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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yuma and Beyond

The Yuma Cabana turned out to be the usual mix of good and bad. It was clean and cheap with a great bed to sleep in. The bike was securely hidden behind the building, locked up to a sturdy steel pipe. However, the A/C didn't work and neither did the WiFi. Luckily it wasn't too hot and I was too tired for computing so no great loss.

In the morning I went out and bought an Arizona map. No small challenge in the age of smart phones. I wanted a big picture view of my destination and the ability to look at alternative routes. Something you just can't do on a tiny screen.

I had a day to explore before getting to Tucson and what jumped out at me was that our very own Grand Canyon was due north. And herein lies a problem ...

I'm from New England. Everything in New England is measured in inches. However, I'm now out west where everything is measured in miles. It looked as if the Grand Canyon was a good ride for the day but not a brutal trek. There was parts of the old Route 66 to explore along the way. What could go wrong?

A dollar a gallon cheaper than back home!
Heading north was easy and was just more land across the desert.

Dome Rock on the horizon
Lake Havasu City seems to be the retirement capitol of the U.S. west of Florida. What really surprised me was the number of nicely restored muscle cars being driven around. That and those side by side utility vehicles which are apparently legal to drive on the road. I drove over London Bridge but was extremely underwhelmed.

Further north and it was time to fuel the body and the bike. Silly Al's was just the place for lunch. I'm getting better at picking places where the locals hang out.

Then onto the old Route 66 to take a trip into the past. Frankly, I think too much has been made of the Rt 66 mystique. It's just a road. However, when there are no other cars around (and there aren't many) it's easy to imagine yourself in a '52 Hudson crossing the country before there were Interstates and chain restaurants.

The road flowed within the geography rather than cutting through it. Rolling through the mountains towards Kingman was a chance to see through other eyes and look back in time if I squinted a little. 

As it got later I was beginning to realize that the Canyon was beyond my grasp for the day. In Peach Springs I inquired about a local hotel but $120 for the night was beyond my budget. Plan B was to cut across the Hualapai reservation to a campsite on the south rim. I liked this better because it looked way off the normal path for tourists.

Once again I was fooled by my map. I guessed the campground to be about 20-30 miles up the side road. It was dark and cold and I was tired. At least the road was paved but at 20 miles I wasn't feeling confident that the end was near. 

I saw an Elk stag alongside the road which made me slow up a little. Then an elk doe and calf a mile or two further. An elk calf is about the size of a full grown deer. Nothing I want to hit at night. 

30 miles and it's not looking good. 40 miles and I run into a sign that says I'm on some ranch with a lot of restrictions. What?! However, luck was with me once again and some hunters stopped and told me where I could set up camp for the night. I was only to happy to accept their suggestion. Thanks!

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