Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Coast to Coast: Day 7: Albuquerque, NM - Flagstaff, AZ. Wednesday, May 14, 2014

     I was out of the hotel very late; about 9 am. It was pretty chilly, even as I rode off into the desert. I took I-40 to get to Flagstaff, and then in Flagstaff I would route my journey to Phoenix. There was no safe route to get to Flagstaff without taking the highway, so in a change of heart, I decided to stick to using the highway for the rest of my journey. It was still a long ride, but I was feeling good about it.

     On the road out of Albuquerque, there were more signs than I could count advertising different Native American clothes, pottery, jewelry, and other knickknacks. They were everywhere.

“Stop Here!”
“Exit Now!”
“Indian Ruins Gift Shop!”

     It went on for tens of miles.

     Somewhere on 40 before going into Arizona, I found a back road that I wanted to take to get to a mountain I was looking at. The back road eventually faded into an unpaved path and then no path at all. That didn’t stop me. I went straight into the desert and carved my own path. My bike had plenty of torque to grapple the steep climbs, although the fishtailing of my bike on the sand was a bit fatiguing. I never dropped my motorcycle, and I managed to get some great photos.

     Further into the desert, it started to become even more dangerous. There were deep crevices just a few feet away from my bike, but I was determined to reach the mountain.

That’s a long way down

     Finally, I got to a point where I was surrounded on the front and right side by crevices, and a steep mountain on the left side. I had to turn back, but not before getting my bike stuck in the sand. I laid my bike down and attempted to pull a big rock out from underneath the rear fork. It was a stubborn rock, and it was then that I realized how deadly my situation was.

     I had no cell service, and the temperature had really worked its way up. As a result, the small amount of water I had left wouldn’t be enough for me to walk back to the highway ten miles away and get help. The rock was pressing against the tire, and if it blew as I tried to pull it out, I was done for. It was strange being in this kind of situation. I didn’t panic. I was anxious, but my mind was fixated on pulling out that rock and nothing else

     After much hassle, I was finally able to pull out the rock. I gave a big sigh of relief, and headed straight back to the main road. My clutch probably didn’t enjoy the experience very much, but it was still in good shape.

     I pulled into a gas station once again in the middle of nowhere. As I was waiting for my bike to cool, I checked out the gas station shop because it looked a bit touristy and caught my eye. Inside, I found a neat looking magnet that I bought and put on my bike.

My sweet new Magnet

     Outside the shop, there was another homeless person, but he was on foot. He was kinda crazy, and he provided an interesting conversation on how the carbon monoxide in the air from the cars was making him feel extremely dizzy. It was probably the carbon monoxide in his cigarette if anything, but it was still a fun conversation.

     I also met a fellow motorcyclist who pulled up to the pump next to mine as I was filling my tank. His name was Jarvis, and he was making his way across the country on a Yamaha R1. He was blogging on his website He took a picture with me to post on his blog before we went our separate ways.

Jarvis and me at a gas station in the desert

     I saw the mountain which carried the city of Flagstaff from over 50 miles away. It was kind of disorienting; riding minute after minute without the mountain appearing to get any closer. It took me an hour to get to the mountain from the time I first saw it. I checked in to the KOA campsite and rented another cabin. The temperature was going to be as low as the 20s overnight, and I really wanted to stay warm. The elevation of Flagstaff is about 8000 feet, I believe. The office staff first had me sign a strange waiver. The clerk told me that the campsite was owned by two lawyers. Figures.

     Like the other campsites, this site had Wifi, but it was a pain to get it “working”. It took me forever to set up a stupid account and password for the Wifi service which I never had to worry about before, and then the internet would randomly cut out. This campsite was much larger than the other KOAs, which meant that the bathrooms were much farther away. The distance between the cabin and the bathroom was about a quarter of a mile, which proved to be perilous in the middle of the night when it was thirty degrees. On top of that, the bathrooms had a number lock, so when I was groggy in the middle of the night and forgot the password at the door, I had to turn around, go back to my cabin and get the password off the camp guide, go back to the bathroom, do my business, and get back to the cabin again. I have no idea why the bathrooms were locked. No one is going to steal a bathroom.

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