Wandering Ganesha

2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 1.7: One Day down

Riding to the west in the southwest states at dusk is a mixed blessing. For the hour before sunset, you’re typically staring at the setting sun. But those brief glorious moments as the sun hits the horizon you are rewarded with the landscape coming vibrantly alive. US-89 between Lake Powel and Kanab is not he most entertaining motorcycle road, but the scenery more than makes up for it.

As I was approaching Kanab the sun set and darkness was upon me. So too were a sprinkling of raindrops. As is often true in the high desert the temperature drop of nightfall was going to make an exciting storm. Even though it was early by my normal rally standards It was definitely time to stop.

Pulling up to the T-junction of US-89 and 89A there were two gas stations. I knew that no matter which I one I’d pick it would end up being the one with a crappy receipt. I always prefer to use gas station receipts for my rest bonus if possible. Often times it can take a while to find a hotel that has rooms available and I’m willing to pay for. Also, sometimes the hotel staff isn’t available when I leave. While it’s not required to get a receipt from exactly the same business it is required that they have the same town. That can lead to trouble if you can’t get a second checkout receipt.

One station was a Chevron, the other said Samco. I decide that the Chevron was the more promising of the two, as who knows what Samco is. Fueled up the bike and of course, the receipt was missing the town name. Ugh, guess I’m going inside.

Inside there were two girls that were checking out at the counter. The counter was manned by a rather rotund matron with a fairly displeased look on her face. Her displeasure was focused on the two girls. The one closest to me was built from the same mold as the cashier, her friend, standing well above 6 feet, probably should have been playing linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals.

The rotund one turned and smiled at me. Now I’m a man that likes to find beauty in a woman no matter her shape, size, skin tone, or whatever. I have a policy that I always smile when smiled at (and sometimes I’ve been known to smile first). My smile, however, became more of a grimace. My grimace was not because she was hideously ugly or that her hair looked like one of her younger cousins had been experimenting, trying to match cuts from a copy of Tiger Beat from 1985. While both those things were true, I’ve smiled at uglier, more poorly coifed girls before. No, it was that her troll-like mouth was filled with blackened and rotten teeth. Inwardly I hoped that this was due to poor hygiene habits and the massively large slurpee she held in her pudgy hands, sadly teeth like that in a small town usually point to a meth lab in the vicinity.

My diagnosis was further corroborated when I noticed that the giantess was paying for her bucket of iced sugar with nickels and dimes from an old Ragu jar. This was the source of the cashiers displeasure. As the giantess counted out the last nickel, she too turned and smiled, steeled from my last smile I was more prepared and think I managed to not wince. I’m unsure how successful I was as she somehow managed to not only not exceed, but not even equal the beauty of her friend. Her teeth too were a ruin.

I truly love to travel small roads in the USA. Seeing the small towns that dot this land is both a source of joy and sorrow. So many small towns have dried up, and their inhabitants have drifted away. It saddens me to think of all the dreams that have been lost, or worse yet turned to nightmares. When I travel though these small abandoned towns I look at the decaying buildings while trying to imagine the lives of those who lived there in more vibrant times.

I know that the popular belief is that small towns are the true America, that somehow large cities are just a scourge on the land, a source of crime and filth. Sadly the reality is that the inability for small town residents to feel there is a future has led all too many down the path of meth addiction. These were not the first girls I’d seen in a small town with rotten teeth. It’s an all too common occurrence. Yes, small towns are dying, but some are committing suicide.

I asked the cashier for a duplicate receipt. It’s always a crapshoot when doing this. You think by now I’d remember to look at the amount I’d spent on fuel, as this is often asked for. Why it’s needed when I’m the only one that’s bought gas in the last 20 minutes is beyond me. She asked. I pleaded ignorance. She found it and printed it out. Yes, it too did not have a town on it. Argh! Turning around I spied a cash machine. Awesome! As long as it had the town on it I’d be golden.

