It was another meet up and ride Sunday, but at least this time Hal and I knew we were going to get out of town and be on the road for a week! We decided to try the vacation in the Alpine, AZ area again since it was so pleasant, but so short –lived, last time.It was hot as we left town, the beginning of one of those long drawn out weeks of intense heat in the Valley, aka, the Phoenix area. I was glad I was going to miss day after day of 112° heat. I would like to miss the whole summer, but that’s not possible – yet. By the time we had breakfast in Payson, it was warming up there as well. At the restaurant, we transferred all the baggage to my bike because Hal’s bag and backpack kept slipping around and it looked very precarious to me. We lashed it all to Jewel’s capable back, and when I got going, the feeling of carrying a heavy load was amazingly absent. I figured since we had once been two-up and crowded with baggage on the bike (in an emergency situation), she wasn’t going to object to one more bag being thrown on this time. She was good as gold.
We had to climb east toward the Rim, past Christopher Creek, before the air even started to have a hint of coolness. Near the top, we saw the smoke plume of yet another wildfire, the Poco fire, burning near Young, AZ. I have a connection to Young in that my brother-in-law used to own a beautiful house there. Of course, he had to sell it when he lost his job, thanks to the company he worked for moving his job to India. That is so wrong on so many levels, but I won’t go into that here. I miss the house, and I know my husband used to enjoy spending time there on the weekends with my brother-in-law.
From the top of the Rim, we could see the different colors of the smoke plume, white where the forest was smouldering, dark gray where the fire was more intense. I just checked and found the fire has doubled in size today. So much forest, so much destruction. The last few years our summer riding season has begun with a “quest for fire,” or so it seems. We are currently in a drought cycle, and the heat and dryness has sometimes made it feel like the whole world is on fire.
The ride was uneventful, and soon we were going through Springerville, past Nelson Reservoir, and then the last few miles to Alpine. Rain clouds, some dark gray, were starting to build, signaling the beginning of the summer monsoon. Every afternoon this time of year, it rains in the high country. Two weeks ago when we were here, there wasn’t a hint of a cloud in the sky the whole day. The rain is a double-edged sword for those affected by the fires – on one hand, it could help extinguish the fire, on the other it can create major flash flood and erosion problems.
We arrived in Alpine in time to unload the bikes and enjoy a lovely little rain shower. It was cool and cloudy, and we sat on a little porch area and drank some coffee. The place was nearly deserted, and we savored the quiet, the beauty of the forest, and the cool air. Soon, the rain quit, the sun came out again to make the sky and trees spectacular.
A while later we rode over to the same little restaurant we found the last time we were here, and enjoyed a nice dinner. It was a busy place this Sunday evening, and this time we even got to explore the attached candy store. Oooooh, it was a fabulous place for me as we found chocolate covered pretzels (a current favorite), and homemade fudge.
When we got back to the lodge, we went on a short walk through the trees. Around a corner we found a tranquil pond reflecting the silvery light of fading evening. In the middle of its mirror-like surface a duck swam. It was the perfect idyllic image to end a wonderful day of traveling.