Again we were up early (we'd gone to bed around 2000 hrs), the cafe doesn't open till 0630, so our plan was to ride to the North Rim in time for sun-up, get some pics (my camera HAD worked last evening) then back for brekkie before heading E and S back to home.
Don't know the temp, but it was COLD and DARK, our two bikes were loaded, and we hit our starters - MINE started, but Bill's BMW didn't. As he was turning it over, I told him to stop, that we would push it out by the road to "push-start" it, as it was gravel in front of our room, and I didn't want him to run his battery down to the point where it wouldn't run the fuel-pump.
Two short pushes and it started, so I walked back to get mine, and we started the 42 mile 'grind' S on AZ 63 to the Canyon. It was VERY COLD, my camera around my neck (guess I didn't learn anything...
...), MY heated liner turned ON initially to "3", but soon up at "5" - warm but NOT as much as I expected, due to the wind-chill from our 50 to 60 mph motoring-wind - a slightly lighter 'line' along the eastern horizon.
I was cold, but I could only imagine how Bill felt w/out benefit of his vest 'heating'....
A few miles down the road and we saw one of those illuminated signs, this saying that "CONTROLLED BURN - DO NOT CALL IT IN", soon followed by another "CAUTION SMOKE ON HIGHWAY", but we continued S, soon smelling smoke and seeing a herd of bison along the right shoulder. We passed thru w/out spooking them, but Bill was going noticeably slower, he was so cold...!
Arrived at the Park gate about 0715, nobody there, so passed it and continued into the Park, smoke VERY evident by this time. The road branches a few miles in, and I took over the lead, taking the left fork.
A few miles later I realized that I hadn't seen Bill's lights for a few minutes, so did a U-turn, rode back till I found him in a 'turn-off' by his BMW, trying to warm his hands on the cylinders of his running-engine. He was so cold that we turned back, heading for the 'commercial' area of the North Rim, hoping for a cafe and hot coffee.
Nothing was open (CLOSED for the season I believe), so I walked over thru some trees to get a pic, but soon realized that the WHOLE canyon (at least from THIS point!) was invisible - shrouded in smoke from the "CONTROLLED BURN"...! DAMN! In addition - my camera would NOT take a pic, probably FROZEN!
Bill was so cold that we turned back, N to Jacob Lake (and breakfast...?), he leading as we passed thru the park entrance, STILL before it would open at 0800.
My heat was at MAX ("5"), and I still felt chilled. We came up to the buffalo herd again, along the right shoulder, several on the roadway as we stopped about 20 yards from them. AGAIN I tried to take a pic - no joy....
Several were turning to their right (N), but suddenly one in the middle began running W across the road, and in an instant we watched a BUFFALO HERD STAMPEDE from yards away as they thundered across the road, W into the field!
When they were clear we started N again, pulling into the Jacob Lake parking at 0830 - TWO AND A HALF freezing hours since we started! - and into the cafe. After a few HOT coffees, and something to eat, we gassed-up, headed E on AZ 89A past the Vermilion Cliffs, joining AZ 89 S towards Flagstaff. Bill needed something at the Cameron Trading Post (where you turn W to go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon), and it WAS warming in the sun
so he got it, we each took a "pee-break" then headed S again, gassing just a few miles N of I-40 in 'Flag', the San Francisco Peaks behind us W.
From Flag we took AZ 3 past Morman Lake, thru Happy Jack, then joined AZ 87/260 at Clints Well (it was becoming warmer than we'd experienced in what felt like WEEKS!) and I took a pic of Bill removing the rain-pants he'd worn MOST of our ride for the bit of warmth they provided by cutting the wind)
to Payson where it is re-named the Beeline Hwy, following that DOWN in elevation (temps rising to the mid-90s!), thru the Bush Hwy, Mesa, then home where we arrived at 1630.
The trip total of 1,524.5 miles included the day's ride of 461.4 miles, MUCH in freezing temps, but a VG adventure.
For those who wonder - I achieved 60+ mpgUS and 59+mpgUS, each, for one tank of gas, the rest being around 53mpg. Not bad for a nine year old Versys w/ 73,5xx miles on the 'clock'...!
... I'm pretty sure my camera 'woes' were as a result of the temps we rode in.