My plan for the next leg of my journey was to take Amtrak from Tucson to San Antonio, Texas. My Amtrak rewards membership has been accruing points through college, so I splurged and spent every last point to book a sleeper room for the 24 hour ride. Debbie and I headed to the station about 45 minutes before departure, naively thinking that would be enough time to pack up and check Toby (Amtrak requires all bikes be transported as checked baggage). The Sunset Limited train had already arrived and all of the station staff were out of the main office unloading baggage. This meant I couldn’t buy the bike box needed to pack up Toby until about 7:50am, 25 minutes before the 8:15am departure. All checked baggage needed to be onboard 8am, leaving just 10 minutes to pack Toby. What followed was a mad scramble to slide Toby into a narrow box and tape him up. To make matters worse, I wanted to take my time to make sure he wouldn’t get damaged since I had never packed him in a box before. In the end, I just barely had enough time to shove him in and run back to station lugging this huge box. Luckily, Toby made it into the baggage car! I said a hasty goodbye to Debbie and got onboard.
The train from Gallup arrived in Flagstaff around 11pm so I arranged for my first couchsurfing stay of the trip. I biked up to Ron’s house (my host) and let myself in since he had already gone to bed. The next morning, Ron took me out to breakfast and let me do laundry at his house while he was at work. It was an amazing first couchsurfing experience. I rolled out from Flagstaff around 4pm for a mostly downhill 30 mile ride to the town of Sedona. After a series of switchbacks, Hwy 89A entered Oak Creek Canyon and paralleled Oak Creek all the way to Sedona. Soon, I was surrounded by dense forests and gorgeous red sandstone formations. It wasn’t the Arizona I had expected! I squatted down for the night at a group campground just south of Sedona that was closed on weekdays. It was easy enough to squeeze around the gate with Toby and find a spot to pitch my tent on the far side of the campground from the camp host’s trailer.
My good friend Tammer is training in Albuquerque to become an Air Force Pararescue Jumper (PJ) and I wanted to visit him, somehow, somewhere. He is required to stay within a two hour radius of Kirtland Air Force Base. I couldn’t make the trek out that far on Toby and still get to Tucson by June 14th so Amtrak was my only option.
Here are the tweets from the final three weeks of the trek. Updates were a little lighter since I was doing less biking and more visiting with friends in Austin, New Orleans, Leland and Cleveland. I am working on new blog posts but it will be few more days before I finish writing and edit all the pictures. Hang tight!
After a rejuvenating night’s sleep in Jacob Lake, I got back on the saddle for an out-and-back trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. My initial plan was to spend the night at the Rim, but during the ride there I decided to stash my gear outside the park entrance and camp on the side of the road to shorten the next day’s ride. Since I jettisoned some weight, it also meant I could quickly get into the park, check out the Canyon and ride back out. This was the first time on the trip where I had the opportunity to drop my gear for a section of a ride. I found a great spot about six miles from the park entrance that was high on an embankment and set back about 100 yards from the road. I unpacked my tent and zipped two of my panniers up inside, praying that no critters would investigate. Then, Toby and I continued on down the road with a little extra spring in our pedal.
Five miles southeast of Baker, I crossed into Utah and pushed 83 miles through Mormon Gap and over 3,750 feet of summits to the town of Milford. Milford to Cedar City was another tough day due to scattered thunderstorms and strong winds. It seemed as if I would get soaked for sure, but somehow I avoided the major cells and just got spitted on a few times. In anticipation for the big climb to Cedar Breaks National Monument, I used a rest day in Cedar City to mark the two-week point of my trip and recharge my batteries.