They say you never really know anybody, even your own family. That’s probably truer with a sibling you didn’t grow up with (or even know existed for years). But there are some bridges you just shouldn’t cross; things you don’t need to know. I’m not naming names, and I’m not going into detail, but after pushing open an ajar hotel room door in Monticello, Utah, what I was greeted with can only be described by two words: naked calisthenics.
"Sometimes, home is the road, and family is who you live with. This time, I got to have a
I’m the fifth of six boys. My dad’s been married three times, with two boys per mate. Growing up I only knew my two oldest half-brothers and my younger brother, the closest in age at six years younger than me. Little did I know that on the far side of the country, my two closest (half) brothers were growing up, just four and five years older than me. So while we get along well, and have much in common, every once in awhile something like naked calisthenics comes up and thoroughly shocks me.
My brothers Glenn and Scott (as well as Glenn’s employee, Leo, an honorary brother after this trip), and I woke up in Monticello after a very long day through southern Wyoming and a whole slice of western Colorado. We awoke not to explore Canyonlands National Park (like most of the rest of the hotel), but because it’s the perfect launching point to go on my favorite ride across Utahwhich we decided to ditch out on (see part two, last month).
Unlike our last day in the saddle, this one was not to be 600 miles of backroads from dawn till dusk, but rather a leisurely ride about 350 miles to Prescott, Arizona. So with a less challenging itinerary ahead of us, we had time to get coffee from a prime little caf across the street (the Peach Tree Juice Caf), grab the free continental breakfast, and yes, somebody engaged in a little naked calisthenicsor teabag-enhanced yogawhatever the kids are calling it these days.
Monticello had beautiful views and not much else, so we skedaddled out into the warm embrace of southern Utah. Unlike the historic stonework edifices of the Colorado silver towns we’d seen the previous day, the ones in this part of the world were a bit more modern and strip-mall-ish. While enterprising Mormons settled it in the same time period as the silver-rush towns, these were peasants not flush with cash, so they were mostly built with long-decayed wood. Monticello (and the surrounding towns) is a boom town, but not of silver, uranium rather. So most of the older buildings in these parts are ’50s era.
The roads of San Juan County immediately around Monticello are mostly flat, or at best rolling hills, though very scenic. Surrounded by impressive mountain ranges, it goes on like this until the first drop. This area just west of the Rockies is an elevated plateau, so every once in awhile you get to an area where erosion got the better of it and there’s a massive mesa wall that you pass through to the next layer down. The land in this area has been eroded away into a series of mesas with numerous cliffs and canyons, all rough-hewn and (relatively) young at only a few tens of millions of years old. The first couple drops through a cliff face and onto the next plain was near a town called, appropriately enough, Bluff, in honor of the red cliff directly over the town. If you can handle living in a town of 300, I can think of few prettier places to live than this 19th century farming community, the first settlement in the area.