We left Santa Fe on Thursday for Farmington, N.M. Our morning ride was cool and sunny as we tackled the challenges of mountain road switchbacks and tight turns, along with gentle, rolling sweeps, all amid truly spectacular scenery.
As we climbed to more than 10,000 feet, we passed cows loose on the roadside, a herd of deer (biker beware!), a wandering horse, llamas in the field and a sprinkling of sleepy towns, all sporting majestic vistas. After a few hours, we stopped to stretch and Kristine Otte exclaimed, “God Bless America!” We all shared in that moment together with a profound sense of awe, wonder and appreciation for God's natural grandeur.
Lunch was in the quaint mountain ski town of Taos. After a quick bite and a sweet stop at Rocky Mountain Fudge, we headed to our next destination, Chamas. En route, the temperature plummeted. None of us were prepared for the finger-numbing, chilly 30-degree surprise that delivered a wet onslaught of slushy sleet at the summit, followed by fresh snow falling.
Three of our crew pulled over to help a stranded motorist change her tire (our heroes!) while the rest of us waited and tried to stay warm. Kristine and her boyfriend, Dickie, said they hadn’t left the snow of Minnesota for this. We Southern folk were thrilled and giggling hysterically.
Once we hit the road again, Mother Nature toyed with us more, serving up a few rain-heavy cloudbursts and several strikes of white-hot lightning, including one that flirted a little too close for comfort. We hauled it to Farmington. In one action-packed day, we had experienced sunshine, sleet, snow, rain and lightning. Such are the experiences that help make us better riders — and create motorcycle legends.
That evening, we had a meeting to prepare for the next day’s activities and to welcome four new riders: Chaparral regional sales manager Gary Beck, who flew into Phoenix and rented a bike to join us; Nordhavn’s global engineering guru, Phil Arnold, who rode in with his wife, Cam (former Suzuki Marine marketing chief and now a vice president with the Motorcycle Industry Council) from Irvine, Calif.; and a sponsored rider pal from Raleigh, N.C. This brought our posse to 18.
As planned, we left at 7 a.m. sharp en route to one of our tour hot spots, the Grand Canyon. The ride was flawless, marked by well-maintained roads, near-perfect conditions, blue skies, marshmallow clouds and an abundance of fantastic scenery. We stopped to view the Four Corners Monument, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico intersect.
Our truly impressive ribbon of colorful Harleys, BMWs and Hondas then wound through the mountains in staggered formation as we rode the rim of the stunning Grand Canyon, with its mind-blowing 277-river-mile length, 18-mile width and 1-mile depth. It was awesome to be in the pack.
That evening, we relaxed and celebrated a wonderful day together over dinner at Rod’s Steakhouse in Williams, Ariz. Our friend and fellow tour rider Cam Smith Arnold of the Motorcycle Industry Council toasted our group and sponsored one of the best meals we’d had on the entire trip. We were all so appreciative that Cam and the national motorcycle trade group recognized our efforts.
Next on the agenda? After the Grand Canyon, it was time to roll our wheels and head to Vegas, baby!
Thanks to the “Boaterz n Bikerz Across America: A Hull of a Tour” sponsors joining presenting sponsor Kenton Smith Marketing, including Legendary Marine, Marinas International, South Coast Yachts, My-Villages, Southeast Marine Sales & Service and media sponsor Soundings Trade Today.
Wanda Kenton Smith is an award-winning, 31-year marine industry marketing veteran based in Destin, Fla. She is president of Kenton Smith Marketing (www.kentonsmithmarketing.com) and president of Marine Marketers of America. She will file occasional reports on her tour across America.