Trip days: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10-12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
Lee's Ferry was a really nice place to spend the night. The campground wasn't the greatest, kind of barren, but the surroundings were absolutely tops. The Colorado River ran through a canyon right next to the campground and a nice wind was blowing over the cliff above the campsite making a slightly spooky yet somewhat comfortable whistle. Real wild west sounds. For some reason I woke up at 6:45, or at least I thought it was 6:45, and watched the sun rise over the red rock cliffs to the east. I packed up and got back on the road heading south on highway 89 towards Flagstaff.
The northern Arizona section of highway 89 passes through the Navajo Indian Reservation. I stopped at a gas station in Cameron at the turn off to the Grand Canyon and noticed an elderly navajo woman walking out of a shop next door. I was suprised to see that the Navajo looked quite different than the stereotypical native american image that I had in my head. Obviously I would be a bit near sighted to blindly think that all native americans looked the same, but this woman looked so much different. She wore an undescribable dress with an over vest and some sort of navajo sash, lots of sterling silver jewelery encrusted with large turquoise rocks, and a head scarf. Her facial features seemed very east asian, or inuit like. A very distinguished looking individual.
After filling my tank I decided to go check out the Grand Canyon. $20?! What is it with the national parks and charging $20 to enter them? I mean if I was there for 20 minutes, which is probably all the time I would spend there gawking, that's a dollar a minute. There should be a cheap motorcycle rate or something, I swear. Why would a car of 5 people cost $20 and a motorcycle with one guy cost the same? Okay, enough bitching.
So I bee-lined it down to Flagstaff in search of a good breakfast diner. Miz Zip's Route 66 diner fit the bill perfectly. For a mere $3.85 I had 2 big pancakes, bacon and couple very tasty eggs. Ahhh, affordable food. During breakfast I looked up at the wall clock in the diner and noticed that the time was only 9:45 not the 10:45 that all my clocks said. What the hell, I set all my clocks an hour later when I got to Utah and now they were all wrong!? I asked the waitress what time it was and she reinforced the reading of the old malfunctioning looking wall clock. Crap, I'm confused. A little further questioning and I find out that Arizona doesn't do daylight savings. Why? I don't know, nor does anyone in Arizona. That means that I actually woke up at 5:45 am this morning, not 6:45... Shoot me now, put me out of my misery. I mean how embarassing, this will really tarnish my much groomed slacker image.
I called up Shannon Nunley, a BMW R1100S rider from Phoenix who I had contacted through a BMW motorcycle forum on the internet, to find a good route down to Phoenix and when and where I would meet him at. He recommended a route down highway 89a through Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, Prescott, to Wickenberg. I would then head east on highway 60 and meet Shannon somewhere around Lake Pleasant north of Phoenix.
Heading down towards Sedona on highway 89a it struck me how truly diverse the Arizona countryside is, not to mention Utah. Ranging from 3,000 foot plateaus all the way up to 9,400 foot passes, in a single day in Utah the temperature ranged from a high of 75 degrees to a low of 39 degrees. From stagnant salt water pools to snow banks, aspens to sage brush, canyons to mountains. Quite remarkable landscape. Highway 89a was no exception. Just south of Flagstaff the terrain reminded me of the higher area in Washington State around Roslyn: Pine forest, sandy light brown dirt, kind of empty looking. Further south 89a dove into a red rock canyon and snaked back and forth running alongside a narrow, flowing river. Really beautiful.
I passed through Sedona, Cottonwood, and up to Jerome. Jerome is a really different town. Jerome sits perched a couple thousand feet above Cottonwood and is spread vertically over a very steep hillside. It had a very Italian Alps sort of feel to it. The stretch of 89a leading up to Jerome and south towards Prescott also was very alpen-like with twist after turn and a hairpin or two thrown in for good measure. Great road, another of the top must ride roads I've been on so far during this trip.
Meeting Shannon Nunley was an experience in itself. I should have expected it... another crazed BMW S rider. I saw him coming from what must have been a mile away. He screamed down the hill near the entrance to Lake Pleasant passing a row of cars and a couple Harleys, blinding oncoming traffic with the armada of lighting mounted on the front of his bike. After shaking hands and exchanging brief pleasantrys, "You want to get going? We should try and beat the rush hour traffic. Try to keep up, I'm running radar and I ride fast." Okay then... Blazing through thick traffic north of Phoenix I was glad that I had experience riding in Italy swarming around in a chaotic melee with scooters and cars. You definitely need a heightened level of awareness to comfortably slice through thick traffic at the speeds we were. Not for the weak of heart.
We got to his apartment and B.S.'ed for a while as I gave my bike a much needed bathing. Shannon's a Microsoft Windows network administrator, poor bastard ;) He's pretty wired and ... sweet! He has a high speed internet connection and a wireless network. Two minutes later and I'm checking my email and surfing the web while uploading a second batch of trip photos to my website and drinking a much needed Corona.
Hunger set in and we headed to Shannons favorite mexican restaurant. $5 giant margaritas, really hot carne adobada, black beans and rice, and three different kinds of very good salsa. Perfect. Back to his place and the comfort of his plush leather sofa, and I was out for the count.
Total Mileage for Day: 355
©2003 John Meloy <email@example.com>