Grampa's National Monument Ride
For the past couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed reading all of these ride reports. Although I’m a seven-time
Grampa, I still enjoy getting out on my two Honda PC800 Pacific Coast bikes. I have a 1990 PC800 with
32,000 miles on in Minnesota that I ride around the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” during the summer months and I
also have a 1998 PC800 with 30,000 miles that I use for riding around the desert landscapes of "Sunny Arizona"
in the winters.
This is my first ride report and I've been wondering how in the world to do it? I don’t have a very good camera,
and some photos were taken while riding, so I already know they won't be all that great. I’m no writer either but
I'm curious I guess, and trying to give back just a little if at all possible!...
Please note: I also went on a 2,000 mile, six day ride around Lake Superior in June 2011 in case you'd like to see it.
(Or as our grand-daughter used to say, "Yet's take a wook!). Anyway, the new one is called Grampa's Lake Superior
Ride Thanks much for your interest. :clap
1990 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast overlooking Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota's 2nd largest lake.
Another shot overlooking Mille Lacs Lake, sometimes called, "The Walleye Capitol of the World." A fairly shallow lake that
can get mighty "choppy" on windy days. It becomes a new city each winter with hundreds and hundreds of ice houses up.
1998 Honda PC800 Pacific Coast (Named after the CA. Pacific Coast Highway.) Every other Sept., a group of
other PC800 riders gather in Eureka, CA. and ride down the coast to San Clemente. It's a nice sight to see when
several dozen of these bikes are lined up together.
The Pacific Coast bikes were made in 1989 & 1990, then again from 1994 through 1998. They have a 800 cc
water-cooled twin engine....so far, the only things I've done to mine are tires, oil/filters and fluids. (Mainly good luck.)
Last May I decided to go from the Mesa, AZ. area on an overnight trip up north of Flagstaff to get my passport book.
The Usery Park area has lots of nice hiking trails and the road going by the park has beautiful desert views
with nice winding curves.
Once you reach the Bush Hwy. you come to the Salt River where tubing is so popular when water levels will allow.
Although the ride on #87 is a four-lane after the Bush Highway ends, it’s a recently upgraded road that has lots
of fun areas with an abundance of nice desert views. Gradually the cacti are replaced with shrubs and trees.
Most of the photos were taken while riding down the road so it makes for a good excuse for not having the best quality
photos I suppose. Most of the roads in this area were all four-lane, which I don't mind since you can look around more. :puke1
There's a dwindling amount of Saguaros on this stretch and once we reach Payson, they're pretty much long gone!
Heading towards Payson, AZ. on beautiful Hwy. #87.....a nice four-lane.
Eventually the desert views of the last cactus changes to the first pine trees, once the elevation hits that magic number.
The final curve before the first rest stop at the Matatzel Casino just south of Payson, AZ. It's a handy rest area with
plenty of parking space and even an area set aside for parking your bikes. They have a nice restaurant too, with great
food and reasonable prices.:lurk
The Mazatzal Casino by Payson was recently remodeled with a nice casino and fancy motel added several years ago.
Payson is a cool climate town with an elevation of 6,000 feet or so and is a nice, clean city with lots of beautiful trees.
The #87 highway continues north for a ways until you run into the Lake Mary road. This road is in a nice low-traffic
area through the trees, and goes by Lake Mary and a couple of other small lakes and ponds. After Payson, it’s more
nice scenery with the desert views giving way to the Ponderosa pines and other nice trees. I didn’t time things real
well with the road construction, as I had several waits along this area, none of which were over 10 minutes, it didn’t
seem. It was a nice cool morning when I went through that area, so it wasn’t at all uncomfortable.
Road construction on Hwy. 87 north of Payson slowed things down a little. It was a nice area for a stop though! I'm not
sure why I didn't take any photos while I was lined up, waiting for the lead car? I didn't have to wait longer then 10
minutes at the most, it didn't seem. It was a nice pleasant day, so waiting wasn't that bad. I kinda enjoyed watching
the heavy equipment anyway.....Lotsa sand to move around but these big machines really speed up the process.....
lots and lots of power! :rayof[
I always remember as a kid sitting under a favorite tree on our farm having Kool Aid and cookies! These trees brought
back those great memories. Ah, to be a kid again! Kool Aid and cookies with my best friend Skippy, my Collie....... :raabia
A couple of small towns along this back way to Flagstaff offers local residents a few of their needs. Pine is the name
of one and Strawberry is the other and this route took me through both of them. Cute and quiet little towns that we’ve
been through several times in the car, but this was the first time on my bike. This route was so nice to ride on with very
little traffic and very scenic the whole way. Once in awhile, a meadow or clearing would come into view, which added to
the enjoyment of the ride. I hope to do the very same route next year, only backwards.
