The next morning I awoke just before dawn to a rustling noise. At first I thought maybe it was a raccoon, rooting around the tents for discarded food. As I lay still, my ears evaluating the sounds for possible danger, I discover by the sudden and loud flatulence coming from the same direction that it was just John trying to find the way out of his tent.
We had paid an extra $5 for a shower key, so we each packed down our gear and took a shower in the RV park shared facility. The park had several shower rooms, and the camp host warned us that others may be sharing our assigned room, so I locked the chain on the door and went about my business. Halfway through my shower there was a huge bang on the door. “There’s someone in here!” I yelled. Then three more bangs, and the door opening blocked by the chain several times. “THERE’S SOMEONE IN HERE !!!!” I immediately thought John or Sean were screwing with me, so when the door was tried yet another time.. I yelled “GET FUCKED!!!”
As I finished up my shower and exited the room, a 23 or so year old chick sat waiting with her showering materials on the bench outside. She was half of a foreign couple that was in the camp site next to us making out with each other all night. I was embarrased that I yelled at her for a second, but then quickly recomposed. After all … In America we don’t bang on doors when people are showering. The bikes were packed and it was time to head out. We mounted our bikes, being sure to rap the throttle a few times to make sure everyone who kept us up at last night’s Brew-hah didn’t oversleep.
We crossed the road to gas up at the station across the street before breakfast. As we filled our bikes, who should show up also to get gas? The German girls. Now it was weird, and I wanted to break the ice by telling them “What, are you following us?” But since the only “available” man in our party was unwilling to have fun with these two women he’d never see again, there was no point in it. So we filled up, had breakfast at the nearby Sandstone Inn, and head South on Hwy-12.
The views along Hwy-12 were spectacular. They started as a winding road through dense forest for about 30 or so miles, then turned into higher altitude, desert mesas for the rest of the journey. Every 10 miles or so was a spectacular view of some monument or mesa that we had to stop and photograph. We drove by the Grand Escalante, The Devil’s Backbone, and other marked monuments. The roads were dense with tourists and rent-a-RVs so we didn’t stop as often as we liked, but Hell, we were on motorcycles so our entire journey was one great view.
As we drove through Anasazi Village State Park, the road greeted us with a memorable sign – “Steep Grades and Sharp Curves.” They weren’t kidding. The winding road between peaks contained no guard rails, with a steep 60 to 200ft ledge on either side. We took it slow and made it through able to avoid the dizzy, swerving rent-a-RVs driven by shrunken and lost foreign tourists. The sky was blue, without a cloud, and it was blindingly hot. The roads were so hot that the asphalt patchwork that painted them like the patterns of a tattered old quilt were slippery from heat. Lean the bike to far around a corner while driving over this stuff, and you feel your wheel slip left or right as if driving through patches of slick oil. Luckily we were good on rubber, and although nerve-racking, our bikes did just fine. Little did we know it was about to cool off.
We drove past the Devil’s Backbone, the Grand Escalante, and out of Dixie National Forest when the skies darkened. We pulled over on a side road to do a map check, yeah we were heading in the right direction…. just a mile or two from US-89. Where we had pulled over was barren, and a the few gas stations and gift shops that lay ahead before the junction seemed like excellent spots to pull over and put on our rain gear. We pressed on.
As we rode toward the nearest junction I noticed a few large drops on my windshield. I looked back to find John following me closely and Sean had completely vanished. I turned back to gaze ahead at the road when I saw the gray curtain of water heading towards me at 70 mph. I signalled to John if we should pull over and he gave me the forward finger, the signal to press on. Fuck it, there was no stopping now. The rain hit us like a wave, and I was instantly soaked. Steam filled my crotch as the smoldering hot engine met the water and my visor fogged. The semi’s heading the opposite direction smacked us with waves of more water and passing gusts that would topple a lesser rider. I hoped Sean was ok, cause I couldn’t stop now.
