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[ST] Four Corners Report, Part 6 (last one)

>From August 13:

I know it's been awhile since I wrote and I've already gotten one
phone call to make sure I got home in one piece. Well, I did make it,
although it took me a little longer than I thought it would.

I left Pasadena on Friday, August 4. I was going across the Mojave
Desert that day, so I left a little earlier than usual to try to beat
the heat a bit. It turned out to not be as bad as I thought. Still
wicked hot, but bearable. I had a bandana made from the same stuff as
though super-absorbent camp towels. Once I got the thing wet, it
helped keep me cool for an hour or so, which was a huge help. So I got
across the desert and made it to Williams, AZ, just south of the Grand

I had never been to the Grand Canyon and was really looking forward to
seeing it. I don't think there's any way to really prepare yourself
for a visit here. It really blew my mind. You ride up the road from
williams, the only way into the park, and you're aware that the
landscape is getting flat, but with the trees, it's not the kind of
flat you get in, say, Kansas. You pay your money and go into the park.
After a mile or two, you pull into the visitor's parking lot and you
get your first glimpse of the canyon. I about dropped my bike when I
saw it, it was so spectacular. Nearly 300 miles long and as much as 16
miles wide, the canyon is huge. Think of it as Glacier National Park,
only going down instead of up. I spent a bit of time walking around
the visitor's center and the part of the rim that's easily accessible
from the parking lot. There are plenty of other hikes and other parts
of the rim that are accessible by shuttle bus, but I was feeling the
press of time and wanted to get on the road.

After leaving the park, I spent the rest of the day riding across the
Navajo Reservation on my way to Aztec, NM. After a good night's rest,
I got started and went to visit the Aztec Ruins national Monument in
Aztec. This is the ruins of an indian village that dates seems to have
been inhabited from 1100-1300. Although it was small, it was pretty
interesting to see the ruins and was a good way to start the day.

I rode out of Aztec and headed north, to CO route 550, the Million
Dollar Highway. The whole Southwest was getting monsoonal moisture
brought in from the Gulf of Mexico, so it was a bit more humid than
you might otherwise expect. Today was overcast with the treat of rain.
I figured 550 would be my last twisty riding until I got back East, so
I had my fingers crossed I'd stay dry. The rain did hold off, which
was a good thing. The first part of the road, into Silverton, CO, was
well-paved, wide, but still offered wonderful views and riding. The
road was in good enough shape that there were several bicyclists
making the ride over on or two of the mountain passes. I was pretty
impressed by the folks riding up to 9, 10, or 11 thousand feet on
their bicycles.

Between Silverton and Ouray, the 550 is very narrow and twisty. A
classic mountain road with the a wall of rock on one side and a sheer
drop off on the other. I just took it easy, enjoyed the views, and
stayed on the road. I really wasn't prepared to pay the price of
running wide in a corner here. After Ouray, the twisty stuff was over
and 550 made a pretty straight run into Montrose. In the middle of
Montrose, I made a right turn onto Route 50 and began the serious
drive East for home.

I hoped to get across Kansas, but that wasn't to be. The weather was
really hot! When I was getting out of Dodge City, the temperature on
the bank told me it was 103 degrees. Ouch. I also knew I was riding
along a front that was bringing rain to the area. I had seen the
clouds gathering before I stopped for lunch, but they were dark and
menacing now. As I was watching the clouds, trying to assess the
liklihood of my getting wet, I saw a large funnel of dust form. this
sort of thing may happen all the time, but I didn't know if it was a
precursor to a tornado and I wasn't interesting in sticking around to
find out. I gave the throttle a twist and made tracks for the next
town, trying to get ahead of the storm. I managed to do that, but did
get caught in some rain a little later in the day before I stopped in
Emporia, KS.

>From Emporia, I headed towards Kansas City and, from there, to St.
Louis. I made it past St. Louis and into Illinois before I had to
stop. Every day during the trip home from Pueblo, CO, I was dealing
with the possibility of rain and I was losing an hour to time zone
changes. this made my days a bit shorter than they had been while I
was heading West. Argh! Frustrating.

The weather front hadn't moved much over night and I saw on the
Weather Channel there was rain to my east, right where I wanted to go.
I delayed leaving a little bit and then headed out, but not in much of
a hurry. After about an hour, I was riding into some pretty dark could
when a saw twin lighting bolts up the road ahead of me. Luckily, there
was a gas station/food mart right there, so I pulled off and decided
the smart thing was to wait  some more. After about 45 minuted, I
hadn't seen any more lighting and the skies were getting a bit
brighter. I was back on the bike. I was determined to make this my
last long day on the bike and was pushing to make it to Parkersburg,
WV. Between the weather delays and losing another hour to time zone
changes, I didn't get to Parkersburg until 9:30pm. I was tired, but
only a short day's ride from home.

Thursday was a short day, but cloudy and wet. As I got into the
mountains, my brain started to play tricks on me. I thought I heard
the bike making weird noises, or something didn't feel right as I
leaned into corners. I knew this was just my mind and I was constantly
telling myself to just shut up and ride. I made it home about 3:30 in
the afternoon and was quickly back into the swirl of family life.
After a month of being on my own, this is taking a bit of adjustment,
but I am very happy to be back. And much more tired than I thought. As
 matter of fact, it's time for my nap.


Some trip info:
Total miles--11,700

Total days--28

Total States visited--30 (Florida, Georgia, S Carolina, N Carolina,
Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont,
New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, N Dakota,
Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico,
Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and West

Total Canadian Provinces--3 (New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario)
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