The town of Pine sits in among the pine forests and after going through the town, trees became thicker and thicker.
The weather was perfect both days of my trip and I couldn't believe how nice it was with hardly even any wind.
The song "Whispering Pines" kept going through my mind while riding on this nice, quiet road with very little traffic. :nod
Lots of large Ponderosa pine trees along this road. Soon I came upon Morman Lake and Lake Mary and several other
small lakes. Then, in the distance, the San Francisco Peaks soon came into view. Those “peaks” are where the ski area,
"Snowbowl" is located and with the elevation of over 12,000 feet brings lots of snow, adequate for a lengthy ski season
in most years. I was able to keep these peaks in sight for 40 miles or more.
Lake Mary Road, on the back way to Flagstaff, AZ. is a great quiet road with lots of beautiful pine trees and meadows.
I'm not sure how the fishing is in these lakes but I do know that people fish here on a regular basis.
I was on this very peaceful road for several hours and only met a couple of cars, and was passed by only one or two.
There's absolutely very little that can match the wonderful solitude of riding down a back country road on a nice day. :thumb
The fresh smell of the pine woods in the spring is really enjoyable and relaxing. I didn't want this to ever end! :brow
The San Francisco Peaks and the "Snowbowl" ski area in the distance at about 12,500 ft. It's waaaaaay up there! :wave
I'm not sure what the annual average snowfall is for the "Snowbowl" ski area, but I do know that they get dumped on
at times! The "peaks" are visible from downtown Flagstaff and the ski season brings in lots of $$ to the local economy.
At the edge of Flagstaff after the Lake Mary Road was the convenient ramp for the I-40 freeway heading east.
I-40 is well known for it’s fair share of traffic, and trucks seem to be a big part of that traffic. Cliff dwellings deep within
the canyon provided safe harbor for those living there over 700 years ago. This was taken on the way to the Walnut
Canyon National Monument on I-40.
The climate in Flagstaff can vary a lot and I was expecting a cool overnight temperature but I was surprised to wake
up to 28 degrees! :vardy That sorta slowed me down just a little and I decided to take a little extra time!
Since I wasn't sure how long it would take me to reach the other monuments, I decided to just grab a
quick sandwich in the parking lot using my bike as a picnic table! I could hear the wind whistling through the pine needles
as I enjoyed the day. :1drink[
Walnut Canyon National Monument was established in 1915, one year before the National Park Service was
established. They will be celebrating their 100 years in service in 2016 and plans are already underway for this
huge celebration. :wink:
The ruins are carved into the sides of the canyon walls where a small stream, named Walnut Creek, formed
alcoves, which in turn provided shelter for the Sinagua Indians.
A shot to the rear shows the pine forest behind me. Photo on right shows the ADV sticker and also an "over the hill"
decal below that. (That was added in for the rider and not for the bike!) :gerg
After having lunch at Walnut Canyon, I headed on down the road to the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
and spent some interesting time at the visitor’s center there. Lots of very interesting information that I could expand
on here, but that information is so readily available on the Internet, that it wouldn’t be likely that I could add anything
of value. Lots of cinders are still visible around the area. More here:http://www.nps.gov/sucr/index.htm
A really cool visitor's center in the pine forests north of Flagstaff. What a very quiet, peaceful, beautiful setting......
This was a very interesting and complete visitor's center and I could have spent a lot of time there browsing around.
From the Sunset Crater area, there’s about a 40 mile back road that loops back in through the trees and open desert to
come out at the Wupatki National Monument. I walked to the overlook, where these ruins are visible from a nice area
suitable for viewing. A Pueblo built out on the open Colorado Plateau provided these people with the largest pueblo
in the area. It was also one of the driest and warmest places, so the information tells us. :deal
The warm and dry Colorado Plateau...... :knary
The entrance road to the Wupatki National Monument showed how massive the plateau area really was. :gdog
This area was developed during the 1100's with the main Pueblo being the largest structure within fifty miles.
