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Old 02-03-2014, 02:10 PM   #61
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I found this sign

pointing to a white horse on the left side of the road, but the horse was camera shy and exited stage right. Did it say "house" or "horse?"





And then the pavement ended on a packed clay road with ruts deep enough to matter.



The air was crisp, the ride thrilling.



It took me a little trial and error to locate the actual Window Rock, so I gassed up during my search and finally located my goal, The Navajo Nation World War II Memorial.





Three of my uncles served in World War II, one never came home. We owe those who fought for our freedom and must never forget their sacrifice and the toll it took on those back home.





I left Window Rock and headed west on SH 264

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Old 02-03-2014, 02:30 PM   #62
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It got kind of desolate and monotonous.

I headed southwest on Bia-15 at Burnside, AZ. School had already started here. Back in Texas it didn't start for another week and a half. My kids are all grown and gone, it's just me and the ol' ball-and-chain. Speaking of LA, she's trudging along near Tuba City, AZ in a heinous sandstorm she'll tell me about tonight. She would explain there were some guys on motorcycles that appeared to be suffering fairly badly. Currently, I thought I was suffering pretty badly. Things are all relative though, right?



Remnants of old volcanoes broke the monotony. "I'm the bleeding volcano," ~ She's so Cold -- The Rolling Stones



Just when I think I can't take another minute, another mile, the San Fransisco Peaks materialize on the horizon unless I'm hallucinating.



But it feels like I ride on and on and the Peaks grow no closer. It's like a time warp or something. The muscles in my back are aching.



"Oh lookie, a freakin' windmill. Really, who gives a rat's ass?" Now I'm talking to myself, blathering, suffering.



Could that really be the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument? I actually made it? Originally we planned to camp here at Bonito CG or a little further west, closer to the base of Humphreys Peak, but extensive debate found a hot tub and not having to mess with the tent would be nice. No matter, I had routed a little tour through the area but the sun was setting fast. I followed the GPS onto NF 244a.



I took a stretch and relieved myself. LA sent me a text with the hotel room number. She picked the same hotel we had stayed in years ago when we hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in one day (NOT RECOMMENDED). In the process I noticed I had traveled unwittingly from Window Rock like this....



Fortunately, everything stayed stowed away.



As NF 244a merged into NF 244 and then NF 545, I quickly discovered these cinders don't make for sound footing. I considered turning back, but this was supposed to be an adventure, am I right? The sun was draining away quickly and the shadows on this black surface combined with the whoops were nerve racking, no, downright frightening. The second "pinched cheek" moment of the adventure.



I was breathing hard enough to fog the shield, trying to stay loose, tired, squinting into the setting sun and trying to find a clean line as the front end washed out time and again. If I crashed, it might be a while before I was discovered. I can do this. Focus. I passed a sign announcing Cinder Hills ORV Area and wished I had 4 wheels just now. Finally, I found asphalt and relief.

Just as the sun was setting...



.....I got the money shot over the shoulder.



The sun was setting on the final few feet of upper Sunset Crater. No way this could have been planned. I passed Bonita CG and noted several travel trailers and at least two litters of kids -- that hot tub's gonna feel great.

I found US 89 south and made it to the hotel, Hampton Inn right off Historic Route 66, just after dark, a minor infraction of my code, but that's what growing pains are, right? It's hard to step outside one's comfort zone, but really, that's where all the good stuff resides, isn't it? Dad always said, and I passed this gem along to my kids, "anything worthwhile comes with a price." I'd paid the price today. There's beer waiting in the cooler and no tent to set up. LA's argument last night was right all along, as usual.....Later on we walked over to Arby's and brought it back to our room only to discover they forgot to include the Au Jus with LA's French Dip. Hissing Kitty Stare + Obscenity X 2.

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Old 02-03-2014, 04:55 PM   #63
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Day 7, August 16, 2013, Humphreys Peak

9.6 miles, ~7.5 hours

Red gets a well earned day off. This is not a hiking story and I don't intend to relate every step of the climb, but we were blessed with a spectacular day and it needs sharing.

