Have you ever been so tired that you can’t go to sleep? My mental and physical state should have been perfect for sinking into blissful slumber, but there was a small part of my brain that was still amped from the ride, I guess. I must have been merely closing my eyes the whole night. I tried sleeping in, which put me an hour behind.
A quarter of my day’s journey would actually take me back up into Colorado. Jonathan rode with me to Tres Pierdas where there was this cute little pink adobe school house.
Even though I was more tired than the previous day, my confidence was already increased. The landscape was still fairly barren, but then I entered the Carson National Forest, which greeted me with the fresh scent of pine. My enjoyment quickly disappeared when the elevation shot up to over 10,000 feet at the summit of Pinorealosa Mountain and snow was everywhere you looked, (except for the road, mercifully.) There was a scenic lookout (beautiful but I was too cold to care) which I pulled off at and sat huddled next to my bike, trying to escape the wind. I warmed my hands by pressing them against the primary, which wasn’t as scorching hot as the engine or exhaust. I looked into the trees and thought I was hallucinating: a herd of deer were making their way deeper into the forest, but it looked like they were just standing in one place jumping. It was mesmerizing for a few seconds as they slowly got smaller and smaller. Then I realized I could hit a deer—hadn't thought about that before.
I still don’t know what’s worse, cold or high winds. The cold finds its way to your bones, reducing you to a shivering, tense mass of muscle. It laughs at your insulated gloves Sean let you borrow, as well as the hand warmers you stuck to your wool socks inside your sturdy leather boots. Everything goes numb. Your teeth hurt from the chattering, but still you must command your iron steed. The silver lining is knowing how appreciative your motorcycle’s engine is— its heart loves nothing more than the icy winds that pierce through your flesh. And wind… Even warm wind, if it has no effect on your own temperature, is perhaps worse. It can blow you off the road, off your bike, into another car. At best, it’s still plain difficult to deal with, especially on a winding road, which is what was waiting for me at the base of the mountain and into New Mexico again. There’s nothing you can do but fight it and tackle the curves as gracefully as you can, and be prepared for a gust to throw you around at any moment.
I was relieved to arrive at my lodging for the night at around 5 PM. Another day conquered. I was amused to see that there was a “night club” in the motel, but it looked to be basically a bar of sorts. I figured I’d have a beer there after a shower, since I was not about to get back on the bike with the high winds that still were plaguing the area and search for a liquor store.
Upon inspection of a large sign just outside the entrance, I was shocked to see that there was an actual dress code that required women to be in a dress or skirt. It was probably too early for that to be enforced, maybe, but this was all just too weird. Remembering that I wasn’t in Colorado anymore, I walked over to the nearest gas station and got a tall boy of the fanciest beer I could find, which was Shock Top. Good old Shock Top; I really do appreciate you, but when you live in Colorado spoiled with the choicest of craft beer, Shock Top tastes like a Budweiser. I was thankful that I could at least get something in a gas station (you can’t in Colorado, or even a grocery store for that matter.)
I couldn’t even finish my drink I was so tired that night—I went to sleep with no problem. It was 9 AM when I left, right on time, but unfortunately the winds were STILL hanging around. Looking at the weather, it all had changed. The wind was not supposed to be terribly high when I left but instead was looking to be a steady 25 miles an hour with gusts up to 40 all the way up to Flagstaff. There was nothing I could do but endure it, and at least I had a very good amount of experience the previous day. But the wind is tiring. The cold is tiring. They were both present, so it was fairly grueling.
I stopped off at a McDonald’s in Shiprock to warm up with some coffee. This is where Rob was born—a dusty Navajo town that’s only claim to fame is a nice view of the ‘Shiprock’, which was hazy from all the desert particles being whipped into the atmosphere.
A nervous little Canadian woman approached me and said just how worried she was for me, seeing that her and the hubby's RV was getting shaken around by the cross winds. Apparently they were right behind me. A Navajo man chimed in and asked where we were going. Turns out we were both headed in the same direction. He said not to worry—the winds won’t be as a bad in the west. Mrs. Canada (okay, her name was Lorraine) was incredibly relieved to hear that. We ended up chatting for far too long, and then got into another conversation with a Navajo family outside. I realized that I was not going to meet my dad in time. I didn’t want him waiting on me forever (Tuba City isn’t quite a tourist destination, after all), so for lack of better words, I hauled ass. I was getting up to 90 miles an hour, but then I slowed down reasoning with myself that my dad would rather meet me alive (and I also didn’t want to be paying an exorbitantly priced speeding ticket if it came to that.)
I stopped in Kayenta, freezing. I was miserable, but so close to meeting my dad and having less winds and warmer temperatures. I made it to Tuba City and we had lunch at Subway. “This is the best restaurant here,” my dad said, and he wasn’t kidding. I was finally able to let my guard down because he was with me. Being alone is nice because you’re totally in control, but I love having company as well (especially if it's my own dad!)
Finally, Cornville! I was thrilled to have made it. It wasn't the most pleasant journey, but I had successfully braved the road and that's all that mattered.