""If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66.
"
-Bobby Troup, Route 66

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Kingman, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ: Route 66 East through Hackberry, Valentine, Peach Springs, Seligman to I-40 East to Williams, North on SR-64 through Red Lake to US0180 to Tusayan to the Grand Canyon, East along SR-64 to Desert View, then near Cameron to US-89 South through Gray Mountain to Wapatki National Monumen t, along Loop Road to Sunset Crater Volcano, back south on US-89 to I-40 East to Walnut Canyon National Monument, back West on I-40 to Flagstaff. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
Route 66 used to be the only road west, but now itís more of a memory than a journey. In 1938 the road became the first completely paved cross-country highway, traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles. During Route 66ís heyday of the 50s, shop owners along the route vied for the traveling trade with roadside attractions such as snake pits, live buffalos, and Indian dancers. But 40 years later most of the road was bypassed or replaced by interstate, and the circumvented sections largely became ghost towns. In this western area of Arizona, a 160-mile section of the old road remains, the largest unbroken stretch of the legendary highway.

I pick up Route 66 in Kingman and ride it all the way until it curves around Seligman and runs back into I-40. The road is empty and smooth, with little traffic and even less along the roadside. As I travel this route, riding into the rising sun, Iím thinking to myself how adventurous it must have been for people to drive cross-country back in those days. I pass two Harley riders, out enjoying this quiet morning like myself, on this mother of all roads. This road will never die. It will live forever in the collective hearts and minds of America.

Itís cold as I head east this morning, and Iím wishing I had put on the heated vest. But I donít want to stop and it will be warm soon enough. I hit the road early today so I could get to the Grand Canyon by late morning, spend a few hours there, and then head south again to collect three more stamps. Thatís my plan anyway.

The Grand Canyon National Park gets five million visitors per year, almost like a Mecca for Americans. I mean, you have to come here at least once in your lifetime. And because of the parkís popularity the entrance station looks like a tollbooth. Thereís an express lane for pass holders, like the Golden Eagle pass thatís saved me a fortune on this trip. The admission charge here is $20 per vehicle if you donít hold a pass. There are so many visitors to the park that by the end of next year vehicular travel to the Grand Canyon Village and the West Rim Drive will be eliminated. Youíll park back near the entrance and a shuttle bus or light rail system will take you to the rim. The traffic is light on this crisp fall day, but during the summer months the place looks like Madison Avenue during rush hour.

I reach the first overlook, Mather Point, and get off the bike. The view is like nothing else Iíve every experienced. The sheer size of the landscape is startling. Iíve seen the Grand Canyon from the air a few times, but being here along the canyon rim is another experience all together. For millions of years the Colorado River has been carving through billion year old rock. The result is the greatest example of erosion anywhere in the world. In places the canyon is one mile deep and 18 miles across. The 1.7 billion-year-old rock lining the canyon walls is layered in every possible color of stone, from pink and brown sandstone to gray and green granite.

The Rim Drive takes me along southern the edge of the canyon with many overlooks along the way. I stop at Hopi Point and then Pima Point, a little further on. You could just sit here all day and enjoy the view, especially today when the visibility is more than 100 miles. I head east towards Desert View, where an ancient Watchtower guards the southeast corner of the canyon. Most of the overlooks are well designed with railings and viewing platforms, providing a safe means to stand right on the edge. But, believe it or not, every year people actually fall into the canyon. Last year, a fairly typical year, six people fell over the edge. Two lived to tell about it.

At 1:30 PM, I leave the Grand Canyon behind and head east and then south towards the Coconino National Forest and the Wupatki National Monument. This monument preserves the ruins of red sandstone pueblos built around 1065 by farming Sinagua and Anasazi people. Archeologists are certain of the date because it coincides with a volcanic eruption in the area, at Sunset Crater Volcano, just to the south. In the winter of 1064, molten rock sprayed high into the air out of a crack in the ground, and periodic eruptions over the next 200 years formed a 1,000-foot high cinder cone. Lava flows around the volcano have created a hash, barren landscape of pumice and black rock. The Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument protects the area.

Some of the early scenes in Easy Rider were filmed here.  Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) are riding on what is now the Loop Road when they pick up the Stranger (Luke Askew).  They camp out on the ruins of the Wupatki National Monument.  "Where ya from man?" ask Billy.  "It's hard to say," replies the Stranger.  "Where ya from man?" Billy asks again.  "It's hard to say, because it's a very long word, ya know?" answers the Stranger.

A little further on south, just outside Flagstaff, is the Walnut Canyon National Monument. I arrive just before they close for the evening and get my fourth and final stamp of the day. Cliff dwellings used by Pueblo Indians between 1100 and 1250 are preservered here. Using existing limestone alcoves in the canyon, the Indians built shelters by adding walls into the shallow caves. Their departure around 1250 is a mystery, but scientists today believe the Hopi Indians are descendants of the Sinagua people who lived here.

The 100 DAYS 48 STATES web site has just undergone its first major redesign. And itís only been up for two days! So check out my hard work at www.danielcohen.org. You can see photos, maps, and plenty of pages that arenít finished yet. Enjoy!

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 353.5
Total Miles: 19,174
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 55 Minutes
Average Speed: 59.7 MPH
States Visited today: 1 (AZ)
Total States Visited: 32
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 4
NPS Stamp Totals: 143 Stamps, 29 States
Weather: Si Sunny, Si Breezy, No Rainy
Number of times my waiter at the Outback Steakhouse in Flagstaff asked if everything was okay: 14

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Watch for Animals Next 72 Miles"- road sign on I-40, just west of Seligman.

RANDOM PASSINGS:
Every day of my journey has been filled with wonder and excitement. Around each turn there are new sights and sounds; a world just waiting to be discovered. Itís a wonderful feeling, waking up each morning and knowing that today Iíll see things and do things Iíve never experienced before.

But the beginning and end of everyday is made up of things I do over and over again, my daily grind so to speak. Thereís a whole load of things I just have to do to be able to keep going. Itís sort of like your daily commute. So hereís a list of the things I do everyday, the monotony that breaks up the marvel:

Clean the bugs and dust off the motorcycle.
Load/Unload the motorcycle
Install/Remove the GPS
Cover/Uncover the motorcycle
Pack/Unpack the luggage
Stop for gas
Clean my helmet
Clean my boots
Brush my teeth
Write down the mileage and GPS trip computer statistics for the day
Review tomorrowís planned route
Call my mother
Write this journal

 


| DREAM | JOURNEY | IMAGES | STATS | PARKS | MAPS | GEAR | LINKS | CREDIT | HOME |

COPYRIGHT © 2000 DANIEL COHEN. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
DO NOT DISTRIBUTE ANY OF THESE DOCUMENTS,
OR PORTIONS THEREIN, WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
CONTACT 100DAYS@DANIELCOHEN.ORG CONCERNING QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS.