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postheadericon Rally Report: El Scoot de Tucson IV

Well, El Scoot IV has come and gone and what an event it was. We had more bikes and riders on the ride portion than for any other ride in club history!

El Scoot is a little hard to describe. It’s not just a “ride” because we have a big dinner at the end, followed by a raffle. It doesn’t exactly feel like a “rally”, either, although I don’t really know why. We are calling this a one-day rally from now on, though.

From Foothills Magazine. This is what the start of the bicycle race looks like

We started El Scoot because of the annual bicycle event here in Tucson: El Tour de Tucson. It is a ride that takes cyclists on a 109 mile circumnavigation of the city. I have ridden in El Tour a couple of times and really enjoyed it. After I started riding scooters and planning rides, I decided to try doing the route on scooters. We can’t ride it exactly because there are two “river/wash” crossings and part of it goes through a private, gated community. Instead of 109 miles, ours was more like 120.

Creating the route was relatively easy, but I didn’t want to have just a ride and nothing else. I talked with my wife and my local scooter shop (Scoot Over) and we decided to have a sponsored stop or two along the way, just like the cyclists do, then finish with a barbecue. (I enjoy cooking on my wood smoker and decided it would be fun to make a special meal for my scooter friends. My wife agreed to make the rest of the meal and away we went. I’ve yet to get all the stops “sponsored” but I’m still working on it.

Check out the variety of scoots as we ended the ride at my house for BBQ and fun.

El Scoot I was well received. We all had a good time, so it was decided that we would keep it on our annual list of events. El Scoot I was actually the precursor to our annual spring, 3-day rally. Doing El Scoot gave us the confidence we needed to do the May Day Rally, now known as “For A Few CC’s More.” I think there were 16 bikes that first year. Shelby and Scoot Over sponsored one of our stops and provided coffee and donuts.

16 riders heading south on Houghton Rd near Catalina Highway

El Scoot II also had 16 riders, but a new group participated: the green Valley Scooter Club. We felt very good about having another regional group join us for an event. We had a good time. Scoot Over was there once again to provide us with some coffee and pastries along the way.

Different faces and different bikes, but still having a great ride on El Scoot III

El Scoot III was a little different. Due to non-scooter related issues, we were unable to host the barbecue, so chose to do the ride, then have the barbecue at a local BBQ joint: The Hog Pit. We did a long ride, and the route was altered just a little bit for variety. We all had a good time, although comments were made that the homemade meal would have been preferred. A review of pics from the event indicates there were a total of (care to guess?) 16 scooters on the ride. There were a lot of new faces, including two riders who came down from the Phoenix Scooter Club. The Green Valley guys didn’t make it, but Phoenix did. We were so stoked about this ride that one of our riders even had patches made to commemorate it. below, is the route as we rode it this year:


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Along comes El Scoot IV. Leading even 10 or 15 bikes through city traffic can be a bit trying. I was ready to alter our route rather significantly. After all, I am not affiliated with the bicycle event, so I have no obligation to keep to their route. Also, Tucson has very nice riding roads very near the city, so a new route was created that would keep us more rural, into more twisty, fun roads and away from stoplights and traffic.

2012 has been a good year for scooter sales, which has meant that the Sky Island Riders have been experiencing growth as well. We were still quite surprised, however, when  the RSVP count a few days before the ride was in excess of 40! Through their meetup.com site, we took note that there were even 16 riders scheduled to ride down from Phoenix. There was a little bit of scrambling as we made sure that there would be enough food to feed 50. I have been involved with scooter events long enough to know that RSVP’s are rarely an accurate count of how many folks turn up. You never know whether the actual number will be much more or much less than predicted. We did all the preparation we could, then plunged into Sunday morning and El Scoot.

Eight riders got up early to ride the “Ride to the Ride” ride.

We added additional segment to the long ride this year. We added a “Ride to the Ride.” The start of the official ride was on Tucson’s northwest side, which made it easier and closer for the Phoenix riders. The official ride also started on the edge of town so that those who didn’t want to ride as much “in town” would be able to skip the metro riding. The “Ride to the Ride” started early and we stopped in three different places so that those who didn’t want to ride to the start alone could join the group someplace close to their home and arrive at El Scoot en masse.

The Green Valley contingent was waiting for us. We had another motorcycle this year, too.

Working together to get everyone’s bike ready to ride.

We had eight riders join us for the Ride to the Ride. We arrived at James Kriegh Park, joined several who were already there and counted at scooters began to gather. Shelby and the Scoot Over Suburban arrived with coffee and donuts and riders were renewing old acquaintances  and making new friends as they enjoyed some breakfast.

Here are the nine riders from Phoenix who had to do a lot of riding to join us at El Scoot. Big props to them.

Ride out was scheduled for 10:00 am and at 9:55, Glen and 8 other riders showed up from Phoenix. We gave the Phoenix crew a few minutes to rest and as we pulled out around 10:15, there were 32 bikes behind me. 33 was not only a record for El Scoot, but a record number for any single ride in SIR’s history!

