Girl Meets World On A Yamaha FZ-07 Part 3: The Southwest

Learning camping improvisation with Tiff on the road.

Tiff and I met at the track, where she races her Ninja 250 with more enjoyment and positivity than anyone else on the grid. When Tiffani got word that she’d be getting laid off from her job in Los Angeles, she didn’t fret. In typical ultra-optimistic Tiff style, she saw it as an opportunity to hit the road on her newly acquired Yamaha FZ-07. What follows are Tiffani’s reports from the road, originally posted for her friends on Facebook but shared here with her permission for all to enjoy. — Ari Henning

My fourth day on the road with my little Yamaha was pretty easygoing and relaxing. I entered Zion around 10:00 am and the lady at the booth told me that if I was quick, I might score a camp spot. I rushed straight to the south campground and frantically searched. After almost giving up, I noticed one spot already vacated with no one around. I parked my bike in it as fast as I could, double, triple, quadruple checked the reservation paper was for the day before, and celebrated everything that was good. Score! As I stood in the glow of victory, some birds with Yamaha blue feathers landed near the FZ. It was clear today was going to be good.

I spent the whole day hiking and exploring, then I ended the night by hopping on the last shuttle and watching the sun set on the canyon. The shuttle driver was pretty cool, and since I was the only one actually on it, we chatted and he taught me some cold weather camping tips (Cayenne in your socks to warm your feet? Is that a thing?)

Yamaha FZ-07 tour at Zion
Zion is going to be really hard to top. Good luck, rest of America©Motorcyclist

The next day, however was where I learned my plans were even less solid than I thought. It turns out that the Petrified Forest (among many other national parks on my list) doesn’t actually have campgrounds. Not really sure where I was going to sleep that night, I hopped on my bike and headed south to Arizona, figuring I'd magically develop a plan. I rode some beautiful roads on the way through Zion, taking the 89, then veering off to the 89A when the highway forked. I ended up on an unexpected cruise through Kaibab forest, up through chilly mountain roads still speckled with snow, then down to an epic view of the vermilion cliffs. I kept going through to Flagstaff, AZ, then continued down the 40 convinced I would still go to the Petrified Forest but still not sure where I’d sleep. But as the day wore on, I realized that wasn’t going to happen in daylight. I veered off course in favor of a campground in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, which ended up being a very paved and commercial state park. Not the prettiest or most affordable, but it was a safe place to sleep after over 400 miles on the bike, so I’ll take it.

Winding through the Kaibab Forest on an FZ-07.
Winding through the Kaibab Forest then descending down to the Vermillion cliffs. The Vermillion cliffs were as vermillion as advertised.©Motorcyclist

At first, I was ready to call the day a failure. But as I parked and unloaded, I realized I was unconsciously still smiling. I guess a day spent riding a motorcycle is never really a bad day.

After yet another freezing night in a tent, I was ready for some warmer weather. I was meeting friends in Tucson, AZ, that day which was only 189 miles away, so I figured it’d be a quick jaunt down. I left the camp and headed out.

As I hopped on the 77, I glanced at my gas gauge and figured I must have a good 90 miles left in the tank. No reason to stop, as I didn’t see any signs saying the next service area was far away.

But far away it was. The road was actually quite beautiful. It twisted elegantly around the mountains and through the forests and made for a nice and enjoyable ride. Until I was about 30 miles passed my blinking low fuel indicator with no end in sight. I took the remainder of the road in “try to conserve fuel” mode, and after around 80 something miles, sputtered into a gas station and filled in 3.5 gallons of the 3.7-gallon tank. Eesh.

But all’s well that ends well. I continued to Tucson, lamented not being allowed to legally lane split outside California, and met up with Christina and GC. They took me for a ride up Mount Lemmon, and it was a blast getting to spend time with familiar faces. I had forgotten how fun it was to ride WITH people (and also how well the FZ handles without a million pounds on the back).

Riding up to the café on Mount Lemmon
Naked bike party! Riding up to the café on Mount Lemmon with friends made for a nice break from the isolation of the road.©Motorcyclist

This was also a good time for my first shower since Vegas and some laundry. The little things you don’t realize you love ‘til they’re gone.

Next stop, New Mexico! Having forgotten that New Mexico is a different time zone, I didn't have nearly as much time as I thought to cover the 340 miles, so I went for a long boring stretch on the 10. I got to White Sands shortly before sunset and got to look around for a good hour before having to be on the road to figure out a place to sleep. This uncertainty had become much easier to swallow the more I did it. I found a KOA campground in the nearby city of Amalogordo and set up. I was a little sketched out at first by the location, as it was in a weirdly industrial area, but it had nice facilities, and a man in an RV (who used to ride—I’ll always love that riders never hesitate to approach me) assured me that he stayed in KOAs all over the country and had never had an issue. Never been to one of these things, but it seems alright.

The quartzite White Sands
The quartzite White Sands were also as white as advertised.©Motorcyclist

Exhausting week, but I'm starting to think I can really do this!