The temperature up on the Mogollon Rim was not quite as cold as I’d thought it would be as we got on the road this morning bound for Show Low, then 191 to ride our fall colors ride. In Show Low, we turned east onto 260 to go through Pinetop-Lakeside, a place I hate because of the slow speed limit and traffic congestion. At least today the traffic wasn’t too bad, and as we got past the Hon-dah casino, traveling toward Sunrise Ski Resort, the colors were beautiful. Once again, I saw the shimmering gold aspens against the dark green of the evergreens, glittering in the sun as the wind blew through their leaves. Some of the trees were closer to red than gold, and they were spectacular.
We stopped in Alpine to take a break and attach the GoPro camera to the front of my bike for the trip up 191. I was glad because the moment we got into 191 and started moving through the turns, it was so beautiful. There was one turn in particular where Hal went through it in front of me and stirred up some leaves that had fallen onto the road. They swirled in the air behind him, and the moment was pure gold magic! I was hoping the camera “saw” that part, but then I realized there was no replicating the real event, and no way to capture it on any type of recording device. The clear air, the golden sun of autumn, the brilliant shining leaves, there was only one term for it – magic.
When we got to Hannagan Meadow, I would have been just as happy to have turned around and gone back through those lovely turns because they are my absolute favorites on 191. But we went on up and enjoyed the rest of them. Lots of them are decreasing radius turns that keep you from zoning out. At one point, a big bird, probably a wild turkey or a pheasant ran across the road in front of us. I am not sure what it was, it moved so fast.
Soon we reached the big meadow where you can run at any speed because it flattens out. I let Pearl step out a little because we were both tired of relatively slow speeds and constant carving. At mile marker 191, we stopped and I took a photo of Hal taking a photo of the actual 191 mile marker sign on Hwy. 191, a photo in a photo, so to speak. It was awesome.
We came to the last tight turns just above Morenci and I was disappointed that there were no safe places to pull off to the side to take photographs of the road winding as it ribboned below us. Once we were down, we went through the mine area, which still fascinates me. At last, we stopped for fuel since we hadn’t since Show Low, and took a break. I ate a Butterfinger bar and drank some limeade. It sounds like a weird combination, but was a good energy booster as I was getting kind of tired.
Then we took 191 to Arizona/New Mexico 78 which ended up being another curving road that was fun to ride, at least until we rode into a big black cloud. Fortunately, we stopped in time to hurriedly pull on rain gear at the side of the road. We were pelted with rain for several miles, during which the sky darkened to almost the shade of night, and looked like it would never end. Soon we turned on to NM 180 and found that our destination, Glenwood, was only 20 miles away. I actually was glad since I had been tired since Morenci, and was getting to the point that I wanted to be off the bike for the day. I think my brain was temporarily emptied out this week as I finished a major project that I had going. I’m already writing the next one in my head, though. Somehow, it has to do with fall, and riding … Hmmmm.
We pulled off the road for the day under overcast skies and cool temperatures. I ended my perfect day with a cup of coffee in hand, the bike covered and cozy, as I listened to the pattering of rain and watched the clouds and mist drift across the Mogollon Mountains of far western New Mexico.