02 July 2004

Latest jones

I'm getting an itch for a new bike. Okay, the itch is in full swing.

We went to Arizona a couple of months ago to rent Harleys and ride around for three days. We went with 5 other people and had a great time - better by far than we even expected.

We stayed in Belmont, an exit about 10 miles west of Flagstaff. We expected that all of Arizona would be hot in May. It never occurred to us - until all our reservations were made, at least - to check the usual temps. It was a little chillier than we anticipated.

Day one we picked up the bikes - in the snow, of course - and then rode down to Sedona. It was beautiful and considerably warmer. One of the most interesting aspects of the trip was the way temperature, vegetation, and general appearance changed so dramatically in an hour's ride out from Flagstaff - temperate forest in the canyon on the way to Sedona giving way to desert, pine forests around Flagstaff, chaparral to the northwest on the way to the Grand Canyon.

Day two - no snow - we headed east out of Flagstaff stopping first at Walnut Canyon. We hiked the tourist trail through the park and looked at the handiwork of the Sinagua people who built their homes in the cliffs of the canyon. Our next stop was the Meteor Crator made famous in the movie Starman. It was interesting, but hardly worth the US$10 per person to see the big hole in the ground.

Continuing east we stopped for lunch at the The Brown Mug in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see. Winslow is a sad little town. Truly the only clean, well-kempt part was the corner where they had created an homage to the Eagle's song Take it Easy. There was a mural on the side of a building and a statue of a guy with a guitar standing on the corner. The food was really good, though. At both our previous stops that day a stranger had recommended that we go there for lunch. That was too compelling to pass on. It was Mexican fare, and really, really good. Couldn't tell you what I ate, but it was tasty.

After lunch we continued east (less trepid travelers would have turned for home, but that wasn't us) to the north entrance of The Petrified Forest\Painted Desert National Park. The park has two entrances with 26 miles of blacktop between them. We rode through stopping at every scenic turn out and took many pictures. It was truly stunning and we enjoyed it a lot.

The bad news was that we came out of the park 90 miles from Flagstaff and it was getting dark. Flagstaff, for those of you as igorant of Arizona topography as we were, sits at an elevation of about 7000 feet - pretty well up the shoulder of a mountain. It was a long cold ride home. We made decent time - averaging a little over 80 mph all the way.

Day three we spent at the Grand Canyon. Wow. 'Nuf said.

It was an awesome trip. Gerri said she enjoyed it more than our last cruise, and I had to agree. We're already planning for another trip.

Meanwhile, since riding that Softail around for three days I've been looking at bigger bikes and trying to decide what I want. I don't want a Harley. I just feel like they're way overpriced - even the used ones. Someone was explaining to me that they were an investment. I didn't contradict them, but I don't agree. I keep surfing through CarSoup and CycleTrader.

Gerri likes the cruiser style, but I'm leaning more toward a sport touring look. I think I just need to go for a few test rides to see what feels best. I was pretty comfortable on that Harley, I have to admit. I just think I'd like a bigger fairing and more storage up front. For now, I'll just keep dreaming...

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