Apparently, this was the structure that was considered the biggest pueblo in the area. What a life for those folks!
It's said that some tribal cultures still believe that those who lived and died here still live on as "spiritual guardians".
The ball-court......lots of interesting history goes into those structures from years gone by. :rad
The history goes back many, many years and it’s amazing that these ruins are in as good of condition as they are!
After the Wupatki National Monument, it was time to find a place to rest up for the night. Back down on Hwy. 89
towards Flagstaff, I stopped along this stretch to fill up with gas and then it was time to meet the rush hour traffic
in Flagstaff. I was too busy riding in the heavy traffic to take any photos, and ended up missing a couple of turns before
I found my way to the right road that I knew had a couple of motels on it. Luckily, I found a nice one with a mall
across the street where I was able to find something to eat before calling it a day. Lights out! :snore
With plans to ride down the Oak Creek Canyon on this morning, I awoke to 28 degrees at 5 a.m. or so. Hmmm? That
seemed a bit cool for the way I was prepared with light riding clothes. Within a couple of hours though, it warmed up to
around 40 degrees and sunny, so it was time to be on my way down what was to be the most beautiful road of my trip!
So, on down the awesome Oak Creek Canyon!
Although the turns were tight on my bike, they weren't nearly as tight as when we went through there in our
motorhome years ago!:eek1 I really can't wait to ride this road again, maybe from the other direction just
to see what that would be like.
Some of the turns were tight enough to slow me down a bit. In fact there were a few 1st gear places! :clap
In the distance a series of marble-looking rock formations became visible and the morning sun highlighted them all the more.
In fact, the sun not only "highlighted" the area, the end result was a washed out appearance to a couple of these photos.
This whole area was so amazing that I've decided to just leave these in...................if only you could see it in person!! :wings
It was so hard to keep my eyes on the road due to all of the beautiful sights along the way. A perfect morning for sure.
This area had a marble effect throughout the layers of rock. All sorts of colors, highlighted by the angle of the morning sun.
There were lots of picnic areas along this road and this area was a great place to loaf around and rest up.
On the south end of the Oak Creek Canyon lies the small red rock community of Sedona with all of the beautiful
red colored formations all throughout the area. Lots of scenic viewpoints including some over-looks looking out over
the massive red rocks. The town draws many visitors from all over, just to see all of the sights that this area has to offer.
We’ve taken the time to visit all of the various vistas when we were there in the car (cage), so this time I just biked on
through town and down the hill towards the next two monuments.
The next destination was the Tuzigoot National Monument outside of Clarkdale, so I continued on down #89A until
I hit the Jct. at Mingus Ave. That road took me through the town of Cottonwood and on down the road to the
monument. This is an]ancient village built by the Sinagua people. From the visitor’s center parking lot, you can see over
the desert landscapes for [ miles. I had a great visit with the visitor center attendant and a young gal from the east
coast, who was traveling throughout the country all by herself.
Looking back down the road where I could see for miles and miles and miles! This is a beautiful country for sure! :getiton
On out on the same road for a ways to head to the last monument of this trip. The Montezuma Castle National Monument
was on the #17 freeway northeast a few miles down the road. There’s really several different things to see within 10 miles or
so of each other and there’s also a Montezuma Well that feeds a 1,000 yr. old irrigation ditch that they say is still in use
today by some local residents. The cliff dwellings were closed in 1951 to prevent further damage to the structures. I only
stopped long enough to get my passport book stamped since we had been here before, and since I needed to keep riding to
make it back home that day. After riding through the last monument, it was down the freeway to the town of Camp Verde.
Another photo looking back over my shoulder and taking the shot at 60 m.p.h. or so. It was such a fun road to ride on...... :ilmostro
I followed a group of bikers for a few miles along this stretch but can't seem to find the photos of that area now! :baldy
There was plenty of evidence of past fires through this area, but most of the trees seemed to have survived, with very few
dead trees. I would imagine that it is helpful for new growth in the coming years although it'll take some time.
