I finally escaped the clutches of Moab and headed south through Monument Valley to Flagstaff.
After the magnificence and scale of the Canyonlands, Monument Valley always seems a little underwhelming to me. It is still a scenic drive, down Route 191.
Pre-ski-season, hotel prices in Flagstaff were very reasonable (especially compared to the Sedona area, where I wanted to do a ride) so I checked in for two nights and went in search of somewhere to eat. Most restaurants had closed by the time I was booked in but Google steered me towards the Cornish Pastie Co. craft-beer pub. Twenty minutes quick walk in the cold air developed a thirst for a very nice IPA and a tasty Cornish pasty. The menu had me confused at first; I’d asked for a pasty and was given a long list (All-day British Breakfast, Bangers and Mash, Lamb Vindaloo, …) These are the pasties. (Some of the listed breakfast pasty contents: bacon, soft-poached egg, sausage, bacon, baked beans, … along with a warning related to the soft poached egg – “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness.”). I settled for the Traditional pasty, which was very good.
The following day, Tuesday 5th of December, I drove down to Sedona, parked at a bike shop (their suggestion) and went for a nearby ride. Sedona does not have an overabundance of easy rides but I had a fun couple of hours in a landscape quite different from Moab.
Tried the Lamb Vindaloo pasty. Surprisingly good. Great chips, too.
On my way to Phoenix, I detoured through Winslow, because of the line I’d heard so often in The Eagles’ song Take it easy: “Standing on a corner, in Winslow, Arizona…” It pretty much seems Winslow’s sole remaining reason to exist. Apart from being on Route 66.
My friends Jan and Dan from Squamish, BC, are renting a house in San Tan Valley for a few weeks. So (after visiting both REI stores in Phoenix, and engaging in driving that resembles a bloodsport between the two stores) I camped out on their garage floor for a couple of nights. We went for a ride together but they were soon a speck in the distance. Fit and good riders.
Decision time: Go down through mainland to Mexico where friend Chris Perry is working on his boat or head west directly towards the Baja. Chris didn’t seem to think I would be much help on the boat since he was working on rigging and electrics. And the ferry from Guaymas to Santa Rosalia across the Sea of Cortes would be pretty expensive with my truck. So I’m headed west, visiting some parks along the way: Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and, an old favourite, Joshua Tree National Park.
Saguaro National Park
The desert is a pretty hostile environment.