Moab, 2017 Edition

Intrepid Trail, Deadhorse State Park.

Intrepid Trail, Deadhorse State Park.

Big Chief Trail, Deadhorse State Park.

Big Chief Trail, Deadhorse State Park.

Cross Canyon trail, Klonzo North trail system.

Cross Canyon trail, Klonzo North trail system.

We went to the Outerbike Moab bike festival, tried some great bikes and scored some nice swag!

We went to the Outerbike Moab bike festival, tried some great bikes and scored some nice swag!

Demoing bikes at the Outerbike festival. Riding North 40 in the Moab Brand (Bar M) trail system.

Demoing bikes at the Outerbike festival. Riding North 40 in the Moab Brand (Bar M) trail system.

Circle-O trail, Moab Brand trail system.

Circle-O trail, Moab Brand trail system.

Bull run trail (Mag 7 trail system).

Bull run trail (Mag 7 trail system).

Bull run trail (Mag 7 trail system).

Bull run trail (Mag 7 trail system).

Gemini Bridges Rd.

Gemini Bridges Rd.

Beautiful campsite among the boulders (only accessible for short 4 X 4 high clearance rigs). I posted it  here on Campendium  if you'd like the coordinates.

Beautiful campsite among the boulders (only accessible for short 4 X 4 high clearance rigs). I posted it here on Campendium if you'd like the coordinates.

View from Gemini Bridges Rd.

View from Gemini Bridges Rd.

Driving on Gemini Bridges Rd.

Driving on Gemini Bridges Rd.

Rocky Tops trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Rocky Tops trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Rocky Tops trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Rocky Tops trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Ramblin trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Ramblin trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Chisholm trail (Horsethief trail system).

Chisholm trail (Horsethief trail system).

Big Mesa trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Big Mesa trail (Navajo Rocks trail system).

Big Mesa trail (Navajo Rocks trail system)

Big Mesa trail (Navajo Rocks trail system)

Big Mesa trail (Navajo Rocks trail system)

Big Mesa trail (Navajo Rocks trail system)

Trying to play the trumpet with Stéphane.

Trying to play the trumpet with Stéphane.

Our beautiful campsite on Dalton Wells Rd.

Our beautiful campsite on Dalton Wells Rd.

I've already written a lot about Moab since it is our 4th time here (I published a long post containing lots of practical info last year), but we still had a long list of trails to ride. We stayed in Moab 3 weeks this year and rode almost daily, so we checked pretty much our whole bucket list! The Navajo Rocks sector blew our mind (Big Mesa was a favorite) as well as Bull Run (Mag 7).

We went back to Milt's as is our tradition for the girls birthday now and discovered that the food is much better if you eat inside than outside (that was the Milt's we knew from 5 years ago - we had been disappointed in the quality of the food in the last few years). The space inside is very limited (a snack bar counter and two tables, but it's well worth waiting at the back door for a party to leave - it is still much faster than doing the line outside and waiting 45 min to be served).

We drove the whole Gemini Bridges Rd in the Westy. This year, we ended up staying on Dalton Wells Road since Willow Springs was very crowded. We found a great spot off the main road along some beautiful green cliffs. It gets pretty windy on those flats sometimes, but there's no avoiding it in that area. Just keep your awnings in check.

We also discovered a great place to get awesome espresso without having to wait in line at Moab Espresso and Gelato, it's a little bike shop café called Bike Fiend

We spent a lot of time at the Poison Spider bike shop since our bikes got damaged just before we got to Moab when a trucker backed up in our Westy while we were parked in a truck stop to cook dinner one night. Lucky for us, the trucker's insurance company was great and covered all the damages and bike rentals while the bikes were getting fixed (JF got a brand new bike). We had great service and if ever you need anything while in town, go see Russell, one of the managers, he's really an awesome person!

 

Where to ride in Moab and more practical infos

Klonzo North - Cross Canyon trail

Moab Brands (Bar M) 

Klonzo South - Carousel

Klonzo South - half-way throuh Roller Coaster, a really fun trail.

Jennifer made sure the girls got to celebrate their birthday again as soon as we got back together!

