North Rim

For as long as I’ve known my husband he’s always wanted to go to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The only time we went to the Grand Canyon time simply did not permit us to go to the north rim plus we were traveling with a 3 year old. That doesn’t exactly encourage you to take multi-hour in the car side trips. Open-mouthed smile This time though it seemed like going around to the north rim would be worth the time even if getting there was more than a bit of back travel. Then again isn’t that what the best two wheel touring is all about, going off the main tourist routes?

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Some of the roads were through burn areas though you could tell that prior to the fire this would have been a really pleasant ride along a ridge. One thing if you are contemplating a trip to the north rim, pay attention to your gas gauge since there aren’t a lot of stations. Those that are there may not be open all year round and tend to think very highly of their products. Prices were comparable to California, higher parts of California at that.

sw-1-28Until you arrive at the north rim the view looks pretty much like above just with trees in some sections and burnt skeletons in others. Until you see a turnout to a vista parking lot.

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With sweeping smoky blue vistas.

sw-1-26Punctuated by layers of exposed rocks as sections jut up.

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Some of the turnout had info on what you might be able to see below.

sw-1-31Then it was off to the lodge for lunch which is positioned to give you some great views if you sit in one of the log chairs or benches on the flagstone patio.

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When my husband and I do finally get a chance to go together I’m thinking one of these cabins would be the place to stay.

sw-1-33The  rest of the day was pretty uneventful though I ended up riding through “the rez”, aka Navajo reservation in Arizona after dark. Which can be a bit nerve wracking due to the number of critters including black sheep that are known to wander onto the road.  A major accident closed down I-40 eastbound so I ended up back tracking a bit to spend the night in Winslow. Arizona. Where some of the hotels seems to have decided to jack up their prices as a result. Quality Inn wanted $279 for a single night’s stay. Fortunately the Motel 6 next door didn’t.

Next morning my departure was delayed because the key bent unlocking my side cases. Why Honda decided to make the side cases only use half the height of the ignition key I do not know. Lesson learned, have a couple of spares cut and carry at least one with your in your wallet. Locksmith ended up carefully straightening the key since he didn’t have a blank to cut a new key. I tried later in Roswell, NM to get a key cut but dealership wasn’t open and Home Depot didn’t have the right blank either. Not wanting to end up stuck if the straightened key snapped it was pretty much straight home with just one more overnight. Even then I had repacked so I didn’t have to open both side cases when I stopped for the night in Abilene, TX. Once I got back to Houston I took the spare key over to a locksmith who did have blanks in stock and got two more cut. I think I’ll be following the suggestion from Genesis in his Make a key for gas cap and saddle bags thread.

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Heading Home

Heading out this morning my first stop was at Cee Bailey to pick up the Honda CTX OEM saddlebag specific liners. The generic ones I had simply don’t work that well.  Tossed them in the top case still flat and headed towards the desert. Never have I been so thankful that California allows lane splitting and that is one of the reasons I chose the OEM side cases over the larger Shad cases. While I would appreciate the extra space an additional 8” give something like that would make the bike wider than I want to lane split with. Smile

Not only was there the usual California traffic but once out in Riverside/San Bernadino I hit all sorts of road work with one back-up over 20 miles long. Definitely rejoiced in being able to slip on by even a reduced speed beats dead stop in the baking sun. Anyway it gave me time to think about where I was heading next. Decision made I turned off toward Vegas. No, I wasn’t stopping in Vegas. I’m just not that fond of the town but I wanted to make tracks and the road from LA to Los Vegas is a good and once past the metro areas, a fast one.  Continued on without too many stops until I reached St. George where I stopped for the night to make an early start for Bryce Canyon.

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sw-1-20Even though it is early October since Bryce is at elevation I was already seeing Aspen turning color. I wasn’t the only one out on two wheels enjoying the lovely riding weather.sw-4

Fortunately the wildlife was staying off the road .  Didn’t even see that much traffic once I left Bryce and headed to Zion.

sw-1-22sw-1-24sw-1-23Then off into the sunset to call it a night.sw-25

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California Here I Come

Another early morning, this time a bit of a cool one so I headed up to the historic El Tovar Lodge which was the first structure built at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. While I’d have popped the $$$ to stay at the hotel that opened in 1905 there simply wasn’t a room available. One of these days Steve and I will plan far enough ahead to stay there and/or at the Canyon Rim Lodge on the north rim.

greenchilihasSince I wasn’t able to get a room I decide to at least have breakfast there. Service was slow but with a window seat I didn’t really care. Besides when the green chili hash arrived it was well worth the wait. One of the best breakfasts I’ve had on any of my two wheel travels. Far superior to the blue corn balls and short ribs I had for lunch yesterday. Even the sourdough toast was perfect.

