Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Colorado

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2021 by Pat Regan

My Colorado plans had to change do to an act of Mother Nature. A mud and rock slide closed Interstate 70.

I-70 is the major artery for traffic traversing the state from west to east. Because of the closure, traffic would be diverted to the north and to the south. I would have liked to have taken a more scenic route across Colorado, but because of the diverted traffic I avoided it altogether. Trucks were more likely to go north at Rifle because the route to the south through Aspen is twisty and mountainous. Cars would be more likely to take that southern route. Word was that there would be at least 2 hour back ups either way. I chose to head north after crossing the border and rode toward Dinosaur, Colorado to avoid the traffic altogether. I may have avoided a traffic jam, but the one thing I couldn’t avoid was more rain. So after taking the photo below in Loma, I had to pack up the camera for a bit.

I was headed to Boulder. My friend James told me to get in touch with his friend Christine. I did just that and she invited me to stay with her and her husband Roman for a couple nights. After 4 days in a tent without a shower in Moab, that sounded great! 

The rain let up here and there on my way to Dinosaur. I stopped when I saw these natural caves off to the right of the highway.

I took a shot of this pickle store in Dinosaur. Notice the T-Rex on the porch. The town is named after the many fossils discovered in the area. Dinosaur National Monument is located here, but it is a long road in and out of the monument, so I did not visit. As I filled up the tank at the local gas station, thunder was blasting from the storm to the east. Naturally that was the direction I was going. I would try to make it to Steamboat Springs. A decade ago I camped in the mountains just east of Steamboat Springs. This time due to the harsh weather, I got a motel room.

Steamboat Springs is a big skiing town. Below you can see the grassy ski slopes.

Not too shabby.

The next morning the weather was much kinder as I climbed the mountain. It was up here that I had camped years before and saw some of the best night skies of that trip. I was sorely missing the celestial wonders during this trip. Clouds have obscured that pleasure every night.

Some of the truck traffic from I-70 had now merged with the two lane highway I was on, but it wasn’t that bad. I rode along through Kremmling where I turned to the east leaving that truck traffic heading south back to I-70. 

My plan was to take a short portion of I-70 then head back into the mountains and get to Boulder via Nederland, Colorado. I exited at Idaho Springs and took the Central City Parkway back into the mountains. You have to understand that the Rocky Mountains make certain places impossible to build roads. One may have to travel scores of miles out of the way to get to a particular destination. So to get to Boulder I had to travel far south to get around the mountains and then travel back north before continuing east. Make sense?

As I traveled back north I went through the old mining town of Central City. It’s a charming town mixed with casinos.

I stopped to take this photo by a river. As I was getting back on my bike I heard a motorcycle approaching. I waved, he waved back. As he passed I saw that he was a member of Hells Angels. I ended up riding behind him toward Nederland.

It was a strange thrill to be riding with a Hells Angels member. I’ve respectfully erased his license plate. We twisted through the mountains and then separated when we arrived at Nederland. After Nederland it is a beautiful ride to Boulder. I had taken this road years ago in the opposite direction. At that time I headed north from Nederland, so it was nice to have ridden the road to the south.

Finally I arrived at Christine’s place. She has a really nice home within walking distance to the main pedestrian area in Boulder. Christine and I went out to dinner on Pine Street. On our walk over we bumped into Christine’s daughter and her boyfriend. I met Christine and her daughter in New York over 15 years ago. Her daughter was 4 years old. She’s all grown up now.

We passed the Boulder Theater where Christine has seen many great bands. She is a big time deadhead and had a few Bob Weir stories from shows at this theater. At one show they saw Wavy Gravy and Christine’s young daughter invited him to come over and try out their hot tub. Remarkably he took them up on the offer. I should have taken a picture of the photo of Gravy in the tub.

We had a nice meal and talked about all sorts of things. We have a number of mutual friends. In fact, we took this photo for our friend James.

I stayed in a small house in the backyard. Christine uses this as an office. She is a hard working therapist. From morning into the evening she has clients. Most of them are on the phone, but occasionally I would have to vacate my dwelling to allow for an in-person session.

With Sturgis coming up, this would be my last bed for a while.

Roman and Christine were both very kind to me. Roman even took care of some laundry for me. He also makes a mean smoothie.

They have a lot of great artwork throughout the house. I was particularly attracted to this Dead poster. It reminded me of some work I was doing before leaving for this trip. I may get some inspiration from it.

Here is an example of the artwork I was doing before leaving home on June 15.

We walked around the hood a bit. Boulder has a nice community garden that many citizens take part in.

Also in the neighborhood is one of the original Boulder homes.

Christine and Roman have a really sweet dog. Here is the problem with gretting behind in my writing. I forgot the dog’s name. Shit. This happened in California too. It turns out that I called a dog Trigger back in California. I found out his name is Tripper. We will see him again in my next post where he now answers to another name. But here is Christine’s adorable pup. (I texted Christine. Meet Rosie).

While we were sitting in the backyard we saw a squirrel running along the fence and then he did a flip. We looked at each other with bewildered looks. “Did you see that?” It was unbelievable. Since then, Christine sent me a NY Times article about acrobatic squirrels. It’s a thing!

I needed a new rear tire. It wasn’t easy finding one. In Denver I was able to find a place that sold my tire and then I was going to have another guy a few miles away install it. On the way south to Denver I saw a couple monster trucks at a gas station.

When I bought the tire from Let It Ride, they recommended that instead of riding miles away I ask the guy next door at One Four Motorcycle Service if he could squeeze me in. Fortunately he did. I was lucky too because as I was waiting, another guy came in for a tire change and was told he would have to return in two days.

It is always strange seeing someone else on my Bonnie.

With a fresh tire I could confidently ride on to my next destination, Sturgis. As I was leaving, Christine snapped a couple shots of me preparing for my ride. Thank you so much Christine for an excellent stay. I really appreciate it.

It’s Sturgis time.

Utah

Posted in Uncategorized on August 12, 2021 by Pat Regan

After leaving Lloyd and Sarah’s in Page, Arizona, it is just a short ride to the Utah border. In fact, some of what I posted on my 4×4 journeys with Lloyd and Sarah were technically Utah, but I was coming out of Arizona. Now I was on the bike again and headed north. There was a place Sarah had talked about visiting but we decided it would have been too crowded to enjoy on a Saturday. Now it was Monday, so when I noticed that the parking area for the Toadstools Hoodoos was empty I stopped and did some hiking.

Toadstools are spire-like rock formations with a boulder on the top of the pedestal rock creating a mushroom shaped feature.

It’s about a mile walk up a dirt and sand path to get to the toadstools from the main road. It was hot out, but well worth the hike. And as it turns out, if I hadn’t stopped at the toadstools this day would have been a bust.

The reason the rest of the day was a bust has been all too common on this trip, rain. As I approached Bryce Canyon it started coming down heavy. So heavy that I skipped Bryce altogether. I was thinking I could double back the following day and check it out, because I made a two day reservation to camp at the state park in Escalante. I put on my rain gear across the street from Mugwumps. Mugwumps is now closed. It was a junky old thrift store. I was there once years ago when the lady who owned it asked me out of the blue, “Are you from New Orleans?” The question kind of freaked me out. Because I am. I was born there. I don’t think I sound like it, but she knew. It was spooky.

I plowed through the rain. The roads were being worked on. I have to say it was not a pleasant ride. Then, when I got to the state park in Escalante I checked my campsite and noticed it was reserved under the name Aviles. For the record, that is not my name. I pulled out my phone to confirm my reservation and sure enough, I reserved the wrong days. I have no idea how that happened. I think the app I used automatically set it up for the next available date. I don’t know, but I ended up having to get a motel. The town of Escalante never really thrilled me. There are some cool old houses and a couple llamas, but I never found the people particularly friendly here.

Since I was only staying one night there would be no returning to Bryce on this trip. I would take Route 12 north to Capital Reef and see what things were like there. The ride up 12 was nice.

I had good weather for the first part of the day, but once again as I was approaching Capital Reef, more rain. From the mountain view in the picture below you should be able to see the vivid colors of Capital Reef below. Not today.

