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Desert Trip 2006

Mon, September 25
Las Vegas, NV - Williams, AZ

Monday morning started out in a questionable way with the single worst breakfast I have ever paid US dollars for in my entire life. As far as we could tell, the eggs and bacon came directly from the neighboring buffet and its heat lamps, as opposed to having been cooked anytime recently. We vowed to win at least $20 at the blackjack tables when we returned to Vegas later in the week so that we could pretend that we didn't actually pay money for the "food".

Heading out of Vegas.
Mmm, Strip traffic.

We started to hit some traffic delays as we neared the security checkpoint at Hoover Dam, something I remembered from my previous trip three years ago. Unfortunately, the traffic didn't go away after we were waved through security. In fact, it got worse. Fortunately, it wasn't that hot out, so it was only irritating instead of dangerous to sit out on the road for close to an hour, inching our way towards the dam. We were on a decline, so we (and all the cars around us) shifted into neutral, turned off our engines, and just coasted a few feet at a time down the moutain road.

I was in a pretty terrible mood by the time we got to the parking garage and changed into "walk around" clothes. I thought that hitting the cafe first would help, but we got there right around noon, so the place was packed with eight thousand busses from Bob's School For The Perpetually Loud and Annoying.

I managed to calm down some after eating, and we took the Hoover Dam tour; this was pretty neat because we were able to go into some new places since the last time I took the tour. The hardhat tours are still in seemingly-permanent suspension since September 11, 2001, but as of April 2006, the tour again includes the penstock viewing platform that shows off the 30' pipes which carry water from Lake Mead to the power generators.

30' pipes from penstock platform.

I think Peter really enjoyed the tour, and we puttered around taking lots of photos and generally being nerdy. The visitor's center exhibits were also new since my last visit, and I liked looking around that area.

Neat diagram in the penstock viewing platform.
Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam.
Spillway tunnel. Creepy!

After the tour, we crossed into state #3 and headed southeast towards Kingman. As anyone who's followed my trip reports over the years knows, Kingman is a vortex of mechanical gremlin activity. I've lost chain clips in Kingman, had speedometer rotors break off in Kingman, had starting problems in Kingman. This time, my gas gauge refused to read anything other than one bar (out of five), regardless of the actual fuel level. I'm reluctant to attribute this particular gremlin to Kingman this time, though, because it was happening before Arizona as well. I blame some idiot blue-haired mechanic who pulled the fuel tank just before our trip.

Crossing into Arizona.

The western Arizona desert looked unsurpisingly similar to the eastern Nevada desert as we wound our way east.

Arizona desert.
I liked this one that Peter took.

Hwy 93.
Hwy 93.

After Kingman, we headed onto Route 66 towards Seligman. It's a fun section of road that I always seem to end up on near sunset. The section between Peach Springs and Seligman has the most amazing light that time of evening; the west is immersed in shadows and shimmering clouds, while the east is bathed in warm redness. If I were a "real" photographer, I'd just build a cabin out here and play with light every evening.

We saw a hawk just before stopping for these photos, perched on a fencepost and watching the sagebrush for dinner.

Sunset over Route 66.
Sunset over Route 66.

I felt much more peaceful by the time we stopped for gas and dinner in Seligman. Up until that point, I think I'd still been mentally pushing myself to make the Grand Canyon that night, but darkness in Seligman meant that wouldn't happen. That gave me the freedom to just relax and enjoy dinner.

We fueled up and decided to try the RoadKill Cafe for dinner. The menu is awesome..."Too Slow Doe", "Vermin Vittles", "So Long Fawn", etc. Totally giggle-worthy when you've got low blood sugar from a long day's ride. ;)

I couldn't face another burger, so I ordered chicken taquitos ("Shiska Bobcats") and piled on the house hot sauce, Arizona Gunslinger. I loved it so much that we bought two bottles of it to bring home...though, more on that later. ;)

You kill it, we grill it!

We wound up staying the night in Williams, where I headed to Rod's Steak House for a beer and cup of pot roast soup while Peter stayed behind to shower. I got the motherly smile from the middle-aged waitress when I came in and sat down alone -- a look I'm used to on my trips and had frankly been missing a little. Traveling with Peter was a lot easier than I feared (just because I'm an independant, curmudgeony, stubborn solo rider at heart), but I did miss quiet meals to read maps and brochures. Funny, when I am traveling solo, meals are when I miss company the most. The tourer's paradox.

The evening ended -- or perhaps the next morning began -- on another low note...the note of a train going through town blasting its horn at 6am. Incessantly. Apparently the tweakers in the hotel room above us had also been having some sort of altercation at 4am, which I managed to sleep through, but which made Peter understandably fairly grumpy. Ah, the whims of the road.

Day's mileage: 245 miles
Day's max speed: 98 mph
Total trip mileage: 984 miles

Next Day --> September 26: Williams, AZ - Kanab, UT