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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 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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postheadericon Of Prescott Twisties to Jerome to AZ Rim Country and Home

The scenery as you approach Prescott on Route 89 is beautiful

In addition to our Sedona trip the past June, my wife and I also went there in May of 2010. On that occasion, we got there by going through Sedona via AZ Highways 89 and 89A from Wickenburg to Prescott then through Jerome and Cottonwood to Sedona. At the time, I talked about how awesome it would be to ride some of those roads on a scooter, knowing that it would probably never happen. It just seemed too far to ride from Tucson and I would need to rope someone into coming with me if I were going to bring it up in the back of my van.

I recently decided to ride it anyway. Since I am writing in two slightly different blogs, this one will be the technical aspect of the ride. This will include road conditions, speeds, etc so that if someone wants to replicate all or part of this ride, they will know some of what to expect. My other blog (In The Desert Scootin) will be more about how I felt, the fun parts, scary parts etc. I shot some video and will try to put some video in both posts.

Looking up at Jerome when it’s NOT raining.

The sections of road I most wanted to ride were Route 89, from Congress to Prescott, and Route 89A, from Prescott Valley to Clarkdale. The shortest route from Tucson to Jerome (the furthest point away) is just over 225 miles and that is taking I-10 and I-17 and does not include any of “the good parts” that I wanted to ride. so, no matter what, I knew I was looking at at least a 500 mile ride, but how to get there? We’ve already established that interstate travel is not generally my preferred method of scooting from point A to point B.

I love Google Maps. I put my start points and desired ends points, then started “pulling” then lines around to various streets, trying to find the most efficient route as well as one that helped me avoid trouble spots, like the entire Phoenix metro area. Additionally, I love to ride or drive roads that I’ve never been on before. There are few options when leaving Tucson going north, but once you get as far as Case Grande or Florence, you options open a bit.

I decided to do a clockwise loop, heading toward Prescott first. Here is the what the first segment of my journey, from Tucson to Prescott, looked like. I initially planned on riding the access road from Tucson to Picacho, but looked over at the interstate and traffic was light. I decided to make up time where I could, so I hopped on the interstate and rode to the Toltec exit then moved over to Arizona 84 into downtown Casa Grande. If If you want to go to Casa Grande, but don’t or can’t take the interstate, do this.

Picacho Peak, impressive, but looks the same as in my Kelvin highway post.

I had decided that the best way to avoid Phoenix traffic was to skirt around to the southwest, then find my way to US Highway 60. I saw that 51st St goes very far to the south. In order to get there I made my way to Maricopa, AZ along the Casa grande-Maricopa Highway. This road is straight and flat, but if you like agriculture and/or livestock you’ll have an interesting and odor-filled ride. From there it was to AZ 347 to Riggs Rd. 347 was probably the the fastest road I rode on. The speed limit is 55-65, however, most folks were driving closer to 75. It’s only about 10 miles to Riggs, so hang in there if you want to try this route.

Riggs turns in to Beltline, which becomes 51st. I took 51st, toward Phoenix, up to Buckeye Rd, then turned left, to get to the west side. This part of town is filled with warehouses and traffic was very light. There aren’t very many stoplights either so I moved quickly. I didn’t realize Buckeye went all the way to Cotton, aka Loop 303, so I turned north on Dysart to Van Buren then west again to Cotton.

Check out the sign at the base of this massive climb.

Click on the pic to make it bigger, then look in the middle and you can see the road climbing along the face of the mountain going from left to right.

Cotton quickly changed from warehouses back into farm land, but I moved quickly to US60, then northwest toward Wickenburg. I hadn’t done thorough research on fuel stops before heading out this time. I had filled up in Casa Grande and it was about 110 miles to Wickenburg, so I filled again. I was now getting very close to the first section of road that was my goal.

Elevation increased steadily and rapidly as I left the Phoenix area. I climbed 1000 feet in the 15 miles along US60 to Wickenburg, then 1000 more  in the 10 miles from Wickenburg to Congress. As I left Congress (Now on AZ-89) I saw a formidable range of mountains, the Weavers, rising before me. This climb reminded me of the early climb of Mount Lemmon. The road climbs about 1500 feet in about 5 miles. AZ89 is divided highway, 2 lanes each way, during this climb and is fairly scooter safe.