I was a little upset because I really like Capital Reef. It is beautiful when the light is shining down on it. On this day it was dark and gloomy.

These rains are not a total bust. Sometimes the rains bring other sights to see. As I was riding along I saw that there was a chocolate looking waterfall coming off the side of the cliffs. I climbed up to check it out.

As I continued my ride toward Hanksville I saw a huge washout. This one was impressive. I had seen that this area was a designated free campground. Not anymore. Can you imagine having a tent pitched when this river of mud comes at you? You really have to be aware of the potential for these monstrous washouts after a good rain.

I also stopped for some photos of this old cement truck that has been rusting away during my many passings over the years.

I stopped for gas at the Hollow Mountain in Hanksville. I often stop here while passing through. I checked Goblins State Park for possible camping and was surprised to find that they were filled up during the week, so I decided I would ride all the way to Moab where one of my favorite primitive campsites is located right along the Colorado River. 

At night a tour boat goes down the Colorado as a huge truck with giant spotlights illuminates the cliffs while a tour guide tells silly tales about the rock formations.

Moab is a great hub to see many cool places. I putted around town a bit and did some writing. Afterwards I went to Arches National Park. It was late in the day and I was looking forward to taking some photographs with that low glowing sun illuminating everything. Unfortunately there was no sun.

As I looked at the mountain in the distance I changed my mind about Arches. It just didn’t look right. Often times a storm will hover over the mountain all day leaving the rest of the area sunny and beautiful. But this big black cloud formation looked like it was getting closer. Getting stuck up in Arches in a storm is not a place you want to be on a motorcycle. This storm looked particularly ominous. I hopped on the bike and split. 

Just as I got back to the campground the winds kicked up and it began to rain. It was getting dark because of the cloud cover, but it was also becoming night. Then the lighting and thunder started blasting and it began to rain hard. The wind pulled one of my stakes from the ground. It was scary resetting the poles because of the lighting. Then as I was sitting in my tent looking out, a bolt of lightning struck moving horizontally along the Colorado traveling down the canyon toward me. It was so bright and so loud that I actually screamed out loud. It just came out. I unconsciously screamed and I will bet no one heard it over the echoing of the the thunder that the monster bolt made. It was impressive and frightening. This storm would be the talk of the town for days. One of my neighboring campers stayed in town for the storm. They said parts of town lost electricity. It was a wild one!

The next morning I decided to visit a section of Canyonland with one of the largest petroglyphs called Newspaper Rock.

There was some construction going on in the park. When I stopped to wait for the one lane traffic, the lady at the construction stop said, “The old timers are saying that was the worst storm we’ve had in years.” This has been a common story this summer everywhere I go. California should pay me to live there. I seem to bring the rain.

They had a small cliff dwelling ruin in this section of the park.

The next day started out good. I got up early. I made coffee from my friends at Jordan Coffee Roasters for the first time in a while. I got a tea infuser to replace my broken French press. I made oatmeal as well.

I rode along the Colorado River on the other side of the highway to check out what some campsites look like over there. A couple of them were closed. Even if they had been open, they looked like they got wiped out by the storm.

They are building some fancy cliff dwelling style bathrooms for the campsite. There are no facilities inside, but it smells like it’s been used quite a bit already.

Today I would return to Arches. When I pulled up to the gate the Ranger said, “I remember you, are you OK?” He was referring to the storm. We talked a bit when I came in the day before and he knew I was camping by the river. He to said, there hasn’t been a storm like that in years. So I heard.

When I got back from Arches, I decided I would check out a swimming hole this lady Christine told me about. On the way I decided to fill my water bottle from the natural spring coming out of the side of the cliff. In a rush I left my helmet on. When I bent down to fill the bottle I scraped my face shield on the rocks. I scraped it bad. GRRRRR!

Then I went for a swim. I got a little lost but ended up high over Moab which was kind of cool. Then I found my way to the waterfall. It’s about a mile walk from a parking area.

The swimming hole and waterfall were great. I hadn’t showered in days. When I was hiking back, I saw a cave on the side of a cliff. I went over there. In the cave I decided to put my pants back on. I started putting my boots on too, not recognizing that I had just crossed a creek barefoot to get to the cave. Duh!

I went to the store for some more Gatorade, watermelon, and ice.

When I got back to camp, I filled the cooler. I left the cold water and added the new ice. When I put the styrofoam cooler back in the tent, it cracked open. All that ice and cold water filled my tent. GRRRR! I had to completely empty the tent and put everything on the picnic table because there is a serious ant issue here. Fuck! I untied the tent and let it dry out. After emptying everything, I decided to make dinner. I began to cut the chicken up for a salad, and bees showed up. They were relentless. I had to stop. The only way to make dinner would be in the tent and it was still wet. GRRRR!

So I decided I would cut open that watermelon. I reached for my knife from my blue jeans. That’s where I keep it. No knife. GRRRR! I lost my knife! I really like that knife. Did I lose it when I was changing into my swim trunks? Did I lose it in the cave when I was changing back into my jeans? I don’t know. GRRRR! 

The following day I would check out another part of Canyonland. This part of the park is high up and allows you to look down into the canyons.

I got wet on my way back to camp from Canyonland and there was another storm coming.

Another flash flood poured through the canyon. I sat and read a book under my tarp until the rain became so hard that mud started bouncing far off the ground. Only a tarp with walls would remedy this situation, so I hopped in my tent. The greatest thing for me about this storm was that it silenced the generators on either side of me. That shit was really starting to bug me. Anyway, I laid down and listened to the passing storm. No lightning and thunder this time just heavy rain. Then it slowed down. I was anticipating the generators starting up again. I was even considering a battle if they did start up again. Then I heard a humming sound in the background. I saw my neighbors staring at the cliff in the distance. Flash floods can be frightening out in the plains when the high waters are traveling horizontally, but hear in Moab the flash floods are vertical and spectacular. A huge waterfall was pouring over the side of the canyon walls all the way from the top. It went over one plateau then to another and another. I grabbed the cameras and ran over there. I hiked up the side of the cliff to the narrows where the water was flowing. I saw others already there who had pulled their cars over and climbed up. They were standing around admiring from afar. I passed them by and went to the source of the splashing sound. The spot where the waterfall hits the ground. Incredible! I was able to walk completely under this steam of water that must have started 1000 feet above me. What a feeling! And then it will be gone. Waterfalls here are like rainbows. They follow the rain. They are beautiful. Then they are gone. As I was leaving I spoke to two guys who were just arriving. They said they are camping 3 miles away and didn’t have a drop of rain. Western skies.

Then Moab had one last gift. I packed up my camp and as I was looking around the perimeter before I left, I saw something half buried under a bush. It was my knife. I guess I flung my pants when my tent flooded from the cooler and it went flying into the bushes then got partially buried by the heavy rain. Thanks Moab.

Arizona 2

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2021 by Pat Regan

After a great a visit to California, I crossed the Colorado River and returned to Arizona.

In my mind I was done with Route 66, but the old highway let me know otherwise. I hopped on Route 66 in Arizona for a few miles, just because I had ridden north to Vegas and knew I had at least missed a few miles. The only thing of note was this old rusty tanker with a 66 painted on it’s side.

From there I jumped on Interstate 40. I was headed to Flagstaff. I stopped for a bite and to soak my cooling vest. There I saw this tank with water for sale and this great motel sign.

I continued east, but I had to stop and put on rain gear. It looked stormy. I didn’t have enough gas to make it all the way to Flagstaff, so I had to jump back on Route 66 in Seligman to get gasoline.

On my way east out of town, I was surprised to discover that there was a nice chunk of 66 that I had missed. Not only that, it may have helped me divert some rain. If you look at the photo below you can see how 66 runs diagonally to the right of the interstate. That is where I came from. You can also see the storm to the left that I may have hit had 66 not been there.

I saw a sign for Route 66 again at an exit off of Interstate 40. I hopped off only to find that I had been through this town before. However the highway splits in this town. One way west, one way east. Therefore I missed a couple cool old signs that I would not have seen going west.