Here’s the dweeb cutting into our formation of scooters.

Here is our formation snaking around what we call scooter killer curve.

The ride itself was relatively uneventful. Early in the ride, we had some knucklehead in a white car cut right into the middle of the formation at a stoplight. The group quickly reformed and we were on our way. I really enjoyed the site of all the bikes as they snaked their way up Picture Rocks Road as well entered Saguaro National Park west. One rider (thanks Randy) estimated that the single file line of bikes was approximately a half mile in length.

You can’t see all of the bikes, but here we are at Saguaro National Park Visitors’ Center

We rode through the park down Sandario Road, turned east on Kinney and made our first stop at the national park visitors’ center. After a few minutes to rest and visit some more, we rode the rest of Kinney Rd, then weaved our way down to Mission Road. We rode past San Xavier Mission. From there it was to the least scenic portion of the ride: Hughes Access Road to Los Reales past the city dump (oh boy.)

This is on Mary Ann Cleveland Way, in Vail

We arrived at our second stop about an hour ahead of schedule. We did have one bike run out of fuel just as we got to the TTT truck stop, but otherwise the group was still intact. We stopped at Thomas Jay Park, in Little Town, which has been a stop at all the previous El Scoots. Here we had more refreshments and fuel was available.

It was a beautiful sunshiney day with some interesting cloud formations

From Little Town, we made our way to Valencia and east to ride to Pistol Hill Road and back along Old Spanish Trail Rd. We lost a couple of bikes as someone else needed fuel. Other than that, the rest of the group successfully pulled in to my house to enjoy some BBQ and the raffle.

Gathering together to eat and have some fun

Nothing builds up an appetite like a long scooter ride

I know I sure had fun hosting this event and I hope everyone had fun. Stan Scott won the raffle’s grand prize: a hand-made quilt. I would also like to thank Cycle Gear and Ride Now Power Sports for providing raffle items. Of, course, a big thanks goes to Scoot Over for providing breakfast and for driving behind us the whole route as sag wagon. I am thankful that no bikes needed to be hauled away from the ride. Finally, the biggest thanks and appreciation goes out to my wife. Without her help, i would be unable to do much of what I do with SIR’s.

 

 

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postheadericon Some Southern Arizona Shrines of Vastly Different Things

Grass-covered plain with mountains in the distance

Everyone knows that Arizona has a lot of great history. Especially if you are interested in the old west or ancient history of North America. How about baseball history? Did you know that one of the oldest  ballparks in America is located in Arizona? Neither did I until my friend, Stan, took me to Warren Ballpark. But first, the trip there:

 

As you know, for me, going someplace is as much about the journey to get there as it is about the destination. Stan and I also try to take each other on roads on which the other has never been before. This makes planning our rides more fun and more challenging.

 

There are only a few ways to get out of Tucson, so those can be a bit repetitive. To combat this, I try to look for sights along the way that I have never noticed before. Since we were headed southeast, we took Houghton Road down to Sahuarita Rd and turned east. A mile or so from our turn onto Highway 83 we came across a special sight.

Gila Monsters are one of the very few poisonous lizards in the world. Don’t mess with them.

The Gila (HEE-luh) Monster is native to the desert southwest and is named after the Gila River basin where it was first discovered. What makes seeing them special is their incredible laziness. They hibernate in the winter and estivate in the summer. They only come out of their burrows when the temperature is perfect. That means they spend as much as 95% of their lives underground, sleeping.

 

It was quite enjoyable, getting a few pics of this guy before he went back to his burrow for more sleep.

 

We saw this guy crossing the road, so we pulled over and ran back to snap some pictures before he crawled away. If you ever see one, stop and check it out, because you may never see another one.

This is a photo from the NPS, but you can now see these guys all over southern AZ.

I didn’t get a pic, but our next visual surprise was seeing a Pronghorn along the road as we approached Sonoita on Highway 83. I don’t remember ever seeing one. I always they they were a type of antelope, but in preparing for this article, I discovered that they aren’t. As a matter of fact, they are the only member of their animal family. I find that quite interesting.

 

This looks like great territory for Pronghorn to me.

We stopped for a brief rest in Sonoita, then turned east again, onto Highway 82. I have written about it before, but the trip between Sonoita and the junction with Highway 90 is quite beautiful. There are grassy plains, livestock and scenic views. Hwy-82 is 2-lane blacktop but is in good condition without very much traffic.

 

We made the turn onto Highway 90 at the community of Whetstone and went south into Sierra Vista. Highway 90 is divided and is in very good condition. It’s only about 12 miles until you hit town.

 

You can get a visitors’ pass to go see the museum.

Sierra Vista has population of about 40,000 and has about all you could need as far as goods and services are concerned. It is a military town as well, since it is adjacent to Fort Huachuca. Sierra Vista has only been incorporated since 1956, but the presence of Fort Huachuca ensures that there is a lot of history to be discovered here. If you’ve got time, stop in at the Fort Huachuca Museum.