The Plan: We both set our alarms for 5:00 am, get up, grab a coffee from the lobby and book it to the Arizona Ski Bowl parking lot where the trailhead is. Hopefully that would give us time to make the summit before the afternoon thunderstorms. I would take Red's place and be the beast of burden, carrying a day pack and our water, LA would carry her hiking poles.

We both woke up at exactly 3:45 am, turned toward each other and said, "lets go." When we got to the trailhead, we discovered I had forgotten one of the 4 liters of water I was supposed to carry. Stuff like this is going to make it difficult to win the popularity contest.







We'll use that distant volcano as a reference, so commit it to memory.



Chilly enough for a fleece and gloves.



Peaceful, except for our breathing, our footfalls, and an occasional thud on the forest floor. It sounded like large stuff was falling out of the treetops.



One of these smashed into the brim of my hat, solving the mystery. Very sticky pine cones. Thud, thud, thud. Sorry for the blur.



LA loves to hike. At a blistering pace. Can you tell?





She discovered a heart rock.



Remember the reference volcano?



That road on the adjacent peak looks like it would be a fun ride someday. Not enough time on this trip, so it gets filed in the mental checklist.



It's pretty hazy today, but I think that is Sunset Crater off to the east, seen as we gain the saddle. Out of the treeline it's time to start shedding layers.





The wind had not started blowing yet. 60 mph winds are common from here to the top.



LA is always feeding the wildlife. "Criminal" ~ Eminem

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Old 02-03-2014, 05:18 PM   #64
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It gets steep

and you have to follow the posts as there is very little "trail" to see.





You know how you never seem to capture how steep and rocky some trails are when you're riding......This speaks for itself.



Reference volcano. "One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak." ~ G.K. Chesterton



Gentle buildup of clouds, but still no wind.





Reference volcano



We made the summit at 9:35 am. and still only a mild breeze. We had the place to ourselves for 15 minutes or so, took some pictures, and fled the scene. It was hazy, but you could still see the north rim of the Grand Canyon although it photographed poorly so you'll have to take my word.





A look down on the saddle, where LA's pet wildlife will likely get another snack.

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Old 02-03-2014, 05:36 PM   #65
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The trailhead, ski runs to the left.



The clouds are thickening and getting a little darker.



Here's one of those sticky missiles in a treetop.



We made it back to the treeline at about 11:30 am and the first peel of thunder came about 10 minutes afterwards.



After you stump your toes for at least the 100th time, which is unavoidable, the pain actually becomes funny for both parties and prevents crying.



We're back down to the aspen, and nearing the end of a grand day.





A final farewell to our humble servant, reference volcano.



Trailhead, with plenty of water to spare. When you hike long distances, your hands swell into little sausage fingers that return to normal within an hour or so afterwards. Principles of gravity.





We never got rained on, but it looks like we timed it perfectly. Fate played a hand by waking us at 3:45 am in a similar frame of mind.



Red shared in on the post summit toast by guzzling just under a half quart. We visited the hot tub twice and dined in our room on Arby's again. No problems with the Au Jus this time either. Another perfect day.



And yes, I forgot to bring the handheld GPS. "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me..." ~Beck

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Old 02-03-2014, 06:29 PM   #66
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I really need to make it down to that part of the country sometime, maybe I'll get back in shape a bit first. I used to be a pretty big fan of hiking myself, in fact the first date with my wife was a hike to the summit of Laramie Peak which is a pretty decent day hike of about 9.4 miles round trip and 5400 feet elevation change (2,700 rise from parking to summit)
http://www.landscapeimagery.com/laramiepeak.html

Anyway, enough of my babbling; the pics are great and I love the toast with Red and LA
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:15 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gstanfield View Post
I really need to make it down to that part of the country sometime, maybe I'll get back in shape a bit first. I used to be a pretty big fan of hiking myself, in fact the first date with my wife was a hike to the summit of Laramie Peak which is a pretty decent day hike of about 9.4 miles round trip and 5400 feet elevation change (2,700 rise from parking to summit)
http://www.landscapeimagery.com/laramiepeak.html

Anyway, enough of my babbling; the pics are great and I love the toast with Red and LA
That looks like a great hike, gstanfield, and will go on my list of things to do.
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Old 02-04-2014, 12:52 PM   #68
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Day 8, August 17, 2013, Flagstaff, AZ to Tucson, AZ

446 miles, ~14 hours

-- The Tempest --

Every adventure has one...the day that will stand out in infamy, pushing physical and mental endurance to extreme, casting the shadow of doubt and even the possibility of regret.

And of course, it was a day LA was going to follow along for the first half to enjoy the adventure experience. After a hearty hotel breakfast and a quick run to Walmart for adult beverage and several bags of ice, we gave the room a final walk through, got gasoline, and headed out into the overcast, midmorning air.

The plan: LA follows me through Coconino National Forest to Pine, AZ, where she splits off to visit relatives and I ride the backroads through Tonto NF and we rendezvous either on Mt Lemmon in Coronado NF just outside Tucson or, if no campsites are appealing LA would get us a hotel room in Tucson.

Wanting to avoid I 40, we headed north on US 89 then west on Townsend Winona Road (NF 510).



Humphreys Peak didn't look so inviting today.



We crossed over I 40 and found Winona Ranch Road (NF 82) easily enough, entering Coconino National Forest.



But the well maintained road ended at a closed gate with "no trespassing". I tried a reroute, trying to follow as closely as I could to my carefully fashioned route, and things were going good for a while until this





LA was being a great sport about all this until I rode through a dry wash, parked Red, and offered to drive her through.....the debate was short lived and this time I listened to her reasoning and agreed to turn back, and we did.



I even got to ride in the light rain on I 40 heading west, then briefly south on I 17 before heading south on Lake Mary Road (NF 3). I originally missed the exit and we had to turn around and backtrack north on I 17, earning me extra brownie points with LA. Being optimistic, I trudged on without putting the rain gear on just yet, as the promise of blue skies taunted me just southward.



Mormon Lake reminds me of Navajo Reservoir in Colorado. Dry.





Speaking of Mormon Lake, look how close we were to making it to NF 3. Four or five miles perhaps. The time lost on the backtracking would end up costing us dearly by the end of this day. Maybe I shouldn't have conceded so soon after all.





NF 3 makes a T at SH 87, which takes you south past Mogollon Rim Road (FR 300)and into Strawberry, AZ.

I finally went ahead and put my rain suit on while getting gas in Strawberry. LA and I kissed and parted ways. She headed on to Pine to reunite with her stepmom, I went back to the Rim Road and headed east under threatening skies and an occasional peal of thunder.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:05 PM   #69
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Remember the results of my Super Bowl prognostication?

My choice in this instance was equally as far off base...

Well, here is what I missed out on when I shied away from the family reunion to go ride in the rain.



The opportunity to meet a beauty and a legend.







Quote from an email, with permission:

" Actually I'm writing a book about my life. I tell you, riding with The Dirty Dozen Motorcycle Club was an adventure. My ex started that club, and my brother was the first President. Boy how exciting that was. When we would come into Payson we would have police cars meet in Rye ( town just outside Payson) and bring us into town with flashing lights and loud speakers saying "It's the Dirty Dozen Motorcycle Club, don't try to be a hero, leave them alone" There sometimes would be 80 to 100 bikes on the road.I've met some really exciting people. Evil Knievel was a friend. He actually dubbed me the First Lady of motorcycle jumping on Wide World of Sports in 75. Tanya Tucker came to my house after we did a show. My youngest was about 10 then and when she opened the door she screamed "Mom, it's Delta Dawn" (that song she was famous for at that time) . The Dirty Dozen merged with the Hells Angels several years ago, and my ex is still riding with them. On a CD Evil has called "Absolute Evil," he mentions my name and shows a couple pictures of me. And yes it was 16 cars and sure your husband can use my picture . I look back at my life now, and Yeah, I'm glad I can say "I'm glad I did, instead of, I wish I had" so you kids keep on having those adventures."