I was hungry and I knew they made a damn good club sandwich in Williams so I returned there as well. I stopped at a souvenir shop hoping to find a camouflage Route 66 hat. I saw an old timer with one, but no dice. I did however spot Elvis in a car out in front of the store.

And here is Elvis again telling fortunes inside.

They had just turned the lights on at Rod’s Steakhouse as I was riding toward it. Since I didn’t photograph this vintage Route 66 steakhouse last time, I did this time.

I also took a full photo of the Canyon Club since there was a car parked in front of it when I last passed going west.

From Williams it was on to Flagstaff. I booked a motel online. I didn’t realize that it was this particular motel on Route 66 until I arrived. I had actually pulled over going west to take a photo of this sign in daylight. At night it is one of the few illuminated signs in Flagstaff. This one is great because it is animated. The legs of the horses appear to move as they blink interchangeably and ‘motel’ blinks as well.

I only chose Flagstaff as a viable alternative to Las Vegas. I was on my way to visit friends in Page, Arizona. I had to get around the Grand Canyon either to the left (Vegas) or the right (Flagstaff). I chose Flag, (as it is called locally).

On my way out of Flag, I pulled into Mike’s Bike’s to take a photo. These guys helped me replace a chain a few years back.

While I was here, a group of riders pulled in that I had passed on the road. The older woman on the trike was striking with a poodle happily riding along in a basket. I spoke to the gentleman in back for a bit. He was actually hard to understand. I asked if they were headed to Sturgis. He said, “Nope! California!” I understood that! And I did make out a question he asked as I was leaving. “Need any crystal?” he asked. Really? Maybe this explained his unusual speech. I was just thinking that these folks are pretty fucking old to be smoking crystal meth.

The next day I made my way north toward Page. I decided to cut through Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument. These two monuments though combined by a single road are two completely different monuments. One is a dead volcano and the other is a series of well preserved native ruins.

You can see the landscape of lava from the volcano in the background. You can also see my wet jacket from yet more rain! Enough already!

After miles of lava fields I entered Wupatki. These ruins are made of the red stone found in the cliffs here.

Some of the ruins here at Wupatki stand boldly and tall, obvious from a great distance when silhouetted on a western sky.

Others blend into the landscape or are tucked away in small canyons, out of sight until you are directly upon them.

The largest of them is an impressive multi leveled complex with an adjacent kiva and some type of playing field. The natives here developed a system for using the cool air from nearby caverns to draw into their Pueblo, pre-dating air conditioning by a thousand years.

Another ruin is atop a hill. They call it the citadel. I suppose this was more of a defensive post as you can see all around for miles from this point.

Riding north back on highway 89, I passed an abandoned hotel that had been completely decorated with artwork.

And then more rain. This time it got heavy. This storm darkened the sky and winds were kicking me in multiple directions. I could anticipate the gusts as I would pass an opening between hills. It was like taking a big wind punch. It was a little scary, but I was determined to get to Page and see my friends Lloyd and Sarah.

Normally I would be snapping away with my camera on the way to Page. It is extremely scenic and photogenic, but not on this day. It was so stormy that I hadn’t even realized I was on the final approach until the road turned toward a steep incline. The last time I had visited Page, this road was closed because it fell off the side of the cliff. Seriously!

After a brutal battle with the rain, wind, trucks and RVs, I made it to the home of Lloyd and Sarah. I knew the street and general location. I slowed down a couple times thinking I was near, then I saw Lloyd. He just happened to come outside as I was arriving. It was great to see him. I parked the bike under the large overhang in front of the house. There, Bonnie would rest under a huge set of elk antlers (actually it’s more than antlers, and there is a particular name that I forget for this type of mount with the skull cap).

Lloyd and Sarah are spectacular hosts. They don’t drink much beer, but they have a stocked fridge for guests. They even have a happy hour every Friday. It’s a tradition that began during the Covid craziness. It began as a socially distanced event outside, but has now moved indoors. So, on Friday a couple of their friends came over and we had happy hour!

If you follow the blog, you may already know Lloyd and Sarah. I met them over a decade ago at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They were hosting a family from France at the time. I seemed to keep bumping into them at each viewpoint. Then after the canyon I bumped into them again. I had no idea where I would be spending the night and since it would be getting dark soon, Lloyd was concerned I may ride off a cliff. So, they invited me to stay with them. Well, actually since the other family was occupying the house, I stayed in the French Family’s RV for the night. Since that time we have kept in touch and I have visited when I am in the area. And if you know that, then you know they also have one of the most spectacular views of any home I know.

Because there is a golf course and putting green behind their house, they never have to worry about anyone building there. However, Page is growing. Since my last visit there must be at least four new hotels on the main highway.

Lloyd and Sarah have a little 4×4 Jeep Cherokee that they use to explore the area around Page. During this visit they would take me out on some off road adventures. How exciting!

We made a right turn off Route 89 where Cottonwood Canyon begins. This is a long dirt road that begins just north of Page in Utah and it runs through the canyon all the way to Kodachrome State Park. Taking this dirt road can get you to Kodachrome in about 40 miles. By regular paved highway it is 140 miles. Instead of following Cottonwood Canyon, Lloyd made a right turn down an even rougher dirt road. Up and down, bumpity bump, we came to a gate that had to be opened and closed. This first one was a rather civilized metal gate and easy to maneuver.

We came to another gate. This gate was made cowboy style with barbed wire wrapped tight around old wooden posts then looped at the end. The loose gate would have to be pulled tight and the wire loop had to be hooked over a dry weathered post. This gate was a task.

After that we approached a lonely canyon. It’s amazing how you don’t see canyons until you are on top of them.

This canyon was white and had hoodoos capped with reddish brown tops. You need a 4 wheel drive and some knowledge of the landscape to visit this place. Fortunately Lloyd had both. It was so cool to have this entire canyon to ourselves. As if the view from the back of Lloyd and Sarah’s house isn’t grand enough, this is practically their playground. Lloyd and I walked down into the canyon. It’s great to be able to walk up to these hoodoos to really appreciate the scale.

I was trying to put Lloyd in the palm of my hand. You can see Sarah way up on the ridge of the canyon.

Here is a much better view of the both of them.

This photo Lloyd took really shows the scale of the canyon compared to my tiny self.

We got back to the top and then Lloyd asked if I would like to drive. Hell yes!

Not only that, Lloyd and Sarah decided that we had time to drive up Cottonwood Canyon and see Grosvenor Arch. The only way to see this arch from where we are is down this dirt road about 30 miles away. How fun! I drove along. I had read about Cottonwood Canyon road before and it was described as treacherous. It wasn’t that bad. Much of the road follows the Pariah River. With recent rains the river was flowing with the churned up light brown mud from the canyon.

We pulled over at a spot they knew at a turn off for Hackberry Canyon. They were surprised that no one was there. The sky looked a bit sketchy at times this day. Perhaps it kept people away. But as it turned out, the rain stayed away. Hooray! Anyway, Sarah packed some things to eat and we had some lunch under a Juniper tree.

There was a sign perched in the Juniper tree that described the location of a natural spring. We didn’t see it.

The road changes colors as we traveled through the different types of eroded mountainside. After lunch, I hopped behind the wheel again and we went to see the arch.

I am really appreciating the reach a 4×4 gives you. After checking out the arch I drove the 30 miles of dirt road back to the highway and then to back to Page. What a great day!

The next day we headed out again! This time we were sticking to the pavement. I have visited Lloyd and Sarah a few times over the years, but there is so much in the surrounding area of Page that I still haven’t seen. Page is an extremely appealing location for outdoor adventure.

We rode over to Lee’s Ferry. On the way we stopped at a vista (above) that I would have passed on my way to Page during a storm. That evening I saw nothing but a dark abyss, now it was a beautiful panorama of endless red cliffs. Actually these are the Vermillion Cliffs.

We stopped at Navajo Bridge. Sometimes you can see condors flying below the bridge and perching on the cliffs along the Colorado River.

Notice the color of the river. We would soon be going upstream to see the source of that color.

We rode on to Lee’s Ferry, an old settlement from the late 1800s where John Lee ran a ferry service across the Colorado.

Lee’s Ferry is also a spot where canyon tours depart for white water trips down the Grand Canyon.

