25th April 2016 Williams, Az to Flagstaff, Az 66.7 kms - 41.4 miles Up = 706m - Down = 467m
25th April 2016 - Williams, Arizona to Flagstaff, Arizona.
It was April 25th here - so of course we remembered the significance of this date and the fact that if we were "home" - in either Australia or New Zealand we would be attending Anzac Day ceremonies and remembering. But this year - it is the first day back on our bikes after our rest day and we were quite chuffed that it was down as a "short" day of just over 60 kms. Sure there was a bit of climbing and we would reach the highest point of the whole trip - but we were starting at 2,100 metres above sea level so to get to 2,234 metres above sea-level meant we didn't have far to go. Interestingly - to put things in perspective - the highest mountain in Australia is Mt Kosciuszko at 2,228 metres. In New Zealand, Mt Cook (Aoraki) on the other hand is 3,724 metres high.
After the heat taking such a terrible toll on us previously - it seems crazy that today it is going to be very cold! The weather forecast says temperatures will range between 5 and 10C !!!!! I had heard gusty winds all night and these were forecast to continue and were mainly side-winds with occasionally a bit of side/rear. Rain was also predicted later in the day - so I was glad of the jacket I bought in England last year and had it over some warm under-layers to start the day.
A short day distance-wise today so we set off at 9:00 am. FromWilliams to Flagstaff would have to be the roughest "shoulders" we have ever been on. Our progress was therefore not quite as fast as we expected. There were wind warnings out on the I-40, so we had to be mindful of that - the gusts were strong.
We laughed and joked and enjoyed a couple of light snow storms early in the ride as we rode up to the highest point so far - 7,335 ft - and then enjoyed the downhill descent into Flagstaff. We had done well - past the first freeway exit into Flagstaff - and the thoughts went on ahead thinking we would be into the camp just after 12 noon for a nice short day!!
The skies had been dark and overcast all day - but suddenly they became darker and the snow became thicker. We must have had only 5 miles to go so we tried to speed up a bit. It wasn't easy to do as the snow on the road was making things a bit slippery. Finally the off-ramp we needed to take loomed - so up the ramp we went - needing to make a left turn at the top. Our camp ewas less than a mile from here.
But boom, as we turned a strong wind gust hit us and almost blew us off our bikes. The snow became driving and heavier - and - what probably worried me the most - thunder and lightning started!!! We struggled to get off our bikes, off the road and onto the footpath to make our way to a shopping centre we could see nearby. It was really gloomy now and freezing, freezing cold.
We stopped in the first doorway we could find and I made phone contact with Pat who was in fact, just across the road. There wasn't much room where we were trying to shelter so Pat agreed to drive across to the main shopping centre we could see about 200 metres away - and we decided to make a dash for it.
We took shelter in the foyer at JC Penny, Flagstaff Mall - and watched the snow come and go, and at times blow past us horizontally. When it eased a little we headed to camp which ended up being only 1.3 kms away. They felt sorry for us (we were frozen) and swapped Annie and Don's tent site for the cutest little cabin. We drove back down town to get supplies, and came back to the warmth of the cabin and opened a bottle of Toi Toi as we really felt we had earned it. Sitting huddled in a warm cabin drinking Toi Toi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and eating biscuits and cheese while it snows outside isn't too bad!!!!
The little cabin had a microwave so that was how dinner was cooked. I think I slept with all my clothes on in the van as it wasn't warm at all!! My fingers were crossed the weather is better tomorrow!!
The staff atFlagstaff KOA were fantastic. When we arrived storm-blown and frozen - they were exceptionally kind in giving us "Hogan" cabin to stay in!!! It is a great park here with lots of trees, and the RV and tent sites are beautifully spread around the area giving great privacy. In finer weather it would be beautiful - but to experience it in the snow also had its beauty - even though freezing cold!! The facilities block is terrific - so warm - so clean - perfect!!!! If you are ever inFlagstaff - this is a terrific place to stay!!