I selfishly gambled and I lost. I had no idea at the time what a grievous error I'd made, what a wonderful opportunity I'd missed. Hindsight is, after all, 20/20.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:28 PM   #70
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And that's how I won the Tilting at Windmills Bonehead Award

From the southernmost boundary of the Coconino NF, looking off the rim and over the northern expanse of Tonto NF. There is a fire control road down there that follows the road I'm riding. It needs exploration and warrants a return to this area.

There are many camping opportunities on either side of the well maintained gravel road. Off to the south, there is still hope for some blue skies.







Even with the horrible start and the lost time, I didn't feel rushed yet at the same time I sort of wished LA was still behind me so she could enjoy the view and winding road.





Spotty distant rain. As usual, I'd only received a few light drops since putting the rain suit on.

This is one of my favorite pictures. It is powerfully ominous as it sets the tone for what is to follow.



Rim Road brought me to SH 260 where I traveled maybe 2 miles before turning south on Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Road (SH 288) which starts out paved but soon turns gravel/dirt and then a final short segment of asphalt before terminating into SH 188 north of Globe.



I motored along the gravel road, watching it darken in front and behind me. It began to sprinkle with short bursts of harder rain off and on. As conditions continued to deteriorate, pictures became less important. I missed the windmill shot of the year as I slowed to take a photo of a cattle guard with working windmills on each side of the road, the road climbing away in the distance -- because of lightning and corresponding thunder from somewhere behind me. I considered turning around, but logistically I had passed the point of no return. Timidly, I headed south. At least the road was not muddy, maybe I could keep just to the south of the storm. I was no longer climbing, but had not started any noticeable descent as I caught a flash of lightning and giant sparks on my right and an immediate cannon-clap of thunder -- and tingling in my arms which I will never know the true source, internal or external shock. At least I did not soil my now comfortable britches.

Then the rain started coming down in earnest. I had to keep moving while I still had a chance because 30 minutes of rain like this on this sandy clay surface would keep me stuck up here well into tomorrow afternoon, so I chugged along in 1st for 30 minutes or so, trying unsuccessfully to keep on the crown of the road. I slipped off into the right ditch and somehow managed to coax Red back onto the road. I kept at it, my shield maximally fogged -- I'd have sold my soul for the goggles I considered buying a few weeks ago. I felt some relief when a Game Warden approached from the rear, then had a sinking feeling when he or she didn't slow down a bit. I kept slogging, keeping to the shallow ruts the truck had just cut. I've turned back in stuff less treacherous when Red was shod in D606's.

Finally, after what seemed like 6 hours, the rain started petering out and the surface finally improved not long before the asphalt picked back up. I'd made it and got my first look at one of these.





They just dwarf Red. We'll go look at some more in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Ironwood Forest National Monument in the next few days.



South on SH 188 to Globe and some gas.





It was like a finishers medal after a marathon. (only I wasn't finished yet)

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Old 02-04-2014, 01:59 PM   #71
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Just south of Globe

I picked up SH 77 south for the home stretch into Tucson. I was spent and wanted to get there before dark so I spurred Red pretty hard but somewhere about Dudleyville darkness caught me along with another pounding thunderstorm. This was definite violation of the code and I was just about to pull over and wait things out when someone pulling a boat passed and I used those 3 little lights at the bottom of the rear of the trailer as a beacon and followed along, terrified, just out of the trailer's spray. As I was locked on my target, the chimes for a text message went through my ear buds. I didn't dare lose my beacon, it was probably LA telling me she had a hotel room in Tucson. The rain abated just before Oracle, AZ so I pulled in at a gas station to read my text, "flat tire 2 miles from the top of Mt. Lemmon on rock road."

I asked the gentleman behind the station counter how far I was from NF 38 (N. Control Road) and he said less than a mile back the way I'd come.