 

The shrine is a lot easier to see now that virtuall all of the vegetation has been burned away.

Before we took this trip, Stan had asked me if I knew if the shrine at Our Lady of the Sierras had survived the Monument Fire last year. I didn’t know and wasn’t entirely sure of which shrine he was speaking. I then recalled seeing a large cross and statue on the side of a mountain when I took my youngest son on a drive to Bisbee a few years ago. We had decided to go check it out.

There is a beautiful water feature behind the chapel

 

 

 

Instead of turning to follow Highway 90, we continued straight as the road becomes Buffalo Soldier Road. We followed that until it intersects Highway 92. We followed that south toward Hereford. The shrine is about 6 miles after turning onto 92, but you can see it on the side of the mountain long before you get there. There is a 75 foot tall cross and a 30 foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary 400 feet up on the side of the mountain. To get to the shrine on paved road, turn right on Stone Ridge Rd and right again, on Prince Placer. Follow your eyes up to the parking lot. Be advised, the shrine is on the side of a mountain. The pathways are well maintained, but they are steep. Please plan accordingly.

 

I am not Catholic, but I can appreciate the beauty of this place as well as the dedication it took to make something like this happen. Stan and I headed down the mountain back to Highway 92. I had mentioned the close proximity of the Coronado National Memorial to Stan and, as luck would have it, Stan had never been there.

 

Just over a mile from where we came back onto 92 is the turn to the Memorial. I have written about this before, but it focused, mostly, on the route from the other side, coming in from Parker Canyon Lake. The road from Hereford is shorter and not as pretty as coming in from the west, but the park is still worth the visit. It is a shrine to nature and to Arizona history.

The view from the top of Montezuma Pass is well worth driving on a dirt road for a few miles.

 

We enjoyed talking with the Ranger at the visitors’ center and turned around to finish our trip to Warren Ballpark. (See what I mean by making the journey as good as the destination?) We didn’t do it, but I highly recommend going to the top of Montezuma Pass. It requires 2-3 miles of dirt road, but it is well maintained and the view is fantastic. Also, we saw two more Pronghorn on the Coronado national Memorial Road on our way out.

 

We retraced our steps back out to Highway 92 and turned east and headed toward Bisbee, home of Warren Ballpark. It is a short 20 miles from here to Bisbee. I followed Stan as he turned onto School Terrace Road. I had never been down this road before.

 

I was taken aback as we rode through a section of Bisbee that I had heard about, but never could find. There are houses that looked like they should be in New England rather  than southern Arizona. We turned right onto Douglas and followed that around to Warren Ballpark.

 

This is about all I could see of this notable baseball field

This boulder with a plaque about the field is located right near the ticket booths.

Unfortunately, the field was closed, but I was able to get some pics over the fence and of the plaque outside the field. Warren was built in 1909, one year BEFORE Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL. I guess the big difference is that Rickwood is listed as the oldest professional park in the country, whereas Warren is the oldest continually used park in the country. It’s a shrine to America’s favorite past time. There have been professional teams there intermittently over the years but none in quite a while.

We had just been to a baseball field, so where else to go for lunch than Jimmy’s Hot Dogs? I had every intention of getting one of their delicious hot dogs until I got inside and it was “Spaghetti Wednesday.” Stan got the dog and I got the spaghetti. We were both very pleased with our choices.

 

I stopped and visited Gleeson’s cemetery when I went that way the last time.

We had a couple of options to return to Tucson. A while back I wrote about driving on Gleeson Road, seeing the ghost town. That post mentioned the fact that I needed to chose between two roads to go to Tombstone from the Sulfur Springs Valley. That time time I chose Gleeson, this time I chose Davis.

 

Therefore, we left Tombstone on highway 80 toward Douglas. A couple of miles before getting to Douglas, we turned north on Highway 191 and rode the 18 miles to McNeal and the junction with Davis Rd. The road condition of Davis Rd is good. It has very little traffic, gentle hills and easy curves. It is 24 miles from McNeal to the junction with Highway 80 (again) about 3 miles south of Tombstone.

While we were stopped to re-hydrate a bit, Stan asked me if there was an alternate route to Sierra Vista from Tombstone. “As a matter of fact there is.” I replied and told him about Charleston Road and off we went to get Stan on a second road in a day that he had never traveled.

The author waving from the middle of the old bridge across the San Pedro River

 

Locals tell me that, until a few years ago, Charleston Rd was extremely twisty and hilly but has been straightened for safety reasons. I never went on it before, but it is still an enjoyable piece of asphalt. There is an abandoned bridge where the road used to cross the San Pedro. We stopped there and took a couple of photos.

 

I love the look of the shadows in the cracks and crevices of the mountains.

From there, we came into Sierra Vista, turned north on Highway 90 and returned to Tucson by the way we had come. There was nothing exciting on the way back, but I will say that there were still interesting differences. The fact that it was afternoon, not morning, and the fact that we were traveling west rather than east both combined to make the return trip every bit as enjoyable as the way out.

