I wipe down the tentís fly and pack up the gear. By 7:30 Iím waiting for the 8:00 AM ferry across Lake Powell. For $3 The John Atlantic Burr Ferry takes your motorcycle across the waters on a 30-minute cruise to Bullfrog Basin. Regular cars are $9. The boat makes the trip six times a day during the warmer months. A nice couple from New Mexico comes over to check out the bike. Theyíre on their way to spend a few days on a houseboat, cruising around the lake. They invite me to stop by their place near Taos on my way back east.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, extending for over 1.2 million acres, lies in the midst of the countryís most rugged canyon country. In 1956, construction of the Glen Canyon Dam was started on the Colorado River near Page, Arizona. The result is the 185-mile long Lake Powell, with almost 2,000 miles of shoreline and thousands of hidden coves and canyons. The thing to do here is get a boat to cruise the waters, and four marinas rent houseboats and other watercraft.
The park also contains Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the worldís largest natural bridge with a span of 275 feet and a height of 290 feet. But getting there is a day-long task. The bridge is a 50 mile boat ride from Bullfrog, or a 14 mile hike from the Navajo Mountain Trading Post, which itself is a 50 mile back-road drive from Navajo National Monument. Needless to say, I wonít be visiting Rainbow Bridge on this trip, and I wonít be getting the stamp.
I do, however, get the Glen Canyon stamp, over in Bullfrog at the visitor center. And there is Amber, the girl I spoke to on the phone yesterday about the camping at Halls Crossing. She actually works for ARAMARK, the company that provides visitor facilities in this and other park areas throughout the country. She asks me about my trip and we chat for about an hour. She loves to travel and thatís why she works for ARMARK. The pay is lousy but every six months she gets to move somewhere else. Her next destination is Lake Tahoe. Once she hitchhiked from Oregon to Florida.
I could stay and talk to Amber all day, but Iíve got a schedule to keep, and I continue up route 276. The early morning clouds are still hanging around the imposing Henry Mountains to my left, with the dramatic peaks of Mount Hillers, Mount Pennell, and Mount Ellen at 11,522 feet. I reach Hanksville and then the Capital Reef National Park. Here, a giant, sinuous wrinkle in the Earthís crust stretches for 100 miles across south central Utah. The impressive buckling of rock is called the Waterfold Pocket, and contained within are colorful cliffs, massive domes and twisting canyons.
From Capitol Reef, the road turns into a dream, along Utah 12 Scenic Byway. I cross into the Dixie National Forest, rising to the pass at 9,400 feet. Itís 20 degrees cooler on the flanks of Boulder Mountain and I stop to survey the view over Capital Reef across to the Henry Mountains. Pinyon pines and sagebrush surround me with the desert lying along the horizon at my feet. From here the road twists and turns through narrow ridge tops and red-rock canyons.
I arrive at Rubyís Inn, the entrance to Bryce Canyon, but the skies look threatening. I decide to put off Bryce until tomorrow morning and do some laundry instead. It turns out to be a good move. About 10 minutes after I check into the hotel, the skies open up.
GPS, stands for Global Positioning System. Mounted between the handlebars of my motorcycle is a Garmin Street Pilot (http://www.garmin.com/streetPilot.html), a GPS receiver. A constellation of 24 geo-synchronous satellites sends timed signals that are picked up by the GPS receiver and are used to triangulate a position with extreme accuracy. The signals are best received in open terrain, away from trees, buildings or other features that obscure the sky. The satellites, maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense, orbit the Earth every 12 hours at an altitude of eleven thousand nautical miles.
Good quality GPS receivers, like the Street Pilot, can track up to 12 separate satellites simultaneously. A signal from 3 satellites is required to fix your position in latitude and longitude; four signals are required to also determine your elevation. The more signals your GPS receiver is picking up, the more accurate your location fix will be. When I crossed the plains of North Dakota, the GPS had an accuracy of 33 feet.
The Street Pilot unit contains a display that actually locates my position on a moving map. The unit comes with a base map containing many of the major streets and cities in the country. The real genius of the Street Pilot is that I can download street-level, detailed information for the areas I will be traveling through. Every few nights, depending on how far Iíve traveled, I connect the unit to my laptop and download information from the Garmin Metroguide CD-ROMs. This two disc set contains every possible street including little dirt roads. Without this technology I would have to carry hundreds of maps. I look down at the receiver and it tells me exactly where I am, what road Iím driving on, my longitude, my latitude, and my altitude. Iím never lost. It also tells me where gas stations, motels, and even National Park Sites are located.
Besides the mapping features, the GPS also has a trip computer, which I reset every day. It tells me how many miles Iíve gone, my average speed, my maximum speed, as well as my time spent moving and standing still. The information is very accurate, and much more reliable than a mechanical speedometer. Actually most BMW motorcycles are 3.5 percent over actual, meaning that when Iíve traveled 100 miles according to the GPS, the motorcycle will read 103.5 miles. This is why if youíve added up the miles traveled from my journals each day, you would see they donít match the total listed. For the total I use the BMW odometer because this is what I base the bike maintenance on.
The GPS is a wonderful tool and also a bit of a toy. If you want to learn more about GPS check out these web sites:
If you are interested in ordering some GPS equipment, I suggest Total Video at 877-625-3546. Their web-site is located at http://www.tvnav.com/navhome.html. Theyíve got the best prices on the Garmin units and accessories. Darrell will probably answer the phone. Tell him a friend of Peter Jones referred you. Peter, known as the DGPS Guy, gave a great GPS seminar at the BMW MOA rally in Rhinebeck this year. That is where I learned about all this stuff and where I figured out which unit to buy. Thanks Peter!
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