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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.

 
View Larger Map
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 The Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta – Anatomy of a Rally Part II

SATURDAY PM

When we ended Part I, we Sky Island Riders had made it to the main event at Joe’s Farm Grill on Ray Road. We had been scoping out the bikes and talking. All three of us really enjoyed talking to the AZ Ruck-Stars, the local Honda Ruckus club. They had some really sweet bikes, several of which had been stretched and now had 125 – 150cc motors.

The AZ Ruck Stars – The won “Best modern” and “Most Unusual” scooters.

A little after 2:00pm, we left out for the South Mountain Ride. The first two years of Scooter Fiesta this ride was done on Sunday morning. We had opted to skip the Sunday ride and had ridden home, so we were glad we finally got a chance to ride South Mountain.

On the ride to South Mountain

At Dobbin’s Point, fixin’ to check out the view.

Cool stone house in the foreground, Phoenix in the background.

This is another excellent, though short ride. Central Ave, heading south from downtown Phoenix, goes straight into South Mountain Park. From the gate, to Dobbins Point scenic view point, is just under 6 miles. This isn’t as twisty as Route 88, but it is still a pretty sweet little ride. The reward is when you get to Dobbins Point. The view of the Phoenix metro area is amazing. You are high enough to see a long ways, but low enough that you can still make out a lot of detail.

I positioned myself on the corner where I had a clear view of at least 3 curves.

Sean and his Riva 180 carving the curve.

Sean and I took off ahead of the group for this ride back, so we could get some action photos. I’m no photographer, but I think a couple of them came out okay.

They took great care of us at La Famiglia

Enjoying fine food and fellowship with scooter people

Since it takes so long to move around Phoenix via surface street, it was just about dinner time by the time we got back into town from South Mountain. Dinner was at La Famiglia Italian Restaurant in Chandler. This another good venue. There was plenty of outdoor seating and the service and food were wonderful. They let us park out scooters right on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

The Sugar Bowl. Go There!

When dinner was winding down, the Sky Island Riders, again, felt the night for more riding. “How about a dessert ride?” we asked the group. There were no takers, but that didn’t stop us. My brand new, November, issue of Arizona Highways (I just love this magazine.) has an article entitled “Retro Arizona.” In it, the 40+ year old ice cream joint called The Sugar Bowl, is mentioned. Ice cream? After a hot, sunny day AND it’s recommended by AZ Highways? Say no more!

It was a simple route from La Familia: Straight north on Alma School Road, west on Indian School Rd, left on Scottsdale Rd and “presto!” there it is. This worked mostly according to plan until I missed the turn onto Indian School and took us a few extra miles into the reservation.

I don’t have the equipment for decent night pics at AZ Falls.

Look Ma! I’m in a tube thing!

This downtown part of Scottsdale is quite lovely. There are many sculptures in and around the road. The ice cream at the Sugar Bowl was superb. We decided to make a slight detour to GR Herberger Park, aka Arizona Falls. John and I had gone here earlier this year for the Scarabs “Rapture Ride” and really liked it, so we came back.

Here I am in front of part of AZ Falls back in May, for the Rapture Ride.

It was getting late, so we took the easy way back to the hotel. We went south on 52nd St (with Billy Joel songs in my head) then east on Van Buren and kept following that as it turned into Mill St. From there, we retraced our steps from the previous night, through the Mill st District and back along the amazing Apache Blvd.

SUNDAY


This year, we decided not to skip the Sunday ride. The ride was to Saguaro Lake. We had ridden this on Saturday the two previous years, so we new it was a good ride. Breakfast was to be held at the lake, so we met up Vespa of Chandler, drooled over some new Vespa’s and some BMW’s, and hit the road. Tyler, the manager there, is very nice and is a good host as well.

There was a rumor the Ellsworth Rd/Usery Pass was under construction, so we went in via Power Road which goes all the way to the lake. I had never been this way before, so it was a treat. I always love riding a road on which I’ve never been.

Scooters near the lake.

The Lakeshore Restaurant at Saguaro Lake is just what you would expect from the only restaurant located in a popular recreation area. It is pricey and the food is mediocre. The location and view from the patio almost compensate for those shortcomings. The company, though, made it worth it though. We had more great conversation with scooter people. That makes any dive into a 5-Star Bistro.

We still had over 120 miles to ride before our rally was over, so we said our “Good-byes” and our “See you at the Fall Classics,” jumped on the bikes and headed south. We initially thought about gong home via US-60 to Globe and down, but we had ridden the bikes pretty hard for 2 days, so we selected something a little more sedate.

