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postheadericon Fellowship of the Scoot – Part II (Changes in the plan)

We saw many rainbows on day #1. we knew all would turn out okay.

In Part I we had made it through wind and rain to our destination in Cottonwood, AZ. As night fell, so did the rain and the temperatures. I checked area forecasts (I love smart phones) and found that 1-2 inches of snow were forecast for Flagstaff and the top of Oak Creek Canyon. Rain with below freezing temps, followed by snow seemed like a potentially dangerous combination for save riding so I started looking at alternate routes.

The thought of skipping the ride up Oak Creek was saddening, but safety had to be taken into account. My fellow riders were gracious and said they were willing to ride whatever route I created. I didn’t want to just turn around and go back the way we came, but I needed to try to keep us to lower elevation, at least until we had gone south a ways. Once again, I came back to the trip I had taken the previous August, except that I wanted to make sure we at least rode through Sedona.

We awoke to this scene. This is looking east toward Sedona, from Cottonwood.

My route idea had one area of concern. It would require a 7 or 8 mile sprint down I-17 from Highway 179 to Camp Verde. I had to check with the other riders before committing us to riding interstate, especially  where there is heavy traffic with lots of trucks and RV’s concerned. I asked and we all agreed that we could handle it. I did a few more checks and came up with this route back to Tucson:

View Larger Map

This route still took us up to 7000 feet, but at a point about 40 miles south of Flagstaff, plus it would be later in the day before we got there, thus giving the, inevitable, warming temperatures a chance to melt off any precipitation of the frozen persuasion.

Our intrepid adventurers roughing it at The Coffee Pot

To give it a chance to warm up a bit, we took our time getting on the bikes in the morning. We left Cottonwood around 8:30 and rode to Sedona for breakfast. The temperature was about 40 degrees and it was still windy and it looked like it would rain any minute. The drive/ride along Route 89A into Sedona was beautiful. As we were coming into Sedona, the sun was breaking through the clouds and “spotlighting” various rock formations. It was hard trying to catch it with my camera as were riding, but I gave it a shot.

The sun was shining out in various places and “spotlighting” different rock formations. The effect was gorgeous.

We went to Sedona’s famous Coffee Pot Restaurant (Home of 101 Omelettes) for breakfast. There was quite a wait to get our table, but we all enjoyed our food. It was about 10:30am before we pulled out of Sedona but we were warm and full of tasty food. We went to Highway 179 and turned south toward the Village of Oak Creek. Hwy 179 is another very scenic road and is part of the Red Rock Scenic By-Way. It’s only 15 miles but there are many, many places where you will want to stop and take pictures.We pulled off at one such place and took a few pics.

Scooters on the Red Rock Scenic By-Way

At the base of that red mountain is the Church in the Rock.

We arrived at the junction with I-17, took a deep breath, opened our throttles and merged. I put Warren and his PCX in front so could set the pace. His little Honda had impressed me the day before and continued to do so on this day. We zoomed down to Camp Verde as fast as that little scooter would go.

This is some of the rugged country east of Camp Verde.

At Camp Verde, we turned east, onto Route 260, aka the General Crook Trail. From here we climbed from 3600 feet to almost 7000 feet over the next 25 miles, until we were up on the Mogollon Rim. Although we still hadn’t been rained on, it was still cold and  windy and once on the top of the rim, there were patches of snow on the side of the road. Brrrr! (You’ll have to trust me. It was too windy to try and take pics of the snow as we were riding.) Snow and wind aside, road quality on Route 260 and Highway 179 is very good.

Route 260 joins with Route 87 about 33 miles from Camp Verde. This was where we joined our originally planned route.After just a few miles on the top of the Rim, we began the steep descent toward the villages of Strawberry and Pine. Even though the sun had finally shown itself, we were getting pretty chilled, so we stopped in Pine to get fuel and something hot to drink.  We stopped at HB’s Place where I had my first ever piece of Oatmeal Pie. Wow! It was exceptional.

This was my first piece of Oatmeal Pie, but it sure was good.

Now that we were warm again, the sun was out and lower elevations were ahead, we rode out with smiles on our faces and hopes of a bit more adventure before getting back home. We followed Route 87 through Payson until we reached the Junction with Route 188, where we turned toward Roosevelt Lake. We made a brief stop in Pumpkin Center just prior to getting to the lake.