Here is how i set up the Go-Pro.

After reaching the top, I stopped in Peeple’s Valley and attached the Go-Pro. I had never put it on the RV250 and it was much more difficult than I anticipated. With it placed as good as I good get it, I set off again. Once I saw a road sign that said “No vehicles more than 40 feet long 7 miles ahead” I knew I was about to reach the first stretch I had been anticipating for over a year.

I started shooting 1 minute long videos after passing Wilhoit. This 15 mile stretch of road is some of the twistiest I have ever ridden. The curves come fast and furious. As soon as I exited one corner, it was time to set up for the next. It was great! I passed several motorcycle along the way.  The clouds had been thickening as I rode and, by the time I got to Prescott, it had started to sprinkle.

A Simba, electric stand up thingy and a Mad-Ass all in one place.

As I was crossing Prescott, a scooter store caught my eye and I stopped at Scooter & Auto Source and talked with Mark Tetreau for a bit. If you live anywhere from Phoenix to Flagstaff, you ought to go check them out. He had a great selection of scoots and, uh, other things.

Black storm moving in on the Black Hills

Rain looked like it was moving in, so made my stop brief and rode toward the next stretch of highway I was looking forward to crossing the Black Hills to Jerome. The hills were especially black because an enormous thunder storm cell was moving in there as well. I knew I was fixing to get wet.

Looking through the rain toward Jerome, down into the valley

This section is as good as the earlier one, even if dry. It not as twisty and it climbs from 5000 to 7000 feet, then descends steeply, so speeds are kept down. Add the fact that it was raining steadily so I was being pretty careful. It was still a whole lot of fun. By the time I got to Jerome, it was pouring. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Jerome but I just cruised on through, trying to see where I was going. From the cliffs above Jerome, I could see sunlight down near Cottonwood, so I was looking forward to getting down there and drying out.

I had completed riding my goals and now just had to get home. The shortest route was to take interstate. As established, I don’t care for interstate and I-17 from Camp Verde to Phoenix is some of my least favorite. High speeds, steep downhills and some tricky curves make for dangerous riding. No thanks. I noticed, though, that taking AZ-260 to Payson, then 188 to Globe and back to Tucson, only added 30 miles to my total. I had never been on most of 260 and none of Route 188, so my choice was simple.

Even little Camp Verde has a Starbucks

I had hoped to dry off in Cottonwood, but every time I slowed down, the rain caught up with me. I decided to continue to Camp Verde. I knew I would fuel by then as well. I gassed and grabbed a snack and it had just started to rain as I pulled out.

I was surprised at how much climbing I did coming out of Camp Verde. CV is right at 3000 feet and a few miles down the road, I was back at 7000 feet. I was down to 35 mph at times as well.I made it to Strawberry and was relieved, because I knew it was mostly downhill from there. I had a great time exploring Arizona Rim Country on my last trip this way, so I enjoyed this trip as well.

Storm cell near Roosevelt Lake

AZ-188 was new to me as well. I was tired and a bit hungry at this point, but the ride past Roosevelt Lake was inspiring. Road quality remained high. There a bit more climbing from the lake to Globe. I stopped for fuel and food again in Globe. By the time I started on the final leg toward Tucson, it was dusk. I HATE riding at dusk. I would have pulled over and stopped to wait until full darkness, but I had been on the road too long.

A scoot, a bridge, a lake and a storm

The worst road quality I hit on this ride was between Winkelman and Oracle on AZ-77. Heavy trucks and rain had created debris in the road and small sections where the asphalt was crumbling and rough. This was made worse by the darkness.

Edit: Here are the “official” stats according to My Track – Android app:

  • Total Distance – 556 miles
  • Max Speed –           75.03 mph
  • Avg  Speed –           47.98 mph
  • Total Time –            15:09
  • Elev Gain –              23,025 feet
  • Min Elev –                       951 feet – In Goodyear, AZ
  • Max Elev –                 7,071 feet – Mingus Mtn
  • Min grade –                      -12.3%
  • Max grade –                       10.8%

Sorry for the length of this post, but it was a long ride. I hope you have the opportunity ride some or all of this ride. It was amazing.

Howard

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