I've motored west, getting my kicks and then some on Route 66. Truth be told, I've gotten the kicks, in the ass at least. But, if you'll hold my hand, we'll get through another scary part together. First, let's review: I've given you the dirt on the Mother Road for six states so far. In case you failed geography, the next state is good old Arizona. I say old because, well, it's snowbird country. And old people smell (just kidding, Mom).
Aside from snowbirds, who are tucked mostly down south in Phoenix, good ol' Arizona does not stink. Route 66 in Arizona runs 396 incredible miles filled with meteorites, mesas, ghost towns, pueblos, run-down roadside attractions and weathered folks to tell of its unique history. Quite a beauty, too, with fragrant stretches of ponderosa pine and awe-inspiring canyons, plateaus and mountains shaped by volcanoes. Who knew that when the earth upchucked itself, it could be so exquisite? I wish my own crusted-up puke were as scenic. I didn't ralph in Arizona, but with all the hairpin turns I encountered on Sitgreaves Pass, my stomach was certainly in my throat.
Arizona bikers are as gnarly as the terrain. I wanted to be like them. My original plan for the Deuce 6 was to do it the old-fashioned way: live the rough-and-tumble life of a hard-core adventurer. Leave my wallet, cell phone and laptop back in Chicago. With no money in hand, I would be forced to pick up odd jobs to afford the essentials: gas, food and beer. I imagined myself looking like a scruffy vagabond pulling up to a greasy diner and offering to clean out the grease trap or having to shovel cow crap for some cornbread and a slice of moldy cheese.
My dreams of hoboing across the U.S. changed as soon as I picked up my brand-new 105th Anniversary Road King Classic from Harley in Milwaukee. I realized that my luxurious and pristine steel horse would reveal my taste for the good life. I ended up wimping out. With wallet, phone and laptop, I promised myself not to shave for the entire trip to gain respect via my rugged looks.
Did I forget to tell you that I picked up a hot biker chick while in New Mexico? Well, I am telling you now. I saw this dreamy woman with an Easy Rider stars-and-stripes helmet in hand walk out of the airport in Santa Fe. It was love at first sight. She couldn't keep her eyes off of me. I knew my tough-guy half-beard look had mesmerized her.
Damn, I thought to myself after I pulled up to the curb, smiled and told her to hop on, and she actually did! We cruised toward the Petrified Forest National Park, which includes the Painted Desert. After checking out the colorful vistas, huge petrified logs, petroglyphs and an Anasazi ruin, I felt like a true road warrior; that is, until we hit Holbrook, Arizona.
After lunch at Joe & Aggie's Caf, we went to check out the huge Route 66 mural on the side of the eatery. Behind Joe & Aggie's is a small barbershop simply called Stan's. Stan's barbershop was the sort of place you see in old movies featuring a bunch of old dudes with flattops sitting around talking about the weather. I was certainly in need of a haircut, and my sexy passenger was excited to have some stubble removed from my facial fur.
I walked in, and Stan, a senile man who only uses clippers (no scissors), asked me to sit. He immediately started buzzing away without asking what kind of style I wanted. Five minutes and five dollars later, I left Stan's looking like a gay version of Forrest Gump. Luckily, I had a helmet to hide the damage.
My lie has gone far enough. The sexy passenger is actually my hot girlfriend. She flew out to ride through the Grand Canyon with me.
The great thing about ripping through the desert on a sweet bike is the desolation. Perfect solitude is a rare gift. Just make sure you bring a roll of TP. No one wants to wipe their ass with a cactus. I found that out the hard way. Burning up the asphalt about 20 miles west of Flagstaff, my large intestine decided to say hello. Fifty miles out, I was looking at a serious case of splatter butt. Fortunately, I found a place. Unfortunately, it was a dilapidated dive with a bunch of chopped-up bikes out front. I walked in with my new nonawesome haircut and was immediately sized up by everyone in the bar.
A burly, leather-clad Mexican sitting at a rickety old table covered with empty Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles sent me a harsh glare. The dude looked like a mean version of Ponch from CHiPs covered in tattoos with a handlebar mustache. Normally I'd hit the high road, but the lunch special from Joe & Aggie's was ready to make a reappearance. I beelined it to the commode. Sometimes I think God hates me. The toilet was squeezed only inches from the urinal. No gay guard. No door. No walls. No toilet paper. Only a prison-style crapper next to a stained urinal. I had no choice but to drop the deuce. When the job was about halfway done, the giant Mexican barged in and drowned some cacti. We were so close, I actually felt a little splatter.