Arizona - Day 2
Is it Yosemite or is it Sedona?

292 miles

[Saturday - October 20, 2007]

I lost $10, Minh lost $60, and Kevin lost $100.  So much for trying to recover the cost of the trip via the casino route.  I had a feeling that my luck wasn't any good last night and I was right.  As for Kevin and Minh, they should have stopped when they were ahead.  Oh well, hind sight is alway 20/20 if not 15/20.

I woke up about 6:30am this morning.  I knew it was going to be a long ride since we are planning on stopping at Meteor Crater and Sedona.  As I recall, it was something in the neighborhood of 360 miles for today.  That works out to be something like 7+ hours in the saddle excluding breaks.  Those 7+ hours are only true if we take the 40 freeway all the way to Meteor Crater.  However, I think we're going to detour once again if we see more signs for Route 66.

I was done packing my things and hauled the majority of my stuff to the bike by 7:00am.  I wanted to start off early this morning because of the time requirements.  As I was making my way through the hotel lobby, I spot Minh coming from the elevator area.  I waved at him for a while before he finally spotted me.  I guess he didn't anticipate I was going to be up so early.  What was the first thing he said to me?  "Kevin snores like crazy too."  Hm...  so much for the concern that Minh will blast Kevin with his nightingale audible tones in the middle of the night preventing Kevin from sleeping.  It seems Kevin is on par with Minh.  That's cool.  I'm a light sleeper.  Minh is down here lazing about looking for coffee.  I'm sure he had taken notice of the Starbucks right next to the entrance to the hotel.  He offered to treat me to some coffee.  Since I lost my remaining $10 to Harrah's, I accepted.  I'm currently cashless.  Minh pulled out his Starbucks charge card and mentioned, "I wonder if they accept this here?"  To which I replied, "They probably do it does say Starbucks in front of the place."  Content with the comments Minh tried to use the Startbucks card when we got to the register and it was time to pay.  What did the cashier say? "We don't accept that here because this store is owned by the casino."  Minh and I were stunned.  What?  That doesn't make sense.  If that the case then why in the world did they bother slapping a big huge STARBUCKS lighted sign in the front of the store?  Minh ended up paying cash and we both walked out with a tall coffee and a tall mocha.  "I'm going to have to call Starbucks and ask them about this when I get back." commented Minh.

We were both walking around the hotel/casino and decided to visit the back of the hotel.  There is suppose to be a beach of some kind.  Sure enough, river side of the hotel had a man made beach.  It comes complete with straw beach umbrellas and all.  There was also a pier for a boat ride to visit London Bridge down at Lake Havasu.  Interesting.  While we were hanging out at the pier, we both noticed the clarity of the Colorado river.  Not only that, there was trout swimming around.  Eventually we both head back up the hotel to finish the packing job.

The first order of business for today is for me to get some cash.  I checked with the GPS and there is a bank near by.  The ATM machine in the casino wanted outrageous percentages for withdrawing money.  Forget that.  It's suppose to be 2.6 miles to the bank but this eventually turned out to be a little further.  We checked out, got our receipts, and head out of town.  Actually, we head into town.

Yup!  We're getting out of town.

Now where did we park our bikes?

Downtown Laughlin.  Nevada side.

By the time we're done with getting money from the bank and finishing off breakfast, it's 10:45am.  Not good for the plotted course but it's perfectly fine for the vacation.  So we head on out on the 68 highway that will eventually meet up with the 40 freeway.  Unlike yesterday, today is turning out to be quite the windy day.  As we get onto the 68, I'm awe struck by the beautiful scenery coming up in front of us.  The rock formations are just wonderful.  I can't help but notice one particular rock formation.  We had to stop on the side of the highway to take some pictures.

No I'm not flipping off.  I'm just copying the mountain.

