Day 5: Easy Rider Tour – Flagstaff to Kayenta
We left Flagstaff, Fueled up and headed north on highway 89, toward The Sacred Mountain Gas Station from Easy Rider. This was the first Movie Location from Easy Rider I’d ever found, and I’d ridden by this a dozen times. I was on my way home, on a Sunday, and blew off the next 2 days chasing down Easy Easy Rider in Arizona. Riding is fun enough. Chasing down a mystery makes it even more fun.
We pulled in, took some pictures and doubled back. Not far up the road.
Sunset Crater to Wupatki is one of my favorite roads on the planet. This trip, it became maybe my favorite. We were pulling in to pay the park fees, and Steve had asked me to go ahead to the turn off and wait for everyone. Bruno, an Italian Photographer and all around good guy was my passenger for the day.
No lie, right as I started out, I wasn’t born to Follow by the Byrds came up on my Ipod. Another good omen.
It was perfect. The morning still had shadows and the sun was coming through the trees. I was wanting to stop to get a picture where they picked the hippy up in the Movie, but I got pretty lost in the moment . Sunset crater road and scenery haven’t changed since Easy Rider was filmed. For a couple of minutes, I was in 1969. For me, that was the best moment of riding the whole trip. If you go down there to see this, I highly suggest taking that song with you. Beautiful. I also had plans to have a buddy of mine meet us there, dressed up like a hippy, so we could pick him up for for the full effect. It ended up not working out. Next time. Some cool visuals from the movie, on that stretch of road (by the way, click on any image to enlarge):
We rode all of it. I rode up the 30 miles up to Waputki, and Bruno and I waited at the turn off. Bruno is an interesting guy. For living in Italy, he’s seen more of America than I have. He has the artists eye, and was good company. Wupatki is where they stopped for the night after they picked up the Hippy.
We headed out of Waputki. Only a few miles to the main road again, and back to making miles. This is where the best song of Easy Rider was filmed. When they were filming, Dennis pushed for them to film in monument Valley at dusk. When you look at the cinematography, he wasn’t wrong. Its a big part of why this movie sticks with those who ride. At this point, we were well into our trip. I’ll be honest, I was starting to forget what day of the week it even was. On vacation, thats a good thing. I’d seen all these places, but never consecutively and not like this. It was always bolt to a spot, figure it out, and bolt home. Seeing it as one long ride was pretty special to me. My bike was purring, the weather was great, and the road wasn’t ending anytime soon. Found a new scene on the way there. We left highway 89, and headed toward Kayenta. I’ve ridden this before, but when I did I was always heading the other way.
The road into Kayenta was windy. The road into Kayenta is always windy. No complaints, we Knuckled down, and enjoyed the ride. We got into Kayenta early. I think it was like 3 PM or so. The plan was to ride into Monument valley, do a tour and eat Navajo Tacos. Looking at Monument Valley when we came in, it was a dust bowl. Steve postponed the original plan, and we’d do it tomorrow. A few guys went in, but the rest of us took a nap and hung out and relaxed for a while. I forgot to pack a swim suit, and some pool time would have been nice methinks, but a nap was almost nicer. After a couple of hours, Graham got restless, and we decided it was time to watch Easy Rider. We set out.
We found a Motel nearby, that in exchange for bringing in hungry people to eat, they’d furnish a television and a VCR. Graham talked them into it. We watched Easy Rider.
It was pretty cool to see on video the places we’d rode on the previous days. We headed back, and slept for a night. A good meal, and a nice break. Another good day was going to happen tomorrow. Day Five – 184 Miles View Larger Map