Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tuba City, AZ, to Mesquite, NV

I spent the night in Tuba City at an over priced motel. But I was tired from a long day on the bike battling the wind and sabotaged by my own navigation skills (or, navigation indifference). So a hotel was called for. In the morning, I headed out to the west, battling a significant sand and dust storm. The winds were ripping along at an estimated 35-40 mph, right in my face. The dust moved across the road like snow does during a blizzard. Eyes blinking rapidly, I puttered along holding up traffic....


Turning north, I found a dirt road that looked promising and would get me out of everyone's way on the paved road. The dirt proved to be mostly sand and the 30 miles took me well over an hour, much of it in first gear.

At one point, a dust-devil, that swirling tornado-like dust plume, passed RIGHT in front of me, crossing the road not more than 50 feet away. From a distance, they always look playful and fun. Up close, they look very angry. I watched it move across the plain and tried to get a picture when I realized it had climbed very high.
From Mesa to Tuba City

Looking for a break, I spotted an interesting rock formation next to the road. I pulled off, shut off the bike, and pulled out my ear plugs. Then I could hear the howling. So loud I was able to record it with my cell phone, the wind whipping around the rocks, combined with the snapping and crackling of the powerlines over head made the place very spooky in the middle of the day!

Miles of sand made riding slow and difficult.
From Mesa to Tuba City

From Mesa to Tuba City

Down the road aways, the map indicated a place called Copper Mine Trading Post. Feeling in the mood for some ice cream, I pulled off the main (dirt) road onto a siding, but the town was deserted. A ghost town. I parked the bike and walked around with my camera. Check out the stone building. Some of the rocks contain so much copper ore they turned green.
From Mesa to Tuba City

From Mesa to Tuba City


After checking out the Glenn Canyon Dam, I headed west, but soon made a serious error.

I saw a side road on my map and the urge to see where it went struck me. It went down to the river, but dropped fast and the surface was mostly sand. Getting to the bottom was difficult, but getting back to the top was almost impossible. I got stuck several times, the rear wheel digging fast in the soft sand, till the bike would stand up on it's own while I stood next to it. I would grab hold of the luggage rack in the back of the bike and pick it up out of the hole, drag it to one side, and try again, only to dig another hole.

Finally, I took off both saddle bags. This made the bike lighter, so it would not sink as fast, and also permitted me to walk along side it, pushing and driving at the same time. Twenty yards of this and I stopped to take off my helmet, gloves, and jacket. Pushing up the steepest part took several minutes, stopping to catch my breath and cool the engine. Finally, I made it to the top of the hill, where I could park the bike and walk back down the steep hill to where I left my gear. It took me two trips, and I was still a quarter mile from the road, but at least it was level the rest of the way.

I camped at a BLM campground called Whitehouse. A storyboard near the campground explained why. I'll spare you.

Photo taken at midnight by moon light.
From Mesa to Tuba City


In the morning, I continued west and ended up on a dirt road connecting to the town of Mesquite, Nevada. The road was epic. I lost track of time, got tired of the view, fought the rocks, thought I was lost, it just wouldn't stop. I felt hungry and thought it must be near lunch, checked my watch and saw it was almost 5 PM.

I met two guys riding the other way on KTMs.  Most places I go, people have never heard of KTM.  Out in the middle of nowhere, they are the only vehicles I encounter in half a day!
From Mesa to Tuba City


Rocky road.  It's not like the icecream.
From Mesa to Tuba City


Only 17 miles to go.
From Mesa to Tuba City


I don't know how many miles it was, it must have been over 100, on some horrible roads. The last 10 miles took an hour, most of the time spent in first gear, riding the front and rear brakes, unable to stop due to the steepness and rockiness of the road. Instead of being in control, I felt like I was only making recommendations, the bike was doing what it and gravity wanted.

My destination lies in the vally behind the mountains.  The jeep was abandon with a broken suspension.
From Mesa to Tuba City


Only 14 miles to go...
From Mesa to Tuba City


In the end, I made it to Mesquite, tired and dusty, but intact.  I can't wait to do it again!

2 comments:

  1. Just curious, what is the biggest town you have ridden through on this ride?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm in Las Vegas for the second time, I guess that or Phoenix. I touched the edge of Seattle and Tahoma leaving Washington. Winnemuca, NV has a little over 7000 and that is closer to the average. I aim for the small places. Tuba City claims 8000 but you wouldn't guess that from all the boarded up houses. Crossing North Dakota and Montana, I went 3-4 days without seeing a fast food franchise. All the towns were too small to support them.

    ReplyDelete