The Pariah River that we saw in Cottonwood Canyon yesterday mixes with the Colorado River that runs fresh from the dam holding back Lake Powell. The blueish green waters of the Colorado mix with the pale brown waters of the Pariah to make a milk chocolate colored more powerful Colorado River that flows into the Grand Canyon like we saw from Navajo Bridge.

After Lee’s Ferry, Lloyd took me to see some strange rock formations and unusual ruins. I don’t believe these are ancient ruins but some structures that may have been part of an old Trading Post.

The next day I was fiddling with my bike when Jim rolled up. Jim zips around on this 1800cc Honda. He was at the happy hour on Friday. He’s a good guy who did a lot of the work on Lloyd and Sarah’s home. Jim and I talked a bit. He recommended a road up north that goes around Fish Lake. He said it’s a nice loop. When I checked the weather the next day I saw storms at Fish Lake, so I took a different route.

In the morning I headed north and into Utah. The hardest part about seeing friends is saying goodbye. Thank you Lloyd and Sarah for really wonderful time. That was a lot of fun!

I stopped at the last vista before Utah to have a look at Lake Powell that is suffering from a lack of water like Lake Meade in Nevada. Utah here I come!

California and Route 66

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2021 by Pat Regan

I have changed things up. I went to Vegas, leaving Route 66 well to the south. I abandoned Route 66 to visit my friend Frank in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Now, I finally have to cross the desert. With the advise of Kevin at the Grand Canyon and help from the guys at Cycle Gear, I was prepared with my new cooling vest. Ladies and gentlemen, if you find yourself riding through extreme heat this vest is a must! I was able to ride for hours across the desert with temperatures possibly above 114 degrees. I say 114 because that is what the thermometer in Baker, California said. It could have been even hotter in parts of the Mohave. I was more focused on giving my vest a dunk in water and hydrating than taking a photo of the temperature. In hindsight I wish I had. But the vest has to be soaked in water every hour or so depending on the heat. Then the water absorbed by the vest slowly evaporates leaving your body cool. It’s simple yet remarkable.

There was a little relief from the heat as I rode through Tehachapi, but as you descend toward Bakersfield it heats up again. I was supposed to meet Frank at the VA hospital where he had an appointment. Frank is a Vietnam Vet. He had a recent health scare, so he was getting checked on. But Frank is tough as nails. Besides being a vet, Frank is a hardcore mechanic, former outlaw biker, and now a cancer survivor. I suppose he is the mad scientist of motorcycle mechanics as he goes by the name Dr. Frankenstein.

I was running a little late and missed Frank at the VA, so I met him at a local watering hole, the Skyline Club.

After a couple beers, Frank took me for the scenic route on the way to his place in the mountains.

When I say scenic route, I mean rough and twisty. As we got closer to his home there was a roadblock. Well, roadblock for some. Frank hopped of his bike, moved one of those barricades, and we proceeded through.

We winded our way through the mountain of burnt forest and up to his place.

Sadly Frank was hit by last years forest fire. He lost his home. Amazingly however, he did not lose his bike shop. I say amazingly because his bike shop is merely across the driveway from where his home was. Below is the lot where his home once stood.

Right across the driveway is Frank’s bike shop. His vehicles (on the other side of the driveway from his house), and a rental property were untouched. The bike shop is called Resurrection Cycles.

The shop is packed with bikes. Most of them are Frank’s. That Harley out front belongs to Frank’s grandson Rayce who is staying in another trailer on the property. Rayce rode that thing here from Ohio.

Frank kept a pile of sawdust next to the shop for oil spills. That sawdust ignited but only singed the shop a bit. It’s hard to say someone who has lost his home is lucky, but it is remarkable that the fire didn’t jump the driveway and burn everything.

Inside the shop are all the “heads”. Frank has a great old Knucklehead, a Panhead, and his Shovelhead that has won many kickstart competitions. He is especially proud of his many kickstart awards for the most one kick start-ups.

I have milk crates at home. Most of mine are filled books and papers. Frank’s milk crate contains Shovelhead engine parts.

A couple other survivors of the fire were this 1954 GMC pick up and Frank’s Lamborghini. Yes Lamborghini. I wasn’t aware, but apparently Lamborghini is to Italy what Caterpillar is here in the USA. They made heavy trucks and construction vehicles well before luxury automobiles.

Below are couple other casualties of the fire. Sadly Frank had a 1908 Marx Metz in the house that didn’t survive.

Frank has a new trailer now that is bigger than my apartment in NYC. He also has a new girlfriend Nancy staying with him.

The three of us went for a ride up to see some of the lakes up the mountain. Shaver Lake is the big lake. It is a popular spot on the weekends. It is fed by a smaller lake further up the mountain.

On the way up the mountain is an old power station that they started building in 1911. By 1913 it was supplying electricity to Los Angeles.

It was crazy just getting here by motorcycle on paved roads. I can’t imagine the labor involved in building this in such a remote place. Next to the pipes you can see the tracks once used to haul things up the side of the mountain.

You see that black bag on the back of Frank’s motorcycle. In it was another companion on this ride. Nancy’s dog was along for the ride. I don’t usually like little dogs but this one was a smart fella. I forgot the dog’s name, Trigger? Maybe? I will see him again at Sturgis.

It was remarkable to see the catastrophic damage done by the fires last year. Entire mountains, once lush with pine now look like giant porcupines with burnt quills.

We were all headed out of town in the morning. Frank and Nancy were going to Lake Tahoe then east to an antique motorcycle swap meet. I would be going west to the ocean to get some reprieve from the heat. We will all meet up again at Sturgis. First we went out for breakfast.

After saying goodbye, I tried to take the most scenic route toward Monterey. I took 198 to 25.

I passed the Richfield Gas Station in Coalinga.

I wanted to stop at Pinnacles, America’s newest National Park. Once I got there, the Park Ranger at the booth explained that this park basically has to be hiked to be appreciated. At temperatures well over 100, hiking did not seem like such a good idea, so I just got a cold water and doused my cooling vest in the bathroom sink.

From there I headed toward Hollister where I could notice a dramatic change in temperature.

When I got gas in Hollister, I saw this old Scout being towed. I forget the guys name, but he bought this Scout as a parts car. He has two others back home and he also rides a Triumph Bonneville.

I stopped at J&S’s Eagle Iron and Leather Shop. Here they have two giant motorcycle sculptures. The last time I visited, they had 3.

I began to ride down the coast to Monterey where I stayed for the night.

In the morning I saw a few sites in Monterey. I saw the old jail, built in 1854 that was used until 1956. Next to the old jail is Colton Hall where California’s first constitution was drafted in 1849.

In the park in front of Colton Hall and the old jail is a particularly interesting sequoia tree. It may look like any other redwood tree, but this tree grew from seeds that were taken to outer space on Apollo 14 in 1971. The seed was nurtured for a few years then planted here in 1976.

As I was leaving Monterey, I was surprised to see this deer roaming around in a residential neighborhood without a worry in the world.

Before getting to the Pacific Coast Highway, I rode into the lot of this old service station not realizing they were doing a photo shoot there. Oops!

And finally the Pacific Ocean. I figured this would be the best route to return me to Route 66, then I would backtrack east after I visited a few more friends.

I stopped for lunch where Stellar Jays stalked the restaurant waiting for folks to depart before pillaging their left overs.

This guy didn’t have to wait for me to leave. Knowing the bold nature of these birds, I dropped some soup crackers on the table expecting that one would visit.

As I continued down the coast, I spotted this great old 1964 Dune Buggy.

When I first looked, I thought it redundant for a big van to be pulling a camper.

Nicholas the dune buggy’s owner showed me that it was actually just the shell of a camper that he had converted into a trailer for the buggy. How cool is that?

I continued on down the Pacific Coast Highway until it turns inland. I reserved a room in the town of Lompoc. I got a little lost on the way but discovered the home of the USA’s new Space Force.

As I approached Lompoc I stopped at this monolith of an abandoned drive in.

As I was taking pictures and admiring this behemoth, a large hawk appeared over the top edge of the old movie screen. I tend not to be superstitious, but there is something about birds of prey that I feel connected to. When I see them above me, I feel it is a good sign.