 
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Here is the map of the route we took

I hope one or more of these places pique your interest and get you headed out to explore places in Arizona you’ve never seen before. Sure, you may have been on one, some or all of the highways mentioned in this article, but have you seen all the sights?

 

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

 

Howard

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postheadericon Never too Old to go to Young, Part II

The previous post had Stan and I in the quaint little town of Young, full of excellent food from Antler’s Bar and ready to leave town.

 

This is the view of Pleasant Valley as you step out of Antlers.

I have mentioned in the past that I like loops, vs going to a place, then turning around and coming back home the same way. There are at least two ways in/out of Young so we left to the north via Forest Service Road 512. This would take us  to Route 260.  from there we would turn west and go to Payson.

 

There is fuel in young. This little place is on the north side of town on FR512

Look to the left and you can see the charred trees. A lot of sand has washed down into the roadway.

From Young it is about 25 miles to Route 260. The first 8 miles of FR-512 are paved. The rest of the way is dirt/gravel. I believe this is the main route in and out of Young, so it is well maintained. Be advised, because of deforestation from the recent fires, a lot of debris had washed into the roadway even on the paved section.   The worst problem with the dirt section was stretches of some serious “washboards.” Make sure your gear is well secured.  One additional note: about one mile outside of Young, there were a pair of signs pointing toward Highway 260. One pointed left, toward a road called Chamberlain Trail; the other point straight ahead at FR-512. In looking at Google Maps, Chamberlain Trail will get you to 260 and it’s about the same distance, but I don’t think it’s as well maintained. There are also several intersections to navigate and I wouldn’t gamble that they are well marked. Your choice, but maybe someone familiar with both roads will read this and leave a comment.

Not my photo, but you get the idea.

The other issue we had was the occasional car or truck barreling down at us at 40-50mph. (I have nightmares of people sliding into me while they are out playing “Rally Car Racer.”) We would have to pull over a bit until the dust had cleared.

 

As you go north out of Young, you will climb about 2000 feet, up onto the Mogollon (muggy-own) Rim, one of Arizona’s defining, though lesser known, geographic features. This escarpment separates the lowers, hotter, desert from the high country. The rim is about 200 miles long and there are campgrounds and hiking trails all along it’s length. If you’re lucky, you may even seen Rim Country’s own version of Bigfoot, the Mogollon Monster.

 

Take note: a lot of this is also open range. This guy was standing in the road until we got fairly close to him.

As with the southern approach into Young, there were more pull-outs for camping along the side of the road. There were some burned out areas from last year’s forest fires, but there are still many beautiful places to camp, hike and take pictures. One of the many things I love about riding through forest, is the smell. The pine trees always smell so good.

 

About 2 miles from the FR-512 junction on Route 260, there is a beautiful parking area where you can look over the edge of the Mogollon Rim and get a real appreciation of what is called “Rim Country.”

 

Is is about 30 miles to Payson from FR-512. This includes one rather steep descent. Road quality is, however, as of this writing, the road is under construction and there are places of force lane changes and active construction. Again, there may be snow and/or ice present in winter months.

 

Storm clouds were moving in as we got fuel at a Circle K outside of Payson.

Payson is a wonderful little town with a population of about 15,000 people. Is has numerous restaurants, services and places for lodging. If you need any services or supplies, you should be able to find them here. On this particular trip, there were some serious looking thunder storms approaching Payson, so we chose to get fuel and head south ASAP.

 

If you ever go on Route 188, next to Roosevelt Lake, you get to cross this groovey bridge

We had two main choices from AZ-87, to return to Tucson. The first was to take 87 until we hit Route 188 and take that around Roosevelt Lake, back to Globe and back to Tucson via Route 77. The other was to follow 87 until we hit the Phoenix metro area and take one of many roads south. I had looked at this prior to departure and thought Gilbert Road looked like a possibility.

 

This is the western edge of a thunderstorm that extended toward Roosevelt. We stayed on the Beeline.

I talked it over with Stan and we decided to let the weather be our guide. We finished gassing up and headed south on Highway 87 (aka the Beeline highway). As we reached the Route 188 junction and looked toward Roosevelt Lake, all we could see was a huge thunderstorm parked a few miles east of us. Gilbert Road it was, then. We continued south.

 

This is afternoon sunlight streaming over mountains northeast of Phoenix

If you ever have to cross the eastern side of the Phoenix metro area and hate busy, crowded, highways as I do, I recommend Gilbert, Power or Ellsworth Roads. Power and Ellsworth both connect with Bush Highway, which connects to the Beeline Highway about 50 miles south of Payson. Both roads continue all the way through the suburbs and terminate at Hunt highway, which takes you to the north side of Florence and allows you to return to Tucson via Route 77. Bush Highway has some nice, twisty sections and road quality is good, however, we were still running ahead of the storm, so I chose to continue to Gilbert Rd.

