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Motorcycle Trip: Part 3 of 9

Originally written: September 30th, 2010

Flagstaff, Arizona

I woke up after seven am.  Weather was brisk, but not cold enough to see your breath.  I put on my thermal top, as well as my leather jacket, but when we stopped for gas a few miles down the road from the hotel I decided to remove the thermal top.  Once we started moving it was nice and warm.

As we left Flagstaff, we took some of the nicest roads for my senses I have ever been on.  Pine trees, wildflowers, blue skies and warm weather.  These are some of the reasons a motorcycle is the best way to see the world.

We stopped at the Navajo Bridge, which spans the Colorado River and unites Arizona and Utah.  It seems to be in the middle of nowhere, but it is surrounded by spectacular red rock mountains.  There are actually two bridges spanning the river right next to each other.  The one used for traffic was built in 10995 , while the one built in 1929 is now used for foot traffic only.  Below us, on the river, four rafts were floating by silently.  Rafting looked like a nice way to travel the river from an amazing perspective, but the first major rapids would change my idyllic view of that transportation.

Navajo Bridge

Navajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River. Take note of the rafts on the river.

We rode into Zion National Park on our way to St. George, Utah.  We entered the park from the east entrance and followed the narrow, winding road down into the canyon, to the visitor’s center, then out the southern gate.

The entrance of the park was paved with fresh, smooth asphalt and as we rode further in we realized this was an ongoing project that had most of the park’s roadway under construction.  We took our jackets off and hung our cameras around our necks for quick access.  We meandered down the canyon road, pulling off whenever the mood or view struck us (assuming there was a pullout or parking lot).  Most of the scenic lookout pullouts were filled with construction equipment, which did not allow for a simple stop, take a picture and move on routine.  When the nice asphalt ended the road became hard packed dirt.  The hard packed part was great, because it kept the dust to a minimum, but the dirt part made it more exciting, as I did not feel like dumping the bike.  Looking a few feet in front of the front tire to watch the road conditions made it difficult to look up at the amazing scenery.  I stole a few quick glances from time to time to try to study the canyon walls, the rock formations, the colors and the trees.

There were two tunnels cut through the mountain on the fifteen-mile road through the park.  The first one was relatively short (200 yards?), while the second was much longer.  I was wearing sunglasses under my helmet, the road was dusty, the tunnels have no lights in them and the Buell’s headlight (as I found out the night before) was not bright enough for me.  As soon as I lost sight of the car in front of me I immediately whipped off the sunglasses and squinted through the dust in order to find my way safely towards the light at the end of the tunnel.


Zion National Park Visitor’s Center

We stopped at the visitor’s center to walk around and stretch our legs.  I took my journal in to get the park’s ink stamp on my pages (a habit I did for every park we went to).  After our break we exited the park through the south gate and rode through the small town of Springdale, Utah.  Springdale looked so quiet and peaceful that I think I would enjoy a long weekend at a small bed and breakfast and go hiking in the park everyday.  The park and surrounding area definitely seemed my speed.

An hour after Zion we pulled into the St. George Hampton Inn, unloaded the bikes and went immediately to dinner.  After dinner I decided to use the fitness center and dad and I sat in the hot tub for a while to relax.  Back in the room I wrote out some postcards and worked on my journal until my hand began to cramp up.