​​​BamaRider
 
Day 15
June 19th, 2006
KOA Campground                                                                          
Seligman, Arizona                                                               
 
The desert was cool this morning, but I knew it wouldn't last, but that was ok, like I mentioned, I like it HOT.
The sky was clear, and I was on the road by 6:30am.  I was the first out of the campground.  The Road Star guy was up striking camp, but 30 minutes behind me.  He still has 2 days to reach Albuquerque, and was also heading to the mountains around Taos.

"Well, have a good ride bro,"  I called out to him.

"You too man, keep ya eyes peeled."

I-40 is a quick jog from the campground and soon I was speeding down the interstate heading east.  I would have preferred a nice back road, but not any around.  Anything north is pretty much cut off by the Grand Canyon and can't go east.

The memory stick for my Sony P-72 digital camera is full.  "Dang, took that many pics already?  I'll take my morning break in Flagstaff and stop by Wal Mart for a new one. Plenty of time, only doing 400 today."

I strive to find balance when I plan my tours.  I like having a outline, a strategy.  Long ago I sorted through my atlas to get an idea what I wanted out of this tour.  A good plan gives you flexibility.  I like to see things, visit places, take pictures and eat peanut butter and jelly, and travel back roads.  That kind of riding is not conducive to mega miles, but I still manage 4-500 miles a day.

When I start the day, I know where I want to be by that evening.  Usually a place 4-500 miles down the road.  I sometimes ride to the next town, but I seldom NOT make it to my original goal.  I rarely plan more then 500 miles a day.  Some ride with no plan at all, just get up the next day and ride east, I can understand that.  But because I like to stop at National Parks and other places I have to plan more carefully.

My tactics have allowed me to see the entire country.  I can't think of any place or landmark of merit I've not visited.  I have all those places, and the thing is, a lot of the minor ones too, and just as importantly all the towns and roads in between.

I like knowing I'm going to be spending the night at the KOA in Bloomfield.  It gives me one less thing to think about during the day.  I have a tendency to worry about being stuck on the road with no place to go- late.  Some guys can handle that, but when I'm looking for a town to shoot for, I miss some of the other things along the way.  But that's just me.

The Eastern sun was bright in the Arai.  The glare made it hard to see the road sometimes, whose light color reflected it back at me.  Almost 2 days of desert riding has painted my face in the outline of my helmet  A distinct badge of honor.  I call it "raccoon eyes,"  I now had red cheeks, but the area around my eyes were white.  The lines of the Arai were easy to spot on me  Anyone I came in contact with could tell I've been riding in the desert under a intense sun.  I only get the marking when I spend time in the desert.

The morning ride into Flagstaff was routine.  I took the second exit and came into town looking for Wal Mart.  The town is in high tourist season, I was expecting clutter and got it.  

I was last here in 2003 when I met several good friends at the Grand Canyon.  What a great trip that was.

I topped off the tank at a Chevron station in the center of town, and asked where Wal Mart was.

"turn left at that light, and you'll see it 2 miles later."

"thanks"

The place was too busy to eat peanut butter and jelly.  No place to park, no place to sit, and no place to be.  
I shot up to Wal Mart and at 8 in the morning the place was busy.  "Dang, I thought I left Prattville behind."  The Prattville Wal Mart if the FIFTH busiest in the country believe it or not.  No matter what time of day you go there, its awful, and any time from Thursday to Sunday night is hopeless.  

I didn't see any memory sticks on the shelves and asked a disinterested clerk.

"hey y'all got any Sony Memory sticks?"

"man, sold out of all them days ago."

I walked back through the aisles to the parking lot.  "This country is so wealthy and prosperous that we produced Wal Mart."  Thousands of square feet of anything you want- food, hardware, clothes all at cheap prices.  Made me proud to be an American.

When Katrina hit it was Wal Mart with its vast networking and distribution system that poured supplies in that NO inefficient government operation could ever match.

From Wal Mart I went across the street to Staples, but the the store didn't open for a another hour, so I went down the street to a Wal Greens.  Same story.  They only thing on the shelves were the obscure formats.

I left there and went to Target.  Nothing.  I went outside scratching my head and made my way to a Texaco con store and called it quits.  "I'll try again in Winslow.  All the Memory Sticks from here are at the Grand Canyon."  The store had a table outside  to an attached Wendy's.   I got out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and called Uncle Phil.

