RTW the Jamie Z Way: Winter Hiatus in Phoenix

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile Supporter

    Nov 27, 2012
    Ashland, Oregon
    Housing is the issue of the day. Good luck.
  2. Firenailer

    Firenailer Still Ridin'

    Mar 30, 2010
    One hell of a ride! Thanks for taking the time to bring us along and good luck with the home search!
  3. TDC_ERock

    TDC_ERock Been here awhile Supporter

    Apr 9, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Oh, how fitting that Lightcycle is the first to chime in on puns. :rofl
    roadcapDen and Sunday Rider like this.
  4. Vrode

    Vrode Still half-fast... Supporter

    Jan 21, 2014
    Northern Vermont
    Glad you got the job thing sorted. Best of luck with the living arrangements. The seasonal change is upon us here so it's time. Happy wintering!
  5. Meatn'taters

    Meatn'taters Not any more Supporter

    Sep 16, 2009
    Sonoma County, CA
    PM Sent.

    In the meantime, I’m in immediate need for a temporary place to stay anywhere in the Phoenix area. I’ve been living out of a hotel for the past week, and it’s more than I’d like to pay. If you have, or know someone who can put me in a spare bedroom for a reasonable rate until I can find something more permanent, please send me a PM.
    Jamie Z likes this.
  6. salt cured

    salt cured Adventurer

    Feb 25, 2021
    How did you like the cascatelli?
  7. Lesharoturbo

    Lesharoturbo Nerdly Adventurer

    Mar 23, 2009
    Austin TX
    Just read the whole thing, excellent report.

    Enjoy your winter in AZ. I get there from time to time for work. Next time I am there I will buy you a beer or 3.
    Jamie Z likes this.
  8. hooligan998

    hooligan998 Save a life, grope your wife.

    Nov 5, 2018
    Chester, VA
    Very cool ride report. Gives me even more inspiration. Soon.
  9. MT Hillbilly

    MT Hillbilly n00b

    Nov 27, 2019
    I know they xray the grain cars coming down from canook, have found bodies, in those , and they start it AFTER the engines pass, so its probably NOT good for one to drive through there when they are on!
    Hill Climber likes this.
  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Jan 19, 2016
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Well hot damn @Jamie Z, congrats and good on ya man! Have been off doing the PNW backpacking thing and haven't been keeping track of stuff on the forum of late, so glad I checked back in and saw your last few updates.

    Totally enjoyed the pics and story from your travels after crossing back into the States. And what a f*ckin' treat to meet @Ohio_Danimal and trade stories; can only imagine how wonderful that must have been in person.

    I hope the next several months of working in the casino are fulfilling along multiple lines...your bank account, meeting interesting folks, and enjoying the downtime until you're able to throw a leg over your Honda again.

    Sincere thanks again for providing such an exceptional report and the motivation to get out there and do it. Can't follow my path quite yet, but the time is coming when I will.

    Stay safe amigo, enjoy your days, and keep that Jamie Z attitude in all the things.
  11. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    Well, it’s finally official. I started my job here in Phoenix today.


    I find it fitting that I'm working for the Tohono O'odham tribe. Their name means "Desert People." Much of my ride up this point has been around indigenous people.

    It’s been a slow process, as I originally applied for the position the first week of October, and then had my interview and was hired on October 20.

    After that I had to wait a week for them to check out my paperwork, then just under two weeks to pass the background check, and then waiting six more days for their next orientation class. They told me from the start that the hiring process would be lengthy, so I was expecting this, but it’s made for a bit of tedium.

    After orientation, several days of “training.” I’ve been in this business for years. All I need is a quick overview of the way they do things here in case it’s different from what I’m used to. I was starting to get a bit impatient.

    In the meantime I’ve been staying with an ADV inmate who reached out to me back in October with an offer of a spare room for rent. He has a three-bedroom home and rents out the two extra bedrooms.

    My cousin and I have met up a few times for beers; he invited me to his weekly coworker night.


    I flew back to Denver to retrieve my motorcycle.


    I took the scenic way back to Phoenix.



    And I discovered a slight coolant leak.


    After a bit of research, I found a few other people who have had the same problem. A simple matter of replacing a $2 gasket fixes it.

    Back in Phoenix I took a day trip to check out the local desert in my car.


    And I spent about a week exploring southern Arizona, including Tucson.



    And a couple days in Saguaro National Park.


    The geography here is not what I was expecting, and quite a bit different from Colorado. The mountains here are “sky islands.” Instead of a long mountain chain, there are peaks rising from the desert. There aren’t as many amazing curvy mountain roads like I expected there to be. Generally speaking, the roads can go around the mountains here, rather than over or through them.

    I toured the Titan Missile Museum and the Sonoran Desert Museum.



    The Desert Museum is a huge facility and I didn’t leave enough time to see everything. Glad I went there when It wasn’t hot. Most of the exhibits are outside.

