At last check, the rain came pouring down and Woon Chi stopped for the night in Wendover — one town with two identities, straddling the border between Nevada and Utah. Same same, but very different. (I’m beginning to see a theme here.) Woon Chi booked in on the Utah side, but ventured to the Nevada side for some evening entertainment.
“Lost $35 on blackjack, but free beers so it’s okay!”
The rain continued through the next morning when Woo Chi departed Wendover for Salt Lake City, passing Bonneville Salt Flats along the way. The reality was far different than what he had expected.
“Well, the Salt Flat’s a river, ha ha ha!”
A deserted and vanishing one-point perspective, Woon Chi continued toward the horizon, trying to outrun the rain.
“It was the straightest road from Wendover to Salt Lake City. Straight line for over an hour.”
It was on this dreary morning that America woke up to the massacre in Orlando, and Woon Chi and I exchanged messages about the dichotomy of the U.S. Riding freely, experiencing the country’s vast beauty, freedom to roam and friendly people makes it hard to reconcile the omnipresent potential of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Upon arrival in Salt Lake City, Woon Chi worked out his accommodations and located a bike shop. Salt City Builds checked his w650 and gave him a thumbs up for the second half of his ride around the western U.S.
Woon Chi had a chance to tuck into some of Salt Lake City’s finest cuisine.
“Had my first In&Out. It was ok … dun know why the craze, like Tim Hortons, ha ha.” But did he have it Animal Style?
The Polygamy Porter at the market was apropos of this Sister Wives state, but totally overlooked in favor of the “best fried chicken I ever had” at Bubba’s BBQ. Bubba’s proved a good stop. Due to the rainy weather, Woon Chi and his friends in Salt Lake City decided to head south to Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for the next three days.
“Bubba’s chicken owner has been giving tips to camp around Capitol Reef and Escalante. Had a good long chat.”
Woon Chi & Friends departed the next morning.
Driving southeast, the soggy landscape around Salt Lake City dried out and the contours of the desert southwest appeared. Capitol Reef and Escalante offered up the quintessential blue skies and rusty vistas of this geological wonderland.
While exploring Capitol Reef and Escalante, Woon Chi met a German couple traveling around North America. Karola and Hans are driving an epic camper van that looks prepared for pretty much anything that comes their way.
Three years on the road and Hans and Karola’s path crossed with Woon Chi’s at a point somewhat equidistant between Singapore and Germany. Karola and Hans keep track of their route on a map on their vehicle, and write a blog with photos from their journey.
Woon Chi noted, “German couple’s initial plan was to travel 1.5 years in North America and another 1.5 in South America. Over three years passed but they still haven’t seen it all, ha ha, USA is too big!”
While in the desert, Woon Chi also saw a unicorn of sorts. “Was hot n’ dry out here. Only one cloud spotted.”
On Friday, Woon Chi returned to Salt Lake City and began the next leg of the trip to Yellowstone National Park. He stopped in Pocatello, Idaho for the night and enjoyed the ride through Swan Valley on Saturday morning.
“So nice to be back on my bike!”
He arrived in Jackson, Wyoming on Saturday afternoon.
“Jackson’s cool. Like Tahoe but western.” Same same, but … you get it.
Saturday’s highlight was Woon Chi’s serendipitous arrival in Teton National Park. The stars aligned, as they often do for people who set aside their fears and set out to explore the world.
First: “Campsite by the lake!”
And then: “Bucket list! Grazing bisons!”
And finally, as Woon Chi captioned the photo of his bike in front of the Tetons, the words of Freddie Mercury came to mind: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”
Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter…
Missed part of the road trip? You can catch up with Woon Chi here: