Our American adventure, adventure started on the afternoon of Friday 19th May, when we collected our steeds from Eagle Riders, Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas. It was a hot afternoon and our group of five bikes, led by Mike Dall our Tour Leader, made our way back to the city – all with a little bit of trepidation after the instructions we had received from Mike about riding on the right! We all arrived safely, and a little exhilarated, at our hotel. Bikes locked up and waiting for the big adventure to start the next morning.
Saturday morning saw us up early and riding up the Strip by 7.00am. What an experience! Six lanes of traffic and passing all the bright lights of the hotels and casinos on the way. Wow, did we feel special! We turned off, making our first proper left turn, into Flamingo Road. A short while later we were on the highway and on our way. Our first breakfast stop followed at a cafe at Overton. Great breakfast and this was to set a pattern for the remainder of our trip.
Day one was our ride to Zion Canyon via Red Rock Canyon, a visit to a Harley-Davidson outlet and overnight in Springdale. This was our first experience of canyons and we were blown away by the sheer size, height and colours of the pinnacles and rock formations. We stayed in a nice hotel where some of the staff were dressed in Mormon clothing, i.e. long dresses and hair tied up, which was interesting to see. We left Springdale after the most unusual breakfast of our tour, and rode up through Zion Canyon where there had been a rock fall and we were held up at the tunnel. This was our first road of hairpin bend experiences on our way to Bryce Canyon. There were many stops along the way for photographs, refreshments and fuel, lunch was in a 50’s diner. Every inch of this road trip was new terrain for us and we marvelled at the size and diversity of the states we rode through, namely Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Bryce Canyon was amazing – it stretched for miles to the snow-covered mountains in the south. The car park at the top of the Canyon is 9115 feet above sea level and you are virtually above, and looking right into, the depth of this rock amphitheatre of pinnacles and natural sculptures. It really was fantastic seeing the Canyon so close up. No words can describe just how fantastic Bryce Canyon is – we felt quite dumbstruck!
Due to the high altitude of our overnight stop (Ruby’s Inn), the next morning saw us rise to ice on our bike seats! Day three took us to Monument Valley via Hell’s Backbone and the Million Dollar Highway, just northwest of the Valley of the Gods. The Moki Dugway is a staggering, graded switchback road carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa and leads into the Valley of the Gods. The road is then long and straight with the view of the buttes and mesas to come is breathtaking. This really has the WOW factor. All those cowboy movies we saw as children – and here we were, right on site. Our hotel here (The View Hotel) was a most memorable one, with all rooms having a balcony and facing the buttes. We saw the sunset and then were up at 5.00am to see the sunrise. Mother Nature created the most amazing colours and shapes at both those times. Photographs do not really do justice to what we saw and such events have to be committed to memory.
On the road again and the destination today was the Grand Canyon. Breakfast at McDonalds (Golden Arches across the world!) and lunch at the historic Cameron Trading Post. Navajo souvenirs bought here. Hot day today and fabulous riding on wide and endlessly long roads. Arrived at the Grand Canyon in the afternoon, stopping for a photo at the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park (complete with Dunedin flag) and just marvelled at the size of this ‘hole in the ground’. So big and difficult to imagine just how far it stretched. The Colorado river was like a sliver of jade green ribbon in amongst the grey and red rocks. Wonderful! We made our way to Tusayan and our hotel, then Mike led us back up to the Canyon in the evening to see the setting sun. More breathtaking moments as the sun altered and changed the rock formations and pinnacles in a matter of moments. We made our way back to our hotel watching for elk on the way. We saw some at the roadside. This was an exhilarating ride and a superb way to end a fabulous day.
First stop next day was at Williams for breakfast. Met some real cowboys here who stage a show on the platform (sadly, we missed this) and we watched, and listened to the ‘toooot, toooot’, as the train left the station with sightseers bound for the Grand Canyon. Extensive roadworks on our way to Sedona and the bikes did some “off-road” biking for a stretch! Twisty road to Sedona, very hot at 106 degrees F today and we found a shady spot here to enjoy a very welcome ice-cream. Sedona is a very picturesque town set amongst crimson sandstone. In the afternoon we visited the indoor Copper Star shooting range. What fun we all had here! Leaving here, we had more twisty roads and bends up the mountain to Jerome, 5,000 feet above sea level, to the Connor Hotel, our stop for the night. We all enjoyed a cold drink in the saloon (just like in real cowboy days!) in the hotel, which has been preserved in the style of when it was a vibrant mining town in the early 20th century. Such a hot day and still a very warm wind blowing after 9.00pm. Next morning, up early and more twisty corners first uphill and then downhill to our breakfast in Prescott, followed by an extremely windy ride to Route 66. Stopped for the customary Route 66 photos here!
Along to our lunch stop in Seligman where we enjoyed yet more ice-cream and bought many souvenirs! Next stop Hackberry Stores – a step back in time with all the memorabilia and old motor cars from times past, then a stop at Harley-Davidson in Kingman. Onto our hotel for our last overnight stay. Wishing this tour would last forever.
Friday morning saw us conquer yet more hairpin bends from Kingman to Oatman, in the Black Mountains – what a road! Again, Oatman is a place like stepping back in time. It is a living ghost town with olde worlde shops and buildings – and more delicious ice-cream! Donkeys (wild ‘burros’) roam the streets in this little town and there are lots of Mojave souvenirs to be purchased here. Our lunch stop today was at another McDonalds at a place called Searchlight, then we drove through the Mojave desert to the Hoover Dam. It was extremely windy riding through the desert, yet another fascinating and diverse landscape.
Arrived at the spectacular, architecturally styled, Hoover Dam. To ride over the Dam was a memory to last a lifetime. The size of this construction is to be marvelled at. Reluctantly leaving here, we road back to Las Vegas on a fabulous road, wide and long, and by now coping with busy traffic, lights, and riding on the right! Amazing how we’ve all come on since a week ago! Said goodbye to our bikes at Eagle Rider and returned to our hotel in the minibus. So sad our week is over.
A fantastic and memorable week spent with Margaret & Bill Findlay, Ross and Dave (from Manchester), Terry & Marion (from Durham) and, of course, Hilary and Mike Dall.
Thanks to Hadrian Tours.
Lin & Bruce Thompson, Dunedin Chapter