New years eve. I woke with one thing on my mind. Get in touch with Wayland and ride thru the Navajo reservation to Monument Valley to find the point where Forrest Gump stopped running in the movie. You know the scene in the movie where he stops on a long road in the desert and turns to his followers and announces that he is tired and wants to go home. That was stop number one on the agenda and just happened to be about 120 miles away from camp. From my road atlas I couldn’t tell if there were going to be fuel stops along the way. The road atlas tends to leave the reservations rather undetailed. I knew from talking to Wayland the night before that the town that he lives in, Kayenta, was one of the bigger towns on the reservation, but that was 95 miles away. Needless to say the Navajo live in an extremely remote area of Arizona and fuel stops are few and far between. With my bike gassed up and the decision to gamble on Kayenta having a fuel station open on New Years eve, I nervously made my way into the complete unknown. The Goose is getting about 160 miles to the tank these days and to make it to Monument Valley and back on one tank would be impossible. Miles and miles passed with hardly any sign of life other than the random small herd of cattle. I was seriously worried that I’d have to abort the mission. Then as I got further along things began to change. Very small trading posts and the odd service station were beginning to appear. With about a half tank down, I pulled into a service station in the Black Mesa part of the reservation. All fueled up again I was on my way to find that unmistakable stretch of road. Finally 120 miles later from Page, I was at the Utah border again, this time only further east and right in the heart of monument valley. I was sure two times that I found the spot where he stopped running. Both times I took the time to snap a couple pics of me running through the valley just in case I didn’t have it right. Hindsight is 20/20 that combined with Murphy’s law worked against me on my little mission. Before I left for Monument Valley that morning I didn’t take the time to look up the scene in the movie while I had wi-fi. Wayland never answered his phone, so I found myself there in the general area without being 100% sure of the film location. Only when I arrived back in town and had wi-fi again, did I realize that I didn’t actually ride far enough to get to the correct spot. Shite! I had fun anyway and just to see the formations in that part of the world was a huge treat.
Stop number two for the day was the big New Years bash at the floating restaurant that Mike had told me about the day before. I wanted to, kind of, get fresh and clean for the event so I decided to cut my hair and buy a new pair of pants that weren’t stained or holey. The first swipe with my electric shaver was a doozy. I cut my hair so short that the only way to correct it was to go ahead and cut all of my hair incredibly short. I’ve always been curious to see what it would look like and a new year was fast approaching so why not. I just went for it and it was by far the quickest and easiest self administered hair cut that I’ve ever done. The results are highly questionable and I guess it will grow on me, literally. With my new hair do and and a new set of jeans I was off to the party. Unfortunately it was about 8:30 pm at that time and Mike had already left. Bummer. I decided to go ahead and stick around for the celebration and fireworks. This was the first time bringing in the new year in a different time zone. At 10pm the restaurant did a balloon drop, I guess to celebrate the new year on the east caost. Rob, the restaurant manager, pulled me aside and asked if I could pull one of the cords for the balloon bag. I said sure and was glad to help. For me the party began after that. I met up with a bartender and a few of her friends that I met the day before and she let me tag along to one of their house boats on lake Powell. The fun was flowing and the time sped up from there. I was partying like it was 1999! Before I knew it the fireworks came and went and I was shaking a leg with the best of them (I think) on the dance floor until they shut the place down. Can’t beat that.
New Years Day.
2012 welcomed me with a lovely little hangover. I swear I’ll never drink again! Actually that time I didn’t regret it. I had a great time and my experience with lake Powell was more people oriented than terrain oriented and that’s just fine by me. Perhaps one day I’ll get back to the lake for some serious boating recreation and a swim. I had my sights set on the big daddy of them all for New Years day. The Grand Canyon!! From Page to the Grand Canyon is roughly 90 miles or so. Not to bad of a ride, if your head doesn’t want to explode. You have to pay to play and I play hard and pay dearly. The fellow I met two days before, Cameron, came over as I was packing my stuff up and wanted to see if I was still in for the frosty balls poker run. I planned to do it, but once I found out that they weren’t planning to leave until noon and having no idea what direction they would be traveling, I decided to skip it.The weather was perfect and the ride wouldn’t have been to frosty anyway. In my few short days in Page I managed to ride North, South, and East of town. Where ever the guys were going to ride, odds are that I’d already been there. Getting to the Grand Canyon before dark was a definite priority. Cameron understood and we said our goodbyes. A short stop at Burger King in Page for some wi-fi, that actually worked well and some food, and I headed south on 89 back the way I came a few days before. By that time it was about 1:30 and I was only 10 miles out of town. I passed a group of about 10 bikes heading toward Page. I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that that was Cameron and the guys on the poker run.
89 south through the reservation to route 64 is beautiful and I managed to get a few pics of some of the stuff I didn’t stop for on my way from Flagstaff to there. Eventually the Grand Canyon entrance was in sight and it was about 4 pm by then. Upon entering the park, I made a very quick stop to the first overlook that you come to. There it was the mighty Grand Canyon. When I arrived back at the Goose after scoping out the canyon for the first time, I met an Italian fellow that was snapping pics of the Goose. He and I chatted for a bit and he told me of a recent trip he took from Italy through Spain and France. His loop was 6,000 miles and he did it in 9 days. He said that his only luggage was a credit card. Man , I wish I could travel that light. Mather campground was 25 miles away from that first overlook and the sun was racing me the whole way. I found camp, got set up just before dark and headed back out to learn the area and find some wi-fi for a post. I had absolutley no success with the wi-fi or a post, so I hung my head low and headed back to the warmth of the sleeping bag.
My first impression of the Grand Canyon was quite neutral. For over a month now, I’ve been a desert dweller and have seen tons of formations. Some very impressive, some not so. It may be a shame to say that I’m a bit used to the scenery. I’m saying this without having hiked through the canyon yet. I hope there will be some sections that just blow my mind. I am aware though that if one has been an east coaster their whole life with no experience out west and they see the Grand Canyon for the first time, it would be unimaginable. I kind of wish my first time seeing it was like that.