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Old 07-17-2009, 12:36 PM   #1
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The Social Security Tour - or "Go West Old Man"

PROLOGUE




It sneaks up on you.


...when you're not looking.


...when you're busy doing other things.


...when you're having fun.


...when you're having too many beers, or too many scotches, or too many cigars, or too many of all three and you can still get up the next morning and go to work 'cause nothin' hurts.


...before you start noticing that the guys in the Viagra commercials on TV are younger-looking than you are.


...before you start planning ahead before bending down to tie your shoes in case you can do other things while you're down there.


...before you start finding food spots on your shirts and bruises on your body and not remembering how any of them got there.


...before that Cadillac DTS starts looking like a pretty sporty car.


...before you start skipping over the magazine reviews of the latest sport bikes 'cause your neck and your back and your wrists hurt any time you try to sit on anything not shaped like your Lazy Boy recliner.


...before you wake up in the morning and look about halfway down toward your toes and see that there's nothing standing up to say "Good Morning" and you realize you can't remember the last time there was.


...before you start riding at the back of the pack because some of the guys just ride too damn fast.



...before the first time you walked past a mirror and thought for a minute that you were being followed by an old fat guy.


...before the first time you saw a photo of yourself and wondered how that old gray-haired fat guy got your shirt.


...before the first time you looked in the mirror and saw your grandfather looking back at you.


...before you got your first Social Security check.


Before you got old.
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:33 PM   #2
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Preparation

The email came at a good time. It was winter and I was bored and grumpy - I had just registered for Social Security. When the hell did I get so old? When asked to join a group of New Mexico friends in a May ride to the World Superbike Races at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City I jumped at the chance. I had ridden with many of these guys before and knew them to be fast and capable riders and very good company in the post-riding evenings. I knew it would be a fun trip.

The route and itinerary were hashed out in New Mexico in planning get-togethers most probably fueled by liberal quantities of green chili and beer. Back in Texas (where we throw our chili away if it turns green) I focused on updating my ride. As much as I love my 1975 R90S it was clearly not the bike for this trip. A new R1200RT from Bentonville (Arkansas) BMW solved the motorcycle problem and I began plotting my pre- and post-race itinerary.


OldSchool



New kid on the block



My wife has been giving me hell for years about the way I ride. When I ride by myself I like to get started early and ride until dark, which usually means I ride 700-800 miles per day if I'm sightseeing. I rarely stop for lunch. I've seen lots of interesting places at 75 mph. I've ridden to several motorcycle events (Daytona, Aspencade, etc.) and had a great time even though I never got off the bike. I like to ride - I don't like to stop.

This time I decided to take my wife's advice and "Get off the damn bike!"

You know........... now that I'm old and all.

I decided to call this "The Social Security Tour" and I vowed to slow down, to see interesting places (and NOT at 75 mph), to take photos, to take time to talk with people I met on the way, and to try to "be in the moment" (to use a very California phrase) instead of focusing on the destination. I even vowed to stop sometimes for lunch.

Most riders have at least heard of the Iron Butt Association and know of the assortment of long distance rides the organization certifies. Fewer know of a different sort of challenge - the National Parks Tour Master Traveler Award. To earn this award one must visit (in a single calendar year) at least 50 different National Parks, National Historic Sites, etc. in at least 25 states. Seemed like a good goal for an old guy in his declining years....



In New Mexico the itinerary for the trip expanded to a full week and grew to include Death Valley and Yosemite - meshing nicely with my new-found interest in the National Parks Tour. Adding additional National Parks to my pre- and post-race routes and incorporating some local advice on great New Mexico and Arizona roads meant that I finally had a plan.

I was off to the races.

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 05:01 PM Reason: embedded cut 'n paste MS stuff....
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:45 PM   #3
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...so far I like the report...now I want to see more...
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:06 PM   #4
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Day One - Home (D/FW) to Snyder, Texas

I'm lucky to be a member of a local BMW club with a really hard-working slate of officers. One of the many activities the club sponsors each year is an Individual Challenge Ride. This year's ICR is to visit all the cities in Brian Burns' adaptation of that old country song "I've Been Everywhere". Brian's version is "I've Been Everywhere In Texas" and there are 90 cities mentioned in the song. I've been grabbing a few as I can but decided to pick up five more on my way to the races.


