

  1. Swati Says:

    Ice?! Wowza! Mom will be happy to know that you and Dennis didn’t go to the edge at the cliffs. One for common sense. 🙂 Reading this post, it was immediately obvious to me that it was the water under the solar panel, but seriously, it’s only because you wrote it like this. I’m glad you got the panel working again, and the two hours you spent aren’t really wasted – you know what *not* to do next time! [Good thing carrying your “purse” on the train wasn’t for naught!] Sorry about your knee/quad issue. No fun! I’m sure it’ll get better soon! And you’re eating a good breakfast at Denny’s right now, so I’m sure you’re doing well! Also, looks like you guys are meeting some really nice people so far! Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Suchi Says:

    Its nice you guys are working like such an amazing team! WTG boys!
    Well, I wasn’t smart enough to figure it was the water under the solar panel. I am glad u guys got it to work. Take care of your knee. You guys are like my daily morning NEWS that I look forward to reading and framing some great images in my head! Enjoy and cheers to common sense!;)