I finally pulled into a gift shop. I parked the bike best I could in the gravel lot and ran for the covered porch, my bike left in the rain. John pulled up behind me, then a few minutes later, Sean. I guess Sean had actually pulled over to put on his raingear. When the wall of freezing rain hit him, he figured what the hell, and got back on the bike and met up with us. We were now suddenly cold and drenched when I noticed the sign by the shop entrance… “Free Coffee”… SCORE!
We looked around the shop a bit, used the restroom, and warmed up with some coffee. “Where you headed?” The lady behind the counter asked. She was heavy set and older, slightly graying, with a hairdo straight out of the 50s. She looked like she might have worked her share of roadside diners in her time, and was pricing a tray of jewelry with a rare persistence. “North rim” Answered John. “Yeah, made that ride with my first husband on his Harley.” She was a biker also, and her hospitality was suddenly founded.
I realized that many of the people we met in our travels have had some interest or experience with motorcycles. They looked upon us as the adventurers they once were, with a gleaming eye and familiar interest in our endeavours, as if they were comforted that we were continuing the biking legacy of their generation. You could tell by their gaze that they were comforted. It was as if they threw an arm around you like an old friend… and made you feel welcome.
We hung out for a bit and looked around the store. It was filled with Native American art, syntheic coon hats, and rattlesnake keychains among other interests. I would have liked to stay longer, but it was time to move on. “Thanks for the hospitality” waved John. “You all take care now and ride safe” she told us with a smile as we left.
We headed South on US-89 on the rain soaked roads. Eventually, as we approached the town of Hatch, the evidence that any rain had even occurred had vanished. John lead the pack now, me following second and Sean some half-mile behind. As we drove through the 25 mph town, we pass an old car yard. I see John’s head spin around to investigate. Immediately I slow, because I know that these type of maneuvers are usually followed by .. yep … there he goes. emergency U-Turn. John spins his bike around in the middle of the road right in front of a county mounty parked alongside. Amazingly, the cop pays no mind.
We pull over in the heat to take a look at the old cars in the lot and take a break. Its time to get out of our raingear and cool off anyway. As Sean pulls up, John is already peering though the fence. “Hey Sean what car is that there?” he calls to Sean. John has learned well… that Sean is a walking tome of information. “Thats a 57 or wait, 56 Chevy Bel Air .. see you can tell by the rear end ….”, yep a walking encyclopedia. We spent 20 minutes or so in this tiny town, watching droves of tourists in Rent-a-RVs parade by. The town locals walk down the street, as if looking for something to do, and the local teens gab on their cell phones as their only entertainment. We admired the simple life for a moment, then moved on. Our goal for today was the North Rim, but we wouldn’t make it that far. So we set our sites on the next town for a hotel. As we pass the police car pulled to the side of the road in front of which John pulled his illegal turn, something was fishy. The weeds were growing up under the car. Ah yes, and a mannequin sat in the front seat. I guess that would explain his non-reaction. You gotta love small towns.
We rode for another hour or so until we reached the town of Kanab. It was the last real civilization before the North Rim so we’d better find a hotel. We went to the Best Western first … as promoted by Harley Davidson, and after all I was a H.O.G. member who received special discounts and such. The lot was filled with rental bikes, usually tipped off by the fact that bikers usually don’t travel in packs of identical, non-descript Harley-Davidson dressers. There was a line inside, and I took a place as Sean and John took a load off on the nearby sofa.
After standing in line for about 20-minutes, and watching the pimple-faced counter clerk cave under the pressure, I started to doubt our staying here. The last straw was when a recently checked-in biker returned to the front desk to tell the clerk that his room was occupied. “I walked in my room and there was a guy sleeping in the bed!” stated the biker, annoyed. “That’s not good,” mumbled the clerk in a nervous tone. “Yeah, good thing that guy wasn’t sleeping with his lady or had a gun on his dresser, huh?” retorted the biker. Sean, John and I just looked at each other… then left.