The 68 highway continues to be a beautiful highway.  Once we got pass the mountains and are heading down towards the valley, it was obvious there was a sandstorm in front of us.  My immediate thought was, "Oh great, I have to change out oil, air filter, and oil filter once I get home."  It turns out the sandstorm was cause by construction vehicles stirring up a bunch of sand.  The wind simply exaggerated the situation.  Once I was in the sandstorm, it wasn't as bad as I had thought it to be.  What I'm use to is the sandstorm Eugene and I experienced back in the '06 Death Valley ride where we couldn't see any more than 50 feet in front of us.  In this case, visibility was easily 300+ feet.  Not a problem.

We begin the final climb on the 68 to meet up with the 40 freeway passing through Kingman.  As we make the final turn to link up with the 40, there is a sign showing Route 66 at the next Kingman off ramp.  Right there and then, I knew what to do.  Minh and I had made the decision to take as much of Route 66 as possible on this trip.  As a result, we detoured from freeway 40.  This will slow us down but that's OK.  We're here for the experience not the boredom (e.g. freeway 40).

Once we're on city streets Minh asked me, "Is this wind as bad as Death Valley?"  "No, Death Valley was a lot worse."  We continued to Route 66.  We passed a park with an old train engine locked up behind a fence.  It looks like there is some type of local fair going on.  There were people all over the place and cars parked all over the street.  We slow made our way to Route 66.  Once on the route, I can't help but stop when I noticed a really cool Route 66 sign.

If you look beyond me and the sign you'll see a big sandstorm up ahead.
The sky is all tan looking.

As we take leave of the wonder full sign, I can't help but notice, once again, a huge dust cloud looming in the distance.  Perhaps this one will be the same as the last one.  It just looks ominous but it has not real substance.

It's amazing.  I can find them everywhere.  Even in Arizona.  What am I talking about?  Idiot drivers or drivers that are so impatient they're idiots.  We were at a light waiting for this 18 wheeler to make it's left turn into a shopping center.  It's taking its time making a left turn because it's tight where it's trying to go.  By the time the big rig made it through, their turn light has turned red.  Well, the RV behind the truck can't wait for the next light and goes for it anyway.  If that wasn't enough, the small car behind the RV decides he's not going to wait either.  These people know perfectly well their light has turned red.  Still they ignore the traffic light and make traffic stop anyway.  Perhaps they're a bunch of California drivers or they're also horribly bad drivers in AZ also.

Admittedly the '07 R12R is light years better than the '05 R12GS.  However, I still experience the occasional computer accessory power confusion.  What am I talking about?  Sometimes, when I turn off the R12R, the accessory power remains on beyond the normal several minutes before the bike computer shuts down all the power for the bike.  When the bike gets into this mode, I have to disconnect everything attached to the accessory power and wait for a little while so the computer knows to drop power for everything.  If I don't, the computer mistakenly thinks the power is not on and then shuts the accessory power off mid ride thinking the accessory power is being turned on.  Yes, it's a mess.  Mumble mumble, I had to pull over not too far after the sign pictures to reset/unconfused the bike computer.  It's also a good opportunity for Minh to take pictures and ponder the sandstorm he's about to enter.

Forever checking to see how much time I have left on the video equipment.

"Should I stay or should I go?  If I go, there will be trouble.  If I stay, it will be double."
Yeah, there's plenty of sand up ahead.

The bike computer is all happy and the accessory power is once again working the way it's suppose to.  Left turn signal on and we're back on the road.  The interesting bit is that I'm noticing there's hardly any wind when we get between 40-45 MPH.  It's a clear sign the wind is blowing about 40-45.  Once we reached 50-55, I can once again feel a little wind on my face.  At 65-70 MPH, the wind is ever present but it's not as noisy as if we were driving directly into the wind.  It was quite pleasant to not get that rag doll effect.  It was good for about 20 or so miles until we made a wide sweeping right turn.  Next thing we know, the 40-45 MPH tail wind is now a 40-45 MPH crosswind.  We are getting blown to hell and back.  Again, remembering the tricks from that Death Valley ride, I knew I was a big sail catching all this crosswind so I ducked down to alleviate the situation.  At the same time, I knew Kevin was doing OK because he has a panniers less bike.  My rear view mirror shows Minh struggling a bit because of his full fairings.

