We’d been planning our trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for months. We were going to cruise down Hwy 89 into Arizona, taking the quite roads all the way. My daughter Amanda was going to ride behind me and one of my oldest friends (Steve Gilchrist from Cardston, Canada) was going to ride along on his Buell.
Our late morning start in sunshine and fluffy clouds couldn’t have been better. You already know I love 89 through Fairview, Mt. Pleasant, and Manti. And as we entered Spanish Fork Canyon, Amanda leaned forward and said she liked the windmills that captured the wind rushing down the valley. She must be my daughter, because I love the familiar site too.
The weather was beautiful as the road passed beneath us and the each little town brought us a little closer to our destination. We had put off lunch thinking we’d stop in Salina at my new favorite small-town diner, Mom’s Cafe. But it didn’t take long before we were sitting in our booth and I was enjoying their famous chicken friend steak. A review I’d read last week suggested it was the best they’d ever had, so I decided to give it a try. It was incredible.
I like the old diners (this one has been around for a long time), the food tastes like something my grandmother would have made when I was a kid. The waitress was very friendly and even indulged us by taking a photograph.
Although you can’t make out the picture on the wall behind us, one of the heroes of my youth had actually been in the diner at some point. Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier in his jet Glamorous Glennis had possibly enjoyed the same chicken fried steak I was eating.
The original building has been around since 1889 and Roadfood suggests travelers have been stopping here for over 70 years. The original “Mom” has passed, and although I never had the pleasure of eating there when she was in the kitchen, it’s become a favorite stop of mine (I’m sure Amanda and I will make a stop on our way back).
The route down 89 gets a little convoluted after leaving Salina. The maps and routes all want to push you onto I-70 for several miles, but we jumped off on the first Sigurd exit. I have to admit, my route-finding skills left a little to be desired, and we got a little turned around in Richfield and had to (dare I say it) ask for directions. Main Street in Richfield is the unmarked Hwy 89 for those of you who intend to follow this wonderful piece of highway into Southern Utah. One well-meaning old farmer suggested we jump back on 70 and head a little further south and east, “Otherwise your just gonna go through a bunch of little towns,” he said.
We ignored his advice.
It was a delightful ride through beautiful rural Utah.
Just before we entered the Fishlake National Forest and a wonderful canyon section, it started to rain and didn’t really stop until we arrived at Ruby’s Inn. With Amanda behind me and the roads potentially slick, I took it easy through the canyon but it was nevertheless, a wonderful ride. I’m looking forward to the same canyon on our return trip when the weather is a little more cooperative.
Steve’s Buell doesn’t have a gas gauge, just a warning light, and outside of Panguich (for the second time today) his bike, struggling for fuel, came to rest at the side of the road. The small gas can now strapped to his luggage was tagged “The Gas Can of Shame” by Amanda—to be worn as a scarlet letter to remind us to always follow those promptings that flicker through the back of our minds to stop for gas, check the oil, or make sure there’s enough tire pressure. This event would have gone unmentioned had it only happened once.
We arrived a little later than we expected, but our warm room at Ruby’s was great. Although the restaurant was closed, we bought a few groceries to get us through the night and settled into bed. Amanda passed out as her head hit the pillow, and mine was soon to follow—after the two old geezers caught up on old times for a while. Because Steve lives in Canada, we don’t see each other too often (which is probably why we’ve remained friends for so long). Eventually sleep won out and I dreamed about the next days ride—I have no idea when Steve finally closed his eyes.