Yesterday’s “teaser” photo was taken in Young, AZ, at the newly-resurrected Antlers café and bar.
I haven’t been back to Young since the winter of 2010-2011. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to, it’s just that it seems there are always other destinations. There isn’t a whole lot to do there except eat, but the biggest draw, aside from the cooler weather and nice scenery, is the Antlers.
The Antlers is an old restaurant and bar, it opened in 1948. In fact, up until January, 2010, it was the same building from 1948, complete with old funk and filth. I say this lovingly because it was part of the Antlers experience, the “ambience,” part of the reason you went there. In January, 2010, the old building burned to the ground. Witnesses say it was fully engulfed in seven minutes. In fact, my brother-in-law, Pat, was moving out of his house that he used to own in Young, and happened to drive by the smoldering ruins of the restaurant just as he was leaving town for the last time.
Last winter, I rode there to check on the progress of the “new” Antlers. You may recall that I wrote this story:
I had lots of fun that day, laughing at stuff, but I was glad the restaurant was being rebuilt. The new version of the restaurant has already been open almost a year, it opened July 14, 2011. Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Young. And one big reason I wanted to go there yesterday.
Another reason I went there was to survey the damage left by yet another wildfire: the Poco Fire. It was reported June 14 about six miles northeast of town, and probably was named for the property nearby, called “Poco Dinero Ranch.” The fire came to within feet of the structures on that property. Across the street, another property, this containing a beautiful cabin that someone had obviously built lovingly and with hope for the future, narrowly avoided being destroyed as well. The fire has burned 11,950 acres, and is officially “85% contained,” which means it is still smoldering. There was activity near the 512 on Sunday, signs warning travelers of fire traffic.
The small part of the fire that we saw, between MM313 and MM315 on FR512, looked scorched and barren. Ash lay thick on the ground, guardrails near the road were twisted with heat, the wood posts supporting the metal beams were gone, burned to ash.
Formerly a forest. Looking east on 512:
Bike in pullout, looking north in fire destroyed area:
After we surveyed the damage from the fire, we rode on to Young, past Pat’s former house, and then through town to the new Antlers. After we parked the bikes and walked around to the front of the restaurant, here is what we saw:
Once inside, we were pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful, modern, clean building.
Beer can display:
Even the bathrooms are clean now!:
The special of the day was peach/rhubarb cobbler. I couldn’t imagine anything more delicious, so we ordered one:
Hal, waiting to dig in:
This was what it looked like after about five minutes:
After we finished and went back outside, we looked around a little bit.
View to the west:
Tractor by the parked bikes:
Once we left the Antlers, we headed back toward the 260. This time, however, we decided to return via FR200, which we got onto just north of town. I wanted to stay north because I didn’t want to be too hot, but as it turned out, it didn’t really matter. It was hot no matter where we were. Another reason for taking this route is that I just hate taking the same route on the return trip as I did on the way in.
FR200 is reasonably easy, and the scenery is beautiful. First you climb up on a mesa, and then you descend toward Haigler Creek. We didn’t stop there this time to take photos because the water was almost non-existent. I only stopped long enough to turn on the GoPro, so at least I have video of the ride. From Haigler Creek, the road gets narrow, rough, and it gains elevation rapidly, so you end up riding tight switchbacks, steep grades, and big drop-offs on the side. The road is washboard-y the whole 20 miles from Haigler Creek to where it joins Colcord Rd. I forgot how rough FR200 is, and it beat the crap out of me just like it did the other times I rode it. I guess I think it will get graded, but there is a sign at the beginning of it that says it is a “primitive road.” Finally, we came out on Colcord Rd., which intersects with Hwy. 260. While we were on FR200, we ran into almost no traffic; in fact, the only traffic we encountered was a group of horseback riders when we got near Colcord Rd., probably from that ranch that is nearby.
As we rode back toward Payson on the 260, we encountered the worst drivers ever. One pickup driver passed everyone in a 35 mph construction zone. He was not going anywhere close to 35, it was more like 75 mph. He crossed double yellow lines and put many other drivers in danger. A short while later, another pickup truck, this one a white “dualie” was so close to us, both of his right side rear tires were in our lane. This is the mentality of these people: “the rules don’t apply to me, I can do whatever I want, and screw everybody else.” They just don’t care.
Traffic wasn’t much better on the 87 coming home, and it was super hot. I don’t mind saying that I was glad to be home when I finally got there, and it was a relief to finally cool down after a long, hot, but fun, riding day. I am seriously tired of summer and heat, but we have about four more months of it left so I’d better learn to cope with it.