So I find myself on a narrow shelf road, in the dark, searching for LA somewhere near the top. I was exhausted, had eaten only trail mix and bites of beef jerky since breakfast, was feeling sorry for my ill fated self, and was going to get to change a tire somewhere up ahead. The temptation to be impatient was overpowering, but I kept Red reined in and crept up the mountain. I came to a fork and randomly chose left which thankfully turned out to be correct (earlier, LA chose right and found a dead end at a gate ). It seemed like I had been riding up this road for hours when I met first one and then another jeepfull of folks. Weird noises, clicks, and insectile buzzing came through my ear buds and I wondered if I was losing touch. Hopefully someone had stopped to help LA, but someone could also as easily stop with very different intentions. Stay calm, keep it slow and steady. I finally found myself entering a dust cloud and then caught a glimpse of the Xterra's tail lights. Relief consumed me.

She stopped and I pulled alongside. She motioned me to take the lead and yelled, "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" I obeyed without question and we finally found pavement and the Mt. Lemmon Highway. I immediately led us the wrong way, to a dead end. I apologized. She then told me she had unloaded the Xterra and changed the tire herself and then loaded it all back up. Two jeeps had passed her and never slowed.

Thinking of the Frenchman and his teenaged boys, I said, "at least you got it done." I meant it as a complement, she took it as apathy and spewed a string of obscenities that peeled some of the paint off of Red's tank. She had grime smeared all over her face and looked possessed, feral -- Attack Kitty Glare. I stayed calm and convinced her to turn around and we'd take a peek at just one camping spot, and if it didn't work out we'd head straight to Tucson and get a hotel. She calmed ever so slightly and we took off. "Storms Never Last" ~Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter

We rode through a camping loop that was packed, I did catch a world class spectacular view of Tucson down below. It could be really cool to camp up here someday. I stopped to signal LA that we'd head to town. I wanted her to lead as it was hard to see but she said rather persuasively that she, "couldn't see a @#%$ &@!! thing," so I led. Just as I was putting Red in gear, a disheveled camper ran up to me and asked if I was the Park Ranger, like he was scared or something. I just said, "no," and took off, The Gray Man.

We made it down into the outskirts of Tucson and I stopped and took my rain suit off as it was burning up down there. The blown tire rested in the passenger seat. Hand to hand combat avoided, we agreed that LA would lead and we'd stop at the first hotel we came to. She took off south and I followed. Finally we found I 10 and headed northwest for what seemed forever. We found a No-Tell "hotel" with all kinds of activity going on out in the parking lot and voted to keep looking. Eventually we arrived at a Fairfield Inn around 11:30 pm and LA staggered in to register. She has the gift of gab, and after relating her story to the desk manager, Terry, he gave us a room for half price.

For her acts of extreme valor, LA wins the coveted Bad Ass Tilting at Windmills Award, and in comparison, I simply had a trying and long day. It does not show real well, but she left 2 rings in the bathtub. We drank a lot and threw a bunch of leftover stuff in the microwave for late night dining -- and yes, there were tortillas involved.



Now, that's a big hole.



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Old 02-04-2014, 05:48 PM   #72
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Day 9, August 18, 2013 Tucson, AZ to Riggs Lake on Mt. Graham

189 miles, ~5.75 hours

After The Tempest, we mutually agreed on a Reset. Originally, LA was either going to lounge around for the day while I rode out to Ironwood Forest National Monument and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument or we'd do it two up. Part of the planning of this adventure involved spending some time at Mt. Graham and visiting some friends and relatives in Safford, AZ. LA was ready to skip Tucson and get to Riggs Lake and back in the tent. Honestly, I was too. Hell, I already got some good cacti pics and plus, it leaves stuff on the mental checklist for the future.

The plan: Get a new tire on Sunday morning, do laundry, visit an Uncle (something on my checklist for far, far too long), and depart by 1:00 pm -- LA got us a late check-out.

Here's how things work after an exorcism like yesterday, and you get your Mojo back...

