A bike, in this case, is not a bicycle or a motorbike, it’s an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle,) a four-wheeler. Husband calls them bikes. Does that make him a biker? Am I a biker chick?
I was about to say, “You are joking, right?” when I saw his kind of cute, hopeful expression.
“Love to,” I lied.
“It’ll be good practice for the camping trip,” he added.
We’re going to the Uintas in August. We’ll stay in a 30-foot trailer in Hill Air Force Base’s private campground. We’ll take our ATVs so we can carom along all the dirt roads and trails. This is Husband’s idea of a good time.
I haven’t driven an ATV for eight or nine years. I only did so before because I felt I should share one of Husband’s passions. I don’t enjoy hunting, or fishing, or hiking, or camping. Okay, so I don’t enjoy four-wheeling either, but it was the lesser evil. Something comes over my normally cautious husband when he mounts his bike. He loses all sense of self-preservation and hurtles along at the speed of light, on trails no sane person would attempt to navigate.
Nope, trying to drive over trails which were no more than a series of deep ruts straddled by roots, with the occasional boulder thrown in, was not my idea of fun.
Thank goodness, our second ATV died.
He bought a replacement two years ago, a big monster with automatic shift, but I managed to weasel out of his mini safaris, or persuade one of the sons to go with him instead of me.
But, to please Husband, I will go this time. And he was right, I do need practice, because I don’t see a way to get out of four-wheeling when we’re in the Unitas.
The day didn’t start well. I couldn’t get to sleep the night before so woke up late. It’s funny, when I want to go somewhere, I can’t get Husband on the road without an effort, but he’s up early all bright-eyed and eager when we’re going somewhere he wants to go. But I woke up late, then had to phone my mum, because I promised her. I delayed the great expedition. No Brownie points for me. We didn’t leave the house until nine AM.
And we couldn’t take one of the local trails. Oh no. We had to drive up to Monte Cristo and head off along the Curtis Creek road. It’s an “upgraded, gravel” road, which means someone drove along it with a grader, leveled off some of the worse bumps and scattered a handful of gravel around.
It’s beautiful country up there. Meadows, magnificent overlooks, forests of aspen, and forests of some of the biggest old pine trees I’ve seen. We stopped at an overlook and I watched gorgeous butterflies settle all around us. The wild flowers were bigger and brighter than where we live. Hawks circled overhead.
The air baked me when we were stationary, and near enough froze me when we drove along. I congratulated myself on taking a jacket.
I can’t say I took in a lot of the glorious vistas. I was too busy watching the road for ruts and boulders, or looking in the mirror to see if anything came up behind me. I had to avoid kamikaze ground squirrels determined to die beneath my wheels. I slowed down to a crawl when we rounded blind bends. I crawled when we went through the pine forest, because those big old trees threw dark shadows over the trail, which might hide nasty bits of road. And I had to watch out for toads.
A sign at the beginning of the road notes all of the things you can’t do at this time of year, like light fires, and it warns you to watch out for Boreal toads. Apparently, they are rare, and if you see one “Do NOT pick it up.” You should take a picture of it (if possible) and note the GPS coordinates― if you have a GPS with you, which we didn’t this time―and phone the information to the Forest Service. I don’t know what the Forest Service does with the information. Send out a toad rescue crew?
Anyway, apart from the jacket, I was ill prepared. I forgot everything I should have remembered from past years of four-wheeling.
- · Don’t drive too close behind Husband unless you want to move through a cloud of dust.
- · Wear a scarf over your head.
- · Wear a mask or scarf over the lower part of your face.
- · Wear those expensive goggles you bought, the ones which fit over your glasses.
- · Alternately, wear a head to toe spacesuit. That should do the trick.
- · If you take an energy bar, put it in the little cooler on the back of the ATV, or be prepared to lick the melted bar off the paper.
- · Don’t bother to take a drink, because you’re gripping the handlebars so tightly, you can’t hold a drink at the same time.
- · There are flies up there. They bite.
When we got home, my hair was thicker than it has been for years. That dust sure adds body. My eyebrows appeared to have grown together. On closer inspection, a bar of thick dust spanned the bridge of my nose. My eyes leaked dust from the corners. When I blew my nose – well, you don’t want to hear about that.
“Did you have fun?” Husband asked.
“I was lovely up there.” Note the evasive answer.
But I’m now confidant I can steer a gigantic four-wheeler and not hit anything―although I can’t be held responsible for ground squirrels with a death wish―or fall off. I’m all set for our mini vacation in August. Once a biker chick, always a biker chick.