Grand Canyon
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First time in the States
National Parks and cool camps, 14-12-94 until 31-12-94

18st March 2002 - 21.12 GMT

Morning at Gran Canyon

Nice & fuckin' unreal

Taking advantage of the last days before entering professional life I followed good ol' Pete's advice to have a look at the US.

The night before departure I hit the town with my buddy Alvaro; it was planned to have just a couple of beers, but as always it turned out to be a much longer then expected.

That night I arrived at 4 am at home and as my flight was at 9:45, I thought it better to stay awake and wait for dawn.

Everything was prepared, all the bags ready, the bike already at the airport and me fully dressed. But around 5:30 am I sat down, had a short nap and woke up by the sound of some airplane ! The sun was shining and it was 8:30 ! With some luck I got another flight 3 days later and that's where our story begins.

  • Flight Lisbon-Madrid
  • Flight Madrid-Miami
  • Flight Miami-Los Angeles
  • Flight LA-Phoenix
  • And finally by bus to Flagstaff/Arizona.

Arriving in Flagstaff was a real relief, after almost 36 hours non-stop travelling and one night at LA-Airport. But it was much colder then I expected (Flagstaff is @ 7000 feet). So against all my plans I thought it better not to exaggerate on the first night and to play it save, taking a motel room (18 US-$).

Almost 5 days behind schedule I hit finally the road the next morning, 16th of December. Leaving the overheated room and stepping into the snow was some kind of challenge. Yes, it was cold and it stayed cold, snow along the road and after a long day of biking I reached the South Entrance of Grand Canyon NP. My idea was to sleep very close to the park entrance, so I could slip in in the morning without paying the entrance fee. But it was rather difficult to find a camp in the darkness, a lot of homes, some traffic etc. Finally I slept somewhere in the woods. Next morning it wasn't that easy to leave the sleeping bag, and when I arrived at the park entrance, they were already occupied and I had to open my wallet.

Reaching finally an uncrowded spot at the rim I had serious problems to realise the physical dimension of the Canyon beneath me. To call the GC "nice", as I heard it several times, is a raw understatement and should be prosecuted as public offence.

What was impressing during all these days is the fact, that on one hand this area is so famous and on the other hand there is nobody there. You ride and ride and you have it all for yourself. It's not like the Eiffel tower, you have to share with thousands of other people. You can have these landscapes all for your own.

Leaving GC NP from the East entrance gave a great down hill with once again fantastic landscapes, and it's all wide, open and empty space. I guess, it's so empty because of the Indian reservation, which are separated by fences and only give you 10 or so meters between the road and the fence. This turns the whole camping issue complicated, as it took a lot of patience, observation and luck to find a nice place to sleep. The camp near Cameron was behind some kind of earth wall, left by road works, and the next night there was nothing better then a place in the middle of some bushes near the crossing around Tuba city. The nights were long and very cold, solid frozen water bottle were frequent and unnegletable proof.

 Any kind of human settlement seemed like a mirage; just like this coffee shop, I found on the morning after Camp 3. An hour or so before I spotted something at the horizon, which later developed into some corn storage thing. Really, this coffee and some pancakes did me good. In the late evening I arrived in Kayenta, another big truck stop and a great place to fill up with burgers. From here, entering again Indian territory there was almost no place to sleep and the biting cold, the darkness and settlement all around -dogs, cars, children - let me deeply worry where I could find a place to sleep. Of course it was out of the question to pay for a room in a nearby hotel. So, I took cover in one of the abandoned souvenir stands.

Part 2

Part 2

:- )