Day 7
June 10th, 2003
Grand Canyon National Park
South Rim Campground

I can hear the others stirring about, so figure I better get going.  It felt good to sleep in a little late today.  Dennis Ryan assumed the role of unofficial ride captain for this portion of the trip.  He has a special love for the desert and canyons of the Southwest, and has spent a number of days on 2 wheels exploring the area.  My intention is to just follow him to San Francisco, I KNOW he has good roads picked out for us.

He advised us last night you need to be packed and loaded by 8am.  His plan has taken into account we are riding en mass and can't cover a lot of ground.  Five of us will be riding to Dennis' house in Redwood, and as a result 300-400 miles a day will be our limit.  Each rider will have to sacrifice something for the good of the group, we each accepted that when we signed on.  As for me, I didn't care if it took us a week to reach the coast.
The guy at the Boy Scout site is up and hacking away.

After loading the bikes we ambled over to the cafeteria for a good bye breakfast.  Jay, Mark et all were turning back south for the valley, while Bob and Patti were riding with us to the North Rim and on to Kanab.

The line up for the run to the coast looked liked this: Coop, Ron, Dennis, "Uncle" Phil and myself.  A mix if ever there was one.  All good friends, who have ridden many miles with me over the years.

Our plan today is to explore the Canyon, South and North Rim, then take off to Zion.

The weather is perfect, and after breakfast everyone is eager to get going.  We stopped at the first vista east of the visitor center to enjoy the canyon.  Folks, I can't say enough how beautiful this place is.  
​The Crown Jewel of Planet Earth, The Grand Canyon.
All these guys ride beyond my abilities so I took my spot in the rear.  I don't have much nerve anymore, and I am more into the other aspects of riding then leaning nowadays.  My loaded bike is a bear to hold in lines, and my spongy rear shock is not helping.  

I followed the group as we made our way east on SR 64.  The highway has a few twists but nothing challenging.  The air is refreshing as we enjoy a early morning ride at the Grand Canyon.  How many guys would love to be in our spot right now?  I watch the riders in front of me as they pick lines and then lean.  In and out of the shade of the Ponderosa's they go.  This portion of 64 is in the park, so we stay within the rules, but we do roll around the RVs when we find one.  Thankfully, most are still asleep.

We arrive at the Desert View lookout and dismount.  Here, we enjoy milling about and taking pictures.  This vista offers great views of the surrounding desert and Canyon.  Several tour busses are on the scene.  Many are filled with foreign tourists.  I took a picture for a Asian couple who only spoke a few words of English.  I saw them taking pics of each other and motioned if they wanted a picture together.  They appreciated my gesture, and I took 2 pics of the couple.

I climbed the stairs of the lookout tower and starred out the canyon below.  The morning sun was bright, and the Canyon looked majestic as it sat surrounded by the Painted Desert. 

After 30 minutes or so, Captain Dennis pushes everyone to their bikes.  I don't know what we would have done without him.  He knows the layout and the groups goals, and kept us on track.  Thanks brother.

Across the Canyon as the crow flies, the North Rim is 18 miles away, but by ST it is a 200 mile ride around.  We jump back on 64 and come down from the south rim to Cameron, where we stop for gas.

It was a quick stop, and soon Dennis had everyone barreling northbound on US 89. Keeping the bikes anywhere near the speed limit was hard.  I found myself in the number 3 spot and cruising at 80 mph.

I saw the turn off for Tuba City, the route I took in 2001 for 4 Corners.  I thought about the Chinese lunch I had in that depressed reservation city that day.

As we were riding by the beautiful Echo Cliffs, I sang "Brown Eyed Girl" in my helmet.  A catchy tune that stayed with me most of the day.

