Cycling To Grand Canyon…er Almost

The temperature was up and the sky as blue as the Pacific the morning we drove into Williams, Arizona. After acquiring permission to leave our car parked at the visitor’s center we unloading the Burley Sama and attaching the Bike Friday Trailer. Our plan was to ignore the Grand Canyon Train that was waiting at the depot and begin the sixty plus miles to the South Rim. However, when we approached the gathering of anxious passengers a gunfight broke out. With no convenient place to take cover we sat on our tandem like two clay pigeons and watched two masked men make off with the strongbox. They hadn’t cleared the platform before the Williams Marshall appeared from nowhere and shot them both dead. Two young fellows came from the coffee shop and dragged the outlaws around behind the building.

Since our departure was already delayed we parked the bike and paused for coffee. While there, the marshall and his two dead men entered from the back and ordered coffee.

We were an hour behind schedule when we departed, but no worries. We’d go as far as we could and then make accommidations to suit the situation (this is what cycling is all about – keeping it fun).

Road repair was underway and we traveled between a windrow of red, volcanic ash and the shoulder. No worries. The windrow provided a welcome barrier between us and the speeding tour buses.

Some disance north of Williams we came upon a StarMart. Not knowing what may lie head, we wheeled in for coffee and donuts before proceeding, a welcome break, indeed.

We were about forty miles north of Williams when thunderheads appeared on the horizon. With them came gusty winds and a few rain drops the size of my thumb. Weather at this altitude can turn on a dime – more rain, hail, even snow. And there was no shelter available other than what we brought with us, bungied to the lid of our trailer. The tent.

Small, roadside stands of stunted trees offered a break from the wind. After choosing one large enough to accommodate our Burley and trailer we pitched our tent and settled in for the duration.

Morning brought no change, but with twenty more miles to go plus another sixty back to Williams we decided to turn back.

The undulating road was endless. The wind was relentless. At the crest of one hill our legs had turned to rubber. Leaning the bike against a tree we sat down beneath it to rest.

“We’re out of food, aren’t we?” I asked.

“Almost,” my bride replied, producing a very small jar of peanut butter from a pocket and a plastic spoon from another. The jar was half empty, only three servings each. But delicious, nontheless.

At the bottom of that hill we encountered the windrows of red ash which the tour buses had churned into rusty slurry. And soon we appeared one in the same.

We were exhausted by the time we reached our beloved StarMart. Inside, two ladies were folding Grand Canyon sweatshirts. The expressions on their faces told us how we must have looked as we pushed through the door. After drinking a full pot of coffee and  devouring a dozen donuts we resumed out trek toward Williams.

The comfort of the motel room we rented under the critical eye of the manager was delightful.

Would I make the trip again? In a heartbeat.

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