Last week my father said something to my brother that I couldn’t stop thinking about “I just sold the Corvette, it just didn’t bring me the happiness I thought it would.” Happiness… I had to ask my self; what was it about these machines that brings me such great joy? The simple answer was, not much really; usually these machines just cost more money than anticipated and result in busted knuckles most times I work on them. What brings me true heightened happiness is sharing a experience with my friends and family. There is nothing like it. Some my top memories of life are summarized by traveling open roads with the ones I love along side me.
No one person has taught me as many things as my father. I have become the man I am today because of him, Sometimes I frighten myself when I notice how much like him I have become. He has influenced me in many ways but most prevalent is my love for Cars and Motorcycles. It’s in our blood.
The love affair really took hold at the age of 16 with my brother and I got our Driver’s license and shortly after later our Motorcycle endorsements. As a family we have done cross country rides, camp trips to go ride dirt bikes and have even stood together in our garage to watch my mother try and win a bet that should could change a tire faster than we could.
I have had many smooth / easy moto trips, this trip was not one of them. I figured it was past due for one that was challenging both physically and mentally. The original plan was to travel from Orange County to meet my buddy Chris in Flagstaff, head to Durango travel through Silverton in route to Grand Junction, down through Moab, over to Zion national park and return home.
The first leg getting to Flagstaff was a quick reminder how tough the first 300 miles of a moto trip are. My bike had issues at elevation, I had already ran out of Gas twice; so it ended up getting traded in at the rental shop for an Ol Man Electra Glide that would double as a pack donkey for my buddy Chris’s gear since he decided to ride his custom build (by someone else) Café Racer. The forecast said there was a 40% chance of rain. While cruising towards Monument Valley we got to experience our first taste of these brutal flash storms and got quickly soaked through to the bone. When someone says “a 40% chance of rain” to me I take it as better odds than flipping a coin, come to find out a 40% chance of rain in reality means that; It is currently raining on 40% of the square miles of the area you are looking at a weather forecast for.
We made it to Monument Valley in the late evening and were to tired to set up camp. We crashed right in the dirt which was fine by me, or at least I thought so at the moment. A few hours later I awoke to the sound of an animal in camp, I couldn’t stop laughing when I noticed there was an Australian sheep dog licking Chris’s head, attempting to determine what flavor of hair product he used the prior morning. No big deal he seemed friendly enough. One of the last things I have ever considered when choosing a camp site is whether or not it was in the middle of a horse travel path. Well this site ended up being just that, a few hundred horses passed around us as we had ignorantly chosen to sleep in the middle of their freeway. Regardless, all off the night time incidents were worth it, waking up to the towering rock formations located on the valley floor was pretty amazing.
We spent the rest of the day working towards Durango to see the town and take a ride over the Million Dollar Highway. As soon as we left Durango it started dumping rain. This particular stretch of highway is known to be one of the most dangerous in the world. As we traveled over the pass and the elevation increased, it changed. It changed from a rain storm into a snow storm. It didn’t matter in the moment, we decided that the best course of action was to push through, when I say best that does not equate to most intelligent. I have been in some dangerous situations but this one was extremely sketchy.
We made it over the pass and made it down arriving at dryer ground in the lower elevation. We celebrated that evening with a steak dinner reflecting on all of the reasons why shouldn’t have done what we just did.
The next morning the goal was to stay dry, stay away from the Highway Patrol and get towards Moab. We decided to take a side tour and rode through The Colorado National Monument as we passed by Grand Junction.
We encountered a little bit of rain as we headed to Moab to see the Arch’s. As we arrived at the entrance of Arches National Park we were greeted by Park Rangers informing us that the park was at capacity for the day. I have frequently been turned away from upscale night clubs but never before from a Geological point of interest. I was initially upset that we were not allowed in but after thinking about it for a little bit I was okay with knowing it was due to the best intended effort to preserve the area, which ultimately I support. Not a big deal there are plenty of other awesome things to see in the amazing state of Utah.
Shortly after the picture above was taken we hit rain again. The rain we had encountered before came in short spurts, this rain just kept coming. It would not stop and it didn’t. We were headed towards the Grand Canyon when the sun set. We were nowhere near a city that had a hotel but we were close to Monument Valley where we knew we could get a camp spot.
We got the last available camp spot. Actually they had sold us a spot that they didn’t have so we set up in a location that could provide a bit of cover and keep us dry that night. Mike was cold and wet and had no interest in staying that way for the entire night. He was set on making the 200 miles trek to Flagstaff to get a room for the night. How he made it alone, in those conditions I will never know. Chris and I toughed it out and managed to stay fairly dry.
The next morning we geared up to make it to the last stop the Grand Canyon. I had lived in Arizona for almost a decade and the thought about making a trip across the state to visit a tourist destination was never appealing. I finally gave in on this trip, I was sick of having to explain to people why I had never see it. Once we arrived I could get a glimpse when riding by the vantage point and I was surprisingly shocked. It was in fact as impressive as everyone had made it out to be. After fighting though the crowds carrying an abundance of slefie sticks to get a view we noticed that just down the way the people barrier ended and we could climb out on this ledge to get a better view. As we came upon it I realize how slick the crappy rock was due to the mud, I became hesitant to scale the required boulders to venture out any further. There were a few family’s that did not and had no problem brining their kids across this slip and slide of death for a family portrait. A google search later that day supporting my decision showing record of a large number of tourist deaths each year right there at the visitor center.
The final leg home coming off the Flagstaff elevation was on a boring straight two lane freeway back to California. It ended up being my favorite moment of the trip. We hit the basin floor, traffic faded away, the sky cleared up and the temperature increased. This encouraged us to twist the throttle all the way open. Mike and I were side by side pushing the limit of our bikes and our physical grip strength as we headed back to the reality of returning to work. I couldn’t see Mike’s face because it was being blocked by his helmet but my smile was so big it hurt. As the sun set it hit me, I let out a loud YEWWW, realizing that this exact moment will be recorded for eternity. This is what it is all about and these are the experiences that bring me happiness. No physical object can but sharing experiences and moments with my friends and family absolutely will. Till the next one.