When you tell people that you are going to Moab to ride, almost all of them will talk to you about The Whole Enchilada (28 miles with 7000 feet of downhill, it is an epic whole day adventure for strong, skilled riders only - with a shuttle - and the top part is only open in the summer, the last part is the famous Porcupine Rim that can also be ridden separately). Or they talk about Slickrock (10.6 miles of pure slickrock goodness, black, pretty steep and very physical). Of course, these trails are epic in their own ways, but there is so much more in Moab! First, install the Trailforks app on your phone (MTB project is missing a part of the Klonzo trail system), it will come in very handy to navigate your way through all the trail systems around town. Then, come find a spot on Willow Spring Road to camp (14 day BLM, free) and enjoy the view! There are tons of pull-outs (some close to the roads, others further away (we suggest you find a far away one since there is quite a bit of trafic on that dirt road (especially on Fri-Sat-Sun) and it can get pretty dusty (and loud since half the crowd is here to do some four-wheeling on some other trails). 

After 3 times visiting Moab for a few weeks, here's what we can tell you about our favorite trails (by trail systems):

Klonzo (sometimes included in the Sovereign network) : This is a newish trail system with some great trails.
Klonzo North: Start with Dunestone (super fun combo of slickrock and dirt) and up Secret Passage, Vertigo (some black sections), Wahoo and down Borderline (all blue except for parts of Vertigo. We heard Gravitron is a fun black, but didn't get to do it. 

Klonzo South: Lots of easy fun ones for beginners (Hot Dog + Midway and the whole Carousel area for some slickrock introduction), as well as some good blue ones (Roller Coaster, The Edge, Zoltar) and a great black one (Houdini) that is mostly slickrock with not much elevation.

Horsethief: This is a new sector (also sometimes included or confused with Navajo Rocks). Combine the Mustang Loop (blue) with Wildcat (blue), Hildalgo (blue) and Whirlwind (optional) for a super fun ride. Just know that you go down for a while first and you have to climb back up... Make sure to do Getaway (blue) and Bull Run (black and blue sections, some sections near cliff edges) which is the beginning of Mag 7, a single-track composed of 7 trails that link the upper and lower ends of Gemini Bridges Road and that can be ridden as a point-to-point with a shuttle.

Navajo Rocks: Only fun trails! Do the big blue loop or only half of it (Ramblin and Rocky Tops) and come back for the other half (Big Mesa/Big Lonely)!

Moab Brands (aka Bar M): Warm  up on EZ and Lazy (super fun greens) and go do North 40 (blue), it's our favorite trail there. Circle-O is supposedly a fun black that we didn't have time to ride. Deadman's Ridge is a much more technical (rocky and bumpy) black that you can skip...

Klondike Bluffs: Don't miss Dino Flow (blue) and Alaska (if you are up for a climb, the view is totally worth it). For Dino Flow, you might want to consider doing a shuttle (leave a car at the Klondike South parking lot and start at the Dino Tracks parking lot). If you're up for a climb and do not want to do a shuttle, you can park at the Dino Tracks parking lot (don't park at the first parking lot by the highway, you'll have to ride a boring 5 miles on a dirt road to reach the trailhead), go up Homer and Alaska (blue) and down Mega steps (black). You'll even find dinosaur tracks along the way! You can then take Dino flow back to the parking lot. If you want to do Dino Flow all the way without a shuttle, park at the Dino Tracks parking lot, ride Dino Flow all the way down and come back up Jurassic, Jasper East and Midline (all green) for an easy uptrack, or take Baby Steps (blue) if you still have some juice left.

This comment about this sector made me giggle: The Klondike Bluffs Trail is perfect for your teenage son who fancies himself a racer, if you are worried he might kill himself on the Moab Slickrock Trail, which is certainly possible (from here).
And a good reminder: On a sad note, the dinosaur tracks in the Klondike Bluffs area are being destroyed by people who, with no skill or education, are trying to make molds of the prints to take home. We have seen everything from plaster of paris to spray foam. Needless to say, if people do not know how to make molds safely (using a plastic wrap to protect the track), then they probably should be shot on site before they mess this area up for the true amateur paleontologists. Leaving plaster or plastic stuck to the inside of a track is only one small step away from trying to crack the tracks out of the sandstone. Please do not stand on or mar the tracks in any way.

