2nd July 2018
All I seem to be doing at the moment is moan about the wind…. I really, really hope today is going to be still and calm.
Looking at the map last night, as usual I want to avoid the interstate so I will be riding eastwards towards Page then due south to Flagstaff, which is on Route 66. Now I know I said I didn’t want to repeat where I have been before, but I’m seriously in need of some bright lights, big city… well a bit brighter and bigger than the last week.
I note that riding eastwards will take me through the town of Hurricane…. really Pogs?? Well, as I have said all along… it’s gotta be done!
This morning, as part of my hotel bill, I have 10% off at the Bear Claw Grill just down the road. I think, why not, I can have an early lunch as it’s now almost 11am. It is already hot and I want to try and park the bike in some shade but there’s none to be had. I enjoy some chicken strips and chips… again American portions so most of it left on the plate. I do have a real problem with this as growing up we didn’t have much and we were expected to clean our plates at every meal so it’s kind of ingrained.
While I’m waiting for my food the waitress comes over and asks if I stayed at the Dixie Palms.. ‘err yes’, ‘they have just rung, you’ve left your jacket in the room’ ‘oh really, mmm I’m sure I have them all but I’ll go back and check’, ‘ you’re very welcome’ ‘thank you for letting g me know’. So after lunch I ride back over to the hotel, I’m sure I have all my jackets so think it must be someone else’s. when I get to reception I see my ride waistcoat with all my patches and badges… omg of course I don’t think of this as a jacket, but how fantastic for the woman at the hotel to ring and tell them to let me know. The manager says it’s lucky I knew where you had gone… oh yes indeed and thank you again. You are most welcome…. Americans are so polite. Whew! That was a close one.. this is the same waistcoat I almost lost in Texas in 2016 so it seems to have a charmed life.
As soon as I leave the hotel, for the second time, it’s horizontal riding again… and I know I keep saying this, but it is without doubt the worst… maybe this vortex idea is true?? Hurricane does deserve its name that’s for sure.
I am heading towards Page on the 89 which will become the 89a where it swings down towards the south. Again the weather is mega hot, the wind is scorching my skin so I am stopping frequently to take on water.
The scenery is changing now and is becoming much greener and as I wind my way up the mountains there are trees. At the top of one incline there is a designated rest area, the first one I have seen with toilets and a proper sheltered viewing point. I pull in and park up, I could definitely do with the restroom. As I am walking towards the toilet block a man jumps out of his huge 4×4 and says something to me… I didn’t quite understand what he said so I ask him to please repeat, ‘I said would you like a cold drink’? ‘Oh… oh, yes please’ I feel a bit awkward refusing, he immediately opens his rear gate and he’s got the usual enormous cool box in the boot, he proceeds to offer me cans of pop and before I can answer he pulls out a bottle of water, ‘oh could I have the water please’? ‘Yes of course’ ‘You are so kind, thank you so much’ ‘that’s not problem, it’s a pleasure… we have a harley so we know what it’s like riding in this heat’ ‘yes it’s a scorcher isn’t it’ ‘yes ma’am, you ride safe now’ just then this little woman appears from the other side of the car, obviously his wife, and says ‘that’s a nice bike you have there’ ‘thank you and thank you very much for the water, it’s very kind of you both’ ‘that’s no problem at all, you take care now’ ‘I will and thanks again’. I’m just amazed at this ordinary couples outstanding generosity of spirit, I am truly grateful and impressed.
I’m not impressed that the toilets are locked though… oh well.. I climb up to the sheltered overlook to take some photos… I jump, just inside is a young American Indian chap with some wares for sale… he smiles and says ‘Hi’ and goes back to looking at his phone. There’s no hard sell here at all and some fabulous views.
Before long I am approaching a bridge, the sign says Colorado River… oh, could this be the Grand Canyon I wonder and as I am crossing I can see that it is… yippee!! On the other side of the bridge there is a car park and viewing area, I have to pull in of course. There is also a walking bridge so that people can walk across the Canyon and take photos. I, however, prefer the view from the road bridge so walk back to it and onto the bridge itself.