Brian Burns' version






Amateur version




It had been a crazy week for me. Usually I try to start any trip as early as possible. This time it wasn't to be. It was nearly two in the afternoon before I was loaded up and ready to hit the road - and it was already hot.

About eight or ten miles from the house it dawned on me that I had never had the new bike inspected. Crap!! Should I push my luck or make a U-Turn and go by the local Harley dealer for an inspection? Caution won out and I chose the inspection. It was nearly three-thirty by the time I finally got the inspection sticker on the bike and headed out - again. And it was even hotter.

Traffic was getting heavier but it had yet to reach rush hour proportions so I had a hot but relatively smooth passage to I-20 and 150 miles or so to Cottonwood, my first ICR city. After turning south from I-20 the roads were very lightly traveled but surprisingly entertaining. Cottonwood was nearly three miles from where my GPS thought it was and I had given up on it. Some of these towns don't exist any more and I figured Cottonwood was one of them. Fortunately for me my backroad route to the next ICR city took me right past Cottonwood's actual location so I stopped and took the required photo and pushed on.


Cottonwood, Texas



Back roads took me to Tuscola, my next ICR city. After Tuscola, a small change to my route took me to Buffalo Gap , a Texas Historic Village and a great place to spend a few hours. I hated history when I was in school, but when I was a college junior a class I had planned to take was full so I was forced to take a US history class from a guy who turned out to be an absolutely wonderful history professor. It's a cliche, but he really made history come alive. Ever since, I've had a strong interest in well-presented history. Texas has an unusual and interesting history as well as a wealth of places such as Buffalo Gap where that history is very well presented. Too bad for me that it was after five o'clock and the historical village was closed. Fortunately you can see a great deal of interesting stuff just riding around the block and looking inside the fence. (Not a very good start to "Get off the damn bike!").

After Buffalo Gap it was back to I-20 and west to Sweetwater, Texas. Sweetwater must be the wind farm capital of the world because wind generators fill the horizon in 360 degrees for miles and miles. After turning northwest on US 84 they began to thin out. By the time I reached Snyder, my destination for the night, there were few to see.

Snyder, Texas is not my favorite city. The Best Western there was the most expensive of the entire trip and worth less than half the rate I paid. It was semi clean and the desk clerk was semi friendly. There was no place to eat within walking distance so I rode into town to a Subway, where I ordered my usual - a footlong Spicy Italian sandwich. On the way back I passed a drive-through beer barn. I drove in and asked if they had any singles. I don't think they get very many motorcycles going through the drive-through but the clerk got over her surprise and answered that they did indeed have singles. I asked her to place two of her favorite brand in my top box and she complied with two 40-oz Miller High Lifes. Not exactly what I had expected, but it could have been worse - it could have been Shiner Bock.

Back at my new least favorite Best Western I ate the sandwich and drank about half of one of the beers. Within an hour my gut was growling and roiling. I don't know whether my discomfort was from the sandwich or the beer but I doubt that the beer was the problem. Did I already say Snyder is not my favorite town?

It was a long night.

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 05:04 PM Reason: removed more embedded cut 'n paste HTML
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:56 PM   #5
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Day Two - Snyder, Tx to Alamagordo, NM - Finally the real ride begins

By 5:30 AM the diesel pickups of the oil field workers, the paving crews, and the roofers - the majority of the guests at my new least favorite Best Western - were clattering away. The idea of breakfast wasn't very appealing but coffee certainly sounded good. Joining the crews in the breakfast room I drank one cup and took one cup back to my room. Finishing the coffee and the packing at about the same time I pulled out of the parking lot of my new least favorite Best Western just ahead of most of the crews and headed for my next ICR city, Idalou - about 90 miles away.

It was a nice early-morning ride to Idalou, New Deal and New Home where I captured my visits for posterity and headed for New Mexico.

Kids and old guys like to take photographs of state line signs. I think it's so they can remember whether or not they've been there. Since this was the Social Security Tour I vowed to take a photo of the sign at each state line I crossed. You know.....in case I forget I've been there.





