It all started with an ill-formed, vague idea of a ride to Bagdad, AZ. It sounded like a wonderful adventure to me, but after further discussion, my riding partner, Hal, and I decided that it was going to be a two-day trip, or more, one we might even have to divide into two separate trips. The goal would be to write a real adventure story, about a real adventure, not just a sedate day trip woven into an “experience” to fulfill a storyline. So, Sunday’s ride changed to a day trip north to a fire road, called Control Road, near Pine that we’d done before, a place we could relax a little, and still make it home before dark.
After breakfast, we got onto Control Road, headed generally east. I was surprised how tentative I was riding downhill on a marble-gravel surface. It is one of my least favorite things, but in my head I heard the words of one of my friends to stay in a low gear. I was being very cautious, and did not want to repeat my experience on Fossil Creek Road a few weeks ago. Things were compounded by the fact that Jewel (my GS) was being fussy and would not let me turn the ABS off. What is wrong with me?? I thought. Here I am, an experienced dirt rider and not feeling very confident at all. I kept pressing the button to turn off the ABS, but nothing was happening! I finally squeezed the front brake lever a few times while pressing the button in a desperate attempt to make her comply, and suddenly it worked, ABS was off at last!
As we continued on the dirt road, we turned onto a secondary road, then crossed a shallow water crossing. I was (somehow) up front, and I had no idea where I was going! It did not look familiar, even though I knew we’d been down this road before. We ended up on the side of a hill, turning around, always dicey for me, but especially so in the dirt. The funny thing was, though, after I’d done it, I calmed down and got back to normal. Back on the main road, we went east for a while, then went across another bridge to find a pullout right on Webber Creek.
Hal wanted to get some photos of the creek, and I just wanted to take a break for a while. I got out my new camera, and we went down to the water. The reflection pool near the bridge was flat and copper-colored with mud.
The area was still pretty, though, everything seemed to be in varying shades of copper, bronze, brown, and gold. The sun slanted down, a lighter shade of gold than in fall. It was heavier now, gaining strength and brilliance, fueling the newness of the green leaves that glowed in the light. A spider’s web that ran from rock to branch glistened, swaying slightly in the hush of mid-day. A fly sat on a rock. The water burbled. Above, the pine trees roared in the rushing wind; overhead, there was a different drama than the calm in the hollow formed by the creek. I wandered around, fascinated by the millions of things before my delighted eyes, endless things to photograph and save forever within a frame.
Time slipped by effortlessly and soon it was time to ride again. It’s funny how time goes so fast when I am on the road, about three times as fast as when I am at work. We continued our ride at a much faster pace as well, the dust swirling up around us, and we came out on the 260 near the ascent to the Rim. We rode back on pavement toward Payson, onto the 87, then Bush Hwy., the scenic route home. A cup of coffee, over which we lingered for far too long, at the end of the ride. We parted company as the sun sank spectacularly over the dirty freeways of Phoenix, a sharp contrast to the beauty we’d left behind up on the Rim.