Visiting a volcano

Jewel, near the cinder cone:


The weather in the Phoenix area has been atrocious. Enduring almost a week of 115° heat, Hal and I wanted to escape. We had wanted to go to Flagstaff since missing the Overland Expo last month, so the heat in the desert was the perfect reason to go.

I packed my 2009 F650GS, my newest bike. I wanted more trips on it before I go on my long trip with it, hoping that all the little “problems” will be worked out before I go to … wherever we go. I don’t care. I just want to ride.

However, in the last moments before I left, and after loading up the bike, it sank so low on the suspension (lowered a bit for me to get more foot on the ground), that it was too upright when I put the sidestand down. It was ridiculous. If someone had breathed on the bike, it would have fallen over. At the last possible moment, I knew I couldn’t safely take it on the trip.

Yes, yet another problem.

I quickly unloaded the 