Spanish Fork Canyon and Lunch at the “Famous” Mom’s Cafe in Salina

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 7.42.17 PMI was in the mood for a big ride today, so I pointed the bike up Spanish Fork Canyon headed into Price. Years ago, as a teenager, I had a friend who had a part-time job as a DJ for a radio station in Price on the weekends. He used to tell me about his late-night drives through the canyon in his MG Midget on his way to the station. In those days, the road was a lonely two-lane highway and he would slalom between the lines to keep himself awake as he drove through the night. In those days, he shared the highway with more deer than other cars.

Although the road is a much better road today, with four-lanes in many places, I have to admit I’m sometimes tempted to slalom between the lines myself. Unfortunately, in those days the road didn’t accommodate 65 or 70 miles per hour as it does today.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve driven on this road in an automobile headed to Moab and Canyonlands. I always enjoy the windmills at the mouth of the canyon and Castle Gate signals that you’re almost to Price as you pass the coal mine in the Price side of the canyon.

From Price I pointed the bike south headed to the junction of Hwy 10 and I-70. The ride skirts the San Rafael Swell, a large geologic feature in South Central Utah that formed about 60-40 million years ago when sandstone shale and limestone were pushed up to the surface. It’s a beautiful red-rock desert with interesting formations, but it is also home to a treasure trove of dinosaur bones and some pretty incredible ancient American rock art. A couple of years ago, Sue and I were able to visit a live dinosaur dig in the swell and stopped at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. I wouldn’t recommend taking your nice road bike, but it’s a great ride in a Jeep.

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 8.11.40 PMOne of the largest panels of ancient native American rock art I’ve ever seen is also in the Swell at the Buckhorn Wash. It’s well worth the drive out to see it, but I wouldn’t ride my Road King out there either. The photo here doesn’t do it justice, but was the only one I could find that gave a sense of the size of the wall. Wandering around the area, the aesthetics of the place make it easy to see why they chose this wall for what appears to have been generations. In fact, there are several different styles of pictographs, dating back as far as 2000 years ago.

Passing through Huntington and Castledale, even with the coal mines in the background it’s not hard to picture Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid riding hell-bent-for-leather to escape a posse of law men. It’s easy to see how they could disappear and evade capture in this country.

IMG_2717_1_1By the time I hit Salina it was almost 1:00 pm and I was ready for a lunch stop. The sign said, the best food in Salina was “Famous” Mom’s Cafe, so I thought I’d take a look. There were several pick-up trucks and another motorcycle parked out front, so I decided to give it a try—I wasn’t disappointed. Yelp may only give it 3-1/2 stars, but my cheeseburger was so good, it’s become a new favorite small-town restaurant of mine. It was a classic-feeling diner that has been around for a while. Roadfood gives it five stars, which for what it is, is probably fairly accurate. It’s a great small-town cafe and is on my list of places I will stop if there’s a rumbly in my tumbly and I happen to be in or near Salina.

Highway 89 through Manti, Mt. Pleasant, and Fairview to Spanish Fork Canyon is a very enjoyable ride through small towns and the surrounding farmland. I passed a herd of sheep being moved to new pasture, urged along by a “cowboy?” on horseback.

It may be too early for a ride over the mountain passes, but it was a beautiful day on the motorcycle—six or seven hours well spent. I didn’t even miss the chores around the house I should have probably been doing.

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