I returned to the coast along 101 when I saw these bridges. One was for cars a long time ago. The other still supports trains traveling along the coast.

While there, I saw this guy up to something. I was curious.

It turns out that this was Mark. He was about to fly his drone and film himself riding his KTM on the bridge.

It was fascinating to watch this drone that Mark controlled with a small iPad. He cold perfectly control it to move with him or hover in place.

When he was done he got off the bike, grabbed his iPad, and the drone returned to the palm of his hand. Amazing!

Later he sent me a photo that the drone took of me on the bridge. Thanks Mark.

After I walked away, the Amtrak train rounded the bend and headed for that old bridge where Mark was.

I was making good time going toward LA, where I would shack up for a couple nights. Therefore, I decided to have a look at Santa Barbara.

I stopped at the Presidio, built by the Spanish in 1782. The town of Santa Barbara would slowly develop around it.

The United States would take the Presidio during the Spanish American War in 1846.

Four years after the completion of the Presidio, construction of Mission Santa Barbara would begin in 1784.

Although the Presidio was the catalyst for the creation of the town, the Mission is it’s namesake.

Much of the original mission at this location was destroyed in the earthquake of 1812. Completion of the Mission we see today was in 1820.

Mission Santa Barbara cemetery. Over 4000 Chumash Indians were buried here. Their tombs are unmarked.

I continued to hug the coast when I crossed into Malibu. Whoa! I had no idea that Malibu was so big! I thought it was a small affluent community. It actually takes up about 26 miles of coastline with all kinds of folks going to the beach!

What do you know, Mr. Muffler Man here in Malibu.

I got a room near LAX. My plan was to relax, edit photos, do some writing, and see some friends.

A couple of great coincidences took place with my friends here. As I was working on the blog, I checked Facebook to see that my friend Jimmy was in town. Jimmy lives two blocks away from me in NYC and I hardly ever see him. Here he is in LA. Amazing. We went out for a drink and caught up. He was leaving town the next morning.

I met up with my college buddy Matt the next day for lunch. We caught up and reflected on the crazy times. I was hoping he would have brought his dog Ricky. Ricky is a sweet Pit.

The other coincidence I mentioned also came from a Facebook post and a comment. I have a friend from 4th grade Danny who is a crooner. He posted that he would be doing a concert on the Redondo Beach Pier while I was there. On a photo I had posted a couple weeks ago, another friend from the 4th grade Eric commented that I should get in touch if I was in SoCal. So I did. I suggested we meet in Redondo and surprise Danny at the concert. And we did.

Danny was great! He did two hours of just Sinatra tunes. Fantastic!

Right on the end of the pier with the sun setting Danny belted out all the Sinatra favorites.

The Cali crowd went nuts for New York, New York.

I also invited my friend Diana and her boyfriend Tim. They arrived a little late in the show, but we all went out to dinner on the pier afterward.

After dinner, Danny, Eric, and I talked in the garage about people and names that we hadn’t uttered in decades. What a blast! They both offered to have me over if I was staying in the area, but I had already made plans to be in Big Bear for the weekend. What a great 4th grade reunion!

Matt texted to get in touch if I wanted to see Ricky before leaving town. So I packed up the bike and headed over to Manhattan Beach where Matt lives.

I guess it’s been 9 years since I saw Ricky. He is still as playful.

I caught up with Ricky a bit, then Matt And I went out to lunch.

As far as sightseeing in LA, I only had one thing in mind. I had to get to the end of Route 66 and work my way backwards to where I left off. I probably should have researched the precise path of 66 through LA. Because LA is a bitch if you really don’t know what you’re doing. I was tired of splitting lanes on Interstates. I knew that the end of Route 66 was the Santa Monica Pier, and I knew how to get there.

On the way to the pier I knew of another place to stop. I really liked the show Goliath. Billy Bob Thornton plays this intense lawyer character. He lives in the hotel below and drinks at this restaurant Chez Jay throughout the series.

Then finally to the end. But this is not the end. The end for me is at the other end of the California/Arizona border where I split north for Vegas.

Now, I figured that Route 66 would be a straight shot from the pier on Colorado Avenue. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. I didn’t see any markings. The only the thing I planned for was some stars I made on a Google map to mark sites on 66 that I wanted to see and they were way across town. So I instinctively crossed Los Angeles. Oh boy! I started by following Colorado. Literally!

I made a left and a right and ended up on Wiltshire. I remembered from a previous visit that Sunset Boulevard ran a twisty way up the mountain and brought you north into Hollywood. I knew 66 ran north to toward Pasadena. That’s where the first site I had marked was. On the way I saw the hotel where Belushi bit it.

I ended up getting off Sunset and on to Hollywood Boulevard. I tried to go further north and ended up at the Hollywood sign, so that was great. This was as close as I’d ever been.

The problem was I had to get to Big Bear before dark. So I serpentined my way across the haphazard, indefinite pathways of Los Angeles to finally find my way to Pasadena.

While zig zagging my way to Pasadena I did find the Aztec hotel, this was now Route 66.

This overpass reassured me that I had found my way.

Pasadena’s capitol.

In Pasadena Route 66 straightens out a bit. I rode it all the way to the Cucamonga Service Station. It was closed. I don’t know if it was because I was late, or a Covid thing. Oh well, it is a nice one.

Even though it was getting late, I was fortunate that Route 66 makes a straight line toward Big Bear from Pasadena. I was making progress with every mile, and I did cut some lanes at long red lights.

Before I found my way to the twisty highway up the mountain to Big Bear, there was one more location that I had to see. This is the sister motel to the one in Holbrook, Arizona, San Bernardino’s Wig Wam Motel.

What this one lacks in vintage cars, it makes up for in landscaping. It is very nice looking. The wig wams are more of an earth tone light brown color than the white ones in Holbrook. There is lush grass all around surrounding a smooth paved driveway and tall palm trees waving high in the sky.

The sun was low in my photos which is great for photography, but bad for my ascent up the mountain. I had been warned Route 18 is no joke. It is an inclined twisty highway with weekend warrior LA people hell bent to get to the top as quickly as possible. Oh, it is also Friday afternoon.

The sun dropped quickly as I climbed higher. The vistas were amazing with San Bernardino low below, but I was so crazed with all these others flying up and up that I didn’t stop for a picture.

There were many miles of mountain road to go and it was now getting dark. Fortunately it eventually became a two lane highway and I didn’t have to worry about the aggressive idiots anymore. I don’t like riding at night. I eventually made it to the house where Marc is staying. I met Ellen, a super nice lady whose house this was. (In fact, as I write this, I am eating chocolate chip cookies that she baked.) I also met the three dogs, SoLow (an old blind Basset Hound, Zowie (A sweet Black Lab), and Bruno (a wild 5 month old German Shepard pup). Bruno is Marc’s dog.

The night I arrived we went to the local bar for some food and drinks. I was so wiped out that I forgot to bring my phone or camera. Too bad because Marc did some Karaoke. The folks at this bar are mostly full time local residents. A little rough around the edges, which I like. Ellen points out one lady. She says, “See that girl with the tattoos all over her arms? She shot her husband point blank 4 times. Killed him dead.” So there’s that. I had planned on pitching my tent in the yard when I got back to the house, but I was so tired I just slept on the living room floor in my sleeping bag. I was not alone. I would have 3 furry friends visit me throughout the night.

The next day Marc showed me around town and showed me a couple houses that he is interested in. We talked about kayaking, but it was the weekend and the lake is packed with bozos on motorboats and jet skis. So we decided against it.

Ellen’s house has a nice sized yard completely fenced so the dogs can run around. It came like this with a furnished gazebo.

The house has a dog door, so that the dogs can go in and out as they please. The dogs all love each other. Bruno is constantly going at Zowie as a pup does. Bruno attacks and bites, sometimes hard. When things get too rough Zowie lets Bruno know with a faster, more precise attack. It gets crazy sometimes.

