18st March 2002 - 21.12
at Gran Canyon
& 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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.