Tues, May 20th: Today marks our 4-year
anniversary on this trip. Yup, back on May 20th, 1999 we flew from New York City to
Casablanca, Morocco, to begin our 15-month journey. Now, 1,461 days, 49 countries, and 6
continents later, with 92,150 miles accumulated the journey is slowly nearing it's end.
How did we spend the day? We put the motor for Erins bike back in the frame late
last night, and today did all the final fittings and added fluids. The bike runs pretty
sweet we still cant believe how strong it is after so many miles! Everyone is
exhausted, so we put off the BBQ party until tomorrow night.
Thurs, May 22nd: After almost 2 weeks, we finally bid farewell to the gang
at Al & Julies what super folks they (all) have been! We take the
super-slab up to Flagstaff, and stop in the quaint looking college town to buy
food/supplies. A couple of hours later, we arrive at the south-rim of the Grand Canyon. A
flash of our Parks Pass at the gate, and in we ride through the gate. We get to the
entrance of the campground, and are told that there are still a few of the "first
come, first serve" sites available, but that we would have to leave in the morning.
Tomorrow begins Labor Day weekend, the busiest time of year here, and the one time
reservations are accepted for the first-come sites. Well, of course they are all reserved.
We set up our tent and head over to the canyons rim for a look. WOW,
Espectacular!!!!! This is not the first time weve been here, but it still blows our
minds! Words and even pictures dont do it justice youve just got to see
it for yourself to believe it. After cooking dinner, we go to the amphitheater for the
rangers presentation and slide-show. The first part was quite interesting, but I
cant tell you about the rest, cause I fell asleep on Erins shoulder
Fri, May 23rd: We pack our gear and head 23 miles east to another campground
and look-out area, called Desert View. Located at the eastern edge of the canyon, there
are fantastic views of the Colorado River entering far below. This campground is much
smaller (only 35 spaces), and is very pleasant. The rim is much closer, far less
congested, and the views are just as good as at the South Rim Visitors Center. Sunset at
the lookout is again pretty amazing, and afterwards we have a small party with some other
Sat, May 24th: Its 5am, and I crawl out of the tent and jog to the rim
to watch sunrise breathtaking!!! (Maybe because Im so out of shape!) As
a rule, I generally prefer sunsets, as I am already fully awake! J
My stroll back is followed by a long rest in the hammock. We spend the afternoon visiting
many of the scenic overlooks, along with the throngs of other tourists, in equal numbers
of cars, campers, and motorcycles. For sunset, we pack our cooking gear and ride to
Grandview Overlook where we set up our cooker and made dinner on the canyons rim,
while watching the colors of the rocks change as the sun dropped out of the sky --- ah,
life doesnt get much better than this!
Sun, May 25th: Exiting the Grand Canyon and taking the main road up to
Monument Valley is anything but ordinary. The way the jagged mountains pop out of the
desert floor is awe-inspiring, and we had to stop many times just to take it all in. After
passing Mexican Hat (an interesting rock formation), we took the less-popular route 261
north through the Mokee Dugway, where a gravel road brings you 1,000 feet up the side of a
canyon wall. We arrive at the Natural Bridges NP, and confirm the campground is full. The
park rangers are very helpful, and direct us to an area where we can free-camp. They
also tell us about dirt roads and other places we should visit in the area.
We purchase a detailed map (our road atlas doesnt cover this), and head up the
road towards Bears Ears. There are a few cars pulled off the side of the road, with tents
set up. As we climb higher, we get away from the groups, and eventually find a beautiful
open spread, out on a precipice overlooking the valley below. It is magnificent! We pitch
our tent and make a delicious dinner. Just as we finish eating, and the sun is starting to
drop away, the winds pick up. Dirt/dust begin to fly around, and the tent is straining at
the pegs. We frantically gather the gear scattered about and pack it safely away. Our tent
is fully exposed, and not made for extreme conditions. We position the bikes in front of
the tent to help deflect the winds, but it is of little effect. Just as darkness drops its
blanket over us, we drag the tent quickly to a small slopped area protected by trees. The
tent pegs go in easy, and we used big rocks over each to keep them from pulling out.
Needless to say, sleeping on a slope, with the wind whipping at the tent, did not make for
a good night's sleep.
Mon, May 26th: Far from fit and rested, the wind is gone with the night, and
we have a terrific breakfast (scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes,
cheese, and bacon) while sitting on the edge of our precipice it is strangely quiet
and calm. As we pack our gear, we try in vain to get the layers of red dirt off/out of
everything. As we head out over the pass, our mood quickly changes as the Manti La Sal
National Forest unfolds before us stunning! The dirt road is fairly easy, but we
have to watch the mileage on the map closely as there are many turn-offs, and signage is
poor. But this is easy, and a small price to pay for the wonderful vistas. We climb to
9,000 feet, and the colorful valleys below are again, are hard to put into words. The
final leg brings us through Canyonlands National Park, with more stunning mountains on
either side of us. The only thing to tear our eyes from the scenery is the occasional
patches of sand, and the passing dune buggies. We arrive in Moab in late afternoon, and it
is hot-hot-hot!. Its been too many days since our last shower, and we need to get
some more supplies. The campgrounds want $17 to pitch on gravel, so we end up in a private
room in a hostal for $22, complete with fan and electricity to recharge our batteries.