 

Gilbert Road is less than 20 miles from the Bush Highway intersection but it is still on the edge of the city, so there is only light traffic. It runs due south and 25 miles later, it dumps you out onto AZ-87. That’s right, the Beeline highway. Yes, you could have stayed on 87. It become Country Club Dr at McDowell in Mesa, then becomes Arizona Ave in Gilbert then turns back to the southeast where it, again, crosses Gilbert Rd before going into Coolidge.

 

The skies weren’t as dark as we got close to finishing our crossing of the Phoenix metro-plex. I did see as dust storm (aka Haboob) to our west as we were leaving the south end of Gilbert. I was glad we were going southeast.

 

As with many things, the pic doesn’t do the storm justice. We didn’t want to stop until we were through the worst of it.

We made the turn onto Highway 87 and ran smack into . . . . the dust storm. I have been in one dust storm worse than this one, but it was still an adventure. The wind picked up at the same rate that visibility decreased. I was debating on pulling off to the side of the road and waiting it out, but had images of a dust-blind car careening into us. We kept going.

 


We wanted to pull over just to get pictures of what we were experiencing. It was difficult, for the same reason as just mentioned. As we reached to tail end of the storm, I did manage to find a place to get off the road. We took a few pics and resumed our trip.

 

Darkness fell as we passed through Coolidge. A beautiful full moon rose over the mountains. you can still see some of the dust in the air.

Highway 87 gives you two main options to get back to Tucson. You can continue east at Coolidge and go on into Florence and take Route 77 or you can continue on 87 into Coolidge and on to Picacho. As I believe I have mentioned before, I hate coming into Tucson on 77, aka Oracle Road. Likewise, I really enjoy riding into Tucson on the I-10 access road between Picacho and Tucson. It is in good condition and has very little traffic until you hit Marana.

Edit: Here is a link to a map of the exact route we took from Young back to Tucson.

This brings this two part post to an end. I hope you enjoyed it and that this prompts you to get out and explore a bit.

Howard

 

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postheadericon Never too Old to go to Young, AZ

A lot of my friends, both riders and non-riders, read this blog from time to time. One of the things that is really great about that is that I get occasional suggestions on places to go or roads on which to travel. This installment is the result of one of those suggestions. (Thanks, Craig.)

It’s not often you see a state highway marker on a dirt road.

Have you ever heard of Young, AZ? Odds are that you haven’t, even if you’ve lived in Arizona for a very long time. It’s not because Young is small, although it is. It’s not because Young is located is micro-suburb hidden inside a city, quite the opposite. It certainly isn’t because Young is a forgotten ghost town or that it is “buried” under the waters of Lake Havasu. It is a living, thriving little community. This post is about how I found out about Young as well as how I got there and back.

One day, I got a Facebook message, from my friend Craig, asking me if I had ever been on AZ-288 from Roosevelt to Young, AZ. He was asking how I thought the road conditions would be for a street bike, since he had heard that the road was unpaved to Young was unpaved. I had to confess that I had never been on AZ-288. Actually, I had never even heard of it or this town called Young.

I quickly Googled it, found Young and AZ-288 in the middle of the Tonto National Forest. I mentally plotted a couple of potential routes there and back. My route to Young looked like this. Craig actually rode there 2 days later and told me a little about how beautiful it was, thus making sure that I would be riding there soon. It took a month before I could do it, but on a beautiful Thursday morning, another friend, Stan, and I headed out of Tucson headed for Young.

In Globe, looking west toward Miami. You can see the sign for Route 188 coming up on the right.

Young is located almost due north of Globe, so we took Route 77 out of Tucson. We have had decent rains this summer, so the trip up the San Pedro River Valley was absolutely beautiful. Once past the little town of Winkelman, Rt 77 begins to get more interesting. Over the next 24 miles, the road narrows, gets twisty and begins to climb. You will climb about 3000 feet until you reach Pinal Pass. From there it is a steady 8% down grade for about 9 miles until you reach the junction with US-60 about 3 miles east of Globe.

Globe is a really neat little town with a lot of great history. One of these days I will go there and take a bunch of pics just so Globe gets a proper write up. If you have the time, I recommend a little sight-seeing around the town.

 

The Highway 288 junction is a mile or so from this point. You can see Roosevelt Lake in the distance.

We went through Globe until the turn-off to Route 188/Apache Trail. This is also the road to Roosevelt Lake. About 15 miles after turning onto Rt188, in the middle of a long downhill where there is an incredible view of Lake Roosevelt, we made the turn onto Route 288, also known as the “Desert to Tall Pines Highway.” (Much like the ”Florence-Kelvin Highway” the word “highway” here is being used in a very liberal sense.)

 

You probably can’t see it in this pics, but there is an SUV on the top of that round, grassy area. We almost turned around to ride out there.