When the road finally sweeps left, we're back into the flow and are once again smooth riding.  I know 40 MPH wind is not the same as 60 MPH wind but it's still wind.  No matter how you cut it, it still sucks to that type of crosswind.  We make a long series of left turns until we reach Valentine.  As we keep on going there appears to be some kind wild life sanctuary.  Typical, we over shoot the spot and then double back to check it out.  We continue for a while in the wrong direction because it's an up hill and we can't see on coming traffic to make a safe U-turn.  Eventually we crest and U-turn are abound.  I did it with relative ease.  So did Minh.  When Kevin was turning around, a gust of wind hit him on the side and almost made him drop his bike.  Fortunately he managed his composure and kept on truckin'.  That would have suck if we had to park our bikes and help him pickup his bike in the middle of the road.  Luckily it didn't happen and all is well.  We make it to the wild life sanctuary and pulled in.  I forgot to mention heading back in the direction of the sanctuary, we encountered heavy head winds.  Go figure.

Minh is doing the three limb salute and ...

... ended up doing a ...

... Sumo dance.
Notice the sandstorm coming back.

No sandstorm...


We went up to the admissions gate and came to two conclusions: 1) We don't have enough time to hike around the park, 2) it's hella expensive.

As a result, we opted to rummage through the gift shop to see if we can buy something for the family.  I bought some T-shirts, a cap, and a beaver.  Yes, I said beaver.  It's a little furry stuffed animal.  What am I going to do with a beaver?  Don't ask.  You can insinuate.  Unfortunately, I don't get to keep the wondrous beaver.  It was stolen from me when I got home, but that's a different story.  Kevin also bought a cap.  We milled around a bit more with Coke in one hand and another soda in another hand.  As we were getting ready to head out on the road again, I told Minh, "I don't think we'll make it to Meteor Crater.  It's probably best that we skip that and head straight to Sedona from Flagstaff."  Minh agreed so we trimmed this part from the route.

By the time we got back on the road, the wind has died down.  However, we're confronted with a heavy cloud layer.  Rain clouds for that fact.  I was a bit concerned that it is going to dump on us.  Fortunately it never happened.  As we make another long sweeping right turn, the valley opens up in front of us.  A glance back towards the mountains show the clouds dumping it load in the foothills.  That's a good sign because that mean it's going to let out its moisture there and not here. 

As we make our way into the Hualapai Indian Reservation, we are greeted with a caravan of classic cars on the opposite side of Route 66.  They initiated the wave and I politely waved back.  However, I continued the wave until the very last car.  Some of the drivers are probably wondering why I was waving.  That's OK.  The cool thing is the last car understood exactly what I'm doing and everybody in the car is frantically waving back.  It's cool to see nice people on the road.  Even if only for a hello wave.

It's really cooling off.  The heavy clouds over head is causing the temperature to plummet.  The original 80+ degrees dived into the 60s.  After a while I couldn't stand the cold any more so I pulled over and signaled to all that I wanted to add more layers.  I pulled out my heavy fleece and on it goes.  While we were on the side of the road, busily adding more clothing, a young Indian kid (approximately mid or early teens) approached Kevin and started talking to him.  I can't hear what was being said so I continued with my robing.  Next he went to Minh.  Lastly he made it to me.  He was dirty and he was slurring his words.  He asked me if he can hitch a ride to Tucson.  I told him I don't have room because I'm full up with gear.  Minh later told me that he was stinking of alcohol.  We got back on the bike and left the kid behind.  When we reached Peach Springs, I had to pull to the side of the streets as there are some really cool old abandon structures.  The town is still alive but there are businesses that have long since passed on.

Forever playing with the video equipment.

Check out this old abandoned gas station.

As we reach the Grand Canyon Caverns, the wind is picking up again.  Because this section of Route 66 is perpendicular to the wind, we are blown all over the place, once again.  I duck down for a while but eventually gave up and just sat up right.  Hey, it's not so bad after all.  At the outskirts of Seligman, we encountered the far and few in between sport bike group.  It was a nice surprise from the constant Harley swarms we were seeing.

