The first day of these trips is usually a bit of a slog since I usually find myself trying to make up for lost time because of a later than expected start. Throw in having to get used to spending long hours in the saddle again and covering roads I have done multiple times before and it’s easy to see why the excitement and anticipation of starting these road trips gets tempered quickly. This time was no different as I made my way across California over the San Jacinto mountains and down into Palm Desert before getting on Interstate 10 and then traversing the Colorado and Sonoran deserts on my way to Buckskin Mountain State Park in Parker, Arizona, just south of Lake Havasu.
I chose Parker, AZ as my destination as it was a natural halfway point to my next destination near Sonoma and it also happens to be my last name and I thought it would be fun to stay in a place which shares my surname. What I learned later was the town was named after Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian who served as a lieutenant colonel under General Ulysses S. Grant as his military secretary during the Civil War and later as President Grant’s head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Since U.S. Grant was a hero of mine as a kid, it made the decision to stay there all the more meaningful.
Temperatures on the ride were well over 90 degrees most of the way and for the last hundred miles or so, they were in the 105 to 109 degree range making for some uncomfortable riding. I got to the campground which was right on the Colorado River, hoping there would be some cool breezes off the river but all I found was the sound of speed boats and personal watercraft as day trippers made the best of the end of the weekend as it was late Sunday afternoon when I arrived. I set up camp and relaxed a bit but didn’t get too settled in as I was planning on getting up and out early in the morning to try to beat the heat.
For dinner, I was able to walk to the Sundance Saloon which was about a mile and a half away. It’s a local bar right on the river which has operated off and on since the early 1970’s. Based on the photos on the walls, it looks like it can get pretty raucous. On this night it was rather quiet considering the high temperatures, the fact that it was a Sunday night and many people were probably staying in due to COVID-19. The food was good and the drinks flowed. I chatted up a couple of the locals who assured me the place was normally a lot busier.
On my way back to camp, I walked along an abandoned road, (Riverside Drive), which had been closed due to numerous rockslides which littered the roadway. It was quicker and safer than walking on the highway in the dark. A quick internet search revealed the road has been intermittently closed and reopened since 2005. As I walked back, I came across a small memorial on the road for someone named Dave, who appears to have perished at this spot. Whoever built it did a nice job and even installed a solar powered lamp which lights it up in the night. A small motorcycle replica and the Yamaha logo painted on one of the rocks led me to believe it was a motorcycle fatality. These types of things are always quite sobering as I know I take a risk every time I get on the bike.
Despite the heat, I got a decent night’s sleep and was able to hit the road early enough to get some miles in before the sun beat down on me again. As I was leaving town, I couldn’t help but notice the sign which welcomes you on one side is the same one which on the other side thanks you for visiting as you are departing. That should give you an idea of how small a town it is with just over 3,000 residents.