Arizona again? Yes!
It was that same 119 degree day when I crossed the Colorado River taking me from California to Arizona. The river is a peculiar shade of blue here. I say peculiar because I have bathed in it upstream and it is muddy brown.
London Bridge is falling down. No, it fell a long time ago. It now resides in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The bridge was disassembled, and the marked stones were shipped to Lake Havasu City and reassembled. No shit!
When I stopped for gas in Lake Havasu I asked the girl behind the counter if she knew of any cheap motels near Kingston, AZ. She asked why I would want to go to Kingston. Why not Vegas? I told her I was headed toward the Grand Canyon. So she said why not try Oatman up old Route 66? It’s an old mining town. Hmmmmmm, Oatman. Sounds great! So I headed up Old Route 66.
This part of Route 66 is rough. Not a lot of maintenance taking place here anymore. The sun was getting low as I headed for the mountain range before me.
I saw this structure as I approached the town. It looked like a cement pueblo. I found out later it was the entrance to an old mine.
Here’s the other thing about Oatman. The miners who once lived here left behind some of their donkeys. These donkeys have been reproducing ever since and their defendants roam the town freely. The baby donkeys have stickers on their heads. I got closer to have a look only to find out the say, “kick me.” Just kidding. They say “Stop please don’t feed me”. See, the baby donkeys don’t have back teeth. That won’t stop them from eating what’s in your hand. But then they choke on it and die. Hence the sticker.
I rode into town and asked the first people I saw if there was a hotel available. They said, NO! The only hotel is closed this time of year because the owner goes to Sturgis. OH NO! I was far from anything. It was getting dark, and the only road in either direction was the rough twisty 66. However…they said, you can go to Judy’s Saloon and ask for Jimmy. Jimmy may have a room he can rent you for the night. So I was off to Judy’s Saloon.
I was told Jimmy is usually there on one side of the bar or the other. He is one of the bartenders. But when I arrived, no Jimmy. The bartender on duty made a call and Jimmy came on down. He came through the back door and sat at the end of the bar. He was checking me out before introducing himself. He came over and then his girlfriend Geri joined us too. We all got along just fine. We had a couple beers and then headed up the dirt hill to their place.
First we went to the place I would be staying. It was an extended trailer and very comfortable. It was cooled, not by an air conditioner but by something called a swamp bucket. It cools water and blows the air into the trailer. It worked great! The town was pretty much shut down for the night. There was no food and I hadn’t had dinner. I had some soup in my bag, but Geri made me some delicious coconut curry meatballs with rice. It was really good. After that we went over to their place. We sat around and partied for hours. Jimmy writes some really nice tunes and he and Geri performed them and jammed out as I watch the stars drop and tapped my feet.
In the photo below is the place where I stayed for the night. I highly recommend staying there if you ever roll through Oatman. Just go to the saloon and ask for Jimmy and Geri!
After having some coffee with Geri in the morning, I roamed around town a bit.
I figured I’d let my big ‘ol forehead get some sun.
You can see why I wouldn’t want to ride this road at night. Very twisty indeed.
Route 66 isn’t continuous. There are only bits and pieces left. On the way to the Grand Canyon I joined another part of the iconic old highway.
This old dog was at one of the stores along the highway.
Many tankers these days have that red and white striped sticker running the length of the tank so you can’t see yourself. I was quite pleased when I discovered that this on was placed much lower.
Just after I went through the gates to the Grand Canyon National Park I saw this doe standing on a rock ledge. There were others, but the ran when they heard to motorcycle.
I went to the campsite, pitched my tent and had a quick look at the canyon before the sun dropped.
In the morning I returned to the canyon. I like taking pictures of places and things. The majesty of Grand Canyon however can not be captured in a photograph. It is immense and has to be experienced with the naked eye.
From the Grand Canyon I rode deep into Navajo country.
Canyon De Chelly
I rode on to Canyon De Chelly (pronounced Shay). In this canyon can be found some of the most pristine cave dwellings.
Although Canyon de Chelly is a National Monument it is on Navajo land and the dwellings themselves are not open to the public. You can hire a private guide to take you down into the canyon for a fee.
This is called Spider Rock.
Depending on the time of day the colors of this place can be dramatically different. To get the money shots you would have to know when to go where ahead of time. I have been to quite a few cave dwellings. To see a multi level structure like this with it’s original joists is magnificent.
Just as Oatman had donkeys roaming about, the area around Canyon de Chelly has stray dogs. This adorable mom and pup was at one of the sites. I gave ’em some jerky.
The dwellings above can be seen to the left side of the photo below. This is the only one you can walk to without a guide. It is a mile and a half in each direction. You still have to stop at a fence when you get down there.
Where to go next? I surprised myself that the only foot I would step into Utah was here at the Four Corners where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. It is the only place in the United States where four states touch. As it was time to leave Arizona I could make one of three choices. I opted for Colorado.