    At Chiricahua National Monument I hiked a several-mile loop.


    In addition to the cool geological features in the park, Chiricahua is where Paul Fugate went missing from. He’s the only National Park Service Ranger to ever disappear without a trace. It’s a bizarre story which has never been solved, and in which the Park Service itself did not respond well: a week or two into the search for Paul, the Park Service fired him for “job abandonment” and it took his wife years to collect benefits owed to her.


    I drove up US191 and stayed in Springerville. The next day I toured the Casa Malpais archeological site.


    The two- or three-story structures were constructed of volcanic rock and located near a collapsed cliff ledge under a mesa.

    I was the only person on the tour.

    I ate ribs at Avery’s.


    And then returned to Phoenix, anticipating a call from my employer.

    I have to say it’s going to take me a little bit to warm up to Phoenix. Everywhere I go is seemingly filled with homeless people, panhandlers, and addicts. Maybe it’s just the neighborhood where I’m staying, but it sure feels like wherever I’ve been in the city is the middle of a homeless camp.

    There are a lot of struggling people here. I imagine that has a lot to do with the climate in Arizona, the large Native American population in this region, and the proximity to Mexico.

    My roommates have warned me about crime, and told me to keep nothing of value in my car. Despite this being a fairly nice neighborhood and my car and motorcycle parked inside a carport, they’ve told me that people will walk up and down the street trying all the car doors and will grab whatever they can.

    The streets and traffic are not what I’m used to. People drive very aggressively here; speeds on the main roads are well above the speed limit, and I’ve been regularly tailgated and cut off. It’s quite chaotic. No accidents or close calls yet, but I’m not entirely comfortable driving here, and I’m normally a confident driver. In addition, there are some unusual traffic lanes and signals which I haven’t figured out. I’ve missed a couple of left turns because it seems like the turn lanes go straight into oncoming traffic. And there have been a couple of times where I may have run a red light because the red arrow was placed mid-turn. And Jesus Christ, so many speed bumps!

    And I’m still completely lost whenever I go out anywhere. I’m slowly learning the layout of the roads and highways, and learning where things are in relation to each other, but I feel disoriented when I'm out and about. This is where driving for Uber would help me greatly learn the city. I remember moving to Denver in 2015 and it didn’t take long before I had an idea of where everything was. I don’t know if it’s true, but Phoenix feels a lot more spread out than my experience in Denver, where things are more centralized.

    This feeling is a big reason why I tend to avoid cities when I travel.

    After my new employer called to schedule me for orientation, I had six days to kill, so I took a trip to Las Vegas. Technically speaking, I’ve been to Las Vegas, back in 2015, and even wrote about it in my “Walkabout” report from the time, but that visit was barely more than 12 hours in the city, and I didn’t get to see much. So this time I planned to spend a few days in town.

    I got a fancy room at The Orleans, and it was a lot more expensive than I was expecting.


    The nightly “resort fees” are more than the room itself. And when I tried to book a room for the weekend, the price quadrupled, so I just stayed a couple of midweek nights.

    The view from my room wasn’t bad, looking over the Strip.


    I took the casino shuttle to the Strip the next day to check out all the big casinos. They are much bigger and more luxurious than I was expecting.


    I knew I’d only be in town for one evening, and I wanted to check out a show. I’ve been a big fan of Penn and Teller since their early days on David Letterman, and I bought a ticket to see them at the Rio.


    After everyone filled the theater, the opening act finished up his set, then a voice came over the loudspeaker. “Hi folks. This is Teller. I’m afraid we’ve had an emergency situation come up and we won’t be able to perform tonight. We are terribly sorry.” And he went on to explain how to get a refund on the tickets.

    If you know Penn and Teller at all, this would be exactly something which would be part of their show, so for the first minute or two, nobody moved. Then people slowly started to leave the theater. I wasn’t convinced that this was some elaborate gag, but eventually casino staff came up and told us all that the show was cancelled.

    What a disappointment.

    So I put the top down and drove down Las Vegas Boulevard, past all the casinos, including the 1,149-foot (350 m) Stratosphere Tower, now called “The Strat.”


    Many years ago I had an opportunity to get a job at the Stratosphere. A couple of my friends took the offer and moved to Vegas. I’m glad I didn’t go because they all returned several months later. The Stratosphere was a colossal failure. I’m not exactly sure who owns it now or how business is going. I didn’t go inside.

    The next day I checked out of my room and headed east, to Hoover Dam.


    I’m quite amazed that I’ve never been here before. I was impressed, though tours have been canceled because of Covid.

    I drove along Lake Mead, or what’s left of it.


    And found some other nice scenery.


    And stopped at Glen Canyon dam. I found the bridge here to be most impressive.


    I got back to my place Sunday night, and woke up early the next day for 8am orientation.