At Bitter Springs we take Alt 89, and a few miles later take a break at Navajo Bridge.  A brand new bridge was constructed in the mid 90s, and the old bridge now serves as a pedestrian walkway.  We strolled the area taking pictures of the beautiful blue green water of the Colorado below.  Several rafts were making their way toward the Canyon.  Tour companies offer multi day rafting trips down the river into the Canyon.  That sounds like something I will do one day.

Back on the road we continued our journey to the North Rim.  Out of the Marble Canyon, and past the beautiful cliffs of Vermillion we ride.  My senses are on overload.  So much beauty to see here.

A southbound STX 1300 accompanied by a BMW LT waves at us.  Man, I want a STX sooooo bad.  I can picture myself playing with that windshield all the way across America.

Alt 89 deposits us at Jacobs Lake.  Which is nothing more then a service station and a overpriced campground with cabins.

We turned south on SR 67 and went on final approach to the North Rim.  Our mission was almost over.
The North Rim area is very different from the South.  The landscape is Alpine on this side.  Tall trees and green meadows escort us to the rim, in contrast to the desert approach on the south end.  

I noticed a small lake in the meadow we are passing through, and stop for a picture.  It was great ride from Jacobs to the rim.
​A peaceful meadow on the way to the North Rim.
The North Rim is much less crowded then the South.  We find a parking spot and decide to eat lunch at the snack bar in the visitor center.  It has been experience that National Parks Centers have pretty good food, and the pizza I enjoyed at the North Rim did not disappoint.  

The pizza was good, but the table was a little unsteady.  I got up to refill my drink and bumped the table, spilling about 3 drinks.  It was a mess.  

After the lunch we went back through the lodge to the viewing area.  I sat on a wood rocking chair and looked out over the canyon.  From this side, the canyon is green with trees, and a little grass.  Very beautiful.  

They have a viewing area on a point but a guy has to walk down a bunch of stairs, and out over a concrete bridge to get there, but once there you have a great view.

Ron and I were up to the challenge and made our way down.  We saw Captain Dennis and I took his picture.
​My good friend and brother rider, Dennis Ryan.  Grand
Canyon National Park, North Rim.

When we reached the viewing area I hear a man complaining to his young kids that he spent 6,000 dollars getting them to the Grand Canyon, and they weren't even interested enough to stop to take a pic.  I could have told him 8 year olds are not much into nature.

When our group was finished taking pictures, it was time to get back on the road and make it to Zion.
I bought a post card and wrote something mushy on it, and mailed it to my wife at work.  That should guarantee me good graces for at least another year.  

We were in the parking lot gearing up when a man and lady approached us.

"y'all passed us back down the road and it made me jealous"

"oh yeah? how so?"

"I use to ride, and not that long ago"

His wife joined in.  "yeah he has the fever, but he can't do that right now"

The man had a dejected look on his face when he walked away.

The group doubled back to Jacobs Lake where we stopped to walk around.

The temps began to rise as we came down out of the Alpines.

We stopped for gas at Fredonia.

With our butts rested we continued on to Kanab, where we took a break in a poorly run McDondalds.  I had a coke and fries that took forever to get.  Every trash bin in the place was over flowing and paper was spilling out on the ground.  Unable to stuff their refuse in the bins, folks began sitting their trays on tables.

Bob and Patti said their good byes.  They were going to look for a place to overnight, while we rode on to Zion.  Good folks and fun to ride to with.  I'm sure I'll ride with them again someday.

It was late in the afternoon when we left Kanab.  We were close to Zion so we still had plenty of time to get there before dark.  It has been a busy day.  This is why I like to take my west coast trip in early June.  The days are longest this time of year, not getting dark out to 10pm.  The heat of summer is yet to peak, and things are a little less crowded.  Many advantages to an early June ride.

In what seemed like no time we were taking SR 9 into Zion.  I saw the Thunderbird Restaurant at the intersection of 9 and 89.  I ate a hamburger there last year before turning north on 89 for Bryce.

We paid our entrance fees and entered the park.  I was here last year, riding the park south to north.  I'm doing the opposite this year. 

