Beaver Creek

It started out as a usual Sunday, bundled up against the morning chill that by most standards isn’t at all cold, and then riding the motorbikes of choice to breakfast, on our way to the high country of Arizona from the Phoenix area. After some good coffee, among other things, Hal and I rode north through Pine and Strawberry, up onto the Mogollon Rim. It was even fairly warm up there, although I was still “plugged in” to the bike to keep the air that inevitably makes its way through my riding coat from making me too cold. You’d be surprised how quickly I can get cold even when the ambient temperature isn’t too low.

As we rode to Payson, I noticed people driving back toward Phoenix with freshly-cut evergreen trees lashed to the roof of their cars or in the back of their pickups. You know how I love trees, and I felt the same terrible feeling I have when I see a slain animal in the back of a pickup. A slain tree makes me very sad as well. And for what? – a dumb human holiday tradition that could be served just as well with a fake holiday tree instead of killing a living thing for very temporary enjoyment.

After we reached about 7,000 feet in elevation, we turned onto Hwy. 260 toward Camp Verde, a road that twists and turns as it drops. We had planned to take the forest road that leads down to the Verde River and Childs, but found it gated with a “closed” sign on it. This road ultimately leads to Fossil Creek, but has been closed from the Strawberry end of it for some time.

We had thought it was open on this north end, but it wasn’t. However, while we were parked there for a few minutes, a car drove up (with a California license plate) with four young people in it. They actually got out, opened the gate with the “road closed” sign on it, drove in, and closed it behind them. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at Hal and said, “well, there you have it – American exceptionalism in action.”

“Yeah,” he said, “they think the rules don’t apply to them.”

It made me really angry, because it is this kind of behavior that causes unpaved roads to be closed to everyone, including us. I wish I would have gotten a photo of them that included the license plate on their car. I was so shocked that someone would be so blatant about breaking the rules, I didn’t even know how to respond. To not be even slightly embarrassed, and to do it right in front of us. Stupid rule-followers, they probably thought. I could only hope their car broke down while on the closed road and they had to walk all the way out, then explain how the car got in there to begin with.

After shedding a layer of clothing, Hal and I got back on the road and went a few miles to the road to Beaver Creek. It is 12 miles of “washboard” dirt road, and it is the road that broke the small plastic fender on my F650GS when I rode it there last year. This year, I appreciated the “float-y” suspension on the DR650, especially since I had all my good cameras on the bike! Because that was the whole reason for the trip – to shoot photographs, both in IR and in color, at Beaver Creek.

We’d done the same last year, at about the same time of year, and gotten some spectacular autumn images. I was hoping to achieve that goal again, and I was not disappointed. Hal and I spent almost two hours there, both at Beaver Creek and Walker Creek, enjoying the beauty, and attempting to capture it. I had a wonderful time composing images on my new-to-me Canon digital camera. After Beaver Creek, we rode down to Walker Creek, about two miles south, and spent some time there as well.

We realized it was starting to get late in the day, and we were about three hours from home. We took the “quick escape” route, which was to continue on the paved road through the day use area at Beaver Creek. In three miles, it intersects with the interstate. So, all my pretensions of being the big adventure rider evaporated because even though I rode 12 miles on a rough road to get there, people in cars and Harleys were using the paved other end of the road for easy access. (sigh)

Soon after we got on the interstate, we stopped for fuel, not at the usual Chevron near Camp Verde, but at a Chevron station about 3 miles north At least it had good coffee; Hal even bought us a couple of candy bars to enjoy with the coffee, you know, a little energy to get us home. By this time I didn’t have too many layers on at all. This is shaping up to be a too-warm winter here in Arizona, and what is worse, there has been no precipitation to speak of.

It didn’t take too long to get back to the Phoenix metro area, and as the curtain of darkness fell, I found myself on the freeways, going through town. Hal had left me at the usual place, and I was on my own on the US 60 going east. As I transitioned to the normal travel lanes from the HOV lane, I saw endless red taillights from heavy traffic. ‘Tis the season, I thought. I just hoped they hadn’t all been out partying and drinking before driving.

With relief, I made it to the off ramp, and then the few miles home from there. It was another day of nearly 300 miles, and not only did I love every moment on the bike, I had many photos (or so I hoped) from which to choose to post on the photography blog! I later found many pleasing images, and that the “new” camera had done an amazing job.

Too bad Monday was right around the corner instead of endless days of riding. I have the future to look forward to for that.


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