Tuesday night, we camped at the semi-primative site in Lee’s Ferry by Marble Canyon, which is part of the northern rim of The Grand Canyon. Riding into the canyon is again like going back in time, but with fry bread and jewelry stands along the way.

With the road to Page out due to an earthquake that tumbled a major section into the canyon’s floor, we didn’t feel like riding an additional 90 miles to reach Antelope Canyon. Next trip, we reckoned.

Walks along the small estuary of the Columbia River was very accessible. Although too cold to bathe in her, Gaila and I had a lot of fun taking pictures, videos and watching the hot evening colors turn to pale as the sun set and the moon rose.

We packed up, had a huge breakfast at Marble Canyon’s restaurant. Next time, I’d order a meal from the menu since the buffet’s eggs had a fishy taste and the pancakes were as solid as frisbees.

I threw out the idea to go to Page anyway to catch a helicopter and tour The Grand Canyon that way, which would save us 8-10 hours, and it would be a hoot. Too windy to fly, so we pushed on for Zion.

The roads were so windy that I lagged behind Tad and Gaila for a good mile or so. Small highway roads and big wind is hard to take for a long while. Luckily, Zion was close. For most of this trip I’ve experienced very high winds where I have to tuck behind my windshield and feel like I’m a bullet darting through the wind. At some points, I can sit up, relax and stretch to then brace for another series of semis who meet me on the road and threaten to toss me like a leaf of paper. Winds continued to be high as we set up camp. I think I’ve eaten enough dust to build a few castles, but I’ve still got a big smile on my face. Which is now sand blasted, but it’s still a smile with much whiter teeth.

We picked up groceries and Tad was a little surprised. “Where the hell you going to pack all this?” or something like that. Never fear when riding with women, for we always have another bag and straps that can be cinched to the bike. I had bought a Watershed bag at the Overland Expo, and it all fit beautifully. Don’t think I will ever forget the scowl on Tad’s face as he said that, to then see him smile as he ate the gorgeous green chili chicken with a bean and avocado salad. Yep, fancy stuff. Gaila is a logical and efficient camp chef. Her Monterey Spice jar is a staple, but her chemistry skills are tops. She basted olive oil over flour tortillas, sprinkled them with the spice and then warmed them up.

Rolling into Zion national park is the most dramatic and beautiful. Although in 1998, I drove right through it all, it has a short drive that herds tourists through a small section of the park. Now there are shuttles that conveniently run from 5am to 10pm. You can now access hikes without permits, and the shuttle’s rotating announcements tell you what you need for long hikes.

We rode to the top of the canyon, had a stop by The Zion Lodge and met some moto-friendly gents in the patio. While Gaila and I waited to be served our cool ice tea and ice cream, Tad chatted with the two gents and had a beer. The winds were very warm and high, but in the evening shade it cooled me down so nicely that I didn’t need the ice cream.

I asked the two my typical question, “So what do you think of women who ride their own motorcycles.” Realize, this was after hearing about all the great road trips that one gent took and that he lusted for the road–he still has his 1955 Thunderbird, so he’s cool, right? His response? “I’m just used to them riding in the back.” Whoa. Not expected. He talked about his trip to Alaska, and Tad chimed in that I had been there too. Not impressed, and he kept talking about his trip with a friend who became love struck on the road and was looking for alternate ways home.

When we reboarded the shuttle to the top of the canyon, Tad and Gaila were really surprised. After we lingered a while by the river walk and towering cliffs, we talked about it again at dinner. Gaila has gotten similar reactions when she lifts her helmet and strangers are overly surprised that she’s riding her own bike. Fully loaded. Just as dirty as her partner. Just as equipped with the same skills to get her own El Salvador, Panamanian, and Zion stickers to prove she’s been there.

Well, the camp is full so we’re staying for one night in the overflow camping. We have to pack up, we’re taking the small 2 hour hike around the Enchanted pools, and we’ll talk about what’s next. We hope to arrive at the Bonneville Salt Flats for a little race in a day or two.

Ride on, whoever you are.