The jam of the Hoover
Dam DamThere are days when planning does not work no way. And Wednesday March 31 was one of those days. The trip was still intense so far, so we had considered a day of link basically with highways and little time on the bike. The goal was to arrive early to Williams and rest in the afternoon to get up early the next day to the Grand Canyon. It was a good plan, but real life had reserved something very different for us.
The morning was quiet: have breakfast in Las Vegas and take a tour of the city before starting the route around noon. There was no hurry. Overall, for a couple or three hours we thought we were on the bike … In addition, we had changed the detailed map of California by a less detailed “Western USA”, but we were not worried because the routes were very clear and in a couple of days we would be in the domains of the first map.
Nothing more to leave Las Vegas, the wind of the previous day appears again. With the addition that we were not on a lonely road, but rather it was a multi-lane highway and a lot of traffic. We stopped a couple of times to rest from the tension of the strong wind. It served to convince us that there was no remedy: the wind was going to accompany us all day. So, we just had to continue traveling.
On the map, it seemed that Route 93 was practically a highway to Kingman, except for a small section that said “Hoover Dam”. Something we had to smell when we saw numerous signs that diverted the heavy traffic along Route 95, or some illuminated panels warned of frequent traffic jams on the route, which we did not pay attention to.
Once the one-lane road started, we found a line endless of cars. From the outset, caution made us wait on the line as if we were driving by car. Some light panels warned that the expected time of traffic jam was more than 2 hours (!), So make the decision to start overtaking cars with caution, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the shoulder. Come on, what is usually done in Spain in a retention. Without running a lot, but advancing the line. In San Francisco I had noticed that the bikes behaved that way, which gave me a certain degree of confidence to try it.
And so we went forward.
Car to car, we were gaining ground to the traffic jam. No car overtaken protested or showed signs of complaining. We saw a motorcycle that was keeping a line and we got to his side. Without giving time to say hello, he let loose a monumental trickle. What a fuss! “As we happened to overtake the cars, if that should not be done, we had to wait in line, which was very dangerous …” He only managed to catch single words of his speech, but he understood everything. It seems that in that area it is not common practice to pass the stuck cars. Somewhere I had read it was a subject that varied according to the areas in the USA.
We had no choice but to endure an interminable traffic jam. Almost two hours under the sun and the strong wind. If it was difficult to drive the bike with the wind running, it was still worse to do it at each stop and started. In stopped and to little speed it seemed that the kilos that weighs the Harley multiplied. Here it was obvious that it was a heavy motorcycle. For. Starts. For. Starts. But what was causing that retention?
Hoover Dam. I did not say anything to that name, but it turns out that it is a dam considered a national monument in the USA. The dam dates from the 30s and houses a large power station that can be visited. In addition, it turns out to be an important transportation hub for route 93, which has been permanently stuck for some time. For this reason, they were building a spectacular by-pass to extract traffic from the dam, with spectacular bridges.
The result of the slow passage through the Hoover Dam was that we had barely made fifty or sixty kilometers in more than 3 hours. The broken plans. Once past the damn dam, and after a few stops with alternative traffic for the works of the variant, the cars disappeared by magic and finally, we could face Kingman. Kingman was a first fleeting contact with Route 66, since our idea was to start it east-west a couple of days later from Williams.
Arriving in Kingman, the day had already turned cloudy and black clouds seemed to forecast rain. We saw a museum on Route 66 and stopped to make a quick visit and look for some information. A kind old lady explained many things about the section of Route 66 in Arizona and gave us some beautiful maps. In addition, we printed the weather forecast: it was approaching the area a strong storm and expected a sharp drop in temperatures and heavy snow that night. Ideal for traveling by motorcycle. He was not kidding: he insisted that they were on alert and that the forecast was that the rain would begin to fall intensely in about 10 minutes.
In fact, when leaving the museum, tremendous drops of water were falling. water that seemed to be the prelude to the storm. The wind continued without stopping and it was beginning to get dark. Was it worth trying to get to Williams or was it better to spend the night in Kingman? We had a couple of minutes to make the decision. The vision of the sky helped us to decide: clear to the east and a black storm cloud above us, so we set off on Route 40 in the direction of Williams. You had to go fast to leave the storm behind. They were the fastest miles on American highways. In front, clear; in the rear-view mirrors, the furious storm that had to be left behind. But the temperature had dropped a lot and it was very cold on the bike. Arriving at Seligman, Carme decided there was enough for today.
We left the highway to look for a motel in the town. The town was deserted and we found several motels that did not invite a happy evening. The town is over and we got to the last motel that had a bar-pizzeria. I do not know, it seemed like it tasted (and it was cold). We were treated to a fun Norwegian-American lady who gave us a good reason to stay: “why I am very nice and we make pizza very good and we have many brands of beer. Also, there is another bike tonight. ” We let ourselves be convinced. What a great success it was to stop to sleep there! On a day when nothing had gone as planned, finding this motel was the most pleasant of the surprises.
The other motorcycle that was in the motel was an Englishman with an Africa Twin who had come from Latin America. A peculiar and funny guy. Simon is a Londoner and had sold his house in London to pay for a year and a half motorcycle trip through Latin America. He was already at the end of the trip, having crossed the American continent from south to north without hurry. You will not say that your plan does not make you envious. “And when you come back?” His plan is to return this summer to England to a city cheaper than London. Although in truth he was already thinking about a motorcycle trip through Asia. We shared many anecdotes of the trip I had made in Latin America with an Africa Twin a few years ago, recalling anecdotes and common experiences.
That day he had traveled barely twenty miles from Williams and had stopped because of the strong wind in the area in the area. first place he found in the morning. A few months ago he had a fall due to the wind in Argentina and is especially sensitive to the subject. Its advantage is that when traveling without haste you could wait for the days that were needed to improve the climate. Instead, we were pressed for a very fair schedule, with no room for unforeseen events.
We talked for a while with the bikes and we decided to share beers and pizza at the bar. And it was one of the most enjoyable nights of the trip, laughing and chatting around a huge pizza and drinking beers. The group was growing and we were joined by the owner of the establishment and another couple who were staying. We ended up playing a Nordic instrument and singing a song in Norwegian. Laughter, good conversation, good music, lots of jokes and the fateful weather channel on television.
The theme of the day was the great snowstorm that was approaching. On the television and in the bar of the bar. In addition, workers in the Grand Canyon National Park who stopped at the bar explained that everything was ready for a big snowfall tomorrow. Practically, they gave as impossible that we could arrive by motorcycle to the Grand Canyon. On the Weather Channel they kept talking about the great storm of “cold, snow, wind and rain”. Doubts, doubts and more doubts, that fortunately were diluted in the good atmosphere of our table. Laughter and good company against the unexpected. Meanwhile, on TV they kept talking and talking about the approaching snowfall. These Americans are tremendistas …
Roadmap day 6: Wednesday March 31, 2010 Route: Las Vegas – (Route 93) – Boulder City – Hoover Dam – Kingman – (Route 40) – SeligmanDistance traveled: 158 miles (255 kilometers) Accumulated distance : 1,130 miles (1,823 kilometers)
On a motorbike rented by the North American West (10): Arriving at the Grand Canyon under the snowfall
We had gone to sleep with the apprehension of the great snowfall that was expected at night. When we woke up, we opened the door slowly waiting to see a white blanket. But snow, nothing at all. Sun. The day had dawned with the sky clear. We laughed at everything we had suffered the night before, waiting for the great storm.
A coffee and we quickly set off to take advantage of the day at the Grand Canyon. The day was bright and radiant, although a bit cool. Despite the sunny day we were finding threatening “Watch for ice” signs every few miles. Ice?. It seemed like a joke watching the good weather I was doing.
Williams was about 20 miles in continuous climb. As the miles went by, it got colder and we had to stop to put on more clothes. Suddenly, the landscape turned white and we realized that we had sung victory too early: Yes it had snowed during the night. But he had done it a few miles above Seligman.
We arrived at Williams dead of cold. All the cars were covered in snow and there were many traces of snow on the sidewalks. As always in the USA, the road was impeccable. We parked in front of a bar, direct to a café con leche and put on all the clothes we had: tremendous onion complex with so many layers of clothes. “Did you come on the motorcycle? How about the snowfall? And the cold? “, They looked at us like Martians. In just a few hours, the temperature had dropped more than 10 degrees.
Fortunately, the road was flat since Grand Canyon is at the same height as Williams. When arriving at the entrance booth of Grand Canyon Park it was snowing slightly. The guards told us that the forecast of snow for the day was 60% and that, despite the sun, it was going to be quite cold.
In spite of everything, we were lucky that it was a bright day, which enhanced the impressive landscapes. I confess that I was tired and tired, and I thought that coming here had been a mistake. All those negative thoughts dissipated upon reaching the first viewpoint. Although I had seen many photos, when I arrived at the first viewpoint I was surprised by the grandeur of the landscape.
The feeling was like being part of a photograph, a set, a screensaver …
The viewpoints on the canyon are located on the south slope of the Grand Canyon and to move between them there is an excellent service with several bus lines that pass very frequently. You can walk at times and get on buses when the distance is a little longer. The National Park is very well organized, like the other Parks we have been on this trip.
After touring a good number of viewpoints, we decided not to hurry our luck and return before the night fell. The initial intention was to return from the Park by a different road, which goes to Flagstaff. But it was cut by the snow, so for the first time on the trip, we had to take a tour back along the same road.
At dusk, we were back in Williams dead of cold, but satisfied with the visit to the Grand Canyon.
After having spent so much cold we deserved a small tribute. That day I did not touch a motel. In the morning, I had picked up the booklet for a bed – and – breakfast that looked like a nice place. It turned out to be a movie house, all at our disposal. It was like living for a day in a decoration magazine. There was a good collection of movies at our disposal, a billiard, a huge juke-box and a peculiar game that consisted in sliding some pieces along a long platform covered with salt (or something similar), “22 foot-long suffleboard table”. By far, it was the best accommodation in the whole trip, in the day that we needed the most.
I was resting to start the next day, finally, Route 66.
Roadmap day 7: Thursday, April 1, 2010
Itinerary: Seligman – Williams – Grand Canyon National Park – Williams
Distance traveled: 169 miles (272 kilometers)
Cumulative distance: 1,299 miles (2,095 kilometers)