There are times when touring just comes easy. This trip is simply one of those. The Harley-Davidson is performing at peak levels, the scenery and weather have been perfect and the company has been excellent. Colette’s brother Greg is quite a rider. He has led most of our miles on the rented FLHTCU. His attention to detail and advance planning have taken us to some amazing places to eat and small shops selling hand made Indian jewelry and other great items. We are immersed in the Indian culture. Mesas and mountains combined with desert landscapes have painted beautiful images that will stay with us forever. The American West continues to impress as we roll through the countryside void of traffic and people. Certainly the Grand Canyon has been one of the high points of this trip. Most people choose to do the Southern view of the Canyon. We chose the Northern Rim with evergreen forests and twisty roads that suit the torque and horsepower characteristics of the V-Twin perfectly. Two up and loaded we have never been at a loss of ample supply of power as those big pistons keep on churning out copious amounts of needed power. Among the things the Motor Company got right is the adjustable airflow venting for the rider and passenger. When the temps fall at 8,000 ft elevation simply close off the venting and allow the engine heat to penetrate the passenger area and as we get lower and temps moderate open them back up and in comes cooling breezes. Perfection.
We were rolling just North of the Northern Rim of the Canyon when we encountered 40 or 50 buffalo grazing next to our road. I slowed to about 20 miles per hour not sure what these massive creatures would do when the sound of the HD filled the air. Good decision. As we approached one of the large males decided that he wanted to cross the highway to reunite with the others. He stood on the road and looked right at us at a distance of about 20 feet. Had we angered him, he would have had no problem knocking us right off that motorcycle. Fortunately the look didn’t equate to aggression and he slowly walked right in front of us as if to remind us that we were in his country. He was a magnificient creature.
Standing on the rock ledge high above the Canyon it was impossible not to think about the early settlers with their covered wagons and what they must have thought when they encountered the North Rim. They definitely had a problem!
Last night we slept at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico. Built in the 40’s as a place to house the movie stars of the era while filming in the truly amazing landscape for those early Westerns, it is a respite from the road featuring a two story lobby of rough wood and local stone with a sprawling dual stairway to the upstairs rooms and a large beautiful stone hearth that provided the perfect spot for a glass of red wine before enjoying a delicious Mexican dinner at the hotel. I can honestly recommend that if you are doing the Route 66 trail and find yourself in Gallup…El Rancho is the place.
Today we will begin heading seriously South to Tombstone, Arizona. I hear Wyatt Erp is not the sheriff any longer but the ambiance and history is still there. More on that in a day or two.
Greg departed this morning for a 138 mile ride to return the Ultra and board a plane for Pittsburg, PA. We had a quick cup of coffee in the lobby, said our goodbyes and bid him farewell. Colette and I will enjoy the balance of our trip alone together but it was not easy saying goodbye. The man has excellent roadcraft skills and is a most proficient rider that we will both look forward to sharing future tours with. There are not many people that I enjoy touring with. Its not easy finding someone whose skills and ride habits line up with your own. Greg is one of those riders that I match with. He led at a pace I was totally comfortable with every move he made was always totally predictable.
We are still at least 2000 miles from home at Daytona Beach and are not in any hurry to get there. Still many great miles and adventures lie before us and we plan to enjoy every mile…