April 24th - 25th
Black Barts Campground and Store.
Upper Lake Mary.
Coconino National Forest - Marshall Lake.
Coconino National Forest.
Waiting for Sissy in Kingman for the past 5 days was a very trying experience for John. If it weren't for Bill and Janet (California) and Ron and Joyce (Illinois), he probably would've been a basket case. In any event, it was time to head back east and get closer to Phoenix (where Sissy was going to fly into).
It was an early start from Kingman with Bill helping John hook up the trailer. Janet was more interested in watching John drive the bike into the trailer! Off to breakfast at Cracker Barrel (again) and it was John's turn to buy. He saved up his $5.00 per week allowance for just such an occasion. After breakfast, it was east on I40 to Flagstaff back through the mountains.
Bill and Janet suggested Black Bart's RV Campground just east of Flagstaff for John to park himself and wait for Sissy. Making the trip in record time (the truck gets better fuel mileage in the mountains for some reason), John parked the rig at Black Bart's, took the bike out and headed into town to get his bearings. He was right all along; Flagstaff was designed by some college nerd with coke-bottle glasses. Nobody can get anywhere in Flagstaff without getting lost and using up allot of fuel in the process. Anyway, it was getting a little chilly and cloudy, so John decided to head back to the campground and chill out.
Thursday morning, John got up and checked the clock to make sure it was accurate. Sissy was due to fly into Phoenix at 1300 and then be driven to Flagstaff by her brother Jerry. Everything was set; the clock was right, the trailer was clean, John had a fresh shower and some viddles, and then it was 0900. What next?
John decided to take another ride and scope out Coconino National Forest and Lake Mary. He had no idea how to get there, so he stopped by a local Mobile station (across the street from Sissy's niece Amber) and got some directions. After fueling the bike and getting a cup of French Vanilla coffee (John's favorite), he sat down on the bench out front and began talking with a homeless guy who rode up on his bicycle. This guy, and older gent in his 70's and dressed like a railroad engineer, had spent time in the military and had been stationed at Norfolk NOB in the past. Currently, he was retired and living in the woods nearby.
Another guy, a local originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and currently living in Flagstaff, rode up on his bicycle and began chatting also. He was an educated type and very conversational. He, John and the homeless guy talked for a half hour about everything under the sun including the road situation in town. Whelp, it was time to ride and John said his good-byes to both of them.
John knew he wouldn't be able to smoke inside the Coconino National Forest ($5,000 fine and 6 months in jail), but he didn't need to. The ride into the forest was beautiful, and his mind was more attuned to absorbing the scenery. And there it was; a sign pointing up a mountain and to Lowell Observatory (Bill had suggested John go there). Up the winding road to the top it was, and finally reaching the observatory. It was vacant (of course, it was daytime) but that didn't matter because the view was still breathtaking. If it weren't for the rain/snow weather predictions, John and Sissy both would've returned to view the stars at night.
Next is was onto Marshall Lake just around the corner. The dirt/gravel road leading to the lake was in desperate need of repair (pot holes everywhere), but that was OK riding the bike cautiously. John was surprised to see the lake; it was dry and grass was growing everywhere. The sign said the grass had been planted for the ducks!
Traveling back down the mountain, John spotted some water in the distance. It must be Upper Lake Mary (he thought) because he passed Lower Lake Mary on the way and it was just as dry as Marshall Lake. Sure enough, Upper Lake Mary it was. A few pics and it was back toward town again. Passing by the Mobile station, John noticed the homeless guy was still sitting on the bench waving his hand good-bye. Thoughts of "that must be the life" and "no way" crossed John's mind as he rumbled past enroute to the unorganized mess of the Flagstaff streets.
Getting back to the campground was actually pretty easy. John hopped onto I40 eastbound and took the first exit to Butler Street. Black Bart's was just to the left after exiting the interstate highway. The restaurant (Black Bart's Steakhouse) had a menu out front behind a locked, glass covered box (John planned to treat Sissy to a good dinner upon her return). Wow! the cheapest steak was over $20 bucks not counting the cost of salad, mushrooms and drink. Change in plans? For sure!
After checking in with Sissy about 1315 to make sure her plane landed OK, it was time for a nap. Waking up about 1530, John checked in with Sissy again to find out where she was; just south of Flagstaff and heading north. She pulled up a short while later and the hugs and kisses were on. Boy, it was good to have her back! The remainder of this evening will not be narrated except to say we had a great time! Dinner in the trailer (John's cooking) and some other stuff!
Friday morning it was up bright and early to head eastbound towards home. The weather was threatening (chance of rain and snow above 6,500 feet) so we wanted to get east as quick as possible. We had no plans on where to stay or how far to drive.
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