A desert road


11-29-14

I slept in on the morning after my 400 miles on the Bagdad road trip on Friday. I don’t think I moved all night! I woke up still feeling the wonderful glow of a great ride the day before, the satisfied feeling of being on a bike all day. Naturally, I wanted to duplicate that feeling for at least part of the day, so Hal and I had planned to meet up around noon the next day, go get some lunch, and then ride out toward Superior and explore some roads near there. We had only a vague idea of where we wanted to go. The idea had started when I said I wanted to go shoot some IR photos of cacti out on Florence-Kelvin Hwy., but riding that road didn’t seem so exciting after riding on the Bagdad road the day before. Florence-Kelvin is the real dirt super highway. It might as well be paved, the surface is so good and you can ride very fast on it.

So, after having lunch at Paradise Bakery, a reversal of the order in which we usually do things, we set out riding east on Hwy. 60. We were both on our DR650s for the second day in a row. The only complaint I have is the seat! I had to give up a nice cushy custom seat because it was too high for me, my feet wouldn’t touch the ground. Hal had a lowered seat that he let me use, which was nice of him, but it’s a hard foam seat. The second day of riding on it made me feel how hard it is!

We took US60 out to mile marker 208, where we turned into a place where people used to go shooting (target practice) 20 years ago, including me. Now it is all “civilized” with too many houses and people around, so that is not allowed anymore. Hal and I, however, didn’t go near the sprawling new neighborhood, but turned east on El Camino Viejo, an unpaved road that goes toward Queen Valley.

It’s been years since I’ve been out in that area, and I hoped I’d remember how to get into Queen Valley from El Camino Viejo. It was easy, though, as El Camino Viejo turned right to go back to the 60, and Silver King Rd., which goes into Queen Valley, turned left. It was a super-easy road as well, and it took us to Queen Valley. The road was paved as we passed a golf course (yes they have one of those, and none of them should ever be in the desert) where retired people were playing, and I was glad for our quiet mufflers. I didn’t want them getting annoyed with us.

Soon the road morphed into a narrow dirt road that turned sharply and went up toward the top of Whitlow Dam. There was a gate across the road that actually goes out onto the dam, but I’d been up there before, many years ago, before it was gated. Hal and I kept going on the dirt road we were on, it became Queen Valley Rd., and eventually it turned toward the 60. However, I did not want to go back out to pavement yet, so I found a forest road that I knew I’d seen on the map, FR357. We turned onto it to explore.

It is called Hewitt Station Rd., and it was another easy road. It was very crowded, with trucks parked all along the west side of the road. I didn’t understand why, until I looked closer. Incredibly, it looked like people had set up picnic tables and canopies on the railroad tracks! I think they are unused railroad tracks, but even so. What could possibly be the attraction of doing that? I wondered. Obviously, there must be something I am not understanding because who would go out there and set up a family lunch on some old railroad tracks? One can only imagine.

We kept going north on Hewitt Station Rd., and all along the way, other people were set up for target practice. I know I used to do the same thing, go out in the desert and shoot, but there are too many people around and I wouldn’t do it now. Plus, I never know what kind of crazy people have guns in their hands in such close proximity to us, so needless to say, I rode quickly to get past them.

The road kept going down in elevation, and it was sandy, but not deep. I was looking for another road, FR172, that was supposed to take us on the road to Montana Mountain. It’s a place I want to ride. I asked one of my fellow riders where it was, and to my surprise, didn’t get much information. That makes me so mad, I always help people find new roads to explore. I guess this one was a state secret, even though you can find directions to it on the internet. That’s what I did when I got home, but while I was out there, I did not find it.

FR357 turned east, then, and I started to believe that it was going to loop around and eventually return to the 60. There were residences on this part of the road, and many signs warning people to slow down and stating that there was no shooting allowed. I have enough experience now to know when the road has the look of being used from both ends, and this one looked like it. I soon found that I was right, because the 60 was ahead of me. I was familiar with the staging area that I saw next to the road, and had predicted that was where we were going to come out.

We rode the pavement for a little while, and then we went back on Queen Valley Rd., to Silver King Rd., to El Camino Viejo. I wasn’t quite ready to deal with pavement traffic yet, so we put it off for as long as we could. Later, we made plans to come back and ride the Montana Mountain loop. I think I can find it now, no thanks to people who should have been willing to help me.

After the day was over, I’d had my two days in a row of riding the DR, and I enjoyed it very much. I got home before it got cold, and I’d had a nice day of exploring. No photos to show for it, but I suppose I can get those at a later time. When I got home, I moved the bikes around in preparation for the last day of the weekend when I would take my GS to the other side of town for a breakfast ride.

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