Route 288 is a scenically, fantastic road and is “paved” for the first 30 miles. Some of the “paving” has been recent, but they appear to have put down the world’s thinnest layer of asphalt. There were some new pot holes in the newly paved sections and the asphalt appears to be well under an inch in thickness. So, road quality for the first 30 miles is only fair, but it is well worth the trip.

Highway 288 goes from this

 

 

 

… to this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

… to this . . .

 

 

…. to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to turn around at the end of the pavement, you will still have taken a beautiful journey. Those first 30 miles climb about 3000 feet and there are beautiful views of Roosevelt Lake and inspiring mountain vistas as you continue to climb.

Malicious Gap? Great name

From the end of the paved area to Young, is about 18 miles. The road is fairly well maintained but it is far from smooth. Much of the road is over granite surfaces that cannot be grated smooth by heavy equipment. If it has rained recently, there will be a lot of debris in the roadway, so take the necessary precautions. Route 288 reaches a maximum elevation of almost 6400 feet before its descent to Young. Snow is not uncommon at this elevation during the winter.

ADVISORY – There is virtually no vehicular traffic along Rt-288 and patchy cell phone service. Make sure sure you and your vehicle are prepared for this journey.

You won’t have any problems with noisey neighbors out here.

 

If you enjoy camping, there are frequent pull-outs where people pull off the road and set up camp sites. I saw no notices regarding fees, so it may well be free, since there are no services. Do NOT, take my word for this.

 

This marker is located at a scenic overlook of Pleasant Valley

A mile or two from Young, you will experience the return of asphalt and will experience a new appreciation for it.

 

This is looking northeast as we entered Young.

Young is located in the middle of Pleasant Valley and it is, indeed, pleasant to look upon. When we visited, there was lush, green grass about as far as the eye could see, with stunning mountains in the distance, on all sides. We were hit by a rain squall as we dropped into the valley but it quickly dissipated and the sun returned.

 

I don’t see this as a crumbling heap. It’s a building with character that is maintenance challenged.

Young may be small (population 666 in 2010) and isolated, but still has an interesting history. It was originally named Pleasant Valley and it wasn’t always very pleasant. From 1882 to 1892 a series of gunfights, ambushes and lynchings took place that collectively are known as the Pleasant Valley War. This “war” resembles the Lincoln County Wars of New Mexico because it was based on the conflict between cattlemen and sheep herders concerning water and grazing rights and maybe a little bit of rustling thrown in to add fuel to the fire. Like Lincoln County, the Pleasant Valley conflict included the use of “hired guns.” In this case, Tom Horn, later immortalized in a movie of the same name, was hired by one of the two sides.

 

The Pleasant Valley conflict was especially tragic because it resulted in the complete destruction of two local families, the Tewksburys and the Grahams. Grave markers and some places of note from the conflict can still be seen in and around Young. Pleasant Valley was renamed Young in 1890 in honor of the town’s first postmaster, Ola Beth Young.

 

Another interesting fact I learn about Young, is that they didn’t have outside electricity there until 1965. Isn’t that weird to think about? There is only one school in Young, appropriately named Young Public School. It is K-12, in one school and my source says that it is not unusual for there to be zero graduates in a given school year.

 

A quick internet search (good thing, because you’re not going to get data access in Young) indicated two restaurants in the city. I saw a fellow working in his yard and asked which of the two (Antlers or Alice’s) he preferred. He said “Antlers” so off we went.

 

On our way in for some delicious food.

Antlers did not disappoint. I cannot compare it to Alice’s, but I can say that the food I had at Antler’s was exceptional. I can honestly say it was the best chicken-fried steak I have had in the state of Arizona. The sides were very good and my dessert, peach-rhubarb cobbler was outstanding. The service was as good as the food. I don’t know if I will ever get to young again, but if I do, I will go back to Antler’s.

 

Here is the main building for Young Public School

I hope you go to Young’s website during or after reading reading this piece. While there, read the entries on their guest book. One I found very interesting is by Phil Cody who says that he was in Young as a Hotshot fire fighter in 1975. At that time there were only three phone in the valley and two of those belonged to the forest service. Really? In 1975?  I thought Roswell was behind the times. Oh, if you sign the guest book, please let them know you found it from the Sky Island Riders.

I would really have liked to have spent a bit of time exploring Young, but we were still planning another 300 miles of riding. If you come here and decide to stay, there is at least one little hotel, the Pleasant Valley Inn, at which to stay.

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postheadericon A Ride to Roswell & back Part II (To Tucson via the Scenic Route)

In Part  I, we took the most expeditious route between Tucson and Roswell. I have been back and forth to Roswell many times over the years (I have family in Roswell.) but have only travelled on the routes described in Part I. I decided that it was high time for me to try something a bit different. A friend had told me about NM Route 152 and how amazing it was (Thanks, Sean) so I plotted a route that would get there.  Route 152 intersects I-25 at least 60 miles north of Las Cruces, so it made no sense to go that far south, then back back to the north, so I began looking for roads north of Alamogordo and Ruidoso. That was when I discovered NM-380.

