Day 18 – Nations

4th July 2018

Happy 4th… the plan today is to ride northwards towards the evocatively named Indian Springs and turn right to Window Rock followed by a turn south to Gallup where I expect I will stay overnight, but first I have to get out of this parking spot!!

What does she mean, you are wondering, well wonder on longer for I shall tell you.

I have two disk locks, a bright orange one with a plastic curly wire that hooks onto the handlebars to remind me it’s on and the other one on the rear disk, it doesn’t have a reminder cord – for want of a better name.  After we turned the bike around last evening it did my usual procedure for securing the bike, alarm, ignition lock, disk lock rear, disk lock front except I couldn’t be bothered to get the orange front lock out of the bag so didn’t put it on.  This morning I came out, packed the bike up, unlocked the ignition, disabled the alarm and tried to ride off… clunk!  I forgot the rear disk lock so I almost dropped the bike… Shit!  But, what is worse is the disk lock is now firmly jammed onto the disk and I can’t get it unlocked… double shit!  I try twisting the key.. nope won’t unlock… ok I need to hit it with something… but what… ah I have my trusty Swiss Army knife so I get that and hit the lock with it a few times, then I miss and hit the key that I have left in, it snaps off.. triple Shit!  It’s ok my trusty Swiss Army knife has pliers  so I am able to pull out the broken half of the key.  By some weird wiccan magic I do have the spare key with me.. that’s has gotta be a first!  But, how to get the bloody disk lock off??  I need something heavy… like a hammer… nope don’t have one of those.

Then I see a guy packing up his car, I wander over by which time he has disappeared inside his wigwam.  The door is open so I peer in and there is a woman sitting on the bed… ‘Oh hi… sorry to bother you’ she looks up blankly, ‘Um, I wonder if you could help me out?’ she nods ‘I’ve got a problem with my bike lock and I need something to hit it with, do you have maybe a tyre iron?’ she looks over to her right and speaks to someone I cannot see, I assume it’s the man.  I can hear mumbling and then the man appears.. ‘I don’t know what.. um I can have a look… um maybe in the car…’ he proceeds to pull up the rear cover of the boot and it is very neatly laid out with spare tyre etc.  He looks very uncertain so I am sure it’s a hire car… in the UK we call it a wheel brace, but I’m pretty sure they call it a Tire Iron over here so I think I’ve said the right thing.  ‘Ah ha.. here is something, is this any good?’ ‘Yep that’s exactly it, do you mind if I just borrow it for a few minutes?’ ‘No you go right ahead,’ ‘thanks’.  I take the iron and whack the lock a couple of times and it releases the jam and I am able to take the lock off.  I give the man his iron back thanking him profusely.

At last I am back on the road… what a bloody silly cow I am!!  The lesson for today is, always, always put the orange lock with the REMINDER cord on.

Now this morning I have a board meeting for the prospective Dykes on Bikes® London and I am joining via FaceTime.  However, it’s the 4th July in America and I need an internet connection… most places are shut, damn.  I do find a place that is open so I go in and order some coffee and toast.. it’s quite a quirky place, full of very strange objects that no one probably wants.


At the appointed time we all get together, the connection is shit and it’s quite a faff trying to get a coherent discussion going, but it was very good to see everyone.

Bye Bye Holbrook…


So now I’m off on my way towards Indian Springs.. I cross over the dratted i40 and am immediately onto the Indian route 6.  This is Navajo lands as far as the eye can see…


Now, dare I say it… the wind is more or less behaving itself so I am having a very pleasant ride, it is very hot though.

I am then routed to the right onto Indian Route 15 and immediately the road surface is very different.  It seems to have been laid in sections but the section joins have not been smoothed over so it is extremely bumpy.  I am hoping this won’t last for long, but the gps is saying another 25 miles to the next turn… it’s like riding on a washboard.

Apart from the bumpy ride I am still thoroughly enjoying the ride.  Before long I spot one of my favourite things in the distance…


I take a close up…





This is Greasewood Springs.. a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere.



