Ain't it Grand?
(answer: Yes! Why, yes I b'lieve that's there the GRANDEST of canyons!)
Desert View, GC Nat'l Park
It had been an odd morning. For lack of an Ipod, I kept talking to myself. Passed through some spectacular scenery and some strange towns. I passed Cliff Dwellers, Az., Jackass Creek, The Gap, Az. Scoffing through my helmet at police and natives who ripped past me. I'm sure they wondered why this guy hunched over on a motorcycle as though he were going Mach 4 was actually going under the speed limit. And was he singing to himself?
Indeed I was. And for your information, I'm laying forward on my tank bag, not only to duck into that mean headwind, but also because my arse and lower back are wicked sore. Like get me some friggin' butt-cream sore. After lunch at a grossly overpriced gas station in Marble Canyon things got even weirder. It might have been the heat, it might have been the solitude, it might have been the grossly over-aged tuna salad from lunch but I spent the 56 miles to Cedar Ridge readapting that Proclaimers song. "And-I would ride five-hundred miles and and-I would ride five-hundred more just to be the man who rode one-thousand miles to beat-that-guy-from-the-proclaimers to your door. Get a bi-ike! get a
I don't know if the town's named for the people or these improbable rock formations littering the side of the highway 'neath the Vermillion Cliffs.
Photo borrowed from http://www.utchs.com/CDwellers.htm
bi-ike! Get a mo-oh-oh-oh toh toh-toh-or-cicleta!"
It helps if you say it outloud. C'mon. You really wanna know what it's like out here? Do it.
A journal entry from that day: My how the tables have turned! There's something very pleasing in the irony of Navajo selling beads to tourists by the side of the road. I wonder exactly how many hand-woven blankets would it cost to buy back the grand canyon? My chuckles are cut short, however, as I pass the Navajo Senior's Center, just down from the fancy new "trading post" back in Cedar Ridge. The "Center" was just a barbed wire enclosure with a few beat down trailers in the middle of a dust bowl.
I had been struck, since arriving in the southwest, by how much more acknowledged and prized the Native American heritage seemed to be. Still, it looks like some things are just as bad on the Res down here as they are back home.
So I go to Cedar Ridge, the Northeastern gateway to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon late in the afternoon, taking it slow to come around from the North Rim.
Better be extra careful! Not because there was much chance of ice in the 45 degree heat. Because the sign was full of bullet holes. AZ is an "open carry" state which means you can take your gat with you everywhere as long as your holster is visible.
With things between me and Baby having been on the rocks ever since we hit the desert, I didn't want to push anything with her that day. The night before at the De Motte Campground in Kaibab Nat'l Forrest I finally got burned - to the tune of 17$! - for trying to camp for free in maintained campgrounds. As such I was trying to figure out a way to get in without paying the 25$ entrance fee to GC Nat'l Park. Everyone I talked to in Cedar Ridge said the same: gates maintained - no free ride. I managed to sneak into Lake Mead and Death Valley National parks by taking the back door, but The bastards at the GCNP have got both entrances to the South Rim on lockdown.
I headed up to the highway leading in to the park planning on looking for a spot to camp or just hang out and heading in under the cover of night. Better stick to the high ground, that looks like a thunderstorm to the south...
Just after I turned west up the I felt a few big, cool drips drips of rain pelt my nuckles and the side of
my neck. I'm sure I would have enjoyed them immensely if it wasn't for the wind that came along with them. A strong but consistent northbound wind kept me leaning way over to the left and just under 65mph, even though it was mostly straight west toward the canyon. Cars, unconcerned with the wind or how it was that the Bike in front of them was staying balanced at a 75 degree angle to the pavement, started blowing past at 75mph. The change in the force of the wind kept sending me from one side of the lane to the other. By the time I got behind Grey mountain and out of the wind my nerves and the desire to check out what seemed to be the beginning of the canyon got the better of me so I pulled off to the right and found a little trail heading over to the abyss. Turned out that I found my way to Dead Indian Canyon.
I'd never seen anything like it. I found myself riding along a steep hill, ten feet up from a 1000 foot drop into the mouth of a canyon about that wide. But if this little excursion
The view my baby was scopin
there's a little band of light coloured sand in the middle of this picture - that's the bottom. It's about 1200 feet down (based on Google Maps topography).
was intended to calm my nerves it sorely missed the mark. The reason I'd been taking it easy all day was that I had litterally NO thread left on my front tire and I was worried about the heat. I wound up a mile downhill and out of sight from the highway, on a road made of jagged rocks, cactus needles and rattlesnakes. I didn't actually see any snakes but I could hear them rattling and hissing over the sound of my motor as I bounced past. I did manage to scrounge up the cojones to get off the bike for a few photos...
Shortly afterward and with just enough time to scope a good spot for sunset I made it to the Park Gate, (having found NOTHING by way of suitable spot to wait out the guard or camp for free). Just signs at every turn saying "Navajo land, tresspassers will be prossecuted under civil rights act...." Turns out it was only 12$ for a motorcycle so I paid it and cruised in. Got a free map too.
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