Big Motorcycle Ride Complete

I have been lax in updating this blog. Sorry about that… I have been really busy since I returned home on 20 September.

I described in my previous post that I flew from my home in the Eastern Mid-Atlantic U.S. state of Maryland to Phoenix, Arizona. That is about 2,500 miles away. Due to self-imposed limitations, I can only ride about 200 miles maximum per day, so if I rode my own Harley, it would take me about two weeks to get there, one-way, and two weeks to return. That is not feasible, safe, or reasonable.

When I have done these big rides in the Western U.S., I fly to a destination, then rent a Harley suitable for long-distance touring with a more comfortable seat and storage for my gear. My personal motorcycle is no longer a touring model (it is a small cruiser with no storage), so that is another reason why I would not ride my own bike.

Where I left off…

… my buddy “S” and I had completed the most challenging part of this ride on the Coronado Trail. I was grateful to have survived.

On Day 5, we were in a small town in middle nowhere, Eastern Arizona. We had breakfast at the only restaurant in town, gassed up our bikes, then headed west then north to visit the Petrified Forest National Park.

That park was an unexpected delight. The weather was perfect; sunny, warm, and pleasant. The scenic road that traverses the park is about 35 miles with many stops to view stunning scenery. We enjoyed several hours in the park.

On exit from that park, we had to endure about 50 miles on an interstate highway. It was the only way to get to our next destination.

While my Harley could handle it, the biker hates it. I detest riding faster than 65mph while the posted speed limit is 75mph. We cruised along in the right lane so trucks and other vehicles could pass “those old farts on geezerglides.”

When we got off the interstate, regretfully it looked like rain again. We stopped and put on our rain gear once more for the final leg of our ride to a town on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. We stayed in a nice hotel for the night; I also washed all of my clothes so I had clean clothing for the remainder of our ride.

Day 6 dawned bright and chilly. I witnessed a stunning sunrise over mountains of New Mexico. After breakfast, we loaded up our bikes and rode east for about 40 miles, then turned north. We took a few breaks, got some gas again, and enjoyed a stunning scenic ride all the way up to Utah, and about 30 more miles north from the AZ/UT border.

We circled east again, then south, to approach Monument Valley. This route took us on a very famous road where I was finally able to capture an iconic image I had always dreamed of — me riding a Harley into Monument Valley with its magnificent bluffs and spires in the distance.

We checked into a luxurious cabin that I had reserved six months prior. Not soon after dropping off our stuff, we rode to a location to take a tour inside Monument Valley for some photography. I loved it, though the tour vehicle was more rustic than the roads. The ride was very bumpy and painful. But we made the best of it. Overall, Day 6 was our longest day — 210 miles of riding, 4 hours of touring, and 1-1/2 hours for a late dinner.

Day 7, a Sunday, most restaurants were closed. We left our cabin early and rode about 25 miles south to the nearest town. Only thing open was a McDonald’s where we stopped for breakfast.

After a filling meal (not!), we rode due east to Tuba City, Arizona, where the Hopi and Navajo border each other. What was confusing to us was that the Hopi are in one time zone an hour earlier and the Navajo, just across the highway, were in another time zone an hour later. My self-setting watch was confused all day, as was I. This ride was only about 110 miles — a short one on easy-to-ride roads (and in good weather, too!)

We took this day as a rest day since the previous day was so long.

Morning of Day 8 dawned clear and chilly. We had an early breakfast at the hotel, then set off east again. 30 miles down the road, we turned south.

The ride was pleasant with generally nice scenery along the way. We stopped at an ancient volcano park. It was interesting, and I got out my good camera and took a bunch of photos.

We continued and rode to Flagstaff, Arizona, where we stopped at an old-fashioned diner for lunch.

After lunch, we gassed up our bikes again, then headed south on a famous scenic drive, complete with hills, twisties, and switchbacks. The road was in much better shape than the Coronado Trail, so this ride was more pleasant. Total ride miles today were about 150, about average.

We arrived in the town of Sedona. Man, it was crowded with tons of tourists. Prices were out-of-this-world expensive. Of all locations on this trip, this town was the most disappointing, frustrating, and expensive. I never want to go back there.

We checked into our hotel. Showered, caught up, and walked across the street for dinner. The restaurant was over-rated and very expensive, but nowhere else had anything more reasonable.

Day 9 found me happy to be leaving Sedona and riding back to Phoenix. The ride requiring riding mostly on Interstate highways. I was mentally prepared for that, though I still do not like riding on interstates. The roads were in good shape and there was not much traffic until we entered the Phoenix metro area.

Phoenix is in a valley, so it is much warmer than where today’s ride began. Throughout the 150 mile ride today, we would occasionally stop, not only to rehydrate, but to shed layers. By the time we made Phoenix, it was about 100F, so t-shirt & jeans (and boots, of course) were all I was wearing.

We returned the bikes to the rental shop. I was told that the mileage for my trip totaled 1,052.

We got lunch, then made our way to a hotel where we stayed the night.

The next morning, we were taken to the airport and made our return to home.

Life is short: enjoy adventures while you can. (Honestly, this is my last adventurous motorcycle trip.)