The next town, Ganado, is quite a bit larger.. I notice a national monument coming up and decide to take a look, I need a break anyway…

It’s the preserved Hubbell trading post that has been here since 1878 and is still open for business.

I pop into the shop… its very interesting and of course has the usual souvenir items on sale plus food stuffs etc.  Here is a link to the wiki page if you would like to know more about it.

I stop here for about an hour or so then onwards to Window Rock.

I didn’t know but this is actually the capitol of the whole Navajo Nation and a very sacred site.  It is late afternoon so very quiet, which suits me.  I have a good look around.  Next to the window rock is another huge rock.. I am a bit surprised to see people have climbed up it and are sitting on a ledge, I think this can’t be allowed.  However as I walk around I notice there are actually steps and toe and hand holds to enable people to climb right to the top.

I’m not sure how well you can see it, but there appears to be a small plateau at the top and I can well image that some significant ceremonies are still preformed up there.

I start to make my way out of Window Rock and stop for petrol.  Next to the petrol station is a market place and there are still a few stalls open.  Next to the market place is a square and there is music and dancing.

Oh I’m definitely going to have a look around.  Just as I am parking up a Navajo man comes up and starts talking to me, I get this all the time, people – mostly men – come and compliment me on the bike and sometimes we fall into conversation about my trip etc.  However, my conversation with Ira is completely different.. we do start out with the usual pleasantries around the bike and my trip but then the conversation turns into the Navajo nation, land rights, human rights, Trump, (everyone I have met so far that mentions T is always very, very negative). He tells me about Navajo culture, mother earth, how American Indians are still treated, etc. It was an extremely interesting conversation.  He then offers to escort me around the market…

This is Ira.

He is quite shy about having his photo taken… I show it to him and give him my blog card so he is happy for me to put this in here.  We then go to the market where he explains that we have to go around in a clockwise direction, that’s Navajo culture we don’t go anti-clockwise; he wasn’t entirely sure why.. maybe to do with going backwards he thought.

He then introduces me to this lady insisting that I should take a photo of her as she is in traditional dress.. I must say I do feel a bit intrusive, but she seems happy to pose for me.


Lovely outfit and I especially like the matching umbrella!  Unfortunately I didn’t get this lady’s name.

Ira then insists we have a photo together; poor woman she was very patient allowing Ira to take several shots…. here’s the one I kept.


Ira then takes me to other stalls, pressing me to take more photos, but I feel a bit awkward so don’t take any more.  He then takes me to another stall and says ‘What you need is some medicine’ ‘Oh no thanks, I’m fine I have to be careful…’ but before I can explain he says that in his culture it is rude to refuse a gift and he seems very put out.  I am horrified that I have offended him and then I realise he didn’t mean paracetamol he was talking about giving me a token.. I immediately apologise and explain that in the UK medicine means like pills, paracetamol or something like that, that’s what I thought he meant.  He laughs and says ‘No, not that, not something to swallow, no it’s to burn for your safe travels’ I am gutted that I so totally misunderstood and I never did get my medicine… damn!!

I then take my leave of Ira, he gives me a very friendly hug so I think I am forgiven.. whew!

It’s starting to get late now so back on the bike and on to Gallup, New Mexico.  I immediately cross over the state line so it’s Adios Arizona, Now then New Mexico.

I follow the state highway and then join back onto Route 66.  I remember this road very well, I’m sure Owl Rock is around one of these corners… and yes there it is…

and I don’t think it has changed at all of course… maybe some new ‘graffiti’ I’ll check against the photos from 2016.  One big change tho’, no dead rattlesnake this time.

Within half an hour I am entering Gallup, I have been here before of course as it is on Route 66, I find a place to stay and then decide to visit a famous Route 66 Hotel/Restaurant for dinner.

This is the El Rancho hotel, famous for being a favourite haunt of Hollywood stars from the 40s and 50s…

I have a very nice mexican meal in here, and not too expensive at all, am very pleased.

An another altogether brilliant day… the wind did blow but I’m fed up with talking about it… hahaha

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