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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 The Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta – Anatomy of a Rally Trip Part I

What is a scooter rally? What do people do there? What is the rally’s purpose? Well, every rally different, as are the people who attend them. Four Sky Island Riders went to Phoenix, recently, to attend a rally. In the following two posts, I will dissect this rally and give you an idea of what we did, where we went, how we got there and what we saw.

Our Patch for the Fiesta

The Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta III was held Oct 21-23, 2012. As with GSSF’s I & II, several of us Sky Island Riders decided to ride up and support another Arizona scooter club in their rally. In this case, the club is the Phoenix Scooter Club.

One of the nice things about this rally is it’s distance from Tucson. It is far enough away to feel like you got out of town, but not so far that you can’t ride your scooter to get their. Four of us headed out on Friday, 10/21. We left town a little after 3:00pm. One of the most frequent questions we get when we ride to the Phoenix area is “What route did you take to get here?” I’ll answer that question now. Friday evening’s rally festivities were on/near Gilbert road in Gilbert, AZ. That decided our route for us.

FRIDAY

Oracle Road is one of my least favorite roads on which to take a group. We decided to take the I-10 frontage road. It now runs from Tucson, all the way into Picacho. Road quality is good and there is very little traffic. The scenery is lacking, but you can’t have everything. At Picacho, we turned north on Route 87/287 to Coolidge. We stopped for a few minutes to top off with fuel and rest our bums. We followed Route 87 out of Coolidge as it turns west. 21 miles later, we turned north onto Indian Road 28, which is also Gilbert Road. From this point we just had to keep going til we got to out destination.

The rally kicked off with a meet-up at Chandler Vespa, followed by a ride to Joe’s Real BBQ. Unfortunately, we knew we wouldn’t make it to the Vespa dealership in time for the ride, so we went straight to Joe’s. As luck would have it, we actually passed the scooter group shortly before arriving at the restaurant.

Great Food can be found here.

A little bit about Joe Johnston, owner of Joe’s Real BBQ and Joe’s Farm Grill as well as Liberty Market. Joe is not only a wonderful restauranteur and great guy, he is also a scooterist and loves restoring and riding vintage bikes. Each year, the Scooter Fiesta has been held at both the BBQ and the Farm Grill. Both have great food and the Farm Grill has to one of the most amazing venues for a scooter ally, EVER! Joe has made us feel welcome and part of “the family.” Thanks Joe. I wish we had someplace like this, and someone like you, in Tucson.

It’s Joe!

There is always a line at Joe’s BBQ on a Friday night and waiting in that line is always fun when you’re in line with a bunch of fellow scooter folk. On this occasion, I got to visit with a couple of old scooter friends, Monica and Andy Shirk. I met a lot of new scooter folk as well.

As were discussing the Saturday activities, it occurred to us Tucson folk, that we had time for a morning ride, since rally stuff didn’t start until 10:00am. We asked around and decided to ride out to Tortilla Flats. We invited everyone around to go with us and had one taker, a fellow named Tony, who was riding a 50cc, 2 stroke scooter.

As we finished making plans for the Saturday morning ride, we realized it was still early and we didn’t have any place we had to be, so we decided to take a night ride as well. Sean, John and I don’t really know Phoenix very well, so we decided to go exploring. Sean wanted to get a picture of Sun Devil Stadium, so, as dinner wound down at Joe’s, we said our good-byes and started riding toward Tempe.

It was a pretty simple ride. We went north on Gilbert, until we hit Main St, aka Apache Trail. We turned north on center St and went by Fitch Park, winter home of the Chicago Cubs. We then made our way to 8th St west, went by Frank Kush Field, aka Sun Devil Stadium, and took a couple of pics. From there we took 8th to Mill Ave. The Mill Avenue District is a hapenin’ place on a Friday night. We cruised along, enjoying the sights and sounds of Mill. We followed Mill to where it merges with Apache Trail, followed that back to Gilbert Road and went to our respective beds.

Formerly a root beer stand, now Mexican food

NOTE: Let me just say that if you are in the Phoenix area and have some extra time, drive down Apache Trail/Main St/Apache Blvd and back. It is also Old Highway 60. There are still many buildings, signs and things to see left over from it’s heyday of the 50’s and 60’s. Beautiful neon signs are frequent. There is a taco stand in a building shaped like a beer barrel. There is the Buckhorn Museum and Mineral Wells. You should check it out before these things are gone forever.

SATURDAY AM

Friday night, we had asked around about good breakfast places. Sean, John & I enjoy “greasy spoon” cafe’/diner kinds of places. No one had any suggestions, so we flipped out the smart phones and started looking. I found a place along our way to Tortilla Flats. It got nice reviews on Google and was right on Apache Trail on the outskirts of Apache Junction, AZ.. It’s called Hacker’s Grill and I highly recommend it. I don’t think there is anything on the menu more than $6. I got chicken fried steak, 2 eggs, hash browns and homemade raisin toast for $5.25! The food and the service were great.

Hacker’s Grill. You Gotta Try This.

From breakfast, we continued northeast on Apache Trail which is now Route 88. It is less than 20 miles from the restaurant to Tortilla Flats, but it is an exciting ride. There are numerous tight twists and turns. There are also a lot of places to see in this short distance as well.

The SIR’s at Canyon Lake

Starting at the start of Route 88, you come to the Superstition Mountain Museum, Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours, the Lost Dutchman State Park, Canyon Lake with several recreation areas, the Dolly Steamboat and finally, of course, Tortilla Flats. That’s a lot of stuff.

We needed to get to the main event back at Joe’s Farm Grill, so we were unable to explore these places, but I plan on doing so someday. Well, we enjoyed the ride back down the twisties and made our way back through town to Joe’s. Thanks to the fact the we were all new to Phoenix, we kind of took the, uh, “scenic” route to Joe’s. In other word, we got a little lost, but we made it.

As mentioned earlier, Joe’s Farm Grill is a fantastic venue to hold any kind of outdoor event. There is the restaurant itself, as well as a coffee shop. This is still a working farm, so there are fields and outbuildings. There is a lot of grass and tree as well as plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. As a scooter lover, there is also Joe’s scooter shop where he works on his scoots.

I didn’t take the time to count the scooters, but I would guess there was a respectable 40 or 50, which is a very decent turnout. There were bikes of every make, model, size and era. We cruised around, checking out scooters, meeting new folk and renewing old acquaintances. I love scooter people.

Here is a Google Map Summary of Part I:

View Scooter Fiesta I in a larger map

This post has exceeded my usual 1000 word limit, so I am going to break it up into two entries. Stay tuned for Part II where we ride South Mountain and create another spontaneous night ride.

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