Williams, AZ to Cortez,CO (Day 11)

August 31st
Miles 3468-3800

No break from the rain today. Woke up this morning to a bit of drizzling on the tent, not too bad though so I was able to get ready and pack up without getting wet. Then I dropped my bike…

It actually wasn’t anything that bad as I was pulling out from the area where I camped onto the dirt road that led to the main road. There was mud on the side and as I turned onto the road my back tire slipped out. I managed to get my leg out in time but with the mud too slippery and the bags packed on, I couldn’t pick it up on my own. So I ran to the main road and flagged down a car. A fourteen year old kid and his mom pulled over and helped me lift up the bike. Other than mud caked on the left of side of the bike, everything was alright.

So it was off to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get any kind of a view. I tried several view points on the drive along the southern lip of the canyon and did manage to catch some breaks in the clouds but not much.

It was at the last view point, desert view, when it looked like I’d gotten a good view. So I parked the bike and ran over to get a picture when… my camera died. So I got my charger and some tuna for lunch and hunkered down in the cafeteria. Then the clouds came in and the rain really started. It was an hour and half before it stopped. It was just about as I was going to forget the view and ride in the rain when it stopped and I got a good, panoramic picture.

The rain held off for a while after that. There were some nice views on the way down from the canyon and I managed to stay dry. I highly recommed road 64 from the grand canyon to route 160. They’re scenic and leisurely drives without much traffic.

When you’re driving you have the opportunity to be able to ride out of a storm. Turns out you might also be chasing one. That’s what I realized was happening when I noticed the roads getting wetter even though I hadn’t been rained on. Then I finally caught up to the storm and couldn’t seem to get rid of it. Every time I stopped, the rain would slow then stop, and once I started on the road I’d be in the middle of it again.

Finally I got into a town called cortez. I started asking for hostels since there didn’t seem to be any tree cover to set up a tent comfortably. Then when there didn’t seem to be one, I asked about the price for the nearby campground and found out the price would be around $30! After that I found a motel that offered me a deal, $35 with no tax. After all the rain today I decided to take it. So shower and shelter today, sounds alright to me!


San Diego, CA to Williams, AZ (Day 10)

August 30th
Miles 2942-3468

There are two more things that a cross country trip across the united states can’t go without, they are driving down rt. 66 and the Grand Canyon, and that’s what was on the agenda for today.

I woke up at 6:30 in the morning, and after a sad farewell to barrel roll, moosecharmer, and slappy (the trailnames of my friends) I was back on the road. I was fortunate to have some (rare for San diego) cloud cover as I left so the air was pretty cool. That didn’t last too long though as I moved up 15 towards 40 the air started heating up again. It wasn’t as bad as north of vegas (which I’ve now found out may have been as high as 120 farenheit!) so I just stayed hydrated and still made good time.

When I got to a town called Kingman, AZ off of I-40 where I was going to pick up 66, I started to notice big dark raonclouds filling up the sky ahead of me. These weren’t the single rainclouds that I’d run into previously, these really filled the sky and there was little chance now that the road would avoid them. Little more I could do though then to bundle up, put on my rainpants and keep going.

Turns out my luck was still sticking with me. As I drove down 66, I noticed that the road had recently been rained on, I was following behind this storm! I joined back 40 in a town called seligman and that’s when I finally got wet. It was really coming down, not as intense as my rain cloud in Ontario but this one clearly wasn’t going to let up.

After about 20 miles trailing behind in a car’s tracks and shivering uncontrollably, I pulled into a gas station in Ash Fork. There, I saw a motorcycle parked under an overhang and three people, two men and a woman, squeezed in together all wearing full matching bright yellow rainsuits. They had extremely thick southern accents and as I talked with them they would bicker about things like how women talked too much and men complained too much. I found out they were on their own cross country trip. They were going back home to West Virginia and they had also gone to San Diego.

It seems like I got really lucky. They had only come from Kingman today, about 50 miles because they got completely dumped on. They even started getting pelted by hailstones!

The rain had stopped and as I warmed up and ate a bit another guy on a bike pulled up entirely in black wearing what looked like a trenchcoat. I guess it was some kind of oil skin coat and he was still completely dry. He had come from the other direction, and eventhough we could see a patch of sky clearing up and coming our way, he told us there was another storm coming from the north and that was my cue.

I headed 20 more miles to Williams where the road to the grand canyon picks up. Being wet and thinking of the prospect of possibly more rain, I decided that if I could find a motel foe under $30 I would take it. Well turns out that on labor day weekend at the town at the entrance to the grand canyon, there really aren’t any good deals.

I got lucky though when at the last place I checked (where “low rates” apparently means $85) I was given directions to a free place to camp. So after another adventure winding through back roads, at one point inadvertantly following a group of people down a dirt road to their driveway I got to a nice spot with a bunch of RVs already camped out. So rather than spend 80 bucks I got a free camp spot right near the grand canyon and it’s stopped raining… for now.

Checking Your Tire Tread

After so many long, straight miles (*cough* Kansas *cough*) the tread on my rear tire had started to really wear down right in the center. It was pretty visible that it had been wearing down.

The way they showed me at the dealership to know if you need to replace your tire is of you look in the tread itself. There are little “bars” or strips that go across in some places. When you’ve run down to these, then that’s how you know to replace the tire.

San Diego

August 26-29
Miles 0

Time to take a few days to relax before heading back homeward. There was actually a lot to do though, things to take care of before I was ready to put another 3000 miles on the bike. If you look back through the previous entries of the trip you’ll see that I added pictures, maps, and streamlined things a bit. I also had to do laundry and groceries for the way back. One of the more important things I had to do was take care of the bike and make sure it was alright. Since randy from mile high harley suggested I have my back tire tread looked at, I brought the bike by the dealership in San diego.

