Jeff and I hadn’t realized that we were now in the Pacific Time Zone (clocks go back an hour) and consequently he thought he overslept, whereas I showed up for the 6:30 breakfast at 5:45. Kevin just laughed at us. Jeff and I were both sore from yesterday’s ride or maybe it was the accumulation of all the miles we had traveled. Today we would cross the 2200 mile mark and we were feeling it.
We figured out our route, said “goodbye” to our good buddy Kevin and headed towards the Grand Canyon. We had about 190 miles ahead of us. The roads were good, incredibly scenic, the winds kind for a change, and we stopped for lunch in Williams Arizona. We decided that we would stay there that night. We would drive the 60 miles up to the Grand Canyon, have a look around and head back to Williams. We got a room, dumped our stuff off, lightening our load, and took off.
Before too long we were at the Grand Canyon National Park gate paying our entrance fee. The woman who took the money was beautiful. She appeared to be Native American with dark skin, deep brown hair and high cheekbones. I couldn’t help myself and I had to say it: “You are the most beautiful park ranger I’ve ever seen.” She smiled and replied: “Thanks, that just made my day.” I was going to ask her if there was a Mr. Park Ranger but I thought I’d better not.
I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before, though Jeff has. I’ve read a lot and seen tons of photos but nothing can prepare you for the awesomeness of the views. Those who have been there know what I’m talking about.
We took off our helmets, rode the southern rim, stopped and took pictures and chatted with people. As I’ve said before folks are intrigued and attracted to motorcycles. At one point I came upon Jeff and he was letting an Indian woman sit on his bike and pose for pictures. I told them they should sit on my bike because it was prettier. I also told Jeff later we should charge for the pictures; make a little side money. Later, I came across a whole van of Indian folks who were admiring Big Red. I walked over and said: “You can take photos”. They said thanks and began posing around the bike and snapping away. One told me that this woman beside him, his girlfriend, rode a motorcycle back in India and we talked about that. I told her to go and get on. She smiled, hopped on and posed for a few shots. I didn’t even charge her a red penny.
They said thanks and I thanked them, though I wasn’t at the moment sure why I did. Then it occurred to me. Two cultures had met and greeted each other and had shown kindness and respect. As they were leaving I said: Namaste (honoring the God within them) and they smiled and returned the words.
Later I sat down waiting for Jeff. That boy does like to dilly dally! I found a shop right next to the canyon and grabbed a few things for a late lunch. I had a Grand Canyon Pilsner Beer, a pack of cashews and a banana. Seemed a righteous hearty meal to me. I also smoked my pipe, enjoying some Savannah tobacco a Rome Georgia friend, Marlin Teat, had given me. I listened to the wind blowing all around us, and sucked up the scent of the trees. I breathed deeply and felt thankful. And I thought about the Indian family. I know I always pray every day that I will be kind and loving towards everyone I meet but often when I meet a stranger I’ll avert my eyes. I tell myself that if I’m sincere about loving strangers, seeing God within them, then I sure as hell better look at them and smile, say “hello”, comment on the weather, or something. Or, I could let them sit on my bike, for free.