Yesterday was all about heat. Today, just after crossing into New Mexico, it began to rain. The further I went the harder it rained. Since this was the Social Security Tour and since I had been admonished to "Get off the damn bike!" I had planned some leisurely visits to several places that appealed to my interest in history - and some that appealed to my weird and warped sense of humor. The first was the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. I scored a parking place directly in front of the museum and the rain stopped just long enough for me to take this photo:



I wasn't expecting a Smithsonian-like seriousness and somberness to the museum and I didn't find them. It was a fun combination of cheesy and serious. The displays included many newspapers reporting the evolving story of the crash of an alien spaceship on a sheep ranch near Roswell in 1947. Quotes from various locals, including the sheep rancher who found the wreckage and three "alien" bodies, from the neighbor who claimed to have seen both the wreckage and the bodies, and from the undertaker who was asked to bring child-sized coffins out to the army base were duly reported as big news. Several Army, Air Force, and high-level government officials were quoted in the newspapers as well. It was interesting to see the changes in the government explanation as the days passed following the supposed crash. It may not be the Smithsonian, but it's fun.



This poster kinda set the tone for the entire museum



In case you remember the old TV series



The truth is out there.....or is it?


Leaving Roswell I headed west to Lincoln. New Mexico has done a great job of preserving and making available to the general public a number of historic sites. A village such as Lincoln, for example is replete with historic buildings and informational signs and would be a great place to spend some time absorbing its violent and fascinating history (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_County_War). Unfortunately for me the rain was really pounding down and the temperature had fallen to 50F. I stopped, got off the bike (my wife would have been sooooo proud) and walked around a bit, but it wasn't really tourist-friendly weather so I didn't stay too long. It was raining too hard to risk getting my camera out of its safe dry place in the tank bag so I have no photos of Lincoln. I will certainly return some day, though, and will plan to spend some time.

Capitan, Ruidoso, and Tularosa were seen as if viewed from behind a waterfall. Eventually arriving in Alamagordo I found a Best Western as the rain began to slacken. I like the older Best Western motels because I like to park the bike right outside my door. I'm never comfortable leaving the bike in the parking lots of the new hotels with their interior hallways and big parking lots out front. This BW was a good as Snyder was bad. Though the room was quite small and fairly old, it was clean as could be and the desk clerk had grown up in the small suburb next to the one where I've lived for the past 21 years. Chatting with her brightened up my day - or perhaps it was the sky brightening up as the rain slowed even more and the clouds thinned.

Dinner was a strawberry malt and a hamburger in deference to my still-queasy stomach. The Applebee's was less than mile away and just enough of a walk to stretch my legs. An early night to make up for last night's tossing and turning seemed like a good idea.

It was.

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 05:06 PM
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:44 PM   #6
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I'm in

Keep it coming, I'm in to see small towns and history, and unusual sites. Being retired but not quite at SS age yet, I want to do a trip like this.

Pulling up at the drive thru story is good. I was amazed to learn that most like hamburger joints won't serve a MC at a drive thru window.
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:53 PM   #7
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Thanks-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rapid Dog
...so far I like the report...now I want to see more...
Thanks Rapid Dog. I'll try not to disappoint you!
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:57 PM   #8
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Just keep doing what you're doing, it will not disappoint.
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:57 PM   #9
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Drive-thrus

Quote:
Originally Posted by captodport
Keep it coming, I'm in to see small towns and history, and unusual sites. Being retired but not quite at SS age yet, I want to do a trip like this.

Pulling up at the drive thru story is good. I was amazed to learn that most like hamburger joints won't serve a MC at a drive thru window.
Thanks! You really should have seen the lady attendant inside as I pulled in. She wasn't sure if she should run, call the cops, or just wait and see. It wasn't like I was on a chopper and sporting colors - I'm an old guy on a BMW. C'mon!

Eventually she decided I was harmless (it seems that more and more women are deciding that I'm harmless these days...)
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coolbikermom
Just keep doing what you're doing, it will not disappoint.
Thank you ma'am!
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:51 PM   #11
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Day Three - Alamagordo, NM to Lordsburg, NM

Saturday dawned with spotty light rain but by the time I had finished my breakfast and packed the bike the rain had stopped and the sun was shining brightly. I was off to my first National Park for the IBA National Park Master Traveler Tour - White Sands National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/whsa/). White Sands is one of the smaller and less-visited parks in the system, which seems to make the rangers friendlier and more helpful than in the giant parks like Yellowstone. Here I found one real plus to my advanced age. For ten bucks us old pharts can get a "America the Beautiful Senior Pass" which allows free entrance to any parks, monuments, etc in the National Park Service system for the rest of our lives. What a bargain! Eat your heart out, ya young punks!
I gladly purchased the pass and a Passport book. To document your park visits for the IBA National Parks tour, you stamp your Passport book with the stamp from each of the parks you visit. One stamp down - 49 to go!