    Looks like I’m employed again... And I'll be in Phoenix for the time being. The plan right now is to stay here until May (shhh, don't tell my employer!) and then, assuming the world is in a better place by then, I'll be back on the road.
  12. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

    Sep 4, 2011
    sunny san diego
    Great update, Come on May!!
    Jamie Z likes this.
  13. ZGirl

    ZGirl Girly Adventurer

    Aug 12, 2009
    Cumberland Plateau: God's Country
    Nice Jamie! Sorry to hear about the show being cancelled. We have always enjoyed them also.
  14. tag3

    tag3 Doofus

    Jan 17, 2014
    Inland from the coast of Santa Cruz and Trona.
    Nice to see this.
    Jamie Z likes this.
  15. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town... Supporter

    Jul 27, 2016
    Here and there... but more there than here
    I spent several months living in southern AZ in 2018 and your pics bring back a lot of memories. It’s cool (for me anyway) you ended up working for the Tohono O’odham. I was living in Why, right on the reservation border so knew quite a few from the Nation. They have a really neat culture and mythos. While I didn’t handle the heat very well, being in the Sonoran Desert in the summer was really interesting. A lot of cool things happen after it’s a hundred degrees every day, such as the cacti blooming, snakes, lizards, and other critters being out and about, and beautiful (if melting) sunny skies. The sunsets were always amazing!

    I hated Phoenix though. I call it the poster child for urban sprawl. Even though it was further, we preferred to go to Tucson for supply runs.

    If you get a couple days for a quick trip, check out the Organ Pipe National Monument. They have camping and hiking, and a couple loops out into the desert you’d be fine on your bike. The west loop might be a bit much for the Miata.
    The Apache trail heading north is also a good run.

    I too look forward to your return to “the trip”. Here’s hoping you enjoy this interlude as much as possible.
    Jamie Z and liv2day like this.
  16. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer Supporter

    Jul 19, 2006
    The Bluegrass

    Why ? I went through there because while researching a cross country trip , there it was on the map. Just outside of Why I saw 3 Hispanic guys in the shade of a big bush. One of them started waving his arms to flag me down as if he had been waiting all day for a sidecar ride.
    Jamie Z, RhinoVonHawkrider and gpfan like this.
  17. Arbolmano

    Arbolmano Not so Studly

    Feb 1, 2014
    Commiefornia! 93420
    Very sweet to see Jamie settled in, earning duckets and still seeing things. Phoenix is so over run. Much blame on Retiring Californians taking advantage of “cheap” real estate. A couple of friends have done that only to realize that the living in Phoenix is worse than East LA with uninhabitable weather 6 to 9 months per year (unless you live indoors). May will come soon! Pray the World gets vaccinated before the Virus becomes endemic.
    Baroquenride and gpfan like this.
  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    This is pretty typical for me. I seem to have a history of not getting very good life out of my chains, though I usually get far better than average tire and brake life. It doesn't add up.

    I feel like the more I try to take care of the chain, the worse it is... so for this most recent chain, installed back in Colorado at Fin's place, all I've done is clean it off with WD40 now and then.

    I'd have to double check, but I think it's steel. It's a name brand, and not a "racing" style or other cheap version.
    Ha! I was wondering if anyone would notice that. Amy hassled me for ordering five pounds of pasta online, and it took something like four months to be delivered.

    I like it, though I can't say for sure it's my favorite pasta shape. Have you tried it? I find that the ruffles have a tendency to break off, so you end up with a few random pieces. But I do like the thick texture of the pasta.

    I'd be up for that for sure. I want to try out some more of the breweries around here. I've been to a couple now... the house where I'm renting a room is dry (which is probably a good thing) so I haven't been able to try all the local beers.

    I was looking at that on the map. I'll try to make it out there.

    Unfortunately my job here is full time, unlike my part time job in Colorado which afforded me a lot more free time to explore the state.
  19. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Aug 21, 2016
    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    Jamie, I can relate to and agree with this statement. On my CB500X the original chain was totally done and replaced along with sprockets at 24000 kms (under 15k miles) When it ended it was quick— required constant adjustment that at the end lasted only a few kms. I had meticulously cleaned and lubed it.
    The replacement chain has been basically ignored cause I just had a spare set sitting here and figured would change at under 50000 kms. Went into storage at 56000 kms with chain seeming like new. I think I adjusted once and at tire replacement.
    Never cleaned, infrequently lubed, ride it and forget it seems to work better.
    orv, Cal and glittleman like this.
  20. Arbolmano

    Arbolmano Not so Studly

    Feb 1, 2014
    Commiefornia! 93420
    I’ve slept with my motorbike when forced to dwell in dubious spots. My friend kept his restored Old Harley in the Living room as Christmas tree in Winter. Pop the doors off for clearance, ask landlord first.
    fasttortoise and glittleman like this.