“Insert lewd caption here”

From Saguaro Lake, we went to Usery Pass and turned south. Usery Pass becomes Ellsworth and we were able to take this all the way to Hunt Highway, south of Queen Creek. Road quality was good and there aren’t too many stop light that far east. Still wanting to avoid Route 77 and Oracle Road, we turned south onto Attaway Rd outside of Florence then west onto Route 287 and from there we back-tracked our Friday route back through Coolidge, to Picacho and back to Tucson.

Sign at Joe’s Farm Grill.

Here is the Google Map detailing Part II. Click on the icons to see what they are.

View Scooter Fiesta Part II – The Anatomy of a Rally in a larger map

Scooter rallies are different things to different people. We chose to make this a time of food, exploring, making/renewing friendships and, of course, riding. I think rallies are important part of attracting new scooter riders and networking between various individuals and organizations in the scooter community. I hope you check out the Sky Island Riders’ Calendar and make plans to attend an upcoming rally. You will be glad you did.

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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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postheadericon SIR’s to NM and Back Again – Route 78 Twisties and Sweepers

Why Ride?

I decided to make the best out of having several days off combined with days that still have quite a few hours of day light. After my enjoyable 550 mile ride the previous week, I was looking at some websites featuring roads for great motorcycle rides.

One site mentioned Route 78 which spans the AZ/NM border, connecting US-180 to US-191. The eastern end starts about 45 miles northwest of Silver City, NM. The western end can be found at Three Way, AZ, which is about 35 north east of Safford. Route 78 is approximately 35 miles in length. So, one week I rode 550 miles in order to ride 30, this particular week, I rode 515 miles, to ride 35. It sounds kind of crazy to me as I write this now, but it made a lot of sense at the time.

Nearing Texas Canyon on I-10

Once I read about this scenic road, I had to find a way to get there. I did my usual Google Map review. I looked for the shortest, but most scenic, loop possible. I came up with this: 463 miles and I figured it could be done in a shade less than 12 hours. That allowed time for food, rest and some photos.

Here’s Lori

This time, I rode with a friend, Lori P, who is another Sky Island Rider. After hearing about my previous 500 miler, she said, I wouldn’t mind doing something like that” and since I already had this ride planned, I invited her and her black RV-250, along for a long ride.

If you looked the link of the ride map above, you may be saying something like. “Hey, I thought Howard didn’t ride on interstate highways.” I mentioned many times, that I don’t care for interstate, however, sometimes it is necessary. I-10, from Vail to Lordsburg, NM, is about 135 miles and a little over two hours. I would have loved to have taken a nice back road to Lordsburg. However, here is what it would have looked like if I would have done so: MAP. Now it’s just over 200 miles and over 4 hours. If I were making this a two day trip, I would have done this, but I wasn’t, so I didn’t. Arizona just doesn’t have that many ways to get from Point A to Point B.

30 Percent Chance of Rain

The weather forecast called for temps around 105 on the desert floor and a 30% chance of rain in the late afternoon. In an effort to avoid possibly getting caught in one of the afternoon rain squalls as well as to get off of I-10 before the traffic picked up, we left early, about 5:30am. It was dark and east bound traffic was very light as we left from our meet-up location at I-10 and Houghton Road.

The worst part of leaving this early were the bugs, mostly gnats. I pulled us off the road at The Thing! for a much needed cleaning of our face shields. We learned another thing (other than the fact that bugs are heavy around dawn) by the time we reached Willcox. I had been keeping our speed around 75mph, indicated, on my speedometer. When we fueled in Willcox, our usual 65mpg mileage, had plummeted to about 45mpg! our range was now closer to 120 miles on a tank, rather than the 200 miles I was accustomed to. Good thing we never had more than about 100 miles between towns.

Be advised, road quality on I-10 is less than ideal. I suppose it is because of the large number of tractor-trailers on it. Whatever the reason, the worst road we traveled on this day was I-10. The section between Willcox and the NM state line was the worst.

A Surprisingly Interesting Place.

To my relief, we reached Lordsburg and were able to leave I-10 until, I thought, the return leg. We grabbed some fuel at the Love’s Travel Stop right off of Exit 20A and B. (For some reason, there are two exits here that both go to the same place: Motel Drive.) We then cruised to Main St then south to Kranberry’s Restaurant for some breakfast. The food and coffee were good and there was a pair of ladies who had a lot of questions about our scooters.

According to My Tracks, we did the following on this first leg:

  • Total Dist –  154 mi
  • Max speed-  74 mph
  • Elev gain-   4528 ft

Unbeknownst to me, I had a phone issue, so I have no My Track data from Lordsburg to Silver City.