White Sands National Monument was my first planned stop for the day. Next on the list was the museum at White Sands National Missile Range. I knew it wasn't a National Park Service site but I suspected that it might be interesting. Interesting was a real understatement.

White Sands Proving Grounds was established in July 1945. It combined the existing ORDCIT Firing Ranges, the Alamogordo Bombing Range, and large tracts of both private and public lands. Even today, the range is sprinkled with abandoned ranch houses and windmills. There are also several old abandoned silver and gold mines. White Sands Proving Grounds was later renamed to White Sands Missile Range, or WSMR (pronounced "Whiz-Mer" by nearby residents). The range occupies a somewhat rectangular strip of land, some 40 miles wide (east-west) and 100 miles long (north-south). It is the largest military installation in the United States. This strip of New Mexico desert has been in use since the 40's to test practically every weapon system in the U.S. military arsenal, including on July 16, 1945 the Trinity test - the first test of technology for a nuclear weapon and during 1946 and 1947 the Hermes Project - US launches of V2 rockets. That research in rocket technology helped propel the U.S. into space. Because of this, WSMR is sometimes known as the "Birthplace of the Race to Space".

Sidebar: When the Germans who had designed, built and launched the V2s that hammered London were brought to the US and debriefed they credited the principles of Dr. Robert Goddard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Goddard) with enabling the success of the V2. To a man they were shocked at their interrogators' unfamiliarity with Dr. Goddard's work. I learned this after visiting the museum at WSMR and realizing that I had spent my time in Roswell at the UFO museum instead of at the Goddard Collection at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, just blocks away.



Patriot Missile Battery - one of the exhibits on display at the outdoor area of the White Sands Missile Range Museum



Prototype for the casing for "Fat Man", the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. This casing was assembled after WWII.



TOW Missile
The name is an acronym for "Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided" missile. This anti-tank missile actually unravelled spools of wire which stayed connected to the gunner's sight until until the missile hit the target. Directional guidance commands were sent over the wires.






Aeroshell - "Flying Saucer"
"This spacecraft was a section of the Voyager Balloon System, which was launched near Roswell, New Mexico and landed on White Sands Missile Range. These bright shiny aeroshells projected an illusion of flying saucers. Aeroshell was designed for slowing down a missile for a landing on Mars. This display is believed to be the only one in captivity."
Hmmm...................Sound fishy to you?






Hound Dog Missile
I had no idea these things were so big. This missile is 43 feet long.





My next planned stop had been the Space Murals Museum (http://www.oldwestcountry.com/tmpl1.php?CID=CXDAY) just outside Las Cruces but, spying the murals painted on the million-gallon water tank next to the small museum building deterred me. It was hot, I had just seen some amazing things at WSMR Museum and this place looked a bit cheesy so I rode on by.

A quick stop to gas up and a short blast up I-25 led me to New Mexico Highway 152, a wonderful road that took me from I-25 to Silver City.

NM152



This was a long day and there was much to see. I'll continue Day Three in a second post.


Hope you're enjoying the ride.

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 05:08 PM
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:25 PM   #12
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Day Three - part 2

More of New Mexico Highway 152
























My lucky discovery of NM-152 was due to seeing "Santa Rita Ghost Town" on my New Mexico highway map. Mapsource showed a couple of unpaved roads circling off the highway through town. Intrigued, I plotted a route to Santa Rita to see if there were some interesting abandoned old buildings or other sights to see. What a surprise to arrive at Santa Rita and see this instead of any remaining evidence of a town:








Mining occurs at the Santa Rita mine 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Since 1910 more than two billion tons of material have been moved to gain access to the ore here. Today, the Santa Rita mine is more than 1600 feet deep and over one mile across. It continues to grow as copper-bearing ore is mined. This ore is shipped to a "concentrator" in Arizona and produces 100 million tons of copper per year.




Coincidentally, I later met someone who had been born in Santa Rita more than 50 years before. If his house had still existed it would have been hanging in space - the mine had expanded over the years far beyond the original borders of the town.