Night two we stayed in and Marc cooked dinner. On this night I would try to sleep outside on the gazebo couch. It was very comfortable and the temperature was perfect. But remember, the dogs go in and out as they please, so I had company on this night too. Eventually all but SoLow went inside. But then came the sound of rain. SoLow lumbered off the chair and inside. I lay there thinking it would quickly pass. Then it got heavier. I jumped up to cover my bike with a tarp. I had loose stuff all over it. Then it rained harder and I had to pull the couch in a bit further. After that it was a good nights sleep.

The next day we all decided to go out for lunch. It was real nice and a lot less crowded than I had seen the day before.

This is supposed to be a lake. The sign is kind of ridiculous considering the present state of the lake. But that’s not as crazy as all the houses that sold for premium prices as lakefront properties.

When we went back to the house it started raining hard. The streets began to look like rivers. When the rain let up a bit Marc wanted to see how the water drains from the mountain, so we all got in the car to check it out. Marc and Ellen blocked the dog door to keep the canines inside before we left.

It was crazy! Water was streaming down the sides of the road. In some places there were complete washouts. It was pretty wild, but it seemed to drain quickly. We drove all around to various neighborhoods to see how they fared in the storm. Then we went back to the house to discover that the dogs managed to unblock the doggie door so they could have an absolute blast playing in the mud outside. Then the dogs went back inside. There was mud all over. The dear dogs visited both Marc and Ellen’s beds as well.

Apparently it hasn’t rained like that in years. The dogs never experienced anything like it and they loved it…until shower time.

I wasn’t setting up the tent after all. For my last night in Big Bear, I was back inside on the floor. Outside was drenched. This time I brought my blow up mattress inside too. Then, the dogs and I had our last night together.

In the morning Marc had to leave early for work. Ellen and I sat around for a short while before she had to go to work too. She was nice enough to make some eggs and let me linger to pack up my stuff before moving on. Before leaving I made sure that Bruno and Zowie stayed outside and SoLow was inside. Then I was off. I took a more mild highway back down the mountain which pretty much led me to San Bernardino where I had left off on my backward Route 66 journey. I would catch up with Route 66 proper again in Victorville.

This stretch between Victorville and Barstow is hot but it has a number of cool sites. The first are a few sites in Oro Grande. When I rolled behind this antique store. The man on the bench called out, “A Triumph? Ain’t you hot?” I laughed and said, “Yes I am”.

The next site is the Bottle Tree Ranch.

This place was built by Elmer Long in 2000 with many of the things he collected with his father over the years. Elmer passed away in 2019 and the fate of the Bottle Tree Ranch is unknown.

The Dunes Motel built back in the 50s sits decaying in the desert air.

Next stop Barstow. Barstow is kind of a shit hole. I have been told it’s the meth capital of California and I am not dissuaded by that fact when I see it’s occupants. It’s a little rough. But Route 66 goes right through it.

I have been through Barstow many times. Between Las Vegas and California it is generally a stop for gas or lunch.

Barstow has a few vintage hotels and signs of yesteryear.

After Barstow, Route 66 does not travel up toward Vegas, it goes due east toward Needles. Las Vegas didn’t exist when Route 66 was first planned.

There are numerous lonely parts of 66 that jet off from the Interstate.

In the town of Dagget is the old Desert Market and the Dagget Garage. The Garage originally started in the 1880s as a place for locomotive repair. The building was actually moved around by a mule team as needed. Dagget was it’s final location in 1912 where it became an automotive repair shop. During WWII it also served as a mess hall for local troops protecting the railroad.

The Baghdad Cafe sits alongside Route 66 in Newberry Springs. This has been the home of a restaurant since the 1950s, but they took on the name Baghdad Cafe sometime after the movie of that name was filmed here.

I stopped for gas in Ludlow. There were many dilapidated old buildings in this town.

Route 66 dips to the south of the interstate after Ludlow, but unfortunately the road was closed.

I caught up with 66 again and despite inclement weather and warnings of flash floods I carried on toward Needles.

The bad weather didn’t hit me directly, but it made for some nice visual effects in the background.

It would have been great to dramatically end the Route 66 journey with this rainbow ending, but I would stay in Needles this night. There is a short bit to go before the Arizona border. In the morning I began the last stretch of Route 66.

This is the El Graces Hotel. It was once a grand hotel train depot here in Needles in the early 1900s. The train runs right behind the hotel and would have brought folks from the east to this grand spectacle as the entered California.

And that is the end of the Route 66 journey. Across the Colorado River is Arizona. In the mountains beyond is Oatman, Arizona where I left off before heading to Las Vegas. So that’s it! Route 66 is complete! What next?

My original plan was to return to Vegas again and figure out what’s next. There are only two ways to travel north at this point. The Grand Canyon prevents any other ways north. It is either Las Vegas, NV on one end or Flagstaff, AZ on the other end. I decided against returning to Vegas and opted for Flagstaff as I crossed the Colorado River into Arizona.

Las Vegas

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2021 by Pat Regan

After Oatman, Arizona, Route 66 would have taken me into Needles, California and then onto it’s end at the Santa Monica Pier. I wanted to visit a friend a little further north in California and thought I would do so after completing the Route 66 journey. As it turns out, my friend was planning a road trip of his own before going to Sturgis. So I decided I would go visit him up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, then resume my 66 journey. Therefore, from Oatman I headed to Las Vegas where I would take a break to rest and catch up on some writing and photo editing.

I rode like mad to try and make it to Vegas before dark.

This time I booked a room at Treasure Island. I had never stayed there before.

I was pretty beat up from a long day in the Arizona sun and I was looking forward to some rest. When I got to my room, it was kind of gross. The view wasn’t great either. The only building of note I could see was Trump International and that Trump sign was bright.

The truly gross part about the room was all the thick black hair in my bathroom. It was impossible not to notice, which had me questioning Treasure Island’s cleaning practices. The hotel sends out an automatic text message asking if everything is to your satisfaction. I am not usually one to complain, but since they asked, I mentioned all the hair. They said they would be glad to give me a different room. I asked them if there was any chance that I could get a room with a view of the strip? They told me they would give me a room higher up and it would be facing the strip. Great!

Not too shabby! What a view! I could watch the volcano at the Mirage and in the distance I could see the Bellagio fountain.

The next day I had to get a new head lamp. I called many auto supply shops and no one had the bulb I needed. Finally the 6th place I contacted had a compatible bulb. So I went out in the 105 degree heat and replaced the head lamp. I replaced it in the parking lot. It was a necessary but unpleasant task.

After that brutal heat, I went back to the hotel and checked out the pool. What a blast! I thought I would just lay out a bit, but I heard joyous screaming. The entire pool had turned into a giant volleyball game using a beach ball. The screaming would take place after each intense volley. So I joined in on the fun.

From the reactions of the lifeguards I don’t think this is a common occurrence. But when the entire pool population is involved and enjoying themselves, the guards seemed helpless to do anything about it. In fact, the crowd often tried to coax the guards into participating.

We played for hours until it started getting dark. When it was over, high fives flew all around and people inquired if we would meet again the next day. I could see the pool from my room, but the game was never re-formed.

Later in the evening I walked around a little, got some food, and returned to my room. When I went to go brush my teeth, I reached for the hot water and felt a texture on the back of the handle. I thought it felt like corrosion or rust, but when I went to look at it I was disgusted. What is that?

All I know is, it looked disgusting. Was it phlegm? Was it food? Regardless, why wasn’t it cleaned off? In the age of Covid I expected a more vigilant cleaning processes in the hotel, but here was a second bathroom that obviously had not been thoroughly cleaned. I took the photo of the textured handle downstairs to the concierge. She told me to see the manager. There was already someone waiting to talk to the manager. He had a biker shirt on, so we started talking. He was going to be headed to Sturgis as well. I showed him the photo and he flipped out! He started getting loud in the lobby. When the manager showed up, the guy waiting before me said. “No, you go first. I want to hear this!” The manager was obviously not comfortable with this man’s exuberance and asked if he could call me in my room so that we might discuss the matter discreetly. I said fine. I had to have my room keys re-configured anyway. Afterwards, I went upstairs with my new keys. They didn’t work. When I returned to the lobby, the manager was still talking with that other man. It seemed he had all the time in the world to talk to this guy. I felt dismissed. I told this to the manager. He apologized and said he would send an inspector to my room. I asked, “A health inspector?” He said, “We don’t have one of those.” I said, “The state does!” He then walked me over to the check in counter, took over the computer, and comped me for my three nights. So, that was cool.

