This very moment in time is exactly what I envisioned for this trip. Typing an article by a bonfire in the woods.
Yesterday was a trying day. I wanted to put on as many miles as I could to get close to the Grand Canyon. The campsites there are first come first serve. Thankfully my host that previous evening prepared a delicious egg breakfast that would fuel me until 9PM that evening.
WIthin 40 miles from her house I was riding some amazing New Mexico roads. I felt like a king that just owned it all.
My GPS told me to turn onto Old Route 66. I thought, AWESOME! This is some history I’m about to ride on. I’ve witnessed “Loose Gravel” signs before so I thought this was just like all the others. Boy was I wrong.
I went from riding on pavement at 70MPH when all of a sudden the pavement just dropped off and it was only rocks and ditch size potholes all while flying onto this at 70. This was the first butt puckering moment I’ve had the entire trip. Lance, I dedicate those 13 miles of obnoxious road to you my man.
After that I was blessed with some pavement. Shoddy pavement but pavement nonetheless.
This is an area of no fences, no houses, no anything. I see something in the road ahead of me. What was it you ask? Horses. Wild horses just standing in the middle of the road. One of them even ran next to me for 30 seconds. I can’t even put into words how crazy this was to see firsthand.
After that it was smooth sailing ahead… or so I thought.
While in the middle of “No Service” New Mexico I thought to myself, “what if my phone charger stopped working. That would really suck and I’d be screwed.” I tap the home button on my phone to find that my charger is in fact not doing any charging. Shit. I stop at a 2 pump gas station and ask if they know where the nearest Best Buy or Radioshack would be. They direct me to a bigger city about 40 miles off the path I was taking. This is the part of the trip where you need to take the blows as they come.
I get to Gallup and head into the mall. Find one of the many cell phone vendors and pick up a new cord. Plug it into the bike and see that I’m still not getting power to the phone. I have 18% battery left. I better figure this out soon. I text my parents and say I love them and then stop at a gas station to rip the bike open. It had to be the direct charger off the battery.
Well what do you know. All the off road riding (also known as the bumpiest stretch of road that probably loosened all my bolts… good old Rt. 66) jostled all the wiring and switch. Two quick presses and we were back in business. Thank god.
With a functional phone charger I was off 40 miles back to my original route. After a little while I was in Arizona.
So when people tell you AZ is hot, they mean it is hot. You can be at 85MPH with a strong wind and still be sweating. I have no idea what it actually was that day since I couldn’t check with no cell phone reception but it was quite warm. Something you never want to do in these situations is stand still. What do I run into? Multiple “One Lane Ahead” situations.
I could see the couple behind me laughing as they pulled up and saw my bike fully loaded with a guy in full leathers sitting at 0MPH melting.
As I proceeded through Arizona I saw a lot of burned up plots of land. I can’t imagine seeing these fires in person. Everything is so dry that a spark would set a few square miles a blaze.
I also suffered from GPS retardation which played into my large delay and 600+ mile day. I was 35 miles past where I needed to turn and thought, “I’ve been on this road for more than 20 miles.” I check the GPS to find it is stuttering and says I’m at my destination. Another hard reset and 35 miles of back tracking. I couldn’t catch a break.
I knew the last 100 miles of my trip were going to be the enjoyable one. I put out a call on ChicagoRiders.us the previous night to help me decide which route to take. I was so ready to see this sign.
I was finally able to enjoy some very twisty national forest roads before I got to Flagstaff. I was pleased.
The last 15 miles was gravel but I didn’t even care. This was a side of Arizona I never expected to see. Sheer beauty.
Day 26 began with a big bowl of cereal thanks to my gracious host Dave. I needed to get to the campgrounds early to secure a spot. By 1045AM I was in the dirt and ready to set up camp.
I can’t begin to explain how happy I was to get a spot here. This was one of the major things I wanted to see on this trip.
I have many more photos on my point-and-shoot but I’m not chancing the upload at this campsite. I didn’t have any service for a long time so let’s appreciate the fact that I was able to type this article.
I stopped into the visitor center and said, “if you only had one day to spend here, what would you go see?” She told me to park at the main grounds and take the shuttle everywhere. To the shuttle we went.
While driving into the park there was one point where the trees cleared and I saw the grand canyon. I wish you could have heard me scream into my helmet. I couldn’t believe what I saw in that fleeting moment. I was excited to get to an outlook and really see what this Grand Canyon was all about.
I spent 6.5 hours around the park. I even went on an hour long hike. I spent 20 minutes walking down and then 40 to walk back up. While on that 40 minute walk back up the mountainside it really hit me in the face that I was actually not in shape at all and that my 20oz beer with lunch wasn’t helping my current situation. I felt better when I read signs stating that at 7000ft elevation everything is more difficult. Thanks sign.
This trip has opened my eyes to how small I am relative to the world. Until this point, the vast open roads and huge plots of land were the reason why. Not only did I feel ridiculously small after seeing the size of this canyon, my trip felt small. Think about it. I’m from Chicago and I rode here on a sport bike. There are people who most likely spent 24 hours on airplanes to get to this very point. I’m so used to everyone calling me crazy and talking to me about how long of a journey it has been but here that is not the case. People from around the world were riding the shuttles and I realized that I’m not the only traveler. The entire day I had my helmet strapped to my Camelbak and I honestly laughed when the server commended me on my journey considering the fact that she seated people from Germany and France before me. I am but a mere speck in this large place we called the world.
I made it back to camp sunburned as hell and decided to go walk a mile down the road to see if I could find some firewood.
Without further adieu I present the “man’s pack” for camping.
I was fully ready and capable to start the fire myself when the people in the spot next to me wandered over and gave me lighter fluid and charcoals. I’m not going to complain. In my book this counts as me starting the fire by myself.
It is so relaxing out here I can’t begin to tell you. I want to get off this laptop and enjoy it. See you all in California.