My father was a busy man, and I’ll always remember the time he took time out to go one on one with me and took me to yellowstone. We shot from the hip, slept in the truck and It’s a memory I’ll always remember. Not because it was the best trip I’ve ever done, or even that it was yellowstone. It’s because my old man chose me to spend his weekend with. I’ll always remember that. I was about 13, and it was a pretty special trip for me.
My daughter wendy has struggled a bit since she moved from her old school to her new. She’s a fighter, and she may never know how proud I am of her, but I am. I called her wednesday from work and asked her if she was up for a motorcycle adventure. her answer was yes.
So friday at noon we headed out East. My loose plan was to hit page, then either stay in Kayenta Arizona, or somewhere outside monument valley at dusk. To be honest, Just like 35 years earlier with my dad, we were shooting from the hip. I hadn’t booked a thing. Thats how I like to ride, lets see what wendy thinks about that. My gut feeling was she’d roll with the punches.
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We stopped in page to get some stuff we’d forgotten and stopped at the subway to eat. Immediately inside, a lady saw my B.A.C.A. patch and told me how much B.A.C.A. had helped her kid in idaho. She was nearly in tears and you could see how grateful she was. I told her that once a B.A.C.A. Kid, always a B.A.C.A. kid and she’s got an army of bikers across the nation committed to keeping her safe. It’s nice to be able to say that and mean it.
After page, we had to stop for an accident on the way out of town, then headed toward Kayenta Arizona. From there, we pressed on to Kayenta arizona to stay the night. My thinking was, that wendy is 13 years old, and I didn’t want to burn her out on long rides by pushing too hard. I can make miles, but after all, she is young. I had to keep reminding myself, and being on a bike for 8-10 hours at a time my be my idea of fun, but this trip was for her as well. By the time we got to Kayenta, she was a bit cold, a bit tired and wanted to crash. we called robyn to see if we could find a place to pitch a tent or get a room, but there were no real options. I told wendy we’d have to push another 50 miles to Bluff Utah, where I had called ahead and knew we could stay, and her answer was “lets just do it”. I knew then, wendy was my riding buddy. She had a bit of her old man in her.
We hit monument valley right as the sun was going down, and it was gorgeous for the few views we had of it. She was cold, but we dropped 1500 feet in elevation and in 50 miles, we hit Bluff Utah, pitched our tent in the dark, and went and ate ribs at the local stakehouse.
My intent on this trip was to talk, and relate to my daughter. Reconnect. I don’t really remember what it’s like to be 13 years old, but I know she struggles with the things that are important to a 13 year old. Boys, school, and wondering where you fit in. We didn’t talk too much in depth, but I knew tonight was not our night. We went back to the tent where my daughter immediately crashed out, and I made some phone calls to my business partner, a few BACA friends and caught up on what happened at work. What happened during the day both encouraged and discouraged me: I knew that I was going back to work monday to face problems. I knew this was going to effect my ride. I was also clear on what my objective was this trip: Ride my bike, and connect with wendy and help her out.
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We woke up early that morning and I knew it was cold. Cold that I would normally deal with, but I had my daughter with me. We got going around 10, broke camp and got some conveneince store breakfasts in Bluff. We had 50 miles to get to 4 corners. I’d never been there, but 50 miles is an easy ride.
4 corners to me, was anti climactic. First off, its not that actual 4 corners, its 3 miles off. Second, It kind of pissed me off that I had to pay 3 bucks a head to see it. It was cold and windy, and not all that cool. Yes, wendy and I can say that we’ve stood in 4 states at the same time, but then again who really cares that we can say that.
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we paid our 6 bucks at 4 corners, and headed on toward gallup new mexico. New mexico is gorgeous and I want to explore it more. We got gas in gallup, and headed south. I knew we’d stay the night in holbrook by this point. We could press on to flagstaff, but the weather in Holbrook was the best and I wanted to have some discussion time with wendy. Sunday, I knew we’d make miles and head home. I wanted some quality time with my daughter. It’s half the reason we made this trip. My mindset from 4 corners to holbrook was anything but right. I knew I was going back to work monday with a lot of problems that had to be solved, that depended on me. I struggled to get my mind right and into the ride. The 90 miles from 4 corners to Gallup New Mexico had me struggling with indecision of if I was doing the right thing by riding so far from home, and what I had to get done monday. Long rides sort that out. Eventually, I got back into the moment and realized that anything I do with my daughter and family is much more important and worthwhile and that I needed to focus on her. By the time we hit Gallup, I was looking forward to having some quality time with my daughter. I was 24 hours into the ride. I knew it had to be tonight.
We stopped at Denny’s, got our bearings and I knew we’d hit the point where the bike was going to be pointing closer to home. I also know theres something really familiar about route 66 that I’ve always loved. Maybe wendy would pick up on my vibe and I could share that with her.
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We pulled into holbrook around 4 pm, and pitched our tent at the KOA. I decided I was going to show wendy some route 66, and she was excited about that. We had ice cream at a local route 66 food spot, and rode through the town. As we headed back toward the KOA, I was thinking that maybe a campfire and a discussion would be a perfect chance to talk with Wendy and we could have a moment that would nail the reason I took her on this trip. We bought some firewood, and sat and talked for a couple hours. Honestly, it will be moment I’ll always remember. I hope she remembers it. I babbled about her future, remembered what it’s like to be 13, and as long as it takes to burn a bundle of wood, we got that much closer. She’s a great kid. I’m so proud of her. In those 2 hours, I think she got that message in a way that 25 years earlier my father maybe even didn’t get across to me. I knew I’d nailed the moment.
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The next morning, we woke up early, broke camp and headed toward home. As the sun came up, the eagles “tequila sunrise” was in my head, and so I queued that up in the ipod and listened to the eagles as we headed toward flagstaff. We got off at winona, headed into flag, got some hot chocolate and coffee and both talked about how good the morning ride was, even tho it wasn’t all that warm.
I find it funny how “vibes” for lack of a better term, work. I woke up in a great mood, with the right music and the first thing wendy said when we piled off the bike in flagstaff was how much she enjoyed listening to the Eagles greatest hits. It was the right vibe. I think about that alot to be honest.
From flag we dropped off the mountain, and headed the 5 hours toward home. If wendy had her way, we’d have ridden another week. She’s my riding buddy and long rides and big mileage isn’t too big for her. We’ll do this again. Hopefully for years to come.
948 Miles, 4 States, 2 1/2 Days.