Silver City’s downtown area is nostalgia filled

With full tank and full bellies, we turned, made our way to Route 90 toward Silver City. There was very little traffic on 90. We steadily climbed as we left Lordsburg. Route 90 gets a little more than 6000 feet on the way to Silver City. We drove around Silver City a bit and took in some of the sites from the scoots. The old downtown is especially picturesque, however, I didn’t get any pics myself. You should, though.

We had a nice visit with another scooterist in Cliff, NM

After our little tour, we found Route 180 and turned toward the town of Cliff. we hadn’t stopped in Silver City, so we stopped for a butt break and some liquid refreshment in Cliff’s only operating retail establishment that we could see: the “Mini Mart.” While we were there, a scooter pulled up and we talked for a while with a local resident named Walter Roth. It was a great little break. he had bought his scooter at Copper Country ATV & Cycle and was very pleased with the service he got there.

17 miles after leaving the mini-Mart, we reached “The Road,” Route 78. As mentioned on the Motorcycle Roads website, it starts as undulating road through some beautiful grassland, steadily climbing as we headed west. High speed sweepers start about the time we reached the pine forest.

Any Place trucker shouldn’t go sounds like good riding to me!

The Arizona State line is, apparently, the signal to start downhill and into some serious twisties. These went on for 6-8 miles. gradually, we saw amazing views of the desert valley where Three-Way and Clifton are located. About the time I thought the curves were finished, we hit these incredible 180 degree, downhill sweepers! There several in combination and they were an absolute blast to ride.

If you look closely, you can see the line where the pine trees start.

It was a thrilling ride. If we didn’t have so far to go to get home, I would have turned around, gone back to the top, and ridden it again. Route 78 ends at Three Way, AZ. Three Way is so, I suppose, because of it’s four-way intersection of three roads, Route 78, US-191 and Route 75. There is a general store and a gas station at said intersection. I wasn’t sure if I could make it the rest of the way into Safford, so we gassed up in Three Way, got onto US-191 and headed toward Safford.

There is a significant climb as you leave Three Way. The road is in great shape and it is now divided highway. It was in Safford that my internal compass let me down. I hadn’t written down a bunch of directions like I did for the previous long ride. I failed to see the sign indicating the left turn near downtown to stay on 191. I didn’t recall needing to turn and was sure we were heading south. We had an enjoyable lunch at Jerry’s and headed out of town. We did need a bit of time to cool off as it was 111 degrees as we hit town.

Looking east down US-70

It was my plan to head south on 191 then turn west onto Route 266 and ride to Fort Grant then hit I-10 in Willcox then ride back to Tucson. I was riding and having a grand time but started to feel a bit uneasy at not having seen the 266 intersection. We finally stopped at a nice rest area in the little town of Bylas. It was there that I asked directions and was told tat we were actually 35 miles west of Safford on US-70 headed toward Globe! The take home lesson here is that there are very few road signs out here. Make sure you’re on the right one.

I felt we were too far out of our way to turn around. Since US-70 would take us to Globe and from there we could take Route 77 back to Tucson, I decided to continue the way were going. We gassed up again in Peridot, on the reservation and climbed up to Globe. One remarkable thing we both noticed at we rode near Peridot was the unique odor of whatever was growing along the road. It smelled exactly like a fine pipe tobacco. It was quite pleasant, but I’ve never smelled it before.

We could see huge thunderheads to the south, as we approached Globe. As with my last ride, we stopped in Winkleman for a little rest. It was obvious we were going to get wet. I did discover in my last ride, that the RV-250 handles wet road quite well.

It started raining as we passed through Dudleyville.We hit severe weather at Mammoth but kept on going. It was late afternoon by this time and we had been in the saddles for more than 12 hours. Again, the RV-250 performed well. By the time we hit Catalina, precipitation was down to a sprinkle.

We rode together until we had to part ways to go to our respective homes. It was another awesome ride. I got the following ride data from My Tracks for the ride from Silver City to Tucson:

  • Total Dist –  265 mi
  • Max Speed –  66 mph
  • Min Elev –   1945 ft
  • Max Elev –  6219 ft
  • Elev Gain – 10100 ft
  • Max Grade –  11.8%
  • min grade    -9.3%

Our total distance covered was a tad over 500 miles. The RV-250 performed better on this ride than the last one. Mostly because elevation was mostly below 6000 feet.

It was a great ride and I thank Lori for coming along. It was my first long ride with a ride buddy. It’s fun to have someone to share a ride with.

This post has gotten way out of hand. Take care and ride safe.

Howard

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