Home from Flagstaff

It should say “bring your money,” because you will need a lot of it at “OX:”

In Flagstaff on Sunday morning, Hal and I walked over to IHOP and had breakfast. I hadn’t been to an IHOP in a long time. It was just like eating at a Denny’s. It was good, but the best thing I saw was the homeless man who was eating breakfast in the restaurant, and a couple sitting near us paid for it. I overheard them, and I thought that was great. I would have done it, too. Nicole and I had briefly talked the day before about how things are changing, and I think one of the changes is going to be that we take care of each other. It’s already happening.

Hal and I walked back to the motel to finish packing. Before we’d left, we’d seen a rider from Utah in the parking lot packing his BMW 12GS. To my amazement, he was still there, still packing, when we returned from breakfast! He had two side cases, and one big top case, and he had a duffel bag behind the seat as well. He obviously wasn’t camping, but who knows, maybe he was on a long trip. We got out our stuff and started packing our bikes as well.

I packed my two small bags, and my backpack on top, and cinched it all down. I finished quickly, and the guy packing the 12GS looked over at me and said, “So, I’m guessing you teach a class on minimalist touring?” I laughed.

“No, “ I answered, “I just didn’t feel like hauling a bunch of stuff, and anyway, I have been finding that the more I travel, the less I feel I need to take.” He smiled and kept on packing. Then we started talking about our “multiple bike sickness,” which is having a garage full of bikes, and I mentioned that the more bikes I buy, the smaller they get. I don’t think he identified with that concept either. But he was a nice guy, and I am not criticizing. It’s just that I am moving toward less rather than more, and so far I am really happy with that.

Hal and I pulled out of the parking lot about 10 a.m. We knew our ride was only going to take three hours at the most, and that was if we dragged it out, so we weren’t in any big hurry. We went back onto Lake Mary Rd., retracing our tread from the day before. I was glad of the three layers of shirts and the wind-proof liner that I was wearing because I was right on the verge of being cold again. This is the part where I am a big sissy, but I don’t mind wearing layers. The wind kicked up, and it was strong, as it usually is this time of year in the high country. Several vendors had already taken down their displays at the OX. I knew that because they came toward us heading the other way on the road. They were probably headed toward Flagstaff and either I-40 or I-17, and I thought I would not want to be driving a big high-profile vehicle like that on I-40! It was going to be a wild ride for them because of the strong wind. I was also amazed at how many of them were already on the way home, and I thought the Expo was probably over.

We turned on Mormon Lake Rd., the west end of it, and followed the road as it wove through the tall pine trees down toward the east end. We only rode past the area where the expo was because I wanted to see if they were actually charging to get in when half the vendors were already on the road to go home. OX was charging admission, of course. We cruised by and left them to it.

I had wanted to take photos of some horses I’d seen grazing in a pasture at the east end of the road. Unfortunately, they were far away from the road on Sunday morning, and it was ridiculous to try and get a meaningful shot. I did not have the big camera, and the zoom on the little camera, while adequate, would not be able to deal with that long distance. So, Hal and I pulled over, talked briefly, then headed out onto Lake Mary Rd., which would eventually take us to the 87, and then back through Pine, Strawberry, and Payson.

On the way home, the road was much more crowded than it had been on the way north. That is because everybody who lives in Phoenix heads for the high country on summer weekends to escape the heat. In fact, by the time we got to Payson, the traffic was terrible. We tried to turn into our usual Circle K gas station, and I actually had to stop in the road to wait for the people in front of me to get out of the way. This was due to a gaggle of H-D riders who were clogging up the entire gas station. It wasn’t that they were fueling up, they were just in the way, and being inconsiderate. We squeezed in anyway so we could buy fuel. We were laughing at them to ourselves because they pretend to be “individualists,” free, and no one tells them what to do. But they all looked exactly alike – big bellies, beards, and dressed in some kind of H-D-emblazoned poser gear. And almost all their bikes were exactly the same.

They did not move their bikes. It was making me super-mad. I had wanted to get some coffee at the gas station, take a short break to drag out the trip home, but these jerks were making it impossible. Fortunately, Hal came up with the same solution that I did, and that was to go back up to the Crosswinds Restaurant at Payson Airport for a piece of pie and a coffee. And maybe a “piece of some peace.”

We each had a piece of pie when we got there, mine was strawberry-rhubarb, and it gave us a few more minutes on the road. Alas, we’d dragged it out long enough, and it was time to leave. We said our goodbyes because we wouldn’t stop again, and rode down the hill into the heat island that is Phoenix.

It was a good riding weekend, 350+ miles of enjoyment. It really is being on the motorcycle that is the important part to me, and I was so happy to be out on the road!


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