Turned out my tread was very low but the dealership was charging upwards of 200 for the tire and replacement and I also needed my oil changed. They suggested another place, Cycle Visions, that might be cheaper. So I stopped by and they were cheaper but not by much. I decided to have them do the oil change I needed to because it turned out that after oil, filter, and disposal, which I’d have to buy anyway, it was only 18 bucks. All said and done I was looking at 400 bucks… I also asked them to see if they could figure out what the tinkling sound in the engine was (it was still doing it since Colorado). One guy took it around the block there, said he couldn’t hear it but would have the service guys try as well.

So while that was being taken care of I took care of my errands and enjoyed myself too hanging out with my friends, going to the beach, and checking out the San diego zoo.

The bike was supposed to be done the day after I brought it in and when I didn’t get a call I started getting a bit nervous. Then the next day they called me and told me that there was something wrong with the break and they couldn’t figure it out. I told them about my air bubble issue and how grand junction harley told me it had come out when it started working again… Evidently it hadn’t.

So after a couple days of worrying, the day before I was planning to leave, and a total of $512 dollars later (thank god for credit cards) the bike was ready: oil changed, new rear tire, and brake fluid changed. And wouldn’t you know, after driving the bike back, no more tinkling sound.

So after getting everything done, my friends and I had a big BBQ for my last night, watched a movie, and I packed up to go in the morning.

Toronto To San Diego Maps

Toronto to Sterling State Park, MI

Sterling State Park, MI to Lincoln Trail State Park, IL

Lincoln Trail State Park, IL to Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS to Boulder, CO

Boulder, CO to Grand Junction, CO

Grand Junction, CO to Zion National Park, UT

Zion National Park, UT to Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas, NV to San Diego, CA

Las Vegas, NV-San Diego, CA (Day 9)

August 25th
Miles 2574-2920

Pretty long day today, but we were out pretty early, around 9:30. It was still hot though, very hot. I decided just to ride with a long sleeve, long underwear top to keep some of the air off of me rather than the black leather jacket (in retrospect that was pretty lucky cause the jacket would be awful in the traffic we’d later get caught in). I had the bandanna wrapped around my neck again, but without the jacket i started to lose it and ended up having to hold it in my hand for about 20 miles.

The riding was still pretty tiring and slow going, I made sure to stop every 60 miles and rehydrate myself. Luckily no problems with my health or the bike today, but on top of the heat there was a lot of wind and I was getting thrown all over my lane. My friends in the car behind me said they could see me really moving in the wind. There was also a point where we were driving towards two giant rainclouds on either side of the road, which I couldn’t decide would be a bad thing or extremely refreshing. In the end, the road led right in between the two clouds and I got through with only a few drops of rain landing on me.

Then, it was after L.A. when we started to hit some really bad traffic. Luckily, I didn’t have my jacket on and the weather around San Diego is much cooler then it had been the rest of the day. After sitting in traffic for maybe an hour I followed the car to some roads that kind of took as around the traffic until we finally made it. And what a better entrance to my finally destination then to go to an NFL Preseason game, Chargers vs. Seahawks!

Charger's Game

Charger's Game

Zion National Park, UT-Las Vegas, NV (Day 8)

August 24th

Miles 2410-2574

Well it’s not a road trip across the U.S. without a stop in Las Vegas! We spent the beginning of the day before heading out seeing more of the park. There’s a free shuttle that takes you to the major stops in the park, so we rode that to a few of the quick hikes with great views.

Then it was back on the road, and it was HOT. Driving a motorcycle in the desert is not easy, and doing at 4 in the afternoon is even hotter. So with the temperature over 100 degrees (about 38 Celsius), we left the park. Keeping my hot weather tips in mind i put on my leather jacket to cover up any exposed skin (the air rushing by actually makes you hotter if it is above your body temperature) and soaked a bandanna in cold water and wrapped it around my neck.

It was a little slow going, I was in desperate need of a break after only 60 miles (when I’m usually good for 120, at least in the beginning of the day). We stopped at a McDonald’s where there was A/C and I could drink some water and rest. My eyes were kind of sore as well as we were going west for a bit and so the sun was right in my eyes again. After that first stop, it was only about 80 miles more into Vegas so I figured one more stop in about 60 miles to fill back up then head to the strip. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t anything before Vegas, which is I guess what happens when you’re in the middle of the desert so… I ended up running out of gas. We were on the highway, it was getting busier as we got closer to the city, and it was already dark out. All of a sudden I heard my engine kind of coughing a bit. Then I noticed that sometimes when I rolled on the gas, it wouldn’t really respond and just make that coughing sound. So I figured I must be out of gas. I crossed my fingers that I had enough to pass my friends, whose car I was following, so I could signal to them that I was pulling over. Luckily I did and there was an off ramp just ahead. I pulled off, went into neutral, and the tank was completely dry. I updated my friends, switched to my half gallon reserve tank and we found a gas station.

After that, it was smooth sailing. We drove to our hotel, Circus Circus, which was right at the end of the strip and for only 40 bucks since it was the end of the season. The rest of the night was spent finding a cheap place to eat and walking about a mile down the strip and back. We watched the fountain show at the Bellagio and played a few penny slots along the way back to our hotel (I was down about 20 bucks on the night). Overall, a good night in Vegas, and tomorrow is the last leg of my trip to San Diego and the West Coast!