Memorial Weekend: 4 Days and 1,400 Miles
We usually get a group of about eight bikes together for a long Memorial Weekend ride. To avoid the rain or the snow we’ve experienced the last few years, we decided to go south—so we jumped on I-15 and pointed our bikes in the general direction of Arizona. Our goal the first day was Boulder City Nevada.
Four of us headed out on Friday morning. The plan was to meet up with five more bikes in Boulder that evening. Because this would be the biggest mileage day of the tour, we left the Salt Lake Valley around 9:00 am. We rode down the west side of Utah Lake to avoid the morning rush and took Goshen Canyon to bypass Santequin and drop into Mona and to a late breakfast in Nephi.
Every time I ride through Goshen Canyon I wish it was a few miles longer, but our route was a nice diversion from pounding out the miles in traffic through Provo and Orem. Our goal was to spend the day in the saddle, so adding the extra miles wasn’t a big deal.
We jumped on 15 in Nephi and stopped in Cedar City for a little gas. My Road King has the smallest gas tank and I was pretty much on fumes when we stopped after gassing up in Nephi. I should have listened to that little voice in the back of my head that started around Beaver (but it looked like I was in great shape then). Fortunately, I made it to the gas stop and didn’t have to wear the gas can of shame.
In Cedar we decided to jump on Highway 56 heading to Enterprise so we could avoid the Interstate through the southwestern corner of Utah. The ride through the Dixie National Forest easily beats the Interstate and the Gunlock Valley is a short little diversion well worth the extra time it takes. The road over Utah Hill has been repaved since Kelly and I rode this way a couple of years ago, so it was a pleasant drop into Moapa Valley in Nevada and one of my favorite roads along Highway 167 paralleling Lake Mead.
Generally speaking, many of the roads through the National Parks are great on a motorcycle. They tend to follow the contours of the land rather than plow a straight path from point A to point B. Highway 167 is a great series of sweepers—perfect for 60 or 65 mph. It’s easy to get in a rhythm leaning into one turn followed by another and yet another. It feels like a mountain pass without the mountain.
After a quick continental breakfast in the hotel, we were on our way again. We were headed to Laughlin, Bullfrog, and on to Oatman and a fun section of Route 66.
After stopping for a bit, enjoying an ice cream, and tossing barbs back and forth about all the jackasses in the street, we mounted up again and pointing the bikes at Kingman headed north and east out of Oatman on Route 66. The road looked like it had been freshly paved since the last time I was down here and was a fantastic way to start the day.
We were headed to Cottonwood, AZ and jumped on Interstate 40 in Kingman, but at Seligman we got back on a section of old Route 66 and enjoyed a few more miles “getting our kicks.” Everything east of Kingman was new to me, so I was having a great time.
We had dinner that night at Cork and Catch, which we all agreed was one of the best meals we’ve ever had on the road. If you’re ever through Cottonwood, I wouldn’t think twice to stop there for dinner. Even the foodies in our group thought it was great.We dropped south on 89 headed to Prescott and an incredibly fun ride to Jerome via 89A. This was the highlight of the entire weekend for me. I’d do the entire 1,400 miles again just to do the section from Prescott through Jerome that drops down into Cottonwood. It was that fun.
We left Cottonwood early so we could enjoy a leisure breakfast in Sedona. As we pulled into town we were hungry enough we were about to stop for an egg McMuffin when we noticed a little café next door. Café Jose turned out to be a nice little spot to stop for breakfast—at least I’d stop there again.
We spent a few hours in Sedona, visited the local Harley store and the ladies disappeared window-shopping while some of us sat in the shade to talk about motorcycles and the rest of the ride. Traffic out of Sedona was a nightmare with what felt like everyone in Arizona playing in the river as we left town headed to Flagstaff and points beyond.
I remember as a kid thinking these desert highways were about as interesting as watching beige paint dry, but I’ve really come to love riding through the red rock out in the middle of nowhere. It reminds me of the old Roadrunner cartoons—which were inspired by the landscape in Arches National Park. Rolling into Page we decided to stop for lunch. Nothing much to see here. We took a chance on a new place and had a very mediocre meal of pasta and pizza—we definitely won’t be going back there again.
Lake Powell looked inviting, but we stayed on 89 and pointed our bikes in the direction of Kanab, our destination for the day. Kelly had made reservations at one of the older motels in town, but it was comfortable and had me thinking of the days when 89 was a more popular north-south route than the freeway. If you get a chance and are in Kanab, Aiken’s Lodge was a nice place to stay. If you want a state-of-the-art, fancy place, don’t waste your time. But if you’d like a clean room, a hot shower, and a fun look at what it might have been like to travel on the road 50 years ago, this is a good place to stop.
After we pulled the bikes in, we sat in front of the rooms to tell stories, talk about motorcycles, and wind down from our day on the road.
When my eyes opened the next morning, I don’t think I had moved. It was a great night’s sleep.
After wiping off the bike and packing up, we jumped on 89 headed for home. One of my favorite roads through Utah and the ride out of Kanab is probably one of the most beautiful sections of the highway. The temperature had dropped as we headed north—making it just about perfect.
We stopped in Nephi for lunch and then climbed on the Interstate to blast the last few miles to home.
June was a crazy month for me. My work travel schedule didn’t give me as much saddle time as I would have liked, but the four days of riding over the Memorial Day Weekend was an awesome way to start the month.
What have you been doing since we’ve left the spring and rolled into summer?