Today’s musical choice was tough. I want something that represents my mood, but also has a connection with my environment. The shortlist was

  • Break On Through – The Doors
  • Roadhouse Blues – The Doors
  • Back in the Saddle – Aerosmith
  • Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi
  • Get Rhythm – Johnny Cash
  • Wanted Man – Johnny Cash
  • Fuel – Metallica
  • By The Time I Get To Phoenix – Glen Campbell

But none had quite the connection with Page or Flagstaff Arizona. So since I’m seeing Brian Setzer (although not the orchestra) in Las Vegas shortly, I’ve chosen his version of Americano.

Well what a day! For no set plans it was eventful. First thing was to check out the Navajo site of Antelope Canyon. It’s a narrow passageway through the rocks that has been eroded by wind and rain. Absolutely stunning! I took loads of photos so will have to pick only the best to upload to Facebook. I befriended an Israeli couple who were slowly heading to LA to visit their daughter.

Back to Page to kit up and head to the meteor crater outside Winslow. Riding this bike is a real pleasure now and instantly meditative. But the teeth on the zip to the jacket are completely knackered. So I stop for gas, a bad coffee, a hamburger that’s sat in the warming oven too long, and some duct tape.

Arriving at the meteor crater, I rip off the duct tape, which takes the top layer of leather jacket with it. Arse! But the crater is extraordinary. There’s a real other worldly feel to this place. Maybe my view has been influenced by the spaced-out hippies I’ve befriended who seem convinced that since I’m riding a HOG, I have weed to sell to them. Although NASA did use it as a training ground for astronauts in the 60s and 70s as it was considered to emulate the surface of the moon. The scale of the crater is difficult to comprehend and even harder to articulate.

Checking out the gift shop, I suddenly realise that I’m on Route 66. I didn’t expect to hit it until Flagstaff, my next stop. But on the road again, I see signs for Winona and the lyrics come back to me… “Flagstaff Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino…” So I take a hard right and exit the highway, if for nothing else than to see a sign announcing my arrival on the historic Route 66. Well, Winona is totally forgettable. Couple of homesteads, and I must have missed the general store. But eventually I see an innocuous sign, and stop awkwardly on the poorly maintained bitumen to take a poor quality photo.

Soon enough I pull into my road-side motel. Road being Route 66, which sounds adventurous and romantic and the motel which seems basic, functional and noisy. Tomorrow’s plans are vague. I think I’ll visit Sedona national park, and I need to make it to Kingman which is a mere 140 miles away. But that has a Route 66 museum, which I assume is just a cheap gift shop. And the day after is Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. I better start planning!

But instead, I walk up the block to a Mexican restaurant. After a feast of Jalapeño infused margaritas, pineapple-habanero* salsa, slow cooked carnitas, reposado, mescal shots, and I’m back to my roadside motel on Route 66. I have an overly romanticised view of life that never matches reality, but it’s nice when it approximates my fantasies.

* I’ll never forget the habanero eating competition I had with Paul Rodwell and Margarita Haruspex. Paul has the tiniest bite and quit, I had a slightly larger bite (I had to beat Paul) and quit, and Margarita thought we were wimps and put us to shame by eating the whole thing, and was instantly in serious pain. Well, Paul and I had no sympathy. Were you trying to be a smart arse Margarita? Well, you get what you deserve! Then she started to suffer breathing problems and collapsed into the sofa (incidentally the same blue and green sofa in my current flat). Ah, this is serious. So suddenly I’m pouring her milk and making a cold compress, Paul has run to the shop to get yoghurt. We slowly nurse her back to sanity. She definitely won the competition, but at what cost?

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