We slept a little late and enjoyed a leisurely couple of cups of java in our room. Located a Sam's Club for the tire. We stuffed two loads of ripe smelling clothes in the washer and went to melt in the hot tub. On the way back to the room we chunked the clothes in 2 dryers, showered and changed, and had free breakfast. Filled with hotcakes, sausage, eggs and hash browns we waddled by the laundry room and folded the clothes. Chunked the clothes in the room and headed to Sam's, me on Red and LA driving the Xterra, where they didn't have any tires our size. I had anticipated this and spotted a Firestone around the corner that helped us out. While the techs were busy with the air wrench, I called my Uncle and it just happened that he lived 5 blocks away, so we hopped on Red and went to see him. He's a retired blacksmith -- he actually did all the iron work at the Washington National Cathedral years ago -- something else on my future checklist. I snuck a pic or two, we visited for about an hour and headed back to Firestone.









LA snapped a pic from the back of Red.



We got gas and ice on the way back to the Fairfield, carried our stuff out to the Xterra, I added a little over a half a quart to Red, changed into my Gray Man suit, and just in the nick of time.

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Old 02-04-2014, 06:17 PM   #73
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My original plan

was to ramble the dirt roads well north of I 10 all the way to Safford, AZ, but after The Tempest it felt prudent to stay within earshot of LA. So I 10, traffic, and a hint at possible rain it is. "Sometimes you just do things." ~Scott Jurek -- champion ultramarathoner





Mt. Lemmon is not the first mountain to backhand me. We'll be back some day. I'd love to ride that Control Road in the daylight.



Soon after we arrived back home, my Uncle would send me a letter telling there was some whack-job running around with a gun on Mt. Lemmon that night we were up there, and of course he asked if it was one of us.....It explains the disheveled camper and perhaps how lucky we were during a moment we felt extremely unlucky.

I got sprinkled on a little, but not enough to put the rain suit on or put my phone in a plastic baggie.



From here on the interstate, I longed to be out there in isolation, traveling at 1/3 my current speed, a cloud of dust in my rearviews.



I'd never been to Mt. Graham before, but LA assured me I would fall in love with it. I wasn't sure this was our destination, but it felt like it might be.



The boulders in the Texas Canyon area look identical to the rocks we hike through back home in nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK.





There's a nice rest area there and we stopped for a feast of the mixed BBQ meats that left home with us and continued to feed us.



Red was developing quite a racin' stripe. I had a friend tell me the other day, "it comes with age." Unfortunately we were discussing buying underwear, but I digress.

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Old 02-04-2014, 06:55 PM   #74
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Token windmill.



That didn't take too long.



LA takes the lead for the home stretch, north on US 191.



This reminded me of an old timey umpire, checking the count.



The Pinoleno Mountains and Mt. Graham off to the right of the windmill.



West on SH 366 and into the mountains. "The mountains are calling and I must go." ~John Muir. And yes, I got to put my rain suit on. I thought Arizona was supposed to be arid.



You pass right by a Federal Prison before entering Coronado National Forest.



The road is simply amazing. It takes about an hour to reach Riggs Lake Campground.





And the view ain't too shab either.





The pavement ends and SH 366 becomes FR 803 somewhere near the halfway point.



Getting up to the aspen. Yes! I hoped for LA's sake the gravel road remained tame....



....and it did with the exception of some washboard patches. Folks, this is an exceptional road for any bike, even the gravel section. LA was prophetic, I do love it.



And we had the place to ourselves at $10.00 a night. Break out the Coors and the orange tent! Site #13 is centrally situated fairly near the vault toilets, has it's back to the forest, and a nice peek through the trees at the lake. In other words, a slice of heaven on earth.





Not a hint of Hissing Kitty Stare here, is there? LA's bouncing around like a fart in a hot skillet, of course the picture's bbbllluuuuryy. Ever try to photograph a hummingbird?



We gathered a bunch of damp firewood during the cocktail hour(s), and I struggled to make it burn nice-like. Another family set up a tent down the way and had the same trouble with the campfire; lots of smoke, very little flame.

We had some rice mix and threw in a bunch more of that BBQ. Damn it was good.



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Old 02-05-2014, 08:42 AM   #75
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Fantastic day of Adventure. Sounds like tomorrow would be a great day for a rest and catchup.
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