At Nelson Reservoir, on the way home:
Monday, Oct. 6, 2014
I had one last look early this morning at dawn breaking over Alpine. How can this trip be over so fast? I wondered. It has been one of the best.
Hal and I each had a piece of fruit pie, and eggs, at Alpine Grill, finishing off the last of their pies. What is so good about them is there isn’t any added sugar (according to my source!), just the natural goodness of fruit baked into a pie. We even had time to chat with the waitress. I feel like we should be old friends by now since we are in Alpine so often.
The Xterra, and bikes:
Back at the lodge, we packed the joyful Xterra and then geared up for our last dual sport bike ride. Once again, our destination was chosen with a particular goal in mind: to shoot the greenery-festooned rock wall near Blue Crossing, a place that I’ve wanted to shoot since last summer. I had all my camera gear with me, both the standard camera and the IR modified camera. Risky, I know, but I really wanted those shots.
When we got on the bikes, we rode the 500 feet or so down to Bait and Tackle to get fuel. But, once again, it was out of fuel! I say “once again” because this happened to us with startling regularity last summer; you’d think we’d learn by now. Oh, well, we had fueled up in Eagar the previous day and had only around 50 miles or so on that tank of fuel. “So, do the whole ride anyway?” Hal asked me. I nodded. Why not? I thought we only had around 50 more miles to ride on the planned ride, and we’d gone farther without running out of fuel.
We turned east on Hwy. 180 toward the New Mexico border, but we turned onto a county road that would eventually lead us down to Blue Crossing. On the way down toward the river, on the twisting roadway, we were followed closely by a pickup truck. I couldn’t believe he was keeping up with us, but he was obviously familiar with the road. At the first place we could, we pulled over and let him pass. We were out for fun, and he was probably working. Besides, I wasn’t exactly sure where the place was that I wanted to pull over. At last, the rock wall was “right there” in front of me, and I quickly came to a stop.
I spent about 30 minutes there, drinking in the beauty, shooting blissfully away with the IR camera. So far, I am pleased with how many good shots I got. All the patterns of leaves, the textures of the rock, the green foliage that turns white with the IR capture. Finally, we got back on the bikes and moved on.
Next was an area where, last summer, Hal shot a photo of me riding on the road with the cattle lounging at the side. They were not there this time, but I was able to shoot a few old wooden cabins and a shed, another perfect thing for the IR camera. I shot a few color photos, but they later turned out to be less impressive than the IR.
By now, we were at the lowest point of the road, and I was a little worried what we would find at the two water crossings. I was starting to get nervous about having all my cameras on my back and going through water. Indeed, when I got to the first one, it was much deeper than what we’d seen last summer. It was calm, though, and I could see the bottom. No problem. I went through without incident, and Hal followed behind. I should have stopped to get a photo of the washed out stone bridge, but I was beginning to be mindful of how much time was passing. Hal wanted to get home reasonably early since he had to go to work the next day, at least I thought he would want me to get going. But he was very patient and kind, my “long-suffering riding partner,” as I often say.
Soon we were passing Blue School, then Blue Crossing itself with its small water crossing, and before I knew it, we were climbing up the winding grade toward forest and Hwy. 191. I got “caught out” on the first tight switchback, too fast and too wide, but was lucky there was no one coming from the other direction. I was more careful after that, and we still went up quite fast. Near the top, I saw a sign that said “road work ahead,” and since I had been paying attention to the “newness” of the road surface, realized that the road was in the process of being bladed. Sure enough, a few miles on, I met the grader as I went around a corner, but I had already anticipated that he couldn’t be far in front of me. He was already going back down the grade.
Then, I was in the forest again, and not long after that we popped out on Hwy. 191 across from FR26, and only a few miles from Hannagan. We stopped in, and fortunately, were able to time it exactly right and speak to the owner. Our goal was to get things set up for our BMW club get-together there next June, and we were able to accomplish that. After we were done, we had a fun ride back to Alpine where the Xterra was waiting for us to load up and go.
Our stopping along the way didn’t end there, though. We stopped in Springerville and went to Western Drug again. There were some lovely snow boots there, lined in (fake) fur but still warm, that I wanted so badly. If I hadn’t known I wouldn’t be able to wear them except for one or two days, I would have gotten them. I think I should have gotten them anyway to make myself think that someday I will get to move to a place where there is real winter, with actual cold and snow. I did get some nice reading glasses, though, at Western Drug, and my favorite, Hubert’s lemonade, to drink on the way home.
Another stop we made was to pull over at the side of the road just west of Springerville so I could shoot an old rusty car in the middle of a field. I used my zoom lens for that since the car was on private property. Then, a couple of hours later when we were between Heber and Payson, we turned off at the Woods Canyon Lake road (FR300) so we could get some photos from the overlook on top of the Rim.
I shot some IR images because the clouds were the perfect kind for IR captures, and I also shot what later turned out to be one of the best photos of the trip: an amazing, feathery-leafed tree. I’ve learned that trees seem to be my niche when it comes to photography!
We ate dinner in Payson, then got a big cup of coffee at the Circle K where we fueled up for the last time of the trip. It was so much fun descending in the dark on the Beeline Hwy. cozy and safe in the Xterra, drinking coffee, and chatting about future rides. It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful trip, one of our best ever.
This is only a temporary “goodbye to the forest.” We will soon return.