At long last, after 150 miles on Route 66, we pull over for some fuel at the Seligman Arizona Route 66 Texaco gas station.  From all the along the wind riding business, I tried to bet with Minh that we're only going to need 2.5 gallons to top off the bikes.  Minh was smart in not betting against me.  However, I would have lost the bet with Minh's bike but would have won when compared to Kevin's and my bike.  I put in an entire 2.55 gallons and Kevin put in 2.6 gallons.  It goes to show that riding along with the wind is a big plus.  Not only in fuel savings but also in noise reduction.

Minh's Glamor shot.

Unfortunate, but it was bound to happen.  Route 66 ends and we merge onto Freeway 40.  Now that we are in the real heart and guts of the freeway, we're amazed.  The sign show the speed limit is 75 MPH.  That's cool and all, but the thing that is different here, compared to California, is the speed limit applies to all vehicles.  This means big rigs are allowed to travel at 75 MPH also.  That's crazy.  What's even more crazy is the notion of a big rig going 75-80 MPH in this crazy wind.  California allows passenger vehicles to drive at the high end of the spectrum but the truckers are required to stay at 55 MPH for safety reasons.  So this was a big shocker when we're ride at 80 MPH and can't seem to pull away from a big rig that is tailing Kevin.  Eventually Kevin shots up next to me and request that we zip on by to get away from the crazy trucker.  As soon as Kevin got up to my position I knew exactly what he's trying to tell me.  Sure thing.  I'll oblige that request.  Part of the reason why I'm consenting to Kevin's request is because I've been looking back to see if the trucker is harassing Kevin.  Sure enough he is.  We speed up and put some distance between us and the trucker.  However, this doesn't do a whole lot of good.  Why?  Because there are a bunch of trucks on the road and they're all pretty much driving between 75-80 MPH.  That's nuts.  I don't know about you but I'm not one to argue with something that is more than 10 times bigger than I am and more than 10 times heavier than I am.  I'm just a little annoying gnat to these trucks.  It's in my, Kevin, and Minh's best interested to either go fast to get away from the truckers or just simply let them pass.  We just have to make sure to let them pass quickly.  I don't want to linger within their slip stream and end up getting sucked in under the wheel.  I don't play tortilla very well.

We pulled off a couple more times while traveling on freeway 40 for restroom and coffee breaks.  Eventually we reach Flagstaff.  The sign says 7000+ elevation.  Wow!  This is not too far short of Mammoth Lakes.  The difference between the two?  Not a whole lot.  Flagstaff looks very similar to Mammoth with the exception that it's much bigger in size and population.  You get similar pine trees and wooded areas.  We pass through Flagstaff and get ourselves onto the 17 freeway to take the highway 89-Alt.  It's good that we have made it this far.  It's bad that it's 4:30 and the sun is starting to go down.  Bummer.  I really wanted to have a good look at Sedona and all the red rock formations.  Once again we stop on the side of Hwy 89-Alt so I can add a pair of fleece pants and to change our dark face shields to clear shields.  Yes, it's cold at 7000+ feet.

Hwy 89-Alt, ahead of us.

Hwy 89-Alt, behind us.

The image makes the scene a lot brighter than it really is.

Helmet cam and rear view cam on.  Here we go.

I should have cleaned the lens before taping.
A bug decided to deposit it's carcass there.
(The Sundays - Summertime)

As we make our way down the mountain side I can't help but be struck by three things:
  1. The view is simply spectacular
  2. It is definitely autumn because the leaves are all yellow and red
  3. This road is remarkably like Yosemite
To the people of Arizona ,especially the Sedona region, please don't take offense at the comment.  It is just a matter of life experience.  Everyone of us has to have a foundation to stand on.  As a result, we make comparisons to the things that we know as a means of evaluating the situation.  Despite the fact I'm making the comparison between Sedona and Yosemite, the two places are very different and have their uniquely beauty.  There is nothing like the cliffs of Sedona in Yosemite.  Likewise there is not a rock in Sedona that looks like half dome.  The red rocks tower above us and dwarf any man made structure that you might want to compare to nature's splendor. 