"so where ya at?"

"Flagstaff"

"Ohhhhhh, I feel sorry for ya"

"Yeah, and not a Memory Stick in town for my camera.  I'm gettin outta here before it really gets busy."

I called Debbie and Chris and and put a few notes in.

I pointed the Honda back to the interstate and got back underway.  I was in Flagstaff over an hour.  "Winlsow, prolly got Memory Sticks, not gonna find anything in Flagtown."

The area around Flagstaff was more alpine and things were green again.  The elevation keeps things cooler, but soon I left the Alpines and was back in the desert.  For the next 300 miles, 7 hours or so, the temp never dipped below 101.























I hate cold and love it hot.  I can ride all day in the desert
and not think anything about it.  This was in Gallup, NM. 
A nice 106 degrees.


Meteor Crater is a worthy place to check out, other than the fact I'd seen it before, I would've stopped.  But not today, I was heading for New Mexico.

The eastern deserts of Arizona are just as barren as those in the west.  Past the rocks and sand I went.  It begins to wear on me after a day or two.
I took the Winslow exit looking for Wal Mart only to find there was none.  In the south Wal Mart can be found in any area with more than a few hundred folks.  I stayed on old 66 through town, and came across the "Standing on the Corner" roadside attraction.  


























                                          Route 66 Roadside attraction

All along 66 you will see such odd ball things.  I find them fun and fascinating, when I can I like to check out such curiosities, and this one in Winslow is very well done.  



























                               "standin on the corner in Winslow, Arizona"

Just like the song you have a guy standing on the corner, with a young lady checking him out.  I immediately thought about making the attached video, and spent 30 minutes taking pictures.  I deleted 2-3 pictures from the P-72 and captured some video.  The result is what you see in the link above.

A large group of Harley's roared through the old business district.  Not much is going on in Winslow in the heat of the day.  I went back to I-40 past auto garages and washing machine repair places.

The balance of Arizona was I-40, so not much to report.  The riding was bad, and I just wanted to get off the interstate.  Times like this I wished I had music.  I don't listen to music while I ride, not because I don't like music, or feel it unsafe, but its not me.  I don't modify my bikes much, and just seems like more trouble than its worth.  Besides, I like to ride with the screen low, which means wind noise, and I doubt if I could find a system to overcome that.  I'd probably have to put a big screen on the front to quiet things down.  I like how the wind comes around me on the ST, when I have the screen low.  It makes me feel connected to the road, bike, and the environment. 

At last I made it to Gallup, and left I-40 into a barrage of construction.  Barricades and cones funneled traffic in all kinds of directions.  The construction in front of the Wal Mart I was looking for made a tricky entrance to the parking even more perilous.   Turning lanes were hard to figure out, and out of town drivers were more myopic then usual.

I dodged all that and went inside a very busy Wal Mart, and bought the last 256 mega stick on the shelf.  "Awesome, not a memory stick within a hundred miles of Flagstaff."  I also picked up a bag of twizzlers, "these should do better in the desert then Reese Pieces."

On the way back to the 1300 an attractive Navajo girl asked if I wanted to buy Native jewelry.  She was tall and slender, and reminded of the young lady I met last year at a con store in Blanding, Utah, that came in listening to Patsy Cline.

She opened a tray of turquoise trinkets and such and said-

"my grandmother made these, would you like to buy one?"

I jokingly remarked-"Dang baby, did you just racially profile me?"

"excuse me?"

"You didn't ask those 3 Mexicans yonder when they walked by, nor did you ask those 2 squaws, but ya picked ME.  Now, was that because you thought I was cute, and didn't wanna miss me, or because I was Anglo and from out of town?"

"Hmmmmmmmm, I dunno, I just thought I'd ask." she said smiling.

"Because ya think I'm cute or because I'm Anglo?  Deal ...or No Deal?"

"Cute?"

"You're a bad fibber sweetie, but I'll take that one anyway," as I pointed to 5 dollar turquoise choker.  What I was going to do with it, I had NO idea, but how can a guy tell this young lady no?  "Baby you got the touch, but you need to use it and go make some real money.  Get in the life insurance business, or modeling, you ain't got NO business standing in the door at Wal Mart, and I mean that in a good way."  I laughed when I said, "and if you need a agent call ME, and we'll both get rich."

