July 19, 2013
At last, our seemingly ill-fated vacation has begun. Hal, my riding partner, and I hope that it will be a good one, despite the change of plans and the difficulty getting this break started. We still have only the dirt bikes available, but we also brought the mountain bikes on the trailer this time.
We started out in the incessant heat of Phoenix, climbed up onto the Rim, watching storm clouds develop on the way, and continued toward Show Low, then Springerville, where we stopped for a sandwich at Subway. Sometimes that’s all I want is a sub! I sat eating my sandwich and people-watched.
There was the huge table of adults and kids who were all so preoccupied with their individual “devices” that they weren’t interacting with each other. Wow. No wonder kids don’t know how to act in public.
Then there was the teenager in the order line with her mom, uncomfortable in her own skin, her face pink and hot and drawn into a scowl, her mean, black-lined, makeup-y eyes burning. If she could only see herself through the eyes of an adult I am sure she would be embarrassed. Wait ‘til she has her own kids, then she will understand.
There was the UPS man sitting in the next booth, taking a break from his delivery schedule. I was thinking how lucky he is to have such a great route. It would be fun to drive this area every day and enjoy the beautiful scenery and weather. I would still think it’s wonderful in the winter.
Finally, we left, and soon we were at Nelson Reservoir. We stopped this time again because you never know what kind of cool things there might be to shoot with the camera. The water looked a little stagnant but had a green-gray depth that was calm and cooling. It always looks shadowy there, maybe because of the dark green of the marsh grasses. I could hear laughter deep in the grass from some of the water birds. They were probably watching me shoot a photo of an interesting clear bottle (left there by a human) that had some weird stuff inside it. The sun was cooking and expanding whatever the material was, and it was fascinating to look at. I still don’t know what it was inside it, maybe seeds or grains of some kind that had expanded. I also found some tall pink flowers on weeds that looked interesting. I was hoping to find more of the big spiny-looking thistles I had seen by the side of the road as we entered Springerville from the west, but they weren’t growing in the reservoir.
All the way as we traveled north, there were many beautiful storm cloud formations. We saw many forks of lightning in the distance, but didn’t get caught in any rain. Presently we reached our destination in Alpine, and unloaded some of our stuff. We walked over to the ranger station and got some more detailed maps, ones that included all the forest roads. Last time we were looking at incomplete maps and had to guess a couple of times which roads to take. It’s fine to explore, but at some point I, at least, want to know where I am headed, and how long it will take to get back to food and fuel!
In Alpine, big white cumulus building upward:
We sat on the porch of the lodge and drank cups of coffee as we watched another storm unfold. First there was gentle rain, then it rained a little more. In a nearby field, I was delighted to see a mixture of birds that included Canada Geese! Later, when the rain picked up, they geese rose noisily into the gray sky, honking in that signature way of theirs that brings back my memories of Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin. The geese use Horicon as a resting point when they start to fly south in the fall, and there are literally thousands of them there, all honking loudly as they come in or take off. It’s an amazing cacophony to accompany an amazing sight.
The rainstorm moved through Alpine, the clouds so dark they began to turn white on the underside. There were also some dramatic mammatus as the light of evening started to fade. When the rain stopped, we walked just a couple of blocks to our favorite restaurant. I felt deliciously cold inside my jeans and raincoat, but took the time to photograph a lone horse in a field, his back wet, oblivious to everything but the savory damp grass he was eating.
I always have to get at least one horse photo in:
Tomorrow, dirt motorcycle riding, I think. I want to pick up where we left off a month ago and ride FR59. Maybe I will even find my lost license plate!