In 2004, my husband David and I joined six friends who loved to ride and set out on a 10-day adventure that took us from Texas to California and back. We wanted to see the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, but beyond that, we went where the spirit moved. Our bikes were loaded with maps, camping gear, cameras, snacks, and a few changes of clothes, and we were ready to roll.
The Grand Canyon
It took us most of two days to clear the Texas border. On day three, the scenery began to change, and we caught our first glimpse of the Canyon. Approaching one of God’s natural wonders on a motorcycle is like watching an IMAX travel film in 360 degrees, only infinitely better.
We camped overnight in the national park, but a biker can only take so much scenery before the road calls. We stopped at a few overlooks, and then we caught legendary Route 66 toward California. Going into Needles, we hit a stretch of narrow roadways with no guardrails and a series of decreasing radius turns and steep inclines that were enough to make the bravest rider wonder if her life insurance was paid up.
We were a bunch of real road warriors, so we didn’t linger anywhere for long. From Needles, we rode into Nevada and crossed the Boulder Dam by twilight. We continued through Las Vegas in a blaze of neon lights, and checked into a motel in Mesquite, Nevada so we could have real showers and sleep in real beds.
From Mesquite, we headed toward St. George, Utah on a four-lane divided highway that was like a rollercoater ride for bikers. We broke formation, sweeping through the wide curves like skiers through a field of moguls. Some took turns riding side by side or leapfrogging into the lead while others hung back to film the action as well as the breathtaking view of the Virgin River Gorge.
From St. George, we continued to Red Rock Canyon where we camped for two nights as we toured both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. In addition to spectacular views, we found twisting roads that tested both our riding skills and the performance of our bikes, and long tunnels where we competed to see who could make the most noise.
Cowboys and Indians
From Red Rock Canyon, we turned toward Monument Valley. After a long, flat ride, rocks began to peak over the horizon. As we closed in on the monuments, we realized we had been here many times, sitting in front of our TVs, yelling at the posse not to ride past those rocks, feeling the fear as thousands of Indians lined the cliffs. We didn’t see any war paint or bows and arrows, but there were lots of people selling lots of turquoise, and the scenery was spectacular. After taking plenty of photos, we mounted up and continued on to Cortez, Colorado where we checked into a motel for clean sheets and showers.
On the last day before we turned toward home we visited Mesa Verde and made a loop through Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, and back to Durango. We had some mechanical issues and spent some time a local Harley dealership, but we reconnected with an old friend while we were there, so even that was fun.
After leaving the dealership, we rode into New Mexico before stopping for the night. Two more days on the road took us home to our nine-to-five lives. During our trek, we logged over 3,600 miles and visited eight states. Eventually I got the road grime off my bike and the grit off my face, but the memories of that trip will last a lifetime.