"I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling 'bout half past dead.
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
Hey, Mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?
He just grinned and shook my hand, and `no' was all he said.
- J. Robbie Robertson, The Weight

Chinle, AZ to Halls Crossing,UT: SR-7 East to South Rim Drive, back to SR-7 West, North to US-191 to Many Farms, West on SR-50 through Chilchinbito to US-160 West through Kayenta to SR-564 North to Navajo NM, back to Kayenta, North on US-163 across Monument Valley to Mexican Hat, North on SR-261 to SR-95 West to SR-275 North to Natural Bridges NM, back to SR-95 West,SR-276 to Halls Crossing. (

I start the day at Canyon De Chilly National Monument. The canyon gives me a taste of the wondrous sights I値l be seeing for the next three days as I travel across northern Arizona and southern Utah. I ride to the end of the south rim drive to the Spider Rock Overlook. Here, an 800-foot freestanding spire towers over the canyon floor surrounded by sheer cliff walls of fire red sandstone. Native American Indians have lived in the canyon for over 5,000 years. Ancient cliff villages and dramatic rock formations lie within the canyons, hidden by dramatic cliffs rising 1,000 feet above the floor. 2 million years of erosion have etched the stone ravines, driving water through layers of sandstone as the Defiance Plateau pushed its way upward.

The National Parks Service may administer Canyon De Chilly, hidden within the Navajo Indian Reservation, but those canyon walls belong to the Navajo people. As I drive northwest across the reservation towards the Navajo National Monument, I知 struck by the awesome beauty of the landscape. But I知 also stunned by the poor conditions in which the Navajo people live today. Livestock wander the road, and wild dogs roam in packs. Most dwellings are run down trailers surrounded by waste and garbage. None of the homes I see are taller than one story, but many, even the poorest, have small satellite dishes. There is no way the cable companies would ever run their wires out here. I feel as though I知 trespassing as I ride through these lands, an unwanted visitor on sacred earth.

I turn north towards Utah and ride into Monument Valley. Few scenes match the awesome vistas of this land where immense mesas and pinnacles rise against a darkening sky. I cross the San Juan River in Mexican Hat, my last chance for gas, and continue along through the Valley of the Gods. There is nothing here but rock and sand, worked into a magical sea of shapes by eons of time.

A number of road signs warn of poor road conditions ahead, three miles of gravel curves and steep inclines. Trucks and buses are told to turn back. The map shows a solid paved road, but I was prepared for this. Somewhere, months ago, I read that motorcyclists might be wary of this route. I take it slow up the winding, slippery cliffs, balancing my bike against the loose stone and dirt. When I reach the top, I breathe a sigh of relief and look back over the magnificent valley.

I press ahead to the Natural Bridges National Monument, where I hope to camp for the night. The park contains a scenic drive that highlights three large stone bridges, carved by running water. Arches are created by wind and rain, and appear on top of the land, but Natural Bridges are carved by streams and they lie deep within canyons. I hike down to Owachomo Bridge, a 180-foot span only 9 feet thick.

As I knew the park has a small campground I called ahead to find out what my chances of getting a site were like. The Ranger told me to get here by 4 PM. When I arrive at 3:30 all of the spaces are already taken. Those Camping Gods are working against me again! This is a remote area and unless I want to alter my route I don稚 have many choices for lodging except to find another campground.

Here are my options:

1.Camp at the Natural Bridges overflow campground, about 10 miles back the way I came. The grounds have no facilities, as in no toilet, and sound pretty lame.
2.Turn backwards and drive towards Blanding, about forty miles east, where I値l find many motels. But I値l be heading the wrong way.
3.Head 100 miles northwest to Hanksville, skipping my planned route and missing the Glen Canyon National Park.
4.Head towards Halls Crossing, about 50 miles away on Lake Powell, continuing along my planned route. The map shows a campground there.

Even though it looks like it is going to rain, I pick option number four. I need to get that Glen Canyon Stamp. And Hanksville could turn out to be a bust with no motel rooms. I call the Glen Canyon number and they give me the number for the Bullfrog Basin Visitor Center, across the lake from Falls Crossing. A girl named Amber finally answers the phone and tells me I値l probably be able to get a camp space over there.

With the clouds getting thicker and the skies turning dark, I head towards Lake Powell. The road is empty, and I only pass three vehicles all the way to Halls Crossing. But the path is smooth and the scene is surreal. Undulating hills and canyons sweep over the desert. Ancient ruins hide under cliff walls.

By 5:30 I知 at the Halls Crossing campgrounds, a lovely site overlooking the second largest man-made lake in America, with majestic red hills surrounding the water. Fifteen dollars gets you a patch of dirt, a picnic bench and a bunch of cotton-tailed rabbits for neighbors.

By 6:30 I知 all set up, and ready for dinner: a shrink wrapped turkey sandwich from the marina痴 gas station, with string cheese as a side dish and peanut M&Ms for desert. Oh, this is the good life!

At 8:00 PM it starts to rain.

Miles Today: 327
Total Miles: 11,563
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 33 Minutes
Average Speed: 58.9 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (AZ, UT)
Total States Visited: 27
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 3
NPS Stamp totals: 85 Stamps, 24 States
Weather: Cloudy turning to showers
Forecast chance of precipitation: 40 percent

"3 MILES OF UNIMPROVED ROAD, SHARP CURVES, STEEP GRADES, 6 MILES AHEAD" road sign on Route 261 near Valley of the Gods.

September is a great time to travel in the U.S. The weather is good and the kids have gone back to school. The only problem with this line of thinking is that everybody else is thinking it too. Crowds are still a problem, and in some areas making a reservation will be required. I致e been finding this out the hard way, but I知 a fast learner. I called ahead to Chinle to get a room at the Best Western.

The bulk of travelers this time of year are seniors, enjoying their retirement and doing all those things they never had a chance to do. But surprisingly, the second largest traveling contingent is German tourists, many of them university students who don稚 return to school until October. Utah must be doing a lot of advertising in Germany, because wherever I go, I hear more German than English. Signs at restaurants are even in German!

I guess the Germans are used to seeing BMW motorcycles all the time, as none of them have come over to talk to me. But a lot of the old folks do! They池e curious about the motorcycle, wondering if I really drove all the way from New York. They池e generally very nice, usually quiet, well house-trained, and would probably make good pets. But, man, they sure drive slow!