Following I-17 from Munds Park to Flagstaff
I slept terribly the prior night. The cars weren’t the problem, it was the cold. The temperature must have dropped down to mid-30s or low-40s. There were plenty of times I awoke in the middle of the night with freezing cold feet and nothing within the realm of normality that I could do about it. When I awoke, cold, around 6:00 am, I got up despite being poorly rested. The reason for doing so was simple: I had no reason to believe I could get anymore rest.
I had breakfast at a local diner then headed North on Arizona’s interstate 17, the main North-South artery that runs through the state. The ride was pleasant: there were pinyon pines on all sides and the jagged San Francisco peaks in the distance.
Despite my serene setting, I was feeling tense. Last night’s experience had brought my loose plans into question. My mind raced back and forth, assessing and then reassessing my options. The reason I rushed out of Sedona in the first place was to give myself a head-start to the Grand Canyon. Ninety miles today, 60 miles the following day and 70 more miles after that and I could make it to the Grand Canyon and back just in time for my train home. But something within me felt strongly averse to doing anymore riding. I felt rushed and exhausted, plus, some of the questions I raised during my strenuous ride the prior night were still floating about my head.
What if you didn’t make it home safely?
My other option would be to play it safe and just hangout for a couple of days in Flagstaff. It was a lovely college town and I’m sure I could get plenty of writing done at the library. Shoot, who knows, maybe I could even get my ticket changed to come home tonight. Despite only being away for two weeks, I was growing homesick. First and foremost, I missed my lady. In a close second was the fact that the Washington Wizards were in a heated playoff series against the Boston Celtics and I felt like I needed to be at the bar with my homies carrying on and screaming.
I know, I’m supposed to be some hyper-independent, nomadic, free-spirited cyclist, but I was really just feeling like a homebody at this point.
That’s what was going on in my head during the light twenty-mile ride back to Flagstaff. Upon arrival I dropped my bike at the hostel then proceeded to the train station. Before speaking to the representative, I gave my buddy Mihir a ring. It turned out that he had an extra ticket to game 6 on Friday night, and that if I wanted it, it was mine. That was the deal-maker. I approached the Amtrak representative and asked her to change my ticket. And so it was decided. At 4:30 am tomorrow morning I would be heading out of Flagstaff en route to DC via Chicago.
I reflected on my decision, reasoning that it was the right one because I succeeded in accomplishing my goals: I celebrated Diego’s bachelor party and got to know Arizona on two wheels (and four wheels and rails and two feet and on horseback). I figured that I should count my winnings rather than take any additional risks. Plus, the Grand Canyon wasn’t going anywhere…at least I hope it isn’t.
I spent the afternoon preparing for my return and enjoying Flagstaff. I bought a few gifts, watched the Capitals beat the Penguins, then wound up at the hostel. That night was difficult. I sat in the lounge for nearly eight hours waiting for 3:00 am to roll around so I could go to the Amtrak station. I fell asleep at one point, and I suppose that brief hour-long nap signified the end of my time in Arizona.
Easy come, easy go.