The dreaded W’s, work and weather conspire against us during our last few days in the Tetons, the first keeping us in the camper till late in the afternoon on a couple of days and the later preventing us from hiking up Cascade Canyon on the day we are leaving.
In spite of these setbacks, we’re determined to squeeze in a couple of hikes at the end of the workday. The trail up Signal Mountain is pleasant enough, the prize being the view from the top. On the opposite side of the mountain to the trail, there’s a road up to the summit. Having seen virtually no-one on our way up we emerge into the melee at the top. We don’t loiter. We take an alternative route back, along the ridge, with many open viewpoints to the mountains.
The trail out to South Landing follows the lake from the campground. It’s a short walk but has spectacular views out across the water to the Tetons, rising steeply from the opposite shore. The wind’s up a little and from up on the bluffs we can see the milkyness where the water has been churned by the waves. Out past this edging, it’s crystal clear, a dark blue, offsetting the lighter shade of the sky. In the other direction we can see dark cloud approaching accompanied by thunder but decide to risk it: the gamble pays off and we return without a supplementary shower.
On our one free day, we dust off the bikes, which have not had an outing since April, and head towards the parking at String Lake where we plan to cycle south towards Jackson. The path runs parallel to the mountains, is comparatively flat with just a few inclines and giving great views all the way, especially on the return. Having not ridden for two months, it’s hard going on the posterior: it’s not my legs that start crying out but other parts of my anatomy, in spite of my wizzo saddle. It’s the bike’s revenge for having been left in it’s bag for too long.
We leave the park and head towards Green River in Utah where Sterling’s going to pick up the train for San Francisco: he’s going to Google I/O. For those not in the know, take it from me, this is a big deal. Tickets are like gold and cost accordingly and if you’re a geek, getting one is like hitting the mother-lode.
Now perhaps, given his past history of trying to get to Google events by train he should have known better. Last time, he was heading out of Blaenau Ffestiniog to pick up a connection to London. It rained, and then it rained some more: no surprise to those of us who have or still do live in north Wales. The Conwy valley flooded, the lines disappeared beneath the water and the trains stopped. In response to a rather desperate phone call, I drove him to the connecting station, with barely a minute to spare.
This time it’s flooding in Omaha: the trains are still getting through but are over five hours late. An alternative method of travel is needed. Planes, cars and the trusty truck are all considered before we settle on dropping him in Salt Lake City where he can pick up a rental car.
Sterling loves trains and finds it hard to pass up the opportunity to get on one. When we lived in Britain and Spain he’d jump on a high speed locomotive at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, high speed rail travel doesn’t really exist in The States. It’s a little over one thousand miles from Green River to San Francisco by rail and it takes twenty two hours. Not what you’d call fast. He’s keen to do the return journey by train but that might prove to be sheer folly, we’ll see.
Having detoured into Salt Lake City, I’m heading for Green River where our mail is waiting. I stop in the state park there for the night before getting back on the road. My destination: Canyonlands National Park. As I crest the top of a very long hill, I hear something I don’t like the sound of, immediately followed by a loss of most of the truck’s power: I suspect the turbo hose. Of course it’s in the middle of nowhere and not surprisingly, I’ve got no phone signal. I am however, incredibly lucky. I’ve just passed a Utah Department of Transport, salt storage building and there are a couple of guys working there. I walk back and ask if they’ve got a phone I can use: one of their phones has two bars, if we stand at the back corner of the building. And so begins an infuriating conversation with the breakdown service. They want my exact location: a mile marker, a side road, GPS coordinates. The guys working on the building aren’t local either so we’re not getting anywhere in a hurry.
While I’m waiting for the breakdown truck, the guys decide to have a look and see if it is the turbo hose that’s blown off. Sure enough, there it is and they set about reconnecting it. They drive off into town and I wait for the breakdown service so they don’t think I’ve been kidnapped by aliens. I explain he’s had a wasted journey and he suggests following me a couple of miles just to make sure. I get about two hundred yards before it blows off again.
The short version of the rest of this saga is that the breakdown truck is too small to carry the camper, I drive back into Moab, doing at least ten miles an hour up the numerous long hills and have to wait there overnight for a new section of hose to arrive. Good news: it’s fixed and I’m back on my way.