Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

"They sailed out under the morning stars..

and into the rising sun."  That's a line from a song by Garnett Rodgers called "Outside Track", and it fits the start of today.  I got up at the unholy hour of 430am, well at least that's when the alarm went off.  I didn't get out of bed until 5.  I quickly got dressed, did the in-room check out, and left the Red Rock where I'd called home for the last five days.  Funny how a hotel gets to feel that way after that many days -- I could find my way around like it was home.   I wanted to leave early since the weather forecast was for "Extreme Heat", and a high of 107.  In fact it was in the mid 80s at 5am!  I rolled out of the the garage and onto US 95 South, and straight into the "rising sun".  It was relatively quiet for Las Vegas as I hit the freeway, and it is freeway now all the way to Boulder City.  I remember when I used to drive home to Salt Lake City from Phoenix while in Graduate School and sometimes I'd go up through Las Vegas, and always remember cresting the hill at Railroad Pass and looking down US 95 into the lights of Vegas in the distance.  Back then US 95 became Fremont Street with the classic old casinos.  Now it's a freeway, and Fremont Street is an "experience".   Things change in 20 years.

I always looked forward to going over Boulder -- err HOOVER  dam too -- lit up at night, driving right along the top of the dam, with the art-deco sculptures on the west end.  That drive will be gone soon too as they build a bypass off the dam with a bridge that is hanging on the cliff and probably costs as much as the dam did originally.

It got quite hot as I roared down US 93 towards Kingman, AZ, where I planned to pick up Historic Route 66 for the longest stretch of old road in Arizona.  I was making good time, but dressed in leather chaps and a light leather jacket I was roasting by the time I coasted down hill into Kingman and picked up Old US 66.  Given the revival of the old road in so many places, the states along the route have done a good job of sign posting the old route -- the Mother Road as John Stienbeck called it.  I stopped at a small diner that faced the old Santa Fe railway mainline and had a nice relaxing breakfast and watched the sparse road traffic and heavy rail traffic go by.  I rolled up the leather and bungie corded it to the top of my luggage and was much more comfortable.

Heading east out of Kingman the old highway deviates quite a bit from I-40, which makes it so fun to ride.  Very little traffic except for the Route 66 "Roadies" like me.  For 80 some miles the old road travels the original path, and parallels the BNSF mainline for much of it.  In a fit of nostalgia the state has even erected modern day "Burma Shave" signs with safety messages.   Along the route are many abandoned and semi-abandoned towns and gas stations, giving everything a ghostly appearance.  Towns like Truxton, Peach Springs, and Seligman -- all could stand is as models for "Radiator Springs" in the movie Cars.

The old road merges with the Interstate about 20 miles past Seligman, so I hopped on the freeway and found out my headlight was out!  I'd planned on only going a short ways to Williams and then turning north and going to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  However there is a Harley Dealership some 20 miles further up the road outside of Flagstaff so I detoured up there to get the light fixed and have some lunch.  After the bike was fixed I headed back to Williams and then north to the Canyon.  Riding along the South Rim all the way to US 89 was a great drive, and at times it felt like I would drive right off into the canyon itself. 

Once I hit US 89 at the Indian trading post of Cameron I had a decision to make.  Keep going on 89 and go into Utah up past Page, AZ and maybe make it to Kanab, UT, or be really adventurous and head further east on US 160 and try for Cortez, Colorado.  I decided on the latter.  I think this is one of my problems.  I tend to be a bit ambitious and although I saw it was about 200 miles, my mind said I could do it in a "couple of hours".  HA!  However it was a great drive across the Rez, although very hot until I got up on top of the mesas and it cooled down nicely.  I roared through Tuba City, Kyenta, and other small Rez towns with the requisite stands selling Indian artifacts.  The sun started to go down about Monument Valley turning everything fire red and like a scene from a Calvin and Hobbs Sunday cartoon.  I passed the Four Corners monument where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona come together.  I'd not been there since I was about 12 years old and I have a picture of me straddling all four states.  However the monument was closed as I drove passed so I kept on going.  It chilled way down after the sun set, and I saw a beautiful full moon rise over the mesas. 

I pulled into Cortez, Colorado at 830pm my watch time -- however it was now Mountain time so it's 930 -- 624 miles from Las Vegas.  Got a room at the Roadway Inn, and showered up.  I turned the shower spotty black with all the road grime -- looking like the shower scene from Hitchcock's "Psycho".  Dominoes just delivered a pizza and I'll have that and then hit the hay.  

I think tomorrow i'll head up the Annimas Canyon between Durango and Silverton, Colorado, then decided to head West into Utah or further North. 

I had a lot of time to contemplate things this leg of the trip, and mull things over in my mind.  Much like today I have a lot of choices to make, and different roads to take.  Some more ambitious than others, some easier than others, and each with a different destination. 

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