We pulled across the street to an antiquated little joint called the Trasure Trail Motel. The marquis shined in beutiful black and white “WELCOME BEST FRIENDS & BIKERS,” a good sign. John and I walked into the office where a nice little lady in a flowered, blue house coat greeted us. She was short, gray, and reminded me of a cute little grandma. “Hello, need a room?”
“Please” I said.
“No problem, where you guys from?” she queried.
“Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We’re taking a trip to North Rim.”
“How nice, I use to ride on my husband’s Harley all the time. You guys need towels to wipe your bikes?” she asked. John and I just looked at each other for a second. “Yeah, sure.” we both said simultaneously. She assigned us our room, and handed me two keys. As we walked out John and I agreed… who needs Best Western?
The room was quaint and retro. What it lacked in luxury it made up for in style. It wasn’t dirty by any means, and the place was well kept. We unpacked, and sat for a bit. When it was time for dinner, we decided on a place down the road that the nice little lady spoke of called Houstons, where “everything is made from scratch” and who has “the best country fried steak we’ll ever eat.” Sean stood up .. fuck my helmet, and walked out to get on his bike. John and I looked at each other. Had Sean finally cracked? No helmet? He was a “by the numbers” kinda guy and the move shocked us both. “No helmets it is” I followed. And we mounted up to drive the block or so to the restaurant. Kanab was a small town consisting barely of a downtown strip. It was nice however, and not very crowded. We arrived at Houston’s and parked the bikes. After dinner, we planned to go for a short buzz around town to check it out.
Houston’s was a cool place consisting of a gift shop and take out window to the right, and restaurant to the left. The waitresses dressed like cowgirls and wore little plastic six shooters and gun belts. The whole place screamed Western and there were various vintage outlaw poster replicas (like those for Billy the Kid) decorated about. Our motel hostess was correct. Everything was made from scratch, and it was the best damn country fried steak we’d ever had. And the banana cream pie was delicious also!
After dinner we took a spin around town sans helmets. It was the first time I really rode without a helmet and I can tell you one thing, my pipes are LOUD. We rode to the first intersection and stopped. A large Dodge pickup pulled up next to us… you know, the kind that belongs to a eunuch. It had 37 inch tires on it, a 5+ inch lift, and various chrome. If only it dorned a rear window sticker of Calvin pissing on another truck logo and latex balls hanging from the trailer hitch would it have been complete.
The light turned green, and john accelerated from the line. The truck spun its tires and raced John. We were all in a merge lane and the truck kept speeding to keep John from merging. Finally, John rapped the throttle, out-accelerated the truck and was able to merge, the truck right on John’s ass. We pulled in behind the action to see that the driver wasn’t a delta bravo pencil dick, but a twatty teenage girl who probably barely had her license a week. As she blew around John in a no passing zone and accelerated off at about 90+mph, we realized she must have just got done having sex with her mandingo lover and was racing back to the trailer park before her polyganist bigot redneck boyfriend misses his truck. What an idiot. Good Luck with life honey, got some bad news for you, you’re gonna get fucked up one day. People need to realize that such horseplay with people on motorcycles is much more dangerous to the motorcyclists and not like fucking around with other cars. And in some instances, if they fuck with the wrong group of bikers, deadly for them as well. I guess they can grow tits in Kanab Utah, but not brains.
As we head back to the motel, another car flies through an intersection and barely misses John, honking its horn. Perhaps they have never seen motorcyclists here, and were bewildered by the strange humans riding such bizarre two-wheeled alien technology through their microchasmic town. Either way, regardless of the minute population, we picked the wrong place to go helmetless in. We got back to the motel, relaxed by the pool for a bit and then head off to bed, our bikes parked in the warm pink neon glow of the Treasure Trail Motel. Tomorrow, we were going to see The Grand Canyon.
Day Two photos: