3 Brothers & A Buddy – Day 2

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Thursday, May 17

I usually sleep very well on these camping trips due to my ultra beefy, Therm-a-Rest pad (many thanks to Vince for recommending it) but this morning, I awake to find my body complaining. I speculate that this is due to yesterday’s exuberant and lengthy run but that theory is discarded once I discover that my air mattress never got filled up. Well, that’s a first for me and good for a chuckle around the breakfast table at the Denny’s in Flagstaff. New best practice: Fill up air mattress before the partying starts around the campfire.

It takes quite some time to clear Flagstaff due to what must constitute rush hour traffic in this town. We finally break free and head due North up Highway 89. As we’re passing Sunset Crater, Paul suddenly slows down and maneuvers onto the shoulder with a flat rear tire. As the Road Glide has no center stand, Paul rolls the bike forward while two of us crawl along behind it looking for the hole. Eric and I can’t find it so Paul takes a turn doing the crawl and he is successful. Out comes the plug kit and air compressor and in a short while, Paul’s back in business.

The Vermillion Cliffs & the Kaibab Plateau
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We zip up the road and turn off to cross Marble Canyon, the Northern most edge of the Grand Canyon National Park. We are now riding parallel to the Vermillion Cliffs through the desert, heading West toward the higher and forested Kaibab Plateau. When we reach the edge of the plateau, we encounter a lovely section of mountain twisties on our way up. We dodge a big storm for most of the day until we are up on the plateau, in the National Park, heading for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. A squall hits us and dumps a lot of rain in a big hurry but it’s one of those storm bands sweeping through so we break through and arrive at the Rim in glorious sunshine.

Alas, my crotch is drenched due to the rain pooling between my legs and the gas tank, overwhelming the zipper on my suit and I have the dubious honor of walking around the Visitor’s Center with the tourists staring at my wet pants. No matter, a little humility is good for the soul, is it not?

We spend some time admiring the Canyon. Its immensity and depth have a way of quieting the mind and engaging one’s soul. After awhile, one gives up trying to describe it when adjectives like awesome, amazing and spectacular don’t satisfy and so you just stand there and absorb it to the best of your ability.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon
(click on photo to enlarge)

We head back North to the campground at Jacob Lake. We arrive to discover that while the campground has plenty of empty campsites, it has no functioning showers or bathrooms due to septic tank issues. Groan! Oh well, are we not men? What need have we of showers? We have firewood, cigars and wine!

We enjoy a nice dinner at the Jacob Lake restaurant and then stock up on wine and fresh baked cookies from the store for the campfire festivities later tonight. I make sure my air mattress is amply filled and then settle down around the campfire with a cigar and a glass of that wine. Some very hearty laughs are shared before we hit the sack, a bit grubby but smiling nonetheless.

Tomorrow, we are planning to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

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