The Next morning as we were packing our bikes, a fly fisherman who had ran the river the evening before told us stories of the wind and rain that he encountered. It was interesting hearing his accounts of Marble Canyon over the years. He was up and about early, sipping his coffee and admiring our bikes when we noticed him. He told us he was on the river the night before in the same storm we were caught in and that it was the worst he’d seen in a decade. We then spent the next twenty or so minutes discussing the Navajo, Fly-fishing, and motorcycles. He was an interesting guy.
Our milestone for Day Four was Durango. It was to be a long ride through Navajo Nation and the goal was to be on the other side of the Res before nightfall. We left early and stopped at a Navajo gifts stand just on the other side of the Marble Canyon bridge. The lady there was nice and suggested a different route to out destination through Page Az instead of Tuba city to save us some miles. John bought a nice pair of turquoise earrings for his wife Kacie from her, and she was by far the nicest Navajo Lady we’ve met thus far.
The ride through Navajo Nation was desolate, dry, and long. Trailers and small houses dotted the countryside, an example of the poverty in the area. As a photographer I chose not to take any photographs inside Navajo Nation out of respect for the residents. The only photos I took inside the Res were in Page, which was such a bustling town I felt it bore no consequence.
Page was definitely the Americanized portion of the Res. McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and the like littered the countryside. It was close to Lake Powell, and the majority of consumers present were definitely the boating type. Women in bikinis, families, and more were all there getting gas for their boats, picking up last minute supplies at Wally World, or just having lunch at Mickey D’s. We were only a few miles from Lake Powell so we decided to take a peek.
The closest we got to the lake was Glen Canyon Dam. This was the second largest dam on the Colorado River outsized only by the Hoover Dam. The Glen Canyon Dam was however, quite impressive. We spent about an hour there exploring, taking photos, and admiring the scenery. But we had to get a move on to make Durango.
We head out on the road and started our way towards Durango. The ride was desolate and hot and we wound up taking a 30-minute or so break at a Shell station in Kayenta, AZ. This was the home of the Navajo National Monument. The monument was quite impressive. Slightly larger than Devil’s Tower, it looked like a large shark fin protruding from the countryside. We had no time for a proper tour of it, so we head on out for Teec Nos Pos to hit the four corners monument.
The roads in New Mexico were horrendous despite all of the construction delays we experienced along US-160. When we arrived at Four Corners Monument we were greeted with a sign that exclaimed something to the effect of “This monument is property of Navajo Nation. Your National Parks passes are not valid here. Please pay $10.00.” As we dabbled around the monument, another biker rode up on a blacked out Street Glide and had a long, leather-wrapped rigid whip-like stick clipped to his clutch lever. The stick had a socket at the end with what appeared to be a lead bearing inside it. It was obvious that this was his car-whipping stick. We talked to him a bit as he explained that the stick was merely “Something else for people to look at on his bike.” Yeah, we knew what it was really for as we all had good use for it at one point or another. I’m sure if we examined it more closely we’d find shards of glass from various side mirrors still stuck in the leather. The guy had short hair, clean shaven and bore no ink which was strange for a loner. But as they say, it’s the clean-cut ones you gotta worry about.. they have someting to hide. It was hot in the desert that day and we decided to hydrate with a snow cone and a water then get back on the road for Durango.
New Mexico was dry and desolate, and the road conditions were horrible. Tar snakes, potholes, and more littered the streets. As we rode, a black thunderstorm loomed above us. Miraculously our route took us along the edge of the cell and we never received more than a few drops of rain. The second we crossed the border into Colorado, the roads improved. It was a well-defined line you could see for a few hundred yards. The faded, cracked asphalt of New Mexico was finally quenched by brand new tarmac courtesy of my home state. I could now relax for the next 85 miles to Durango.
We rode through Cortez and then by Mesa Verde National Park. We deliberated whether to stay in Cortez that night, but decided to press on for Durango, now only 40 miles away. We were staring to lose light, but the extra 40 under our belts would save us some time on the road tomorrow.
When we arrived in Durango there wasn’t a hotel vacancy to be found. Apparently there were some three conventions going on that night and everywhere was booked. We rode into one privately owned property and the owner came out to greet us. She was a handsome lady in her forties, and sympathized that she had just sold her last room some 30-minutes prior. She helped us by calling around town for us but found nothing save a place called Spanish Trails Inn.
“Spanish Trails has rooms, but I wouldn’t recommend it” she stated with the hostess from Spanish Trails on the phone, cupped in her hand. When she returned the phone to her ear it was obvious that the lady on the other end heard what she said. There were a few altercations and then an abrupt hang-up. It was our only choice.
We rode over to Spanish Trails and found about 4 or 5 people already in the lobby booking rooms. The lady behind the desk was the cliche image of a small town hotel clerk. Sh was about 70 years old with a beehive hairdo, too much makeup, wearing a pink and yellow mu mu and clutching a half-smoked Chesterfield cigarette in her hand. She was handing out room keys like a poker dealer, and apparently had plenty of rooms. The room we got was a converted villa on the other side of the property. As we rode to it we got a great look at the armpit of Durango. Rock music, yelling, and some scantily clad latino chicks decorated our street. When we walked into our room it was unbelievable what we saw.
The window coverings were ripped off of the wall in all rooms, and the back door had neither a lock nor a working doorknob. The bedding, sinks, floors and walls were stained and dirty, and we found and killed several earwigs and ticks that had not checked out yet. The place looked like it was recently used by drug addicts, and the glass on the coffee table was cracked. There were two beds and a sofa. Sean and I each got a bed and John opted for the sofa. We propped a chair under the back door to keep anyone (or anything) from entering uninvited. As we unloaded our bikes our neighbors found their room so repulsive than they deployed their pop-up camper in the parking lot and slept in it. We all pooled our weapons together on the coffee table should something happen, and slept in our clothes. At around 1AM I heard John go into Sean’s room.
“Hey Sean can you turn out the light?” John asked.
However, Sean was already asleep in his clothes on top of the sheets. He had left the light on to keep the bugs at bay, so John closed the door and went back to sleep on the couch. We didn’t sleep really well that night, but at least we had a place to stay.
Day Four Photos: