3 Brothers & A Buddy – Heading For Higher Ground

(click on map to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 16

  • Riders: Scott, Paul, Eric & Don
  • Distance:
    • Scott & Eric
    • Van Nuys, CA to Flagstaff, AZ
    • 498 miles
    • Paul & Don
    • Tucson, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ
    • 325 miles
  • Highlights:
    • No speeding tickets!
    • Riding LA’s infamous expressways on a work day at the crack of dawn
    • The reunion party in the forest South of Flagstaff

Eric and I awake to a lovely day and we’re rolling by 6:15. We decide to stop for breakfast once we get clear of LA so we get on the gas and hustle. Traffic in this town really moves over a tangled web of roads, even this early in the day. I keep my wits about me, vs. thinking about coffee, eggs and hash browns, keep the revs up and my cage radar on. We pull off in Covina, a neighborhood East of LA and look for a restaurant but there are none to be seen. We finally spot a Coco’s several miles in but it isn’t open yet. Across the parking lot, we notice Frankie’s Kosher Pickle, open and bustling with locals. We get our fill of coffee and eggs and head back to the highway.

High octane!

Even with the early start, two separate car accidents louse things up a bit and we have to do some stop and go for awhile. But soon we’re up and out of the LA basin and knocking off the miles without too much effort. We stop for a new, wild berry, zero carb Rockstar every so often, let our butts cool off, and then hit it again. At about 400 miles or so, we stop for a break. It’s hot in the Mojave Desert and my body can tell the miles are adding up. We’re sitting in the shade and not showing much interest in getting back on the bikes. But Paul calls just then to say they have arrived at the rendezvous and that gives us the extra incentive to mount up and sprint for the finish.

It’s a relief to climb up to the cooler, forested Coconino Plateau but South of Flagstaff, we ride into a bad storm. There is hail piled up on the sides of the highway, cars spun out, and cops motioning everyone to slow down. We pass through without incident and emerge back into the sunshine as we reach our rendezvous point. At the end of the off ramp, we find a dirt road heading into the forest. We follow it slowly as it is quite bumpy and full of potholes. About 1/2 a mile in, we spot Paul and Don and the camp they’ve set up. There are no other campers in sight and I wonder if it’s due to the absolute lack of facilities – no toilets, no water, no showers, no nothing. Pack it in and pack it out except for what ends up in a hole dug with a trowel. But that’s okay. It has been one of Pablo’s traditions to camp here on the first night out on many a trip and we’ll get a shower tomorrow night at Jacob Lake. We can rough it for one night.

We head up the road to the nearby diner for a fine supper and gather supplies from the convenience mart next door for the evening’s festivities around the campfire. The night sky is so clear that we can easily observe the Milky Way. The Moon and Venus are conjunct in the sky and shining brightly. Wine flows and cigars are lit. There’s a bottle of Tequila on hand as well. Eric and I get a chance to get to know Don, a co-worker of Paul’s, and we find him to be a true gentleman with a lovely sense of humor. Soon, the privations of camp are long forgotten as stories and laughs are shared. This trip is off to a very good start.

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