No stopping or jumping off.. makes sense.. It doesn’t say no walking on the bridge so I carry on just stopping for a millisecond to take a quick photo expecting to hear some Ranger shout at me, but nothing happens so I do it again, stopping for a nanosecond longer but not too long, just in case!
I walk back towards the car park
and explore the walkway, it’s called the Navajo Bridge
I take one or two photos.
In the car park are several shaded stalls where American Indian women are selling jewellery, pottery, etc. etc. These are Navajo and some of the jewellery is very nice. I have noticed everyone always asks ‘how are you today?’ and these Navajo women are no exception.. I reply, ‘hot and tired’ to the woman on the first stall, she replies ‘yes it is very hot’, ‘but, I expect you are used to it’, ‘no, I’m not used to it’ and I see she has a wet towel draped around her shoulders to try and cool off, so maybe the heat today is unusual?? I particularly like a silver feather with turquoise inlay.. ‘how much is this please?’ (there are no prices of course), ‘$65’, ‘Oh, I’m on a very tight budget that’s a shame’, ‘I have this other one that’s $30, its nickel silver the other one is sterling’, ‘no it’s ok thanks’. I was kind of hoping she would barter a bit over the silver one, I don’t buy plate jewellery. I am a bit torn, but in the end resist the temptation.
I just scan the rest of the stalls, saying hello and replying ‘very hot’ to the usual enquiry.
So back on the road… I am very happy to have seen at least a little bit of the Grand Canyon and feel that is one off the bucket list, obviously it is not as Grand as the main event many miles further downstream, but no matter I’m happy enough.
Somewhere after this I have crossed the state line from Utah into Arizona… there was no sign posts or I missed them, there’s usually one saying goodbye from one state and hello to the next one.. I only know I have crossed because I spot a small green sign saying Arizona State Line… ok… so long Utah,’allo Arizona.
The wind is still blowing very strongly but it seems a little less murderous than before, either that or I just getting used to it or the wind spirit has heard my plea… ‘Just STOP IT NOW!!
As evening begins to fall and the shadows lengthen I am looking forward to arriving in Flagstaff. I am riding along the Red Cliffs and the views are stunning, (again), am running out of superlatives. Then there is a sign for Cliff Dwellers, oh, I definitely want a look at them. I pull into the car park, there is a shop and what looks to be accommodation. I pop in the shop and buy some water and then walk towards the cliff looking for a signpost directing me to the dwellings.. mmm nothing here except some houses. I can see American Indian people and children so obviously these are their homes. I turn back and re-enter the shop. The woman behind the counter asks if she can help me, ‘er yes, where are the cliff dwellings, is there a tour or something?’ ‘Oh’ she smiles ‘there are no actual dwellings here, it’s just our name, we are Cliff Dwellers Lodge’ ‘Ahh ok, it’s just I saw the sign and thought it was a monument’, ‘No’, she says ‘theres nothing here’ ‘What about further on’ ‘No, nothing around here at all’. I’m disappointed and think what a silly idea, but then I guess it brings the punters in. I say, ‘I have heard about American Indian sites with cliff dwellings’, ‘Yes, some Native Americans have done that, but that’s further south’. Now I feel like I’ve insulted her by saying American Indian, but I’m just following the information in the guide I picked up in Carson City, perhaps that only applies to Nevadan tribes. She seems to be ok with me though and says, ‘The place to go to is Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff, there are historic dwellings there’, ‘Oh, great’, I say with relief, ‘I’m heading to Flagstaff now so I’ll definitely check it out tomorrow, and thank you for your help’. I make a hasty exit!
I pass alongside the cliffs in the fading light the bloody wind is howling again… worse than ever…
I have a short bit of film for here but it won’t upload at the moment… will have to do it later
Carrying on through Bitter Springs, Willow Springs, Cameron and at last into Flagstaff.
I find myself on Route 66 and of course there are tens of motels, but are they any good? I check booking.com and find a hotel nearby so am there within 10 minutes, fab.
They have a laundry room, but only one washer and one dryer.. ok I’ll come back later. I go out for something to eat and return, do my washing and drying and head for bed.
Another exhausting day full of interesting sights and people.. I’m absolutely knackered. I check out Walnut Canyon before I fall asleep, it’s only 7 miles away so am definitely going there tomorrow.