October 9 – October 17, 2011

The sun had retreated for the night leaving none of its warmth behind. When we arrived at Rob and Christina’s doorstep, we were immediately welcomed to sit by the fireplace to thaw our bodies from the chill we had just endured during our ride there. Brrr. I was frozen cold and extremely happy that we wouldn’t have to set up the tent in Flagstaff, Arizona that night. Although camping is a lot of fun, I was looking forward to sleeping on a bed and relaxing at Rob and Christina’s for the week. It seemed that I had finally gotten used to being on the road, it took a long time to find comfort with all of the change I had gone through but I also felt as though I was ready to take a moment away from traveling to enjoy a nice vacation.

Christina and Rob lived in a large home that was shared with roommates mike and Martin, and a miniature Doberman named Pony-Boy. It was a home filled with active athletes who were either competing for the Olympics, running races, finishing marathons or simply leading an active healthy life style. Rocky and Rob were close friends from high school and that is how I first knew Robbie, more than 15 years ago. I remember him from track and field but I don’t remember ever having a conversation with him. That didn’t matter though, because the moment I walked through his door I was treated life a life long friend.

I could compare staying with Rob and Christina to the best resort in the world but it was better. It all began with simple things such as labels left throughout the house to guide us to anything we may need. There was a constant supply of delicious wheat beer that became my favorite kind, and a fridge filled with yumminess. They were vegetarian and all of their produce was organic or picked from their garden. Christina was such an incredible cook and was constantly preparing the most amazing meals and desserts. Mmm Christina’s homemade peanut butter ice cream will forever remain on my mind. I probably put on a few pounds during our visit. I always imagined that meat was a necessary part of a meal but heck no, I was wrong. She had so many ideas of how to prepare vegetables that I now believe that I am a carnivore only for selfish reasons.

Our first few days there were spent repairing the bike. She was in need of an oil change and valve clearance check. Rocky does most of the work but I’m a fine little helper. It was also a good time to wash our riding gear. It reeked and was covered in dead bugs. I regret buying the grey Rev’It! gear instead of the black because it looks filthy quickly.

Flagstaff is a great place and I can certainly understand why Rob had moved there. It was surrounded by mountains and an active community. Rocky and I went riding through some trails that lead us to ski lifts where we took a long peak at our surroundings from the top of a mountain. Being on this adventure and constantly on the go is great but taking a moment to stop and stare at the beauty of this planet is the most rewarding gift that I could offer my soul.

Mid week into our visit, Rocky and I were invited on a hike that would lead us to a cliff edge. The plan was to go rock climbing. I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated. I am so scared of heights that climbing stairs is a challenge for me. We put on some climbing shoes, harnessed ourselves and I took a long minute to gather my thoughts to conquer my fear. Rob went first so that he could hook up the ropes to support us, he made it look effortless. Christina went next and easily climbed the 90 feet to the top. I began to feel more comfortable. When it was my turn to go, I caked my hands with talc to absorb all the sweat and I began climbing. I concentrated on either looking up, forward or at my next move but I knew not to look down. I caught myself repeating the thought in my mind ‘don’t look down, you’re almost there, whatever you do, don’t look down!’. Almost half way to the top my little chicken arms were burning and I began to struggle with my next move. Flexibility was key because there wasn’t anything close to latch on to. I could hear everyone trying to help me from the bottom but I was unable to make sense of the direction. I looked down to read Christina’s lips as she tried to direct and encourage me… Oh shit! I looked down! Suddenly my knees began to convulse and my heart began to race. If nobody stood beneath me I would’ve peed my pants. I was petrified. It took what seemed like a lifetime to regain a normal breathing pattern and calm my heart back into my chest. It took a lot to convince myself that I was going to be fine and I finally mustered up the confidence to stretch my leg up and wide to pull myself high enough to reach my arm. I did it! Holy sheep shit, I actually did it and the relief brought me to the top with a better sense of confidence. I was proud to have climbed a 90-foot cliff and happy to have conquered my fear, even though I am still afraid of heights!

A couple of days later, Rob planned a fishing trip with us and his friend, Stephan. We packed a lunch and headed a couple of hours away towards the Colorado River. I had never been fly-fishing and assumed that it meant catching fish with actual flies. I was wrong. In fly-fishing, fish are caught by using artificial flies that are cast with a fly rod and a fly line. The fly line is heavy enough to send the fly to the target. The main difference between fly fishing and spin or bait fishing is that in fly fishing the weight of the line carries the hook through the air, whereas in spin and bait fishing the weight of the lure or sinker at the end of the monofilament or braided line gives casting distance (did that make any sense? If not, blame Wikipedia). I put on a waterproof pair of pants that covered my toes and came up to my chest that were held up by suspenders and put on boats that were wore over it. I looked extra sexy. I walked in slow motion through thick mud that pulled me into the earth and carefully walked out into the middle of the river. It was fun as I walked over slippery rocks with the river rushing past my legs as I tried to keep my balance while holding on to my fishing rod. Once I reached the center of the river, I cast my rod far through the air. Apparently, I was good at it but I wasn’t sure if Rob was just telling me that for encouragement. Between catching a few fish and relaxing on the shore as the sun began to rise beautifully over the cliff that hugged the river, it was an incredible day!

Our stay in Flagstaff was coming to an end and with the motorcycle back together, Rocky and I decided to take a road trip to visit the Grand Canyon before we left. It was a warm day and it felt nice to be riding the bike bare without all of our luggage. The Grand Canyon was awesome! I saw it in pictures many times before but they could never describe the view as I had felt it, being there. We spent the day exploring but mainly just simply starring into the distance. When we finally headed back towards Flagstaff, the temperature dropped and night fell quickly. I hate riding at night. Especially on dark roads that hide large animals as they cross. It surprises me that we have never hit one and I was glad to have arrived back safely.

It was time to move on and although I secretly wanted to be adopted into Rob and Christina’s home, we had much more to see and experience. It was nice to be spoiled and great to have had so much fun but the road was waiting for us. I loved Flagstaff! Stay golden, Pony-Boy!

   Rocky rappelling down the cliff face

   Paula coudln’t stand on the third rung of the ladder when painting her house before selling it. This is the moment she first looked down.

   Rob scaling the rock face.

   After tackling her fear of heights, Paula made an attempt at a more challenging climb.

   Stephan and Rob, fly fishing in the Colorado River (photo credits go to Paula)

   Paula taking a lunch break, Stephan taking a pee break.

   Every time I looked over at Stephan, he had one on the line. He tells me it’s like that with the ladies, too.


Rob – The Mountain Man

The view from near Humphrey’s Peak…

   The Grand Canyon

   The Grand Canyon

Christina & Rob

About Rocky