Days out in LA 7 – Arizona?

Not sure if my geography is off here, LA is a big place. With a job offer in the bag and a few weeks off I cleared out on my bike. The original plan was to go to Mexico to Ciudad Juárez. Christina McMahon from my tiny hometown of Carrickmacross, Ireland,  was going to fight for a world boxing title. I packed my Irish flag and a tent and set off.

Packed on a beautiful morning. There’s almost room for me.

Mistake number 1. Bad geography. It’s called Death Valley for a reason. While it might be in the middle of a rare bloom from some rain it’s still a) the desert and b) hot.

Mistake number 2. That small windshield doesn’t do much. It has a crack in it. I can just get rid of it.

People go fast on the highways in California. Really fast. Over 60mph on a cruiser without a windshield it gets to be more work with all the wind. At 75 mph you’re just holding on and you get tired really quickly. When it’s 100 degrees in the shade in death valley this makes it tough going.

Day 2 I woke up in a campsite in Arizona in bits. A combination of trying to hold on to the bike while not drinking nearly enough water left me feeling like I’d been doing the 12 pubs of Christmas and fell a lot. I tried to keep going but after an hour I was pulled in at a Starbucks near Phoenix weighing my options. I could

a) try and keep going

b) rent a car for a few days and make the easy 450 mile drive to El Paso to walk across the border

c) try something else.

Me. At some cliff dwellings.

Once that decision was made it became much easier. I turned left instead of right and found a nice campsite. The next day I  saw some ruins of cliff dwellings, lots of desert, rocks, national parks. Ate a lot of meatloaf, met some nice people. One thing about Arizona is the snakes and insects. There’s signs at all the rest stops warning about them. So when I found this at a campsite, well, it was a good thing I had packed more pants.

Snakes on a plane bench

Fecking thing was rubber. Well played some random kid, well played.

I was heading up to Sedona, I’d been there before, it’s a beautiful place. I hadn’t counted on it being Spring and in the mountains. It was cold in Sedona. Also full. All the campsites were full. The queue in to town was about 4 miles long. I saw it on my way out and heading to Flagstaff. Where is was even colder. I checked the weather forecast and it was expecting 28 (about -2 in real numbers) and very quickly my plans turned to forget camping, I’m getting a hotel.

This place as famous for it’s pies

Found a nice sports bar to watch the fight. World Title Boxing? Nice beer? What could be wrong? Oh yeah, women’s boxing isn’t on TV. Though I think the foxy kind was on a pay channel in the hotel. OK, I had some more meatloaf. I really got into the meatloaf on this trip.

Flagstaff is on Route 66. Or what’s left of it. Headed west as quickly as possible and once I was below a mile in elevation the weather picked up. Another slow day bouncing along what’s left of 66. Lots of tack, sorry, Americana. If your license plate falls off your car it’s rubbish, so recycle and put it in a store on Route 66 with a $20 price tag on it.

Someplace real cold on Route 66

Still, it was a nice ride, a lot just off the highway, quiet, scenery changing from the high elevation to desert and in between. Some road was barely passable, I did about 10 miles on one part in an hour, mainly on the gravel at the side of the road. The potholes had joined to form landscape.

Another night in a hotel, this time at a Casino in Luaghlin, Nevada. Why pay ~$30 for a campsite when I can stay in a hotel for $22. With a voucher for a free coffee at Dunkin Donuts. Best deal I made on the trip.

Then the rest of the long ride home to Pasadena before leaving the next day for Vegas with herself. All in all, a great trip.

Somewhere a bit warmer on Route 66


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