Then, while I was waiting for them to call me and tell me my table was ready for breakfast, I won $34 on a slot machine. So breakfast was free too!

In the morning I would get ready to head to California. With all the warnings I received about crossing the desert heat, I had one stop to make before leaving Vegas. I was going to Cycle Gear to buy a cooling vest. I had already looked it up online and discovered that it was on sale 20% off. When I arrived at the store I was greeted by Gregg and Jim. They were super helpful. In fact, they had a full rack of cooling vests next to the counter with a big bucket of water at the end of the rack to soak the vests upon purchase. Gregg was a great salesman. He was willing to inform you about deals and products, but not too pushy. I ended up getting a thing to wrap around my neck and a wicking long sleeve shirt as well before heading out to cross the desert heat. With the temperature at 114 degrees today I was very happy with my new purchases.

California here I come!

Route 66 Arizona

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2021 by Pat Regan

I escaped a potential downpour in Gallop, NM where I stopped to get a bite to eat. I zoomed west to clearer skies and pulled over at this old trading post to eat my lunch. Things were now beginning to look like the
western landscape that I love.

A bit further down the road there was an abandoned site at a rest area. Here you find no gas, a Pancake House that hasn’t flipped a pancake in decades, and the remains of Fort Courage. At one time it must have been fun!

I made good time today which is great. I was afraid that I might not have time to make it to the Petrified Forest. I was in fact a little late. The sign said they close at 5pm. It was 5:15 when I arrived. Fortunately the gates weren’t closed yet. When I pulled up to the booth, a parks service guy just asked if I had a pass. I said yes, and he waived me along without even looking. YES!

At one of the first pull offs in the park, I saw that beautiful yellow hot rod that I had seen in Shamrock, Texas. This time it was off the trailer and looking glorious with the painted hills in the background.

And from the other side one can see my dear old unwelcome friend Mr. Rain. One of the great things about being out west is that you can at least see the rain from afar and prepare for it. Sometimes it is so far away that you can even alter your route and avoid it altogether. The road here in this National Park actually loops around from this point so I never got wet. And that poor family from Florida with the hot rod never got to drive it. They trailered it all the way from Florida. It was a fine tuned machine in Florida at sea level. After dragging that beautiful machine here from Florida, It couldn’t handle the altitude and merely made for mighty fine decoration.

Parts of this park have a landscape similar to that of the Badlands.

The Badlands however, doesn’t have a collapsed forest of petrified wood. Below you can see a petrified fallen tree that is now supported by a cement undercarriage to prevent collapse.

There are also miles of empty land between sites in the park.

Certain areas are littered with with large chunks of petrified wood.

Of course I had to share my excitement. I may be getting too old for this sort of thing, but I made a safe landing. I just can’t help myself.

At the other end of the 26 mile road that leads through the park is a campground. It is a free campground. But this time of year, it is too hot for tent camping. I would try my luck at a motel in nearby Holbrook.

I saw some cool vehicles on my way to Holbrook.

As luck would have it, I was able to get a room in another one of those classic Route 66 Motels! This one is called, Brad’s Desert Inn.

The room came with another one of those classic keys that I mentioned in New Mexico. This time my room came with a full kitchen, so I could cook my own dinner.

Holbrook, Arizona retains much of it’s Route 66 past. There are shops, motels, and other establishments from days gone by that are still in business today.

I suppose because of the National Park, Holbrook was still viable for business when other small towns were left abandoned by the travelers that were once their meal ticket before the interstate.

One of the most iconic businesses on the Holbrook strip is the Wig Wam Motel.

As I was admiring the Wig Wam from across the street, I saw Mark and Robbie passing by on their 3 wheeled sidecar Goldwing and trailer. Nice set up.

I met Mark and Robbie at the local grocery store. They were doing the Route 66 thing too, but going west to east. They warned me, as others had about the treacherous heat I would experience as I continued my travels. Folks I have encountered since Illinois have told me about this heatwave. Everyone agreed and Mark reiterated that I need to have lots of water to remain hydrated when I go through the desert.

In the morning I had another look at the Wig Wam Motel before leaving town. Each Wig Wam has a classic vintage car parked outside to retain the rustic feel of Old 66.

I checked before leaving NYC to find that the Wig Wam was all booked up. I didn’t mind. There are no kitchens in these tiny rooms.

I pulled over at the Geronimo Trading Post, just to have a look. Outside were a selection of small teepees. They claim to have the world’s largest piece of petrified wood, but I didn’t go inside. I had a big day planned.

Another classic Route 66 site was coming up next. I Had been in this area before, but never stopped here. “Here it is”, that’s the motto of the Jack Rabbit Trading Post.

Their marketing campaign placed mileage markers all along Route 66 with the silhouette of the Jack Rabbit on it. Many of those markers still exist along the highway as you travel along counting down the miles as you approach the home of this giant Jack Rabbit.

A big rig outside of the Jack Rabbit Trading Post was home to these 2 boxers.

In the next town I found myself …

“Well, I’m standing on a corner

In Winslow, Arizona

And such a fine sight to see

It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford

Slowin’ down to take a look at me

Come on, baby, don’t say maybe

I gotta know if your sweet love

Is gonna save me

We may lose, and we may win

Though we will never be here again

So open up, I’m climbin’ in

So take it easy”

The Eagles song is physically portrayed on this corner of Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona. A flatbed Ford and a couple sculptures of figures from the song are there. I didn’t see the girl. Bummer. But Winslow has a few other treats for the eye.

I don’t normally take pictures in the men’s room. Honest! But fans of Speed Racer will understand why I took a photo of this urinal. It’s like you are peeing into the hood of Speed Racer’s Mach 5.

It gets lonely sometimes out here on the road. You have to make friends where you can get ‘em. Sometimes from far away places.

This place was created by an object from one of those far away places. Meteor Crater is located 18 miles west of Winslow. It was created by an an asteroid about 50,000 years ago. The impact has left this gigantic hole in the earth.

Continuing west is another abandoned pull off on Old 66. Two Guns is more than a popular tourist site along the great highway. Native artifacts have been discovered here dating back to 1050.

While I was hanging out by the pool filled with graffiti instead of water, a pick up truck came rolling up. The passenger door opened. A pit bull jumped out of the truck and came charging toward me. I tried to remain calm as I could see the owner in the distance who didn’t look worried. But shit, there are no witnesses. This could be for sport! The dog ended up being friendly, but a little skittish. Perhaps my helmet confused him. At one point the dog came from behind and stuck his head right through my legs and looked up. A precarious position to be in for sure. I don’t think my Kevlar jeans were going to protect me under these circumstances if things went astray.

There was once another building here. I walked around inside it on a previous visit. Apparently it blew down a couple months ago. At least that was the word from the dog’s owner, Dan who was staying here in his trailer. You can see the trailer beyond the wreckage to the left in the photo below.

Dan also told me that there was a cave down by some ruins that was supposed to be haunted by Apache who were massacred here by Navajo enemies in 1878. He said group of Apache had kidnapped and killed some Navajo women. They then hid out in this cave. The Navajo started a fire outside the cave and killed them as they tried to escape. In all, 42 Apache were killed as they tried running out of the cave or by asphyxiation.

In the winter of 1879-80 Billy the Kid and his gang hid out at a house here across the canyon. I rode down the dirt road and across the bridge to check out the ruins of the this old house. Calling it a dirt road is being kind. It was a gnarly, chewed up rocky road. This house across the bridge wouldn’t be the Billy the Kid house. It was probably build in the 20s.

In the 1920s the area was developed as a tourist attraction. A zoo was built here. The remains can be seen in the photos below.

The owner of what was now called “Two Guns” sold Apache skulls discovered in the burnt cave to tourists and the site continued to develop as an attraction.

My next stop is another place I wasn’t able to visit in previous visits to the area. Walnut Canyon is a vast canyon lined with cliff dwellings dating from 1100 to 1250.