I did a balance check, which does not cost money like a withdrawal would. It was a perfect receipt! There was the town, the address, the state, and time! Wait, what time is it? Shit, it was off by an hour! I think this is the first ATM receipt I’d ever gotten with the wrong time on it! Now I could still have used it. As long as I got a second one from that ATM in the morning I’d be OK, as the total time elapsed would be correct. EXCEPT! I was only a few miles from the next bonus and trying to explain that I had not left my rest stop and visited the bonus, then returned was just a recipe for disaster at the scoring table.

I looked warily across the street at the Samco.

Entering the Samco there was like entering a different world. Gone were the rotten teethed lasses of Chevron, replaced by more cheerful residents, and the absence of a dispenser of mammoth iced sugar buckets. The guy behind the counter was in his 20s and was laughing it up with an older gentleman. I looked around at something to buy. Longingly I looked over at the ice cream freezer. I’d lost 50 pounds in the 8 months leading up to the IBR, but was not worrying about my eating habits while on the rally. Too many things to worry about to add that to the list. But still, ice cream twice in one day seemed excessive. Picking out some mixed nuts I made it to the cash register.

The customer had left, and I bought my nuts and the receipt was perfect! I’d checked on my iPhone hotel rates in the area and it seems like Kanab was a tourist trap. Most places were well above $100. I asked the kid behind the counter if he knew of any cheap places to stay. Preferably one where the bed bug didn’t carry you off at night and the girls only changed customers every hour. He laughed and explained that I was in Utah! Where it was too damn boring for that kind of thing to be found. Thinking back to the ladies and their buckets of slush across the street made me think that the boy was just unaware of Kanab’s underbelly. He recommended the Holiday In Express, which I knew was $180 a night and not likely to get my business. Enquiring about the two non-chain motels across the intersection he cast a dubious eye at both and didn’t recommend them.

I mounted back up and headed south just to see if there was anything else in town that might not be on the internet booking sites. I quickly ran out of town and into rain. Pulling a U-turn, I headed back and stopped at the old Sun N’ Sand. It was long past its prime, but there was a family enjoying the evening sitting by the door to a room. Turns out it was the night manager and her family (owner maybe?). The rate was good and the manager seemed nice enough. She explained that they had homemade applesauce muffins at 7 AM. They sounded delicious, but sadly I’d be on the road long before 7.

The room was fine, the bed was more comfortable than expected. Before bedding down I did my day’s paperwork, just to make sure that all was in order. I did a little route planning but could find no changes worth making. I was in bed by 11, and quickly fell asleep.

Sun n Sand Motel Photo By Troy Snow

Sun n Sand Motel – Photo By Troy Snow

Day One Stats
Total Time: 11h 18m
Total Stop Time: 2h 56m
Total Moving Time: 8h 22m
Total Distance Covered: 605 miles
Average Speed: 53.5 MPH
Moving Average Speed: 72.3 MPH
Day One Stop Tally
Location Stop Time
Routing Stop 12
Gas 1 39
Gas 2 9

5 thoughts on “2015 Iron Butt Rally – Part 1.7: One Day down

  1. Mark Vanderbrook

    Another colorful installment, and well-written. As someone jonesing to ride his first IBR in 2017, I’m eating this stuff up. (At least this addiction has no deleterious effect on my teeth.)

    Just curious… are you writing this up from memory? Or do you make notes of some kind at the end of each day? I’m thinking I’ll use my phone’s voice recorder app, since I won’t remember a lot of detail after 11 days.

    Looking forward to my next fix…

    1. Steven M Post author

      It’s all from memory. I have a great ability to remember small bits of useless information. Sadly I forget people’s names!

  2. RenoJohn Austin

    What fun, this report is just the bees knees.
    Kanab USA. ..Like so many other towns that once held smiles full of dreams, but not so much anymore.
    Great writing, great fun and thanks for taking the time to share this novel of a ride report with us.

  3. Dan S

    wow, enjoying your story. Your memory is amazing. I just got back from an easy 3800 mile 2 week trip with my brothers and have a hard time remembering where and what we did.

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