Next up was Fort Bayard and Fort Bayard National Cemetery, neither of which would get me any closer to my National Parks National Traveler Award but which interested me nonetheless. Fort Bayard http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Art...ortBayard.html) dates to 1866 when Company B of the 125th U.S. Colored Infantry under the command of Lieutenant James Kerr established an encampment near the gold and silver mining communities of Pinos Altos and Silver City, New Mexico. It was one of a line of forts established to protect southern New Mexico from the Apache. Today, the fort looks like many de-activated military installations; buildings from many eras in various states of repair (and disrepair), some being re-purposed by local charities, local quasi-government agencies, some private entities, and a medical clinic. Some of the roads shown on the GPS were overgrown with weeds and barely recognizable because of potholes and deteriorated pavement. Since it was Memorial Day weekend I pressed on through the fort to the Fort Bayard National Cemetery, which I was happy to see was beautifully tended.


Fort Bayard National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend






Fort Bayard National Cemetery


The sun was relentless in its march across the sky; they say time waits for no man and I needed to get moving if I was going to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. A quick return to 152, a right turn to Silver City and I was riding NM-15, a wonderful road that passes through the tiny villages of Pinos Altos, Redstone and Gila Hot Springs before its dead-end at Gila Cliff Dwllings National Monument. It may only be about 40 miles long but you'll be hard-pressed to ride it in much less than an hour.








There is a one-mile path that circles up past the cliff dwellings and back down to the visitor's center. It only climbs 180 feet but it was just about all the climb this flatlander could do on this hot day.



The Gila cliff dwellings (http://www.nps.gov/gicl/) offer a glimpse of the homes and lives of the Indians who lived there from the 1280s through the early 1300s. The surroundings probably look today very much like they did when the cliff dwellings were inhabited. The rangers told me that it is likely that these were not permanent homes. It is more likely that different groups of inhabitants occupied them for short periods of time, perhaps only a season or two, since at least some of the inhabitants were probably nomadic.




















Look closely and you can see a petroglyph near the center of the photo



In real estate, they say the key to a great place is "Location, location, location." Looks like these residents knew a great location when they saw one. This is the view out the living room "window" of the Gila Cliff Dwellings.


Alas, the park was closing, the sun was setting and the deer were getting restless. It was time for me to go. Enjoying the ride back down Highway 15 to Silver City I checked the GPS for motels. There were several listed and I had no fears about finding a room. In my experience a solo rider can nearly always find a room.

It doesn't pay to get cocky! Silver City was hosting a Blues Festival. After several phone calls it became clear that there was not even one available motel room in Silver City. The city park was overrun with Harley-riding blues fans, the motel parking lots were crowded with trailers sporting Harley Davidson decals, and the restaurant and bar parking lots were full. The closest room I could find was in Lordsburg, 40 miles south on I-10.

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 05:09 PM
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Old 07-18-2009, 05:50 PM   #13
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Day Four - Lordsburg, NM to Flagstaf, AZ

Dress Like A Pirate Day :ymca

The Lordsburg Best Western was nothing special; it was neither good nor bad. I ate dinner at the restaurant next door and turned in for a relatively good night's sleep. As I opened the motel room door the next morning to begin loading the bike I was treated to the panorama of a parking lot full of Harleys and their riders, all sporting gaily (gay-ly?) colored bandanas tied on their heads, leather chaps with the seat cut out, earrings and fingerless gloves. Dammit - nobody told me this was Dress Like A Pirate Day! As I rode my nearly-silent BMW out of the parking lot in my full riding gear I yelled out a friendly greeting in the only pirate-speak I know: I yelled "Aargh, Matey!" They must have been impressed because they all yelled something back at me (I had ear plugs in but I'm sure it was something friendly). Many of them must have been ADV'ers because so many of them gave me an enthusiastic ADV salute!


Since I was obviously dressed wrong for the occasion I headed out of the parking lot and back to Silver City. Lordsburg is in the flat desert and Silver City is in the mountains. The ride between was quite pleasant in the early morning.






It was a nice ride north from Silver City but when I turned west on New Mexico Highway 78 the ride became spectacular. This road was suggested to me by one of my New Mexico friends and it was simply wonderful. The curves were gentle and the vistas large until the Arizona line; the first tight corner was only 50 yards or so into Arizona.


Did I mention that old guys like to take photos of state line signs so they don't forget they've been there?" I guess old guys really do need reminders from time to time. This was the last state line sign I remembered to photograph. Oh well, what does Meat Loaf sing - "Two outa twelve ain't bad"?



