Sunday, July 8, 1984
Tuba City to Desert View, Ariz.
I’m reprinting the day-to-day journal entries of a cross-country bike tour my friend and I took in 1984. More about the TransAmerica Tour 1984
Although I had visited the Grand Canyon a couple of times before, I never really appreciated in a personal way how it was formed until I rode there on my bicycle.
All the books (well, the scientific ones) say that eons ago, a plateau rose up in this area while a river cut through the rock. I always understood the erosion part, but I didn’t get the rising plateau part until I realized I was climbing a big hill to get to the canyon.
After leaving Tuba City this morning, we passed the edge of the Painted Desert (above), an area whose colors change through the day. Because of the clear air and lack of reference points such as buildings, it’s impossible to guess at the distances to the hills and ridges.
When we all reached Cameron, Bruce and I started our climb up to the Grand Canyon while the Brits all jumped in the van to get a motel room there. This road climbs steadily. No switchbacks. We’re pedaling up a mountain that has been cut in half by a river. Climbing about 3,000 feet over the next 30 miles, I got to contemplate the fact that at the canyon’s rim, I wouldn’t be looking deep into the Earth. I’d be looking down to the elevation where I started my ride this morning.
Although it was hot and sunny when we left Cameron, we were hit by a couple of rainshowers on the climb. It felt refreshing and I didn’t even bother to put on rain gear. The constant stream of Winnebagos passing on the narrow road concerned me more.
We arrived at the Desert View campground about an hour later than expected. To our surprise, our friends from the UK had returned from the park lodge, picked a campsite for us, and laid out a small feast. We all ate and drank and relaxed, and made plans to meet the next day.
Later, after they left, I took a short hike over to the rim of the canyon. I could see a long stretch of the Colorado River from here. In the bright full moon, I could also see the rock formations in the gorge, but I couldn’t see the colors. I’d have to wait for morning.
Headline: July 8, 1984 — The Jacksons’ Victory Tour, featuring Michael Jackson, opens in Kansas City. Expected to be the most profitable show in pop music history…
From Tuba City we dropped into the painted desert, with all its mini mesas and different-colored rock formations. Then we pushed on to Cameron in a stiff wind. At Cameron, Geraldine and crew drive on to Desert View, which is in the Grand Canyon Park.
Bis and I rode the 25 or 30 miles. It was all uphill, and if it can be believed, we were rained on, despite the fact that it never rains in Arizona. I had a flat about half-way up the mountain, my third of the trip.
When we finally got inside the Grand Canyon park area and into the campground, the London crew had lunch for us, including cold beers; I drank two pretty quickly and was about half-buzzed.
They left shortly after lunch to find their hotel room at Yavapai Lodge, and Bis and I went shopping for dinner. We decided on spaghetti and we also bought a bottle of Almaden Red Mountain Burgundy. That was a treat. It was chilly at night but pleasant. We were at about 7,000 feet above sea level.