Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon
14 June 2011 | U.S. Southwest
Sancho: Weather unseasonably chilly
The Road: Endings and beginnings
Well kiddies, the wee Tiki Tour with my old buddy through the Southwest has come to an end. Other than the black clouds following us around, the Southwest never ceases to amaze. One thing that stands out is the driving distances between nowhere and somewhere through mile after mile of nothing but sagebrush, jackrabbits and coyotes. The West is a big place with damn few people. Maybe that’s part of the reason things like Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon are so stunning. They’re set in a desert landscape like rare jewels.
The main thing you can say about the Grand Canyon is: It’s Grand. It’s the biggest ditch I’ve seen; carved through layers of sandstone deposited over millions of years in a long vanished sea. As I understand it, the Pacific Plate shoulders its way under North American Plate, raising mountains and draining the ancient seas. The result is visually dramatic everywhere in the West. That’s why we live here! Let the people back in the flatlands have their meager scenery. We like ours larger than life.
Another stretch of god awful driving is from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. Zzzzzzzz…. Still, Las Vegas is something you have to see… once. The place is off the hook. Other than the sensory light show, I’d rather blow my dough on boats than craps (why do you think they call it craps?) We were off to Reno the next day. Again, not to gamble, it’s just on the route over the Sierra Nevada to Santa Rosa to see my sister before pointing north toward home.
We were thinking of camping at Lake Tahoe but it was snowing and I’d completely forgotten it was Memorial Day weekend. There was a thirty mile dead stop backup coming out of Vallejo through Sacramento. All those folks were going somewhere we were determined to avoid.
Santa Rosa is a nice town set in the Sonoma Valley wine country. From here north is some of the best motorcycle touring country I’ve ever seen. Too bad I don't have a moto either. Ah, but that's cheaper to cure than the lack of a boat!
North out of Santa Rosa on Highway 101, the home stretch winds through the Redwood forest, along the Oregon Coast to Newport and a stop to see our old crusin’ buddies from Wind Dancer: Chris, Richelle and in alphabetical order, the two offspring, Grace and Grant... Portland the next day to see Larry’s daughter Anna, then Wenatchee. The end of the road for Larry. I still had a few hours’ drive over the mountains and another night in a motel before catching the ferry for Orcas Island. Whew! Good trip. WIsh the weather was warmer, but you get what you get.