More of AZ78












Highway 78 leads to the town of Clifton and the vast Clifton/Morenci mine, the largest open-pit copper mine in the US. It produces more than 750 tons of copper per year. To give you an idea of the size of this Clifton/Morenci operation, that's seven and a half times the production of the Santa Rita mine, the one with the one-mile diameter crater!






Check out the buildings near the bottom of the crater


More important to me, Highway 78 leads to US 191, formerly US 666 and known as "The Devil's Highway," a road I had wanted to ride for several years. Not the famous "El Camino Del Diablo" - the Highway of the Devil – once a 250-mile link between the northwestern frontier of Mexico and the colonies of California, this Devil's Highway is 90 miles of twists and turns, rises and falls, and concentration-required fun. Unfortunately on this day there was lots of trash on the roads: gravel, tree bark and limbs littered both corners and straightaways. I'll return some day. Maybe it will be cleaner and I can push a little more.







With all the debris on the road the pace for 191 was reduced but the scenery was still great. The Clifton/Morenci mining operation is huge - the highway goes through the middle of it so it seems even bigger.


There was a mix of rain and partly cloudy as I rode north on 191. By the time I reached the northern section that had changed to a mix of rain and snow - enough to cover the road and force me to slow down even more. There were storms everywhere, but it looked like it might be a little bit clearer to the north. With little chance to change course anyway I continued north. At Eager/Springerville, just about where the fun part of 191 ends, the weather was calm so I stopped in to a McDonald's for a quick lunch. I was just about ready for my third bite when the skies just opened up and let the full fury of the storms pound Springerville. The rain, thunder and lightning caused mass consternation; some customers ran out to their cars and some from their cars into the restaurant. I dashed out to the bike and headed north into what, just a few minutes before, had appeared to be a clear(ish) path up to I40. WRONG!


Before I had gone two miles the wind increased, the rain came down harder and the hail came down hard enough I feared for the bodywork on the bike.
Every car I saw had pulled off the road because it was impossible to see more than a few feet. I stopped twice and thought about what to do. Finally making a shaky (because of the gusty wind) U-turn on the deserted road I decided to head west, hoping for a real improvement: a steady rain instead of this violent storm.

Heading west to Show Low, I got my wish. The wind calmed and the rain turned into a steady soaker. Just before Show Low the rain actually stopped, though all around me were ominous dark clouds with rain pouring out of the bottoms.

Show Low didn't make any particular impression on me - I was concentrating more on trying to pick my way through thunderstorms than I was on sightseeing. Guessing that going north to Holbrook would keep me out of the worst of it I headed out of Show Low on US-77. The rain lessened and finally stopped as I neared Holbrook. I had planned on riding through the Petrified Forest National Monument from the south to the north but the storms were not cooperating. At Holbrook I decided I was too close to both the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest not to visit and get the stamps so I headed east on I-40 - back into the rain - and went into the visitor's center. I got lots of strange looks as I parked the bike in the parking lot in the pouring rain and walked, dripping, into the visitor's center to collect my stamps. I had been to both of these parks a couple of years ago so I felt no guilt at spending only enough time there to collect the stamps.



Leaving the parks I headed back west on I-40 and a quick stop at the Wigwam Motel ("Have you slept in a Wigwam lately?") in Holbrook. There were a handful of these built over the years but I believe this is the only one still operating (http://www.galerie-kokopelli.com/wigwam/). The rain had stopped and the humidity was high. I stayed only a short time and rode I-40B (old US66) out of town and toward my next stop: Winslow.









Whenever I can, especially near old Route 66, I take the interstate business route through towns. I love seeing the old sights, the kitschy old buildings, and finding some fun restaurants. Some of these towns were economically devastated when the interstate bypassed downtown. Some of them laid down and died and some are still fighting. If I can, I try to add a few bucks to the local economy. There wasn't much happening in Winslow, once the largest city in northern Arizona. I had a soda in the drugstore across the street from the statue inspired by the Glenn Frey / Jackson Browne penned song "Take It Easy" and asked a tourist couple to take my picture "standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona." I later found out that there is a very good restaurant where I could have had a nice lunch.


Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona









As I left Winslow I thought about the next portion of my planned route: heading west to Flagstaff, south through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona, over the mountains to Jerome, and back to I-40. It didn't take much calculating to realize that there wasn't enough daylight left to accomplish all that so I decided to stop in Flagstaff for the night and see if I could join my New Mexico friends a day early. A quick detour to Walnut Canyon National Park gave me a chance for a short hike to stretch my legs and another stamp for my Passport book. Arriving in Flagstaff an hour or so later I managed to get a room in the same motel as my friends.