The Zion canyons are just as pretty as the Grand Canyon, just not as big.  I ride slowly through this great park.  The canyon walls took on different hue in the late afternoon sun and bright blue sky.  Another breathtaking ride.  It was if I could reach out and touch the rocks.  I could see the late afternoon shadows of the other riders on the rocks and walls.  
​The late afternoon shadows, on the peaks of Zion
We reached the one lane tunnel and a petite attendant with spectacles holds us at the checkpoint.  We go to the front and dismount.  She said this was going to take a while so we take our helmets off.

I struck up a conversation with the young lady.  We found out she was from Delaware, working her summer job.  We kidded her about a lot of stuff.  In fact we distracted her so bad she forgot the description of the last south bound vehicle.  Is the last vehicle a white truck or red car?  

"OK you guys can go now."  "Ain't noway baby I'm gonna be the first joker in the tunnel, you ain't sure all the south bounds are clear."  "Well it ain't my fault, you guys messed me up."  She got back on the radio and got the description of the last car from the guy at the north check point.  I hear him say it was a "white pick up."  Well ok, but no one can remember if hes come through yet.  I hear Dennis say, "don't look at me, I ain't going first."  The line of cars behind us grows inpatient.  "Look, just go, I'm pretty sure its ok."  We put Uncle Phil up front and proceed on.  We made it without incident.

It was another great ride through Zion.

Out of the park we make tracks to a private campground just outside the gate.  It is getting dark so we hurry and set up camp.  We want to ride the shuttle down into the canyon loop.  The park service removed traffic from the loop a few years ago, and now the only access is by shuttle.

Phil noticed a couple of crotch rockets at a nearby site with NY plates, and went over for a conversation.  I thought they had trailered the bikes, but Phil reports back that yes, indeed, they rode here, and are on their way to California.

We finished at dusk, and jump on the bikes to hook up with the shuttle.  I didn't feel like getting my bike out, so I jumped on pillion with Uncle Phil for the quarter mile ride to the shuttle area.  He didn't scare me one time, and that Russel seat,  with padded backrest felt good.  A guy can get spoiled back there.

We made it on the shuttle for the ride down into the canyon.  I will never forget the ride among the canyon walls in the moonlight.  It was fantastic.  It was nice to sit back and just enjoy the view.  Tall cliffs were on both sides, and my neck strained to see everything.  Only a handful of folks were on the shuttle, and that made it even better.

Moonlight shined on the cliff walls, casting things in a blue tint.  We reached the far end of loop and the driver stopped to let us walk around.  It was quiet and peaceful among the cliffs.  I would love to set my tent up here by the water below the cliffs, I might never leave.

The shuttle carried us back to the visitor center in complete darkness.  I sat looking out the windows at the canyons and cliffs of Zion.  I thought about how lucky I was.  I saw more natural beauty today, then most people will see in a lifetime.  It was humbling.

When we got back on the bikes, we went looking for a place to eat.  Everything was closed so we found a small taco place near the campground.  It was late but we were served an excellent meal.  It was a nice way to end the day.

I went back to the tent and gathered my stuff for a shower.  My phone was on 1 bar so I charged it while I was showering.  I'm going to have to find a way to solve this problem of phone charging.  

When I returned to the tents I asked Ron for a remedy to my phone dilemma.  He said I needed a phone charger and a 12v adapter.  He said we can work out a solution when we get to Redwood. 

We covered 322 miles today.  Not bad for a group our size.  Tomorrow we leave the desert and enter the Sierras.  I'm looking forward to it.  I've been in the desert almost 3 days and looking forward to something different.

I got in my tent, and pulled the Moto Fizz over for a stand and finished watching  James Bond.  I tried my TV before going to bed, but failed to get a signal.  

I'm getting use to this new tent.  The outside vestibules allow me to secure my gear without taking up tent space.  I like that.

I rolled over and slept like a baby.