"ok"

Now it was time to get the stick out of the plastic thing it came in.  You know how they put small stuff in those big plastic things you have to pull apart?"  I HATE those things.  I thought I was going to tear my key up, getting it open, but I did it.

From there I went looking for a late lunch.  I was in the heart of fast food row, so gave in to Pizza Hut.  The temp was 106.  I poured in the booth and ordered a personal pan pepperoni.  I spent the time editing pictures, and making notes.  The memory stick fiasco, and Winslow, had cost me a lot of road time, and as a result it was mid afternoon by the time I finished lunch.  

I left Gallup on U.S. 491 North to Shiprock, the old 666 Devil's Highway, that slices right through the Navajo Reservation. 

A few miles out of the city I passed three 18 wheelers and a truck pulling a camper, all at once.

A stiff crosswind picked up as I rode through the reservation.  Liquor bottles, beercans, and occasional stripped car littered the unfenced roadside.  Far off the highway, against the mesa bottoms stood small concrete block or frame houses, some with dish TV antenna, but all with a pick up, privy, and ceremonial hogan of stone, adobe and cedar.  Always the hogan faced east.

The wind had no cooling effect in the 105 temp, unless you like blast furnaces, because that's what it felt like.

I was on 2 bars, and in this barren, dusty, and terminally hot land, time for gas.  I pulled in a Chevron at Naschitt and topped off.  I skipped anything to drink.  "I'll get something in Shiprock."

The famous rock formation is easy to see from the Devil's Highway, so I stopped at a picnic area for a few photos.  I had a NEW memory stick so held nothing back.




























                                                       The famous Shiprock formation

The covers over the tables were the lean variety, and were cracked and peeling from the relentless desert sun.  

The ride to Shiprock felt surprisingly long, and by the time I arrived I was stiff in the butt.  I pulled in a white bricked con store staffed by Navajo.  I bought something to drink and was standing around outside when a young Indian man approached me.  He walked slanted to one side, with shoulder length hair under a baseball cap.  He was young, early 20s at the most, and had a indentation on his head, from some long ago accident.  He spoke with a lisp, and it was obvious his mental faculties were reduced.  Judging by his nature, and my 26 years around hospitals, rehabs, and sick folks, his condition was a result of the scar on his head.  My guess was he suffered some kind of head trauma in the area of the brain that controlled speech and balance.

"can you spare a dollar?"

I reached in and pulled one out, and handed it over, and asked-  "You from around here?"

"no Tuba City"

"you have people there?"

"yeah, I'm on the way home"

As a Long Rider I knew where Tuba City was, back east in Arizona over 50 miles.

"so how ya reckon ya gonna get back there?

"I dunno, walk I guess but somebody will pick me up."

He was going to have to cross Hopi (another tribe) land to get there, and picking up a ride might not happen.

"how long has it been since you ate?"

" 2 days"

"look, follow me to that Burger King yonder, and I'll buy ya something to eat, and that way you won't have to hang around the con store trying to scrape up 5 bucks."

We walked next door.  Several Harley's were parked out front.  "Get anything you want."  He ordered the number one-super sized.  The bill was 5 and some change.  The young Indian girl behind the counter asked if I wanted anything.  "No baby I'm moving on."  I could feel the stares of the Harley Riders and the other Indians on us as we waited on the food.

The young Navajo went by the name of Jason, which I'm sure was not his real name.

He took his food to a booth and immediately dove in.  It was obvious he was very hungry.  "Look here bro, I gotta get goin, you take care of yourself."  He took the straw from his mouth and said "thanks".  

My good deed for the day was in the book, so I proceeded to turn east on U.S. 64 East.  A divided highway that would take me the last few miles to my stopping point- a KOA Campground in Bloomfield.

The road was still hot, but the temp was dropping.  

It was not much fun getting through Farmington, the little city was busy and lots of red lights.

I thought I lost my way and pulled into a Kenworth service center for help, 3 guys saw me pull up and were anxious to help me.  I went in one of the large service bays.  "Hey is this the way to Bloomfield?"  "Yeah keep going for another 6-7 miles."  "K, thanks."  All 3 watched as I left the parking lot.