NM-380 actually goes through Roswell and I remember seeing the junction for it along US-70 and had always wondered where it went. Let’s find out. It required almost 50 miles of backtracking along US-70 to get to the 380 junction. This was awesome because it involved going back along the Hondo River Valley. I did this early in the morning and it was absolutely gorgeous. Again I got to pass through the tiny little hamlets along the valley floor.

At the junction of US-70 and NM-380 is this informational sign about the Hondo area as well as Lincoln

As soon as you merge on to NM-380, there is a historical monument. There is an informational sign there telling about the Hondo River Valley, on one side, and Lincoln County and the connection between the Lincoln Country War and Billy the Kid, on the other. This was a great stop for me, because I have a lot of family history in Lincoln County.

This is Lincoln’s torreon. It is where the men-folk would take fighting positions to defend the town.

This tells you about the torreon

NM-380 tracks mostly northwest and along the Bonito River Vally. It is almost as pretty as the Hondo. 10 beautiful miles later, you arrive in the historic town of Lincoln. Lincoln is the old stomping grounds of Billy the Kid. Lincoln is where Billy escaped from jail, then shot and killed a deputy and Marshall Bob Ollinger. There are quite a few historic structures here including the torreon as well as the Wortley Hotel (Please click the link and read their homepage. It is hysterical.)

There is a small fee to walk around the park.

About 12 miles further along NM-380 is the little town of Capitan, best known as the home and final resting place of Smokey Bear. (See you learned something here, today.) Capitan is about 70 miles from Roswell and is a great stopping place. The Smokey Bear Park is very pretty and I couldn’t resist stopping in at the Smokey Bear Restaurant for breakfast. With a population of only about 1500, it doesn’t take too long to look around town.

I didn’t try the food, but I don’t know if there is another restaurant in Carrizozo, but bikers are welcome here.

Continuing west on NM-380 takes you down out of the mountains to the high desert of the Tularosa Basin. 20 miles down the road brings you to the tiny crossroads village of Carrizoza (pop 1000). This where NM-380 intersects with US-54. A left turn here will take you back to Alamogordo. There is food and fuel available here, including a drive-in that welcomes bikers.

This is a close up of some of the former lava.

Just after leaving Carrizozo, you will begin seeing signs for a state park called Valley of Fires. I was thinking it had something to do with large gatherings of native Americans or some such thing and was quite astonished when we came over a little hill and saw the black, formerly molten lava flow that extends for 45 miles down this valley. I did not stop at the park, but hope to the next time I pass this way.

The staff at the San Antonio general Store were very nice. They make fudge and other candy there, too.

The next 65 miles take up, down and through rolling hills and small valleys, skirting the northern border of the White Sands Missile Range. As you  reach the end of this section of NM-380, you, again, cross the Rio Grande (as we did in Las Cruces) and into San Antonio, NM. There isn’t much change that you will mistake this San Antonio for the one in Texas, but there is one tiny Fina gas station, aka the San Antonio General Store, a pretty church and at least one bar.

My route turned south from here, but if you have any needs that cannot be met in San Antonio, Socorro is less than 10 miles north, along I-25. With a population of almost 10k, there are several hotels, quite a few restaurants and other retail establishments to meet your needs. Socorro, is also where you can find the junction with US-60. It also home to the NM Institute of Mining & Technology, best know for one of the places where the “Myth Busters” love to go to blow stuff up.

This shows that quality of NM Highway #1. It’s is good shape. You can also see the northern end of Elephant Butte Lake in the distance.

Back to San Antonio. I-25 is the fastest way to our next stop, but that is way too easy and way too bland for me. NM Highway #1 (aka old US-85) runs parallel to the interstate. It is about 65 very scenic miles to Truth or Consequences on Hwy 1. There are no towns, but there is a wildlife refuge, a slower pace, no traffic and some great views of Elephant Butte Lake. I was surprised, but road quality of Hwy 1 is very good. Another advantage over I-25, especially if you are on 2 wheels, is that there no “High Wind Advisory” bridge crossings. Hwy 1 crosses the washes and valley much nearer the bottom than I-25 so you don’t get the high winds.

You do, eventually have to join I-25, but it is only 8 miles until you can exit on Rt 181 and go into Truth or Consequences (aka TorC.) TorC was called Hot Springs until 1950, when the city fathers took up a TV hosts wagers to rename a city after his game show. With a population of about 7000, you should have no problems finding food, fuel, lodging or services. If you like water-related activities, Elephant Butte State Park is next door and has plenty to offer. there is also a very nice veteran’s memorial park with a museum.

The signs remind you that CR152 is a “road less traveled.”

If you are thinking of making this ride back to Tucson a 2-day trip, Truth or Consequence with the lake and hot springs nearby, is a good choice. You are about 220 miles into the trip. If it’s a little too soon to stop, Silver City, NM, another 90 miles, is your other best option. After some of the most amazing road I’ve ever ridden, Silver City is our next stop, but first County Rd 152.

