The air was heavy and hot when we left town this morning, and I was glad to be escaping the heat of the Phoenix area. Enough is more than enough.
Our first fuel stop was in Heber, AZ, and we filled everything up, including the bikes. You may recall last time when Alpine didn’t have fuel when we got there, so we weren’t taking any chances this time. While we were fueling up, a forest service truck pulled in with a huge bulldozer on the trailer behind it. Wow, the toy on his trailer is bigger than the ones on ours! I thought.
I am fascinated with big machinery, and started talking to the driver of the truck, a forest service employee. He was very polite, and told me that the forest service uses the ‘dozer for fire containment, and it is also sometimes used for working on roads. Forest roads, probably, like the ones that I ride on constantly. I also looked closely at the details of the bulldozer, and checked out the giant “chain” and cog. Very interesting. I love big gears!
We got on the road again, and soon we were in Show Low. We stopped again because Hal had to check messages on his phone, but then we went on.
The best thing about this part of the drive is the immense volcanic field that we drive through each time we go this way.
This time we also saw one of the wildfires that is currently burning in Arizona, the San Juan fire. Fortunately, it seems contained, and the fact that the rainy season has started will only help get it put out. I took a photo of it, and it looked like it was mostly just smouldering now.
This photo was taken at a distance, and from a moving car, so please forgive the lack of composition!
When we went through Springerville, we stopped at Allred’s Western Store. I normally hate shopping, but I love Allred’s. It is always one of the highlights of the trip. We also stopped at Nelson Reservoir for a photo op. It was under cloudy skies, but the shading in the different grasses was spectacular. The clouds ebbed and flowed, changing the light enough so there were opportunities to shoot in near IR, which was my goal. I will have to wait until I get home to see how they turned out.
When we got to Alpine, we immediately took the bikes off the trailer and geared up to ride. All day we’d been keeping an eye on the sky, and it was cloudy when we arrived. However, we decided to ride anyway and hope that my prediction that it wouldn’t storm would turn out to be correct. I try to be sensitive to natural occurrences, and it didn’t have that violent “feel” to it that I have experienced before. The atmosphere isn’t “charged” enough yet with moisture and electricity, the rainy season is just getting started.
We went up on top of one of the mountains, to FR403, one of our favorites. You probably remember me writing about it a few weeks ago. There was definitely moisture on the surface of the road, evidence of rain the day before, and there were even a few mud puddles where three weeks ago there was dust.
Into the forest – Hal on his DR650:
We traveled on the loop formed by FR403, to 276, then to 249, where we then decided to take 81, a steep narrow road that leads to Auger Canyon. We always see elk on this road somewhere, and this time was no exception. We glimpsed a cow and her calf as they fled through the trees. We were being quiet (no noisy mufflers for us), and riding slowly as we hung on the ledge where the road is, so they paused for a while to look at us. They soon had enough of the humans, and disappeared into the forest.
When we reached the point where the road became 2269 and went into a residential area, we conferred, and then turned around and rode 81 back over the mountain to 249. It was much more fun than going back to Alpine on pavement. While we were going back over the mountain it did rain a few drops, but not even enough to smear the dust on my visor.
Soon, we were back in Alpine after 32 miles of riding for the day, and after we’d de-geared, put the bikes away, and cleaned up a bit, we walked to dinner at a favorite place.
Tomorrow, more riding. Our getaways seem to follow the “ride-eat-sleep-repeat formula, and this one will be no exception. I never get tired of it.