Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah–Grand Canyon: A Solo Gal Lives a Dream

Text: Nicole Espinosa • Photography: Nicole Espinosa

Being a single mother means that I need to pull some pretty big strings to be able to get away for a solitary week-long ride. Moving Heaven and Earth is worth it, though, to free me from those squeezing daily demands. It is a quest for reinvention that sends me on a trip from Los Angeles to one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world. What better way to taste autonomy than by way of a Suzuki DR-Z400S to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon … alone. Now, this is my idea of bliss.

The Round Boulder Faces of 
Indian Cove, Joshua Tree 
National Park, CA

I’m off, yielding to the whims of the road and whatever quest unfolds beneath me. Camping gear and a seven-day supply of dehydrated food give me a real sense of independence on this fall day in October. Self-reliance quickly explodes into sheer explorative excitement as I round the curved road that delivers me to the rock climbers’ paradise known as Indian Cove in Joshua Tree National Park, CA. On this late Sunday afternoon amid the dramatic and contrasting boulder piles that almost seem to speak of their exciting history, I have my pick of campsites.

After a quick setup, I start my JetBoil stove and enjoy a dinner of rehydrated ground beef, pan-fried grated cauliflower, roasted red peppers, garlic, onions, and a jar of homemade tangy BBQ sauce. As dusk turns into night, T-shirt weather has me venturing off with my headlamp to discover a flat-topped boulder where I sit and soak in the silence of the evening underneath a sea of brilliant stars and dense Milky Way. This magical moment helps wash away any lingering pre-ride stress before I float back to camp and dive into the comfort of my Big Agnes Roxy Ann sleeping bag. The voyage begins.

An Intersection Called Earl

This second day really has me noticing an exaggerated bike problem. My lowered DRZ has the stock sidestand pushing my motorcycle up to an almost perpendicular angle. Parking it on any uneven ground with this load is cause for my bike to take a dirt nap. Luckily, a gas station attendant and dual sport aficionado directs me straight to my new friends at Desert Cycle Works in the neighboring town of Twentynine Palms. Dawn Benton, owner and welding torch artisan, slips my loaded DRZ up on the rack before tackling his next job. In no time at all, he slices through my stand and welds the foot back on, minus 1 1/2 inches. After we all admire Dawn’s reconstructed perfect angle, my new buddies send me off to the next leg of desolate road, CA Highway 62 east toward Parker.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2013 back issue.