Just like my visit to the Petrified Forest, I was a little late. Here, they had closed the entrance, but with the promise of doing the loop quickly they let me in.

When I heard loop, I thought, no problem. The old saying here at Walnut is thrown into reverse. “What goes down, must come up!” That loop descends deep into the canyon as you get an up close and personal look at some of the cliff dwellings.

The only problem with the decent is you have to climb back to the top. I would have brought some water had I known. Whew!

You can catch the Old Route 66 at the exit of the canyon. This takes you directly into Flagstaff, Arizona. I once had to visit Mike’s Bikes on 66 in Flagstaff a few years back, to get a new chain for my bike.

Flagstaff seems like a charming town, but I only had time for a quick look around. I still had many miles to get to my campsite further south in Cottonwood.

On the way, I would pass through the beautiful Sedona. The red rocks here are spectacular. The sun was low in the sky illuminating these majestic red mounds. I figured I had better soak up as much as possible because you can never predict the weather.

I rode toward Red Rock Canyon State Park, but it had closed for the evening. I continued along the route. I am not sure what this house on Cimmaron Ridge was, but it was huge.

The whole area was magnificent to see. Just a beautiful area. Still, I had to get to my campsite before dark. The sun was setting as I rolled into Cottonwood. I stopped at this large consignment/antique store called the Simply Amazing Marketplace. It was glowing in the low sun. The whole place is decorated with various sculptures and knick knacks.

Then it was on to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. I was lucky the park was open as Arizona had shut down all it’s National Forest campgrounds due to the possibility of fire. It was hot and dry. All Forest roads were closed as well.

I pounded my last tent peg in as it was getting darker when I heard someone call out, “Do you need any help over there?” I said I got it, when a very decorated gentleman walked over and introduced himself.

This is Puck. Puck loves ska music and had tattoos of all his favorite bands from head to toe. Well maybe not toes, but pretty much everywhere else. Puck invited me to come over a sit with him on his site, but I was wiped out from a long day and still hadn’t eaten.

Later however, I called out when I saw this sucker below! I think I said, “Oh shit! A scorpion!” Puck screamed, “Wait, I’ll be right there!” I thought perhaps he was as excited as I was and wanted to take a picture before it ran away.

Nope. He ran over with a pair of pliers and snipped the stinger off that scorpion. I wasn’t sure how to felt about this. I guess it’s better than that poisonous critter nesting in my boot for the evening.

The next day, I hung out with Puck for a while. He had a slingshot. I am pretty damn accurate with a slingshot, though it had been a while. We set up some construction cones for target practice and I am happy to say, I still got it. Bam! Dead center. Felt good. Puck was game to shoot a couple rabbits for dinner. I said, I’d pass.

We saw this strange bug. He remained ass high in the air like this. No matter how I tried to annoy him, he was steadfast in his position.

This ball shaped cluster was one of very few that I saw. I am not sure of it’s purpose or what it may transform into.

Puck had a 4 wheel drive vehicle all set up for the long term that he was staying in. He had been evacuated from one of those forest campgrounds that I mentioned.

Puck told me he was into Groms. I wasn’t familiar with Groms. They are these cool small motorcycles that can rip through any terrain. After he described them I was reminded of that large posse of small motorcycles I saw back in Tulsa. Puck also had a Grom related tattoo (below). Then I noticed the one tattoo above the Grom. Fucking great! The piercing makes the eyes for a sloth.

I went for a ride. I wanted to see Jerome. Jerome is an old hippie community from back in the 60s. These days it’s rather touristy. On the way I passed through old Cottonwood where there was an old service station turned diner.

Next to the service station was a large poster of ‘Old Town’ Cottonwood. Earlier I had asked Puck if they had javelinas in the area. He wasn’t sure. The poster told me that it was a distinct possibility (bottom left). I had encountered them once before while camping in Arizona. There was about 14 of them running through a campground beneath the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. I was the only one at the entire campground. Summer campin in Phoenix is unpopular for some reason? Freaked me out!

Before going to Jerome I stopped at Tuzigoot. This old native site was built by the same people who made the cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon.

This ruin was once a major complex with 110 rooms. Below is that crazy wide angle on the iPhone again.

Then up the mountain and on to Jerome.

I rolled through Clarkdale on the way and saw this nice pick up truck. A flatbed Ford. Hmmm. Where have I heard that before?

I stopped to see this flattened snake on the road. I was hoping it was a rattler, but it looks like a corn snake.

Like I said, Jerome was a bit on the touristy side, but it did have some interesting old buildings and structures from the past.

I met Mike up on one of the vistas. He was riding a Bonneville with open pipes. I saw him down in Clarkdale as I approached Jerome. Mike said he saw me too, and “left me in the dust”. He had; it’s true. I did stop for the snake. Just sayin’.

Back at the campsite I had new neighbors. Two ladies were setting up a tent. Only one was staying. Her site had a platform so they couldn’t peg the tent down. Winds can get a little gusty here, and being that I overpack, I had some extra paracord to help tie their tent down to the ‘D’ rings on the platform. Below is Holly from California, she is the one who stayed. She also had a nice old dog, part razorback and part bloodhound I think.

The next morning I was off to the Grand Canyon. I attempted to visit Red Rock Canyon SP again, but it was Saturday and the line of cars was backed up to the main road, so I continued north.

Before the Grand Canyon, Route 66 runs through the town of Williams, Arizona.

Maybe I am jaded by all the road food I have had, but I stopped by the Route 66 Diner and had one of the best club sandwiches I have ever had.

I saw on the map that my campsite was near the bathroom. At first I was unhappy about that, but the campsites at Mather Campground in the Grand Canyon are rather spacious and the bathroom was further than I realized. It was also much cooler than Cottonwood which was a welcome relief.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon? It has to be seen to be appreciated. It is huge and you really only see a small portion of it from the South Rim edge. I have been to the North Rim too and still there is so much more of it to see.

I passed by the mules that take you down to the bottom of the canyon a la Brady Bunch. This one mule seemed very curious about my motorcycle. I was able to go to the bottom on the mule when I was a kid. My dad and I just showed up at the canyon as someone had cancelled a rim view lodge and and overnight trip to the bottom via mule. We snatched ‘em up. It was very cool.

Crows are the campsite predators here. They will tear it up if you leave any food laying around.

A female elk strolled through the site completely unfazed by the human presence.

I started my next morning with another delicious cup of coffee from Jordan Coffee Roasters.

Then Kevin rolled by on his African Twin. I had seen him riding around before, and in an overcrowded parking lot earlier in the day. Kevin gave me invaluable advise. Get a cooling vest! He had one and said it was remarkable how it keeps you cool when crossing the desert heat that everyone had been warning me about.

I took another ride around to see various views of the canyon. At one stop I met Enrique and his adorable puppy. Enrique was curious about my journey. He said he had 8 motorcycles back home.

These folks had a tent set up right on the edge of the canyon. Not sure how they got away with that or how long they were there, but it was kind of cool.

I had a meal at the Bright Angel Lodge. They were telling people it was a two hour wait for a table. But to sit at the bar was about 10 minutes. Once I was inside, I noticed plenty of empty tables. Didn’t make sense to me, but I had my spot.

After dinner, I thought about going back to the campsite. It had been cloudy most of the day and I had pretty much given up hope for a beautiful Grand Canyon sunset. But then I saw the shuttle that takes you to Hopi Point. Hopi Point is the spot to see a nice sunset when the sky is clear. I asked the shuttle driver what he thought about a sunset possibility. He said that he thought it would be great. On pure faith I hopped on the bus. I was the only passenger.

And fortunately the canyon did not disappoint. A crack in the sky opened up on the horizon just as the sun was dropping making for a beautiful sunset.

The next morning I headed out, but not without saying hi to an old friend, Smoky the Bear. Smoky and the Arizona officials were on high alert as it wouldn’t take much to start a forest fire in this arid heat.

I decided I would shack up in Vegas for a couple nights. On the way is a nice stretch of Old Route 66 beginning in Seligman, Arizona. Seligman has a number of great old Route 66 businesses.