DSCN0485Now time to mount up and ride but where to? Decisions, decisions but as I headed down toward Williams I started seeing Burma Shave.

You know what that means – Route 66. So now I had a direction both out of Williams and heading west.

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And Burma Shave continued.

Longish stretch between pumps but it was a good thing I didn’t actually need gas since these were shall we say non-functional. While there I came across a group of guys on rented Harleys from Germany doing some souvenir shopping.

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There was also a pair of guys riding pedal bikes crossing the desert, still a bit warm for that IMHO. They told me they stopped every place that had water which was sold in the shop here.

When I stopped for a latish lunch I discovered that another 3 hours would get me to my brother’s house so it seemed like the thing to do was push on which would get me in about dusk. This turned out to be the warmest part of my trip and where gas prices reached their zenith. Something about crossing over into the California desert where gas prices went up to nearly $5 a gallon. Thank goodness I wasn’t driving a gas guzzler as I headed down to Fallbrook, CA.

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Southwest

Didn’t I promise you a sunrise?

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Decided to leave early to head to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and stopped for the photo above.

tubacitybglueballsBTW, have you ever had “blue balls”?

First part of the ride was some of the same roads I had covered the day before so not too many photo stops before I arrived in Grand Canyon Village. Coming in from the east I made my way through the park.

Then on to the east entrance to the Grand Canyon.sw-1-6  sw-1-7

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I was very glad to see the bottom right guy safely grazing off in the trees ignoring traffic!

After checking into my hotel and unloading the bike I took a walk around where I discovered that the bus that would take me into the park had stopped running the previous Sunday – grr. I had planned on doing the hop on/off for photos instead of having to deal with bike gear, getting the camera in and out of my top case. So instead I took the Pink Jeep Sunset Tour.

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sw-1-11No, I don’t know who this is but since English was not being spoken in their group I took it without asking but then again the camera was out in the open and their group was busy snapping everyone and everything in sight. So I don’t feel bad about not getting permission before taking the photo.

Somehow it seems fitting to end this post with a sunset.

 

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Four Corners

After leaving Houston first stop was Austin for lunch with my niece. Then a quick run up to Lubbock where my son is thinking of applying to Texas Tech. Okay, I didn’t go to the campus but the hotel I stayed in sure did show Texas Tech spirit.  Since I’ve crossed West Texas and eastern New Mexico multiple times I figured I’d make tracks to get to more interesting sites. First I considered going up through Santa Fe but I’ve done that area a few times and probably will again on another ride between Houston and Breckenridge. So after considering suggestions from friends I ended up staying in Chinele, Arizona as a base for a couple of days of exploring what I think of as Tony Hillerman territory.

One thing I wasn’t aware of until after I checked in was that being in the middle of the Navajo nation the hotel I was staying at and its surrounding area were all “dry”. Pity since a margarita would have gone down well with with the Indian Tacos and accompaniments.

DSCN0455 Canyon du Chelly is pronounced “Shay” which seems a bit odd to me despite the explanation I was given as to the reason for the pronunciation.

Since I was literally staying at the entrance to the park this made a quick tour before settling into my hotel an easy thing to do. I didn’t have a whole lot of time but I’m told that if you take a Navajo guide trip down through the bottom of the canyon it is very interesting. Other than a couple of hiking trails you can do on your own using a guide is the only way to go into the canyon.

Next morning after a quick breakfast of protein bars and coffee I headed out to the Four Corners.  Some lovely desert scenery starting with a nice twisting canyon road. To end up at the Four Corner’s Monument.

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Yeah, I know it’s kind of hokey but what is a trip to the Four Corners if you don’t put your foot right on the intersection of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah?

Fortunately since it was mid-week during school time there weren’t too many kids running around. I didn’t take a photo but I did like the pre-teen who did a back arch with each foot/hand in a different state. Since it wasn’t my kid I and I didn’t want to deal with getting a release you’ll just have to image it. Open-mouthed smile

sw-1-4Next up, Monument Valley, that iconic image of the “Old West” known to so many from John Wayne and other cowboy movies of the last century.

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DSCN0414Unfortunately, there was a serious amount of road work going on and every one of the paved turnouts were closed which made it a bit difficult to take as many photos as I would have like. Despite which one of those “happy accidents” you sometimes get when pulled over for a photo allowed me to get what is one of my all time favorite photos.

I have to admit it was a little scary when that bus whished by. The “shoulder” of the road was less than 3’ wide before it started to drop off to sand. Y’all know how much I like dirt so that left me very little room.

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