Once the sun was out for awhile, the day started warming up to where it was really a fun time. Lots of nice scenery on the
way. :1drinkIt's hard to believe sometimes how fast the trees disappear and the desert suddenly reappears!
This is back on the #87 highway after stopping off for a final rest stop at the Matatzel casino outside of Payson....
The pine trees began to give back to more desert views again. It wasn't long before the Saguaro's came back into sight......
now where in the world are all of those photos of the giant Saguaro's? :baldy
The Bush highway takes you by Saguaro Lake and more desert views with a few areas of large rock formations.
On down the Bush Highway that goes by Saguaro Lake, that flows in from Canyon, Apache, and Roosevelt Lakes.
There's several nice recreation sites in this area along with hiking trails and trail-heads. Some of those trails go for miles!
This area along the Bush Highway, is one of my wife's favorite areas. Close to Saguaro Lake and the Salt River. In the
distance is Weaver's Needle, always a favorite landmark in the Superstition Mountains. Much higher than it looks! :eek
Saguaro Lake is just down the hill off the road where boating and fishing prevails. Arizona has a huge boat owner population.
When the Mexican Poppies and Desert Marigolds are out in the spring, these hills are just beautiful. Yellows and golds galore!
The Salt River flows directly below these rugged rock formations, where some activities include fly fishing from the
shoreline or with waders and also tubing. Rock climbing is also quite popular here.
These slopes are usually totally covered with wildflowers in the spring and really provide lots of great photo opportunities. :0-0
My favorite areas are anything that includes the Superstitions in the background. Lots of history in them thar hills!
The pointed flat area in the middle of the above photo is called "Flat Iron", a popular hiking destination. Both my wife and
I have hiked to that area and we both know that it's a loooooong ways up there! It's beautiful though and well worth
the effort. :1drink There's hundreds of miles of horse trails throughout the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area. What
fun that must be! Some people are still searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine, thought to be somewhere within the
Getting close to home now.....I'm within a couple of miles from home and my favorite road for a last peek of the mountains.
This is the last road that I turn off from to get home another mile or so down the road. It always amazes me how
many views that I get at different times of the day or on days with various cloud formations. It never gets old...
Taking one last look at my favorite mountain on the last road on the way home. The Superstition Mountains with all of it's
great beauty in it's majestic desert setting!
Total miles for the two days added up to around 625 or so. No problems with the bike and beautiful weather the whole way.
Thanks for tuning in. I really appreciate it. :wave Next ride report is when I went around Lake Superior.
...and with no snow :bluduh
Thanks for taking us along on your ride 11 deg. here in Stlouis MO today
Thanks for the intro! Looking forward to the ride and pics :lurk
Nice RR, Gary. You're one up on me! I'm still a lurker. Thanks for sharing some nice pics and info on the beautiful state of Arizona.
Nice ride, enjoyed it.
I've merged your second thread with the first one.. Please keep your updates coming in the same thread, just hit Reply at the bottom and add some more. I've deleted the other 3 threads that were duplicates of these two.
Ride on, Grandpa! Your first ride report is starting out just fine. :thumb
Nice writeup and pics! Thanks for sharing.
I really like the looks of the Pacific Coasts. Too bad Honda doesn't still make it.
Messed it up!
Thanks for the comments, but I'm afraid I made a pretty big mess of things....
Maybe I'll learn or maybe I'll leave it up to those who know what they're doing. Anyway, sorry about that.
Good job on the first try.
I get out to Mesa in the winter a bit to visit my dad and other relatives sunning themselves.:lol3
Once in a while I get to ride out on my motorcycle. I'll have to take a little more time and do some more exploring.
Thanks for taking us along on the ride.
Enjoyed the pictures and the ride report.
We live in north Texas and have been all over AZ. We love that country with all the great views. We enjoyed the trip report and the pictures. Sure makes us want to head out that way again. Keep riding.
Way to go Gramps, great RR with the pics and your descriptions of your travels .
Looking forward to some of your other trips.
I have left a link to one of my rr should you be interested.
Ride , ride and enjoy,
Thanks for the kind words everyone......I'm hoping to learn something from this first attempt. Maybe in time I'll know what I'm doing? Thanks for the link to your report Gale. It's giving me something to read in between trying to improve on my r/r.
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