Amasa Back: For the very strong/expert riders only, sounds like Captain Ahab is not to be missed!

For a fun challenge, try Pipe Dream (black trail) located in town and try to do it without setting a foot down!

The Bartlett Wash (aka The Bartlett Bowl) seems like a pretty unique slickrock feature! Check out "The Toilet Bowl" here.

Here's a great site that list all the trails in the area.

Moab is a pretty cute little town that is pretty busy during high season (April to October, but busier during Spring and Fall, summers are hot!). You'll never see so many awesome bikes in such a high concentration! There are lots of bike shops in Moab, but we recommend Chili Pepper and The Moab Cyclery

Just know that everything is a little more pricey in Moab. There are lots of rental bikes on sale at the end of the season (November), but most of the regular sizes are so beaten up you really want to get such bikes. Four years ago, I got a really good deal on a XS bike that barely got out during the season. So, unless you are an XS or an XL, I would pass on the rental bike sales. If you need to rent a bike while in Moab, do a weekly rental (around $300/$350), which is much cheaper than daily ($80/$90).

As for food, you best one spot shop is the City Market (where most people shop with muddy legs and bike protections on). We really like the little health food coop called Moonflower. They sell delicious local greens and produce at decent prices. The rest is quite pricey.

Milt's Stop and Eat is an institution in Moab and every night of the week (except Monday when it's closed), you can expect to wait a good 30 min to get your burger, fries and shake, sitting outside among other bleeding and dirty riders. We make a point of eating here at least once when in Moab, but we have to say that it seems to have lost some of its quality. Our friend Karl had to bring back his large fries because there truly was only a handful of fries in there. They apologized and gave him a new order for free. Our fries were quite pale and undercooked and the avocado melt... didn't contain any avocado. The burgers were good, but not as juicy as they used to. Our chocolate-vanilla malt was as good as usual though.

Four our girls' night out, we went to the Spoke and liked their food (gluten-free bun option for their great burgers), good drinks, homemade ice cream and one of the nicest ambiance in town.

The boys went to the Atomic Loung/Moab Burger and found the food really good (great fries, homemade bacon, delicious burgers), but the atmosphere kind of so-so.

Our friends hit the Moab Brewery and didn't think much of it. The food is average and the beer is well, Utah beer. So if you like 4% beer, go for it, otherwise, forget it.

Grab and go: Try the Quesadilla Mobila. You can't miss this yellow truck. A bit pricey (like everything else in Moab), but it hits the spot.

Coffee. Try the Eklecticafé, nice ambiance, good coffee, vegan and gluten-free options. For a grab and go delicious coffee (or beans $13/lb), hit Moab Coffee Roaster, by the post office and almost in front of the health food coop Moonflower.

As for camping, there's plenty of options. There are a few big and crowded RV park in town, but the largest and most common place to camp is up at Sand Flats Recreation Area, a 10-minute drive up above town. Sand Flats road is the home of the Slickrock trail, and Porcupine Rim trail. There are over 120 campsites up and down the dirt road that runs through the recreation area. Campsites have pit toilets but no water. There's a fee to use the recreation area, and you pay at an entrance gate as you drive into the area. The Internet cell connexion is not great there.

We much prefer boondocking for free on the BLM land on Willow Springs Road, 12 miles North of town. It's closer to most of the trail systems we like, the view is amazing (view of the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park from our bedroom!), but it's a bit of a longer drive to town (20 min), but the connexion is better here. Still, you might need a booster to get good 4G.

For laundry, you can choose between the gringo laudromat (uber clean and more expensive), conveniently located beside the City Market and the Moab Cyclery, so you can shop while you laundry dries and the locals' laundromat (Moab Speedqueen Laundromat, no website, of course), located in the same strip mall as the Chili Pepper bike shop and another smaller and more expensive grocery store (Village Market). No wifi on the premises, but go sit in the grass outside in the La Quinta Hotel and get their signal. There are a few more that I didn't check (Wet Spot, close to Main and Center).

You can go fill your jugs of water with delicious spring water for free inside the Gearheads outdoor store (by the gringo laundromat and the City Market).