A friend had told me about this amazing road out east of Silver City. After scanning through Google Maps, I found County Rd 152 (hereafter referred to as CR152.) Again, the quickest way to CR152 from TorC is 17.5 miles south on I-25, but why do that when you can take County Road 187 out of Tor C. It is less than 2 miles longer and certainly a prettier drive.

Hillsboro is just a mile or two up that canyon.

The first 13 miles or so of CR152 are mostly flat with mountains visible on every horizon, especially in front of you as you’re headed east. This is also open range for cattle, a concept which was pressed home when i popped over a hill and the was a large heifer standing in my half of the road. Around the 13 or 14 mile point, you  drop into a lovely little canyon, then start to climb the mountains known as the Black Range or the Devil’s Mountains.

I love the architecture of churches.

A mile or two after dropping into the canyon, you pass through the village of Hillsboro, which is listed as a “semi-ghost town.” There is no fuel here, but there is at least one little cafe’ a church and a hotel. I didn’t get the chance to spend anytime here, but I will next time.

I caught site of this sign and barely had time to get the camera up and snap the pic. Pardon the quality.

9 miles later, you pass by Kingston, NM. Take a bit and visit. There is a beautiful lodge here, called the Black Range Lodge. I’ve never been there, but after doing the research for this post, I am seriously considering it. Kingston is also home to the Spit & Whittle Club. (What a great name for a social club.)

Final resting place of James McNally, winner of the MOH. I hope you can read the plaque.

A mile or so east of Kingston, on CR152, is their cemetery. I love visiting old cemeteries and this one did not disappoint. It is where I got to “meet” my first Medal of honor winner. You’ll see it on the north side of the road outside of Kingston.

Even 15mph is a little much on a few of these turns. God help you if you’re towing a trailer.

CR152 road quality is good, as you can see here. Beware of the 90 degree turns without guardrails.

It is soon after passing Kingston, that you begin my favorite part of this trip; the climb to Emory Pass. In just 8 miles, the road climbs from 6000 feet elevation at Kingston, to 8900 feet at Emory Pass. This 8 miles is amazing. You climb from a pinion/juniper forest at Kingston, to Ponderosa pines as you near the top of the pass. There are numerous switchbacks and tight S-curves. The speed limit is 25mph and this is too fast at times.

Taken near Emery Pass, this pics shows a few of the twists and turns that CR152 makes.

ADVISORY: CR152 can be exceedingly dangerous in the winter. It routinely gets snow and regular signs will tell you that it is NOT plowed at night or on weekends. Please plan your trip accordingly. Also, watch for debris in the roads. I came across numerous areas of sand and rocks in the road.

This is a small part of the El Chino open pit mine near Silver City.

There is a nice little rest stop at the top of the pass with great photo opportunities. The road down the other side is more of those fun switch backs and S-curves. About 18 miles later, now out of the twisty parts, you meet the junction with CR61 at San Lorenzo. Going south here would take you to Deming. Continue on CR152 toward Silver City. 10 miles later, you’ll come to the El Chino aka Santa Rita copper mine, once the largest open pit mine in the world. There is a nice viewing area with a lot of informational/historical signs and pictures on the south side of the road.

The incredibly scenic CR152 ends 6 miles later when you merge with NM-180 at the town of Santa Clara, which actually known as Central, until 1996 when they changed their name. (What is it with towns in NM changing their names?) The thing I most remember about riding through Santa Clara was their sign for the “Bataan Death March Recreational Park.” That name struck me as a bit, uh, odd, macabre and slightly disturbing, but memorable. Too bad, I didn’t get a pic.

A guy in TorC said that one can see Elephant Butte from Emery Pass. Well, it’s out there somewhere.

from here, it is only 8 miles to downtown Silver City. There is a wonderful main street area which makes you feel like you’re in an old movie. At this point you have travelled about 300 miles from Roswell. If you did not spend the night in TorC, you might want to consider staying in Silver City. With a population of 10k, and a great mountain location, there is plenty to see and do here.

From Silver City, there are 2 primary ways to get back to Tucson. the one I most recommend is taking NM-180 to CR-78. This, too, is another amazing road. I wrote about this in September, 2011 (SIR’s to NM and Back Again.) The other way is to take CR-90 out of the south side of town. This takes you through some beautiful pinyon forest, across the Burro Mountains and through the Gila National Forest.

There is some much history out here and many never get to see it because so much of New Mexico is fairly remote.

Approximately 45 miles, you’ll reach the junction with US-70 then you come in to the north side of Lordsburg. Since I already covered I-10 from Tucson to Lordsburg, I will end this lengthy post here. Although, I did not spend a lot of space writing about it, CR152, is one of the most beautiful and exciting roads on which I have ever ridden. I hope you get a chance to go there in one kind of vehicle or another.

I am hoping to put together a two or even three day ride to this area in the spring of next year. I hope some of my scooter brethren will be able to accompany me.

 

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