Nearing Lake Roosevelt on Route 188.

Once to Roosevelt Lake, we stopped at the dam for a rest and some pics. One of these days, I will ride down Route 88 from Roosevelt into Apache Junction. It is unpaved most of the way, so this day was not the day to do it. From the dam it is about 30 miles to Globe, where had decided we would eat our afternoon meal.

            

Gathered to rest and take pics of the bridge, lake and dam.

 

If you look very near the center of this pics, you can see a faint horizontal line. That is AZ-288, aka the road to Young, AZ.

After a bit of hunting, we decided to eat at De Marcos, which is right off of  Us-60 in Globe. It was dusk as we left the restaurant. One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t like riding mountain roads at dusk or at night. Every shadow starts looking like a deer preparing to leap out at me. This can be quite terrifying at times.

Two huge tunnels going into the mine near Globe

Darkness fell as we turned onto Route 77 for the final stretch toward Tucson. Only 100 more miles to go. I had Warren take the lead again so I had tail lights to focus on rather than shadows. We took a break at Winkelman and had an uneventful ride the rest of the way into Tucson.

From door to door, my odometer showed a total mileage of about 640 miles over the two days. I had a blast and would do it again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, since we missed out on Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff, we are trying to figure out when we try this again.

Good friends and good rides make life good

 

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 Riding NoAZ – Part II The Flagstaff Area

Tourist Map of Flag

If you briefly return to my previous post, you’ll see how my scooter, Iron Buddy, and I wound up in Flagstaff, AZ for five days. Go ahead, check it out, I’ll wait here.

I even bought some loading ramps. I parked the van just off the curb and loaded the scoot by myself in about 15 minutes.

Welcome back, you didn’t miss anything. In a more distant post (here) I wrote about exploring the area around Sedona. I shot some video, took a bunch of pics, explored some great areas and broke down. It’s only 30 miles to Flagstaff and I had planned on exploring up there a bit but didn’t get the chance. When we decided to stay in Flagstaff this time, I was chomping at the bit to explore the area on two wheels.

I saw this massive yard full of bikes and stopped to check it out. The sign says “Sales” but most of the Google reviews about it say that the owner lets people look around, but then refuses to sell anything.

I planned to ride three of the five days we were there: shorter rides for local exploration on days 1 and 3 and riding all day to the Grand Canyon and back on day 2. We packed our stuff and the scooter and left for Flagstaff on May 20. I enjoyed driving up Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) so much last when we went to Sedona, that I chose that route again. Climbing out of Phoenix and up to Arizona Rim Country is a great drive. Once on the Mogollon Rim and to Payson, it was on to Lake Mary Road, through Happy Jack then past Mormon Lake and eventually into Flagstaff.

After the first night, i kept my scooter parked on the little patio outside our hotel room.

For security reasons, I kept the bike in the van for the first night. The next day I unloaded , check some maps and began to explore. An ongoing “problem” I found is that there is a distinct lack of paved roads in this area. I know that it is hard to many paved roads up and down all the mountains, but even the flatter areas don’t have any. Another reason is that there is a lot of Indian reservation in this area and many tribes don’t seem to want a lot of asphalt on their land. Much of the remaining land is part of National Forest, so I guess they fit into the same category. The take home lesson here is that if you have a sports car or pure street bike, you won’t be doing much in the way of exploration. If you’ve got a dirt bike, dual sport or car that you don’t mind getting dirty, there are many miles of forest service roads to check out.

There is a bit of “The Mother Road,” Route 66 that goes through Flagstaff, so I went there first. I forgot to bring my Go-Pro this day, so still pics had to be enough. I went east on Route 66 toward Walnut Canyon. The surface is poorly maintained and full of potholes and patches, but nevertheless, there is still something about being on that road. This section of 66 is only 5 miles long and before I knew it, I was at Walnut Canyon. One of the maps I looked at, clearly showed “Old Walnut Canyon Rd.” That sounded like a good way to go back to town. I had to go to the Walnut Canyon Gate to get directions to go back and find it. As it turns out, at this end, it has a Forest Rd number. It is almost entirely dirt. Not wanting a simple “out and back” ride, I decided to give it a whirl. Some of the road was in great shape:

Near Walnut Canyon, it is in great shape

Some of it wasn’t:

Can you see the deep ruts in this part?

