The road from Williams to Grand Canyon’s South Rim is busy. We are sharing this route with tour buses, automobiles, motorhomes, travel trailers, bicycles, and motorcycles. Some have come from the east, others from the west. Everyone except Barb and I seem to be on a tight schedule.
About halfway to our destination is where the traffic from Flagstaff merges. On the west side of this junction stands an old military aircraft, a C-121. My interest is piqued. During the mid-1950s I maintained communications and navigation equipment on these birds while stationed at Charleston AFB, South Carolina.
The proprietor claims this particular airplane was once General Douglas MacArthur’s official transportation.
Continuing on, we soon reach the gate. Being the old farts that we are, we possess Golden Age Passports, allowing us free entry into the park. Our first order of business is to secure a campsite. We are turned away. It’s full and there is a waiting list. Perhaps it’s just as well that we don’t commit ourselves this early in the day. The weather at this altitude can change on a dime.
We park the motorcycle in a shady thicket near the park cafe. McBark is thrilled to be out of his box. With food and water at the ready, he doesn’t protest about waiting there for a while.
We order lunch.
While waiting, Barb reminds me of our trip here two years earlier. It was June and we’d brought the comforts of a pickup camper. The weather was perfect–tee shirts and short pants.
The following morning we awoke to 20 degrees and four inches of snow. It was still snowing. The time had come to beat a hasty retreat to a lower altitude. But before leaving it all behind, we decided to make a quick tour of the South Rim.
We soon passed the wranglers leading horses and mules for the trek down into the canyon. A bit further we found the staging area and the group who would soon mount these animals. Each were clad in yellow rain slickers, facing the direction from which the beasts of burden were approaching. Many of these folks had made their reservations a year in advance and traveled great distances to be here on this crisp morning. No doubt, they can be counted among the tough.
Not everyone is physically capable of a trip down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. But a quiet evening with Eugene Ormandy’s “Grand Canyon Suite: Sunrise, Painted Desert, On The trail, Sunset, and Cloudburst” is certainly a fine substitute for those who can’t.
Our waitress is approaching. Glancing at the weather forecast posted on a nearby wall, we were assured that our mild weather would continue for this day.
The midday sun prevents us from enjoying the canyon colors and contours, but we are able to watch the condors and the chipmunks.
Later, we purchase grub and head out of the park to spend the night in the Kaibab National Forest. A dirt bike enables to stray from the road and enjoy the security of being invisible.
The following morning our Thumper will not start. There is spark and fuel. Fortunately, I’ve brought a fistful of tools, so I remove the seat and pull the carb. Nothing seemed amiss, but I remove each jet and blow through them, making certain they are clear. After reassembly the engine starts.
We were good to go
The following morning we return to Williams then turn west on Interstate 40. Traffic is traveling fast, some at twice our speed. We stay on the shoulder for about 15 miles then exit at Ashfork and pick up the longest segment of Historic Route 66. This road will take us to Kingman and a motorcycle shop where we can have the chain replaced.