I only rode 503 miles this day but I was tired. The concentration required on the mountain roads; the heat from the desert; the rain, snow and hail, and the disappointment of not being able to ride Oak Creek Canyon Drive or to stop for a drink in Jerome all added up to the desire for an early night, a good dinner and a couple of beers.

OldSchoolMike screwed with this post 08-27-2009 at 10:00 AM
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Old 07-18-2009, 08:11 PM   #14
coolbikermom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldSchoolMike
Dress Like A Pirate Day :ymca




Quote:
I only rode 503 miles this day but I was tired. The concentration required on the mountain roads; the heat from the desert; the rain, snow and hail, and the disappointment of not being able to ride Oak Creek Canyon Drive or to stop for a drink in Jerome all added up to the desire for an early night, a good dinner and a couple of beers.

503 miles with those road conditions is fantastic. Nothing to apologize for.

Hubby and I stayed in Flagstaff last year for his birthday and did the Grand Canyon one day, and Oak Creek Canyon/Sedona on another.


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Old 07-19-2009, 05:56 AM   #15
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Day Five - Flagstaff, AZ to Pahrump, NV

Monday morning's blue skies were a portent of the heat that awaited us later, but for now I was just glad it wasn't raining.

Following breakfast we rode west on I-40 toward our night's destination of Pahrump, Nevada. This group rides in fluid smaller groups, so I didn't feel bad as I peeled off at Seligman to ride old Route 66 through Grand Canyon Caverns and on through Peach Springs on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, rejoining I-40 in Kingman. I had heard that I would be able to see some things that inspired some of the businesses and some of the landscape in the Pixar movie "Cars".

I didn't.

Grand Canyon Caverns was a tourist stop in the old days. It's still open but didn't appeal very much to me so I didn't bother stopping.

Peach Springs appeared to be an administrative center for tribal business. I saw a new building on the edge of town and, noticing the walls painted nicely in southwestern colors, assumed it was a school. Closer inspection revealed that it was a jail. I've remarked facetiously for several years that it's impossible to tell whether a building is a school or a jail, since they all have high security features designed into them. It was sad to be proven so right.

Kingman seemed to be a progressive city. There's a large industrial park on old Route 66 with well-kept businesses. I rode past a newish shopping mall. Unlike many small cities Kingman doesn't seem to depend on I-40 traffic. It's larger and more diverse than I remembered.

From Kingman it was back on old Route 66 through Oatman and on to Bullhead City. Oatman is the same every time I visit; lots of tourists wandering the streets, feeding the burros and yelling at their kids. I go through there for the road - not for Oatman.

Somewhere on the Oatman Highway






In the 1930s and 1940s tourists loaded up their kids and drove these narrow twisty roads at night to escape the oppressive heat of the day. Remember, in those days they had tube-type tires, pre-sealbeam headlights and a near-total absence of guard rails. Wow!




After the nostalgia of old Route 66 the ride to Bullhead City and a McDonald's lunch jarred me back to the present. The traffic was fierce, the heat was oppressive and I had one more stop to make: I wanted the stamp from Hoover Dam.

US 95 up to Boulder City and the dam was neither terrible nor enjoyable. It was just a hot boring ride. Once in Boulder City the stoplights were making me hot and irritable and when I found myself in a stop-and-go string of motorhomes and cars heading for Hoover Dam I decided I really didn't want the Boulder Dam stamp badly enough to put up with six miles of foot-down paddling traffic in the heat. One illegal U-turn later I was heading to Pahrump via Henderson and Las Vegas.

I planned my route around the south edge of Las Vegas to avoid traffic. It didn't work very well. Traffic wasn't particularly heavy but it was hot and the traffic signals and road construction conspired to make it a chore to get through town. Lots and lots of people like Las Vegas. I don't.

Once through Las Vegas it was just a hot ride to Pahrump. My back, which had been giving me trouble for several weeks, was screaming at me to get to the air-conditioned hotel and stretch out on the bed. As soon as I reached the hotel I did exactly that, lying on my back for about three hours before I could stand to get up and walk to someplace to eat. I was sorry to miss dinner with the group but I had no choice. I had to try to stretch out, do my therapy exercises and give my 4 Extra Strength Advil time to work.

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 05:13 PM
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