The last day in Alpine was, as always, sad. It’s not that I hate to go home, it’s that I hate to leave Alpine. There is a difference. It would be nice if someday Alpine could be home. It made me sad to see the soft light of dawn breaking over the snow knowing that it was the last time for this trip, and maybe the last time until next winter.
We had breakfast in our usual place, packed up, and then tried Hwy. 191 again. This time, we found that the day in between this attempt and our last attempt had made a difference in the amount of snow melted by the sun. The road was almost clear.
As we climbed in elevation, the snow level increased. By the time we passed Hannagan Meadow, the snow was a couple of inches deep. Hal turned into FR25 with the intent of going in to FR24, which was only a mile or so, if that. However, we both thought better of it because here the road had about four inches of snow on it. Without 4WD and snow tires (or chains), I thought it was not going to be safe. We had only gone in about 500 feet, and Hal reversed back to the main paved road after I took a few photographs.
Then we went up to Blue Point vista, and got a few shots up there. The area was nearly deserted, with only an occasional 4WD vehicle passing on the road. The locals know how to gear up for snow, and it triggered many memories of my youth in Wisconsin. I remembered those days of slipping and sliding on the roads. I was a young, inexperienced driver at the time, and found myself in scary winter driving situations more than once.
Finally, Hal and I turned around at Blue Point and headed back toward Alpine, which we’d have to go through to start on the journey home. While we drove on Hwy. 191, we both watched for wildlife, but saw none. I joked that we already have plenty of blurry photos of animals’ butts disappearing into the woods! We stopped again briefly at Nelson Reservoir, and then we went into Springerville. There we stopped at Western Drug so I could get some snow pants that I’d seen on the way. It may seem stupid to get them then, while we were on the way home, but I thought since they were so cheap and I would be back (soon, I hoped) to the White Mountains in winter, I would get them anyway. No luck on the boots that I’d wanted, though.
Right outside Springerville, we stopped at the Little Colorado River pullout to get a few photos, but it was nothing impressive, due to the lack of color in anything – the sky, the dead plants, the water, the rocks. I can always find something to shoot, so I hope a few of the images will be usable.
After that stop, we traveled without stopping, through the volcanic field, Show Low, Heber, then in Payson we stopped for a piece of pie and to check on the NFL teams in a sports bar. All too soon, we were on the final leg of the journey home. As we neared Phoenix, we were treated to a spectacular sunset. The clouds were perfect to light up into brilliant orange from the last rays of the sun.
This week we will have to satisfy ourselves with day rides, when possible. There aren’t many days left to have fun, and soon I will be back at work. I am dreading it already.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2015 will be a good year for all of us.