Even though it was late afternoon it was still 95 degrees, and after being stuck in city traffic it was good to get on the open highway and move air through the Roadcrafter.

Out the east side I went over the 4 lane divided highway.  A state trooper was parked in the median, but gave me the benefit of my 75 in the posted 65 mile zone.

When I neared Bloomfield I began looking for the familiar yellow KOA signs, and found one pointing me to make a left turn near the center of town on U.S. 550.  I took it and a mile later made a right turn on a local road, for the campground, which is located in a row of houses and mobile homes, with a couple of irrigated hay fields nearby.  

I pulled to the office door ending a 422 mile day.  I paid a modest camping fee, picked up a  diet drink from the camp store, and circled around to the tent sites.  Finding one on a small grassy site under a tree. 

I like KOA.  Clean, secure, with everything you need, usually less than 20 dollars.  Motels currently go for about 50 dollars, cheaper units can still be found, but finding them in a a decent area of town is getting hard.  When I do, I take advantage of it.  Most KOAs are not very scenic, but serve the purpose.

While I was setting up camp a lady with 4 kids (I don't think all were hers) was screaming and hollering.  She said something about beating one against a tree.  "Dang, this oughta be good."  Headline- "Drifter comes to aid of 4 kids kidnapped by psycho mother."

After I set up camp I went out and ran 4 miles up the narrow farm lane I came in on.  The run took me past  2 green fields in a ocean of brown and sand.  I was missing the green, rich land of my homeland, and the coolness of a summer rain.  None of that happens here, at least not much.
At 2 miles my GPS beeped telling me it was time to head back.  I picked up the pace on the return leg and finished strong.  Despite the fact it was over 90 degrees, I was only slightly wet with perspiration in the extra dry air, in Alabama I return from each run soaked, sometimes my shoes squish on runs over 6.

Upon my return I cleaned the 1300 and walked back the half mile to the con store I saw while on my run.  The camp store was closed.   I bought 2 gatorades and a Mountain Dew.

Supper was a sandwich made from the canned chicken and a bag of popcorn.  I didn't feel like getting the ST out and riding back into town.   All my years in the fire department, and before that playing ball, cause me to feel at home in the locker room bath/shower facilities of the KOA.  

I was walking back to my tent site when I stopped to chat with a man from New York City.  He was driving a van, and slept in the in the rear.  He had removed the rear seats, and used a air mattress.  He was in his late 60s, mostly bald, with a wide bridge nose.  He was widowed several years ago.  He retired in 2003, but this was his first long trip.  He was on his way to California.  He offered me a lawn chair and I sat with him for over an hour.  His name was Leon.

"That's your site with the bike?"

"yeah, that's me.  I do ok, but man you're holdin ALL the good cards."

"I just had to get away, I'd been cooped up in the city all these years, what an exciting country we live in.  I had no idea."

"Leon, I've been doin this 6 years, and I never get tired of it.  Always a new road to ride, or town to check out."

I drank a diet coke with him, and chatted away the time.  Darkness began to fall, and the yellow porch lights on the RVs grew brighter and brighter.
I half jokingly said I could get a trailer for the ST and head back west with him.  He thought that a good idea, and wanted me to actually do it.
"Sounds like fun, but I love 2 wheels, no offense, but it wouldn't be the same.  Besides, I need to get back home, my wife is waiting.  He said he understood, and soon after I left to get some sleep.  Leon was good people.

"email me and perhaps next year we'll meet up again.  Never know where I might show up."

Over the years and miles I've met many good folks, but Leon seems to be one of he best.  In that regard I've been lucky this tour.
I put the Motorola on charge and (the site had power) turned in.  For the second night in a row, I left the flap off the Eureka.  "It ain't gonna rain tonight."

I left my DVD player at home this tour, it just took up too much room in the Moto Fizz.  At first I missed it, but I've done ok at passing the time doing other things.

Sleep came quick, it only took few minutes for me to drift off.  It was another good day.


















                                          {cke_protected}{C}%3C!%2D%2Dwebbot%20bot%3D%22Navigation%22%20endspan%20i-checksum%3D%2244327%22%20%2D%2D%3E
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
​​