It's dark and it's dinner time.  Any thoughts of not riding in  the dark is dashed.  Oh well, we just have to make due.  We were fortunate enough to find a parking space when we needed one.  It took us 1 hour to go from Flagstaff to Sedona.  It probably could have been done in less time.  However, because of the road construction and the Halloween party in Sedona, traffic was at a stand still for a good 3-4 miles.  By the time we turned off the engine, our hands, wrists, and arms are aching.

While we were scooting ourselves into town, I spotted a cafe that looked like a good spot for eating.  It looked like a restaurant but ended up being a food court.  Oh well, too late to reconsider as we have already made the hike here.  Kevin and I had a Philly cheese steak sandwich while Minh chowed down on a large small pizza.  Once done we all messed around with our cameras trying to take a good bulb picture.  All mine turned out blurry.  Minh made a couple of successful shot but he cheated.  He used the timer and a table to pull off the shots.

At this point I know we are decently close to Prescott but I have no idea what the number is.  So we continued on with the highway road instead of taking the 17 freeway.  Is this a mistake?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  It's all relative.

We keep moving.  We can't really make out north, south, east, nor west.  It's dark.  At least the PIAA R11 bulbs are doing their job.  I'm on my low beam and cars occasionally flash me thinking I'm on high beam.  One flash and there is no challenge.  The road winds back and forth.  The higher we go, the more the road bends.  I'm thinking to myself, "It's a shame that we're taking this road in the dark.  It must be a spectacular view during the day."  A slow car in front of us didn't help the situation.

At last, Jerome.  Interesting.  The road is small and getting smaller.  The streets are confusing.  The GPS tells me to go up a one way street.  This is no typical American city.  It's looks like I've stumbled into Europe.  In order for us to progress further up the city, we have to go towards the end of the street and literally take a switchback to the next level of roads.  As we make our way through the city, we ride next to stone walls which are the foundations for the houses above.  Minh later claims that we're in Italy.  For me I'm thinking we're in France somewhere.  I don't know who originated this town but they must definitely have a European heritage.  According to Wikipedia, Jerome was once part of New Spanish before Arizona became a part of the United State.  Unfortunately, we're riding around town in the dark.  I can't see anything.  All we can see are the small little areas the street lights reveal, and the surface of the road and the side of the walls our headlights are shinning upon.  While we're making our run, I can't help but notice ghosts, goblins, vampires, and ghouls walking around town.  It seems like Jerome is celebrating Halloween also.  They're a bit early but that's OK.

We continue up the road until we leave the city of Jerome driving right pass the Jerome State Historical Park.  Too bad we're so short on time.  The dark doesn't help the sight seen bit at all.  We push through the remaining sections of the 89-ALT highway.  I slowed down at spots to allow Kevin to catchup to Minh and myself.  The road turns and winds, and it turns and winds some more.  It seems we're forever climbing uphill and will never descend again.  Eventually it levels out and gravity is speeding us downhill.  It's late and I still don't know how far we have left.  Once the mountains are behind us, I can see the shimmering lights of Prescott Valley ahead.  I sigh a bit as I know we're much closer to our destination.

Eventually the 89-ALT slams into the 89 highway.  Once it does, we take the 89 south to get to Prescott.  It isn't too much longer that we found our hotel/motel and check in for the night.  By the time I turned off my engine to go check in, it's about 9:45pm.  I'm tired and need a shower.  It's been a long day and a long ride.  It's unfortunate that we ended up missing a good part of Sedona and Jerome.  It would have been good to spend a little more time milling around those places.  At least we got a taste of what this part of Arizona is like.  It's very likely we will detour to Sedona and Jerome next year when we go to the Grand Canyon.

Prep work
Day 1 - The mother road
Day 3 - Should we pray to the wind god?
Day 4 - Firestorms at home

Written on: October 26, 2007
Last modified: November 3, 2007