Exploring new trails


Beautiful old stonework house in Alpine:

Alpine, July 18, 2014

Riding FR59

We left the hot town of Phoenix, AZ behind this morning, bound once again for Alpine, AZ, right on the border of New Mexico, and the surrounding dirt roads. Hal and I were ready to enjoy another weekend on the endless network of roads that we find to explore here.

We got to Springerville around 2 o’clock, but this time we didn’t stop at Allred’s Western store, even though I secretly wanted to. We stopped instead across the street at Western Drug and General Store, a most fascinating store! It has everything you can imagine – blingy western hats, camouflage gear of all kinds, notepads with interesting messages on top, maps, western wear of all kinds, belts, fabric, guns, fishing poles, things for camping, plus all the things you would normally find in a “drug store.” The store has been in existence since 1934. As I wandered through it this afternoon, I wanted almost everything in it. I love that kind of store.

It’s weird how one small town can have a totally different character than another. For example, I do not like the town of Show Low, AZ, but I love Springerville, and Alpine. I suppose it’s the stores and restaurants that give towns the “feeling” I have about them. I also realized that the more “horsey” a town is, the better I like it.

We got to Alpine around 3:30, unloaded the bikes, and geared up to ride. We had decided to go south out of town to FR59, a road we’d taken a few times before, but we only wanted a short ride before dinner.

Soon we were on 59, and enjoying its beauty. Amazingly, the afternoon thunderstorms were subdued today. They were around, I could see rain in the distance to the south, and also to the west, but none where we were going. We enjoyed warm sunshine as we climbed.

This road is part of the general area where I have been photographing the most devastated part of the forest after the wildfires of 2011. It is above Hwy. 191, and since fire climbs fast if driven by the wind, as it was, this part of the forest was quickly lost. This area is all part of that same destroyed section.

We came to FR59D. We have passed it every time we’ve ridden on this road and I’ve always wanted to take it. This time I stopped and motioned for Hal to turn around. When he came back, we tried to find 59D on the map, but it wasn’t there. All the more reason to explore it. The trouble with the “lettered” roads is that you know they don’t go anywhere, but this time I didn’t mind. I am familiar enough with the terrain here to think we might come to an amazing overlook across the Blue.

The road was very rough, two-track with lots of rocks and some ruts. I thought too late of Hal’s bike tires, which are almost completely worn out. I hoped he wouldn’t get a flat in all the rocks on this remote road. There were a few areas where I had to choose my line carefully. Not that it’s a big deal if you get into the wrong line, but sometimes it’s a lot better if you don’t. We followed the road as it curved back and forth, in some areas we had to swerve to avoid part of a tree that was blocking the “road.” Finally, we came to where it dead-ended. I was right, there was a beautiful overlook, however the distance to the edge was overgrown with trees and grasses, both living and dead. I didn’t want to go crashing through the underbrush, so I settled for the view from the end of the road. It was still worth the ride.

The view:

We turned around and went back the way we’d come in, there was no other choice. It was even more fun on the way out, since by then I had it mapped in my head. It didn’t take long to get back to 59 main, and a short while later we were back to Hwy. 191, with no flats! We then rode 191 back to Alpine for a nice dinner, a quick walk around my favorite town, and a relaxing evening. We had ridden 25 miles.

Rainbow, from Alpine:

Tomorrow, we do more exploring, the best thing in the world!

 

 

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