Riding through the vast southwestern part of the country, where the road stretches before us to the horizon and we can look out over a valley to the mountain ranges 100 miles distant, makes us appreciate the small details. A few cattle grazing in the dry scrub brush, birds lazily swooping on the updrafts, a couple of trees next to an abandoned homestead, the feel of the wind as we zoom down the almost empty 2-lane paved road.
We rode east on Utah 59, which becomes Arizona 389 and entered the Arizona Strip, the remote, arid, northernmost part of Arizona that lies north of the Grand Canyon. Indigenous people lived in this area for at least 8,000 years and Spanish explorers first saw the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the 1500's. The first Europeans didn't arrive to this more remote section of present-day Arizona until the late 1700's.
We picked up US 89A in Fredonia and gradually started to climb into the pine forests of the Kaibab Plateau.
We enjoyed the cooler temperatures at this higher elevation as the road curved and climbed to almost 8,000' elevation before we started to wind down into the valley along the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, known for sherbet-colored swirls of slickrock and towering cliffs.