Recycling: Moab has probably the most recycling per square miles of any town. There is recycling for everything and a garbage container in the Information Center Parking Lot. There is also some recycling at the Moab Cyclery (no tin). Cardboard recycling between Gearheads and the laundromat. Arches National park has plastic and tin, but not glass.

Showers and pool. You can shower at the Moab Cyclery for $5 or at the Youth Hostel for $3 (Lazy Lizard), and at most campground for $4 to $6. We think that the best deal is the Aquatic Center ($20 per family) where you can enjoy the nice warm pool with a super fun waterslides and diving boards (and clean warm showers that do not run out of warm water!).

Receiving packages : UPS can be shipped to the UPS Customer Center at 1030 Bowling Alley Ln Ste 2, Moab, UT 84532. Pickup times vary so call ahead 435-259-5593
Shipping from any carrier at Canyonland Copy Center (375 S Main St Moab, UT 84532 435-259-8432) There is a fee of $5 per package

Dump and Fill: at the Maverick on the South side of town (free, no purchase required). You can also go to the Slickrock Campground (north side of town, so closer to the BLM) and dump and fill for $5.

Wifi: Library, Information Center, Moab Coffee Roaster, Love Muffin, Eddie McStiff

 

An afternoon in Palo Alto

And we think our generation invented technological nomadism!!

First abacus and old computer chips

Playing Ping!

Left: PET the first Commodore with tape! Top right: the first Apple II. Bottom right: my first computer: a Commodore 64.... Hours and hours of video games with my dad!

The self-driving Google car! So exciting! The only vehicle in which you can actually text and drive! It was even nicer to see one on the road in traffic 5 minutes after we left the museum.

We really enjoyed the Computer History Museum. One of the highlights was playing with the Atari Pong game and seeing the Google self-driving car. There are quite a few of those on the roads around here (they still are prototypes, not sold yet). All the adults enjoyed some nostalgia from seeing devices they grew up with - which brought back fond memories of long gaming sessions with friends and relatives.  When's the last time anyone seen an Atari 2600 or Commodore 64? It was my first computer! I spent countless hours playing games on it with my dad! And who can forget those handheld football games (Coleco!).

There are all sorts of cool displays all the way back from 2,000 BC to the mainframes of the 1960s, Cray supercomputers, to the early Altair 8800, and even an original Apple 1! It clearly is more of an adult museum, but Martin made it quite interesting for the kids by explaining to them some of the exhibits, like the Babbage machine and the ancient calcultators, the punch cards for census.

If you are interested, there is a Groupon deal for 6 tickets (Kids 12 years and younger are free). It is a must see when you are at the heart of the Silicon Valley! Palo Alto is home to Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Intel, Tesla, HP, Skype, Paypal, SurveyMonkey and so many more! That is where it all happens!

Then we went to have dinner at an awesome restaurant called Lyfe Kitchen. This chain has been created by Mike Roberts, the former global president of McDonald's, teamed up with Stephen Sidwell, who helped found the meat substitute Gardein, and Mike Donahue, McDonald's USA's former chief of corporate communications, to launch LYFE Kitchen three years ago. So, as you'd expect, Lyfe aims to bring a fast-food sensibility to healthy fare: you order at the counter, go sit down to a comfortable table in a beautiful zen minimalist atmosphere (unlike McDonald’s) and your food is brought to your table in 3 to 5 minutes. The prices are very reasonable. I got a lime ginger chia water (with fresh mint and strawberries floating in it) for $1.50, a side of baked sweet potato fries with chipotle aioli for $3.50. Everything was delicious, from the Crunchy quinoa salad (with edamame hummus and arugula) to the thai red curry bowl and the fish tacos. Aisha was quite excited to see vegan faux-chicken fingers on the kids menu with the sweet potato fries! It’s a mostly vegan restaurant with lots of gluten-free options. The only meat and fish they serve is organic and grass-fed (and sustainably produced). They also serve great local beer on tap.

The chain now has 18 locations and ambitious plans to open 250 more within the next five years. Every dish on the menu is under 600 calories with less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium, and the average check size is $4 to $14, according to the company. Butter, trans fats, white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other food additives are barred from the menu, and locally sourced ingredients are used when available. There are no more excuses to eat at McDonald’s when in a hurry!

Then, we went to walk in downtown Palo Alto and stopped for ice cream at Cream for the kids and then to Scoop, a microcreamery (how cool… just like in microbrewery). Scoop uses liquid nitrogen to create their ice cream which makes for a very smooth treat. We loved everything we sampled: vegan mango and strawberry sorbet (the instant freeze from the liquid nitrogen turn the strawberry piece into a gummy bear texture: awesome!), the sweet potato and pecan one, the macha tea…

Downtown Santa Cruz

Java was terrified of this little boy...

Santa Cruz is a cool town. A very cool hippy-surf-bum town.... There is great food here too, Café Gratitude, Penny Ice Creamery, Verve Coffee roasters and more that all cater to all types of food intolerances you could have. Bike shops and surf shops are everywhere. The beaches are right there. What's not to love about this place?

An afternoon at Covert Farm

The BEST blackberries we ever tasted! So sweet and juicy!

It's the third time that we visit Covert Farm. Every time, we get there a few weeks before the end of the season and we get to enjoy the last of their produce. They usually tell us to eat what we want that is leftover from the blackberries, raspberries and melons for free (no more blueberries, peaches and nectarines this year). We stuffed ourselves with mouth-watering orgasmic (and organic!) blackberries until our bellies couldn't hold anymore... Then we headed to the strawberry field and popped as many sun-warmed strawberries as we could in our mouth. We picked all sorts of tomatoes and peppers. Last year, we had bought mind-blowing moscat grapes and hoped they still had some this year. The owner sent us to the special place in the field where there might have still some left... We were on a mission. And we found them. The kids screamed like gold diggers... and we stuffed ourselves one more time with these delicious sweet grapes. 

Beside the wine tasting building, there is an awesome trampoline (called the bouncing belly) to keep the kids busy while the parents drink wine. We had such a good time!

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, is one of the most alternative cities in America. It's a green, cool and incredibly bike-friendly city. And it's a total foodie town. Food carts are the big thing here. They are everywhere and most offer very high quality tasty food. 

Every time we visit big cities, the girls are deeply disturbed by the sight of homeless people and beggars. They ask questions, try to understand how these people ended up on the street, feel sad and helpless. While we were waiting at one of the food cart, Mathilde had spotted a young woman begging on the corner of a street who looked quite unwell. She decided to buy a bratwurst for her with her own money. It was a very touching moment when she gave it to her.

JF spent a few day working at Stumptown Coffee while the girls and I explored the downtown area. We spent a few hours at Finnegan's Toy store (and good 30 minutes of those playing with wind-up toys and laughing!)

We spent more than 5 hours (over the course of 3 days) at Powell's City of book, the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world.

On another day, we walked Hawthorne Blvd and had a lot of fun in the vintage second-hand clothing stores. The girls even found their Halloween costumes!

We also went for a soak (and a shower!) in the beautiful outdoor heated pool of the Kennedy School, a 1916 school turned into an hotel, restaurant and theater. 

One day, we went to Washington Park and visited the rose garden while JF worked in the elephant house, an open building (with electricity!) that once housed the first elephant coming to Oregon from Thailand. We also went for a hike in the beautiful trails of that park.

Dawson City

Everytime we go to Dawson, I have this same feeling. We are not locals, but not tourists either. As we drive the Third Avenue in our (very dirty from the Dempter Highway) Westy, locals smile at us. We fit the bill. The Dawson summer crowd is quite colorful: lots of artists and crunchy hippies, too many tourist and some First nations cross paths on the wooden boardwalks... The atmosphere is welcoming and warm. We walk in the Alchemy café and are served in French, we meet a long-lost friend at the Taco stand... I understand better why people are attracted by Dawson's magnetism. There is definitely a sense of belonging here. 

Market day joy

It was seeing familiar faces come back for energy balls and the amazement of people at finding out that something so healthy could be so delicious. It was the fishing in the river in shifts. It was catching up with old friends. It was the bartering with other sellers that left everybody happy. It was the clapping at the end of the market to celebrate another great day of hard work. It was the swim in the ice-cold lake on the way back home and the dance party around the bonfire late in the night with roasted fruits on sticks. It was seeing the moon disappearing behind the mountains. It was falling asleep with Mara in my arms with her hair smelling of wood smoke.