It's Wednesday morning, oh-dark-thirty, I'm 'shaved, showered' and packed so I open the motel door... whatthehell?
It's clouded over and looks like rain.... THAT wasn't in the TV news forecast!
Back into my room to put rainpants on and search out waterproof gloves, then pack up my steed, and over to MacD's for an egg McMuffin and coffee.
Half way through the "Happy-Meal" it changes to an "un-Happy" - it's starting to pour! Looking west it's VERY dark and forbidding, and a bit southwest over the Vermillion Cliffs (remember, this is BEFORE sunrise, and I'm looking AWAY from where the sun might come up...) is an ominous sight (see picture 1). It appears as if clouds are cascading over the cliffs like a waterfall! With the Versys gassed up and me fed and waterproofed (???), I saddle up heading east on 98 toward Kayenta and Monument Valley.
An hour later I'm out of the rain, but low clouds are skudding over the rock formations, and it's wet everywhere. By Monument Valley the odd sunbeam gets through, and I'm becoming optimistic that the day MIGHT go as planned
. Another hour east, it's still NOT raining, and I enter Colorado with 15 miles to Four Corners, but as the road bends its way south it's getting dark ahead....
It's pretty obvious that it has rained a LOT at the Four Corners park, mud everywhere, but there IS a bit of paved lot available, so Big Red is put onto her stand, I take my camera and go stand simultaneously in FOUR states! COOL!
It's not too far from there to Shiprock (a large formation that suggests an old schooner, and was a landmark when the wagon-trains made their way through here heading to California), but the rain is starting again, while west it looks much worse.
A large, indistinct shape shows through the fog/ rain mix - it's Shiprock! - but as the rain lashes down my decision is made to forgo the Indian roads along the border. Some are dirt, and, today impassible (to me on the V, anyway), so I gas up in the town, check my map re-programming the GPS to Gallup (93 miles south), then head that way in driving (riding...?
Almost two hours later, about 10 miles north of Gallup, the rain ends and blue skies emerge - straight ahead and left, but NOT right! The whole sky west is black with thunderheads along the front, so I'm NOT heading to Window Rock and the original route. After searching my map, the GPS gets programmed to St. Johns, AZ via Zuni Pueblo which 'sort-of' looks clear, and away I go.
Awhile later I return to AZ, then south toward my NEW destination for the night. A motel found, then off for grub and a beer.
Later, watching TV news, the forecaster assures me that, while the storm has dumped 24" of snow onto Denver, and is now making life miserable in Pennsylvania, tomorrow in ARIZONA at least - it WILL be fine, with blue skies everywhere. Time for bed.
Check out the dirt on Big Red in the last picture, taken where the road turns west to Zuni.