I made it back to town but had only managed to put less than 20 miles on the scoot and I had wanted to get some idea of what my mileage was to be at that elevation, so I pulled up a map on my phone and saw what looked like a great little road with good photo ops – Elden Lookout Road. I had wanted to scout out a little of the start of my Grand Canyon ride anyway and the base of Mt Elden Lookout is on the west side of Flagstaff on Route 180. Perfect.

At the bottom is wasn’t too bad, but it was pretty steep.

I wound my way through town (always beautiful) and found the turn and started up. The first few miles are paved, then, you guessed it, it turned to dirt. One of the signs I saw said 6 miles of unimproved road, but my odometer said it was almost twice that.

The further I went, the steeper it got.

It’s hard to see in photos, but this is steep grade, with a lots of loose rocks, gravel and sand. I picked my way along and made it to the top. the view is fantastic! i took a few photos, had a monor crash when the bike slipped on hard packed dirt/rock covered in a thin layer of cinders.

On Mt Elden looking down at central Flagstaff.

The previous pic is taken from the top of the mountain in this one.

I became a little concerned on the way down. Because of all the loose dirt and gravel and the fact the I was using only my rear brake, I was worried my tiny rear drum brake my give out. It didn’t. I made it back to the hotel without further incident. I  checked Iron buddy for damage and only found a few minor tears in his vinyl.

The next day I rode to the Grand Canyon. The previous post tells all about that. For day three, I considered riding out to Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Parks. If you go to the Flagstaff area, I highly recommend both places. However, I had been to both a year or so previously and decided to ride around the city of Flagstaff looking for interesting buildings to photograph. I’m a sucker for old buildings, other structures and murals.

Formerly a motel, now the Dubeau Hostel, it looks like those old motor hotels that you found along Route 66.

I’m thinking this old sign is a bit outdated.

The back of the old train station. it’s now a very nice tourist information center.

Here’s an interesting mural I found. It runs the length of this building and along another wall.

I had a great time exploring, but that doesn’t make for interesting reading, so I’ll spare you the details. On our way home, we chose to drive down Oak Creek Canyon, through Sedona then south on route 179 until it rejoined I-17. i don’t think you can have had a proper trip to this part of the state without seeing Oak creek canyon. I’ve been there many times and it’s always a treat.

This is looking south from the top of Oak Creek. Sedona is at the other end.

Here, you can see parts of the road that lead down the wall of Oak Creek Canyon.

Godzilla!

One of the critters we saw at the top of the canyon.

Route 179 after Sedona is a really nice drive as well. The road is in great condition and the scenery is beautiful. Once you get back to I-17, you don’t have to just put the accelerator down and zoom back toward Phoenix, either. The next exit south of where you enter I-17 is Beaver Creek Rd(Exit #293). If you take this exit and go east, you will come to Montezuma Well National Park. A short easy hike give a nice little Arizona history lesson. Just 4 miles further south brings you to Middle Verde Rd. From here, go about a mile east to Montezuma Castle Rd and follow the signs to Montezuma Castle Nat’l Park. Another short, easy hike brings you to some spectacular cliff dwellings.

Sunset Point has a huge sun dial as a memorial to employees of the Department of transportation who died “while serving the citizens of Arizona.”

The view off the mesa is quite impressive.

If you don’t stop at either of those places and need a quick break, or if you just want to see one of my favorite rest areas in the state, pull off at Exit 252, Sunset Point. this rest area sets at the edge of a mesa and give some spectacular views down in a little valley. The rest area is beautifully maintained and well lit at night.

One other place I can recommend going to before you get to “civilization” is the Rock Springs Cafe. If you do a Google search for “Best Pie in AZ” they come up at the top of the list. I don’t know that they are the best pie in the state, but it’s pretty darned good. Take Exit 242 and follow the signs.

I really enjoyed this trip. I was a tiny bit disappointed in the lack of nice, scenic roadways up north. The architecture of Flagstaff did not disappoint. The drive up and back was also quite enjoyable.

I put together a little video to go along with this post. Video quality isn’t as good as it could be because the part of the scooter towhich I attach the Go-Pro was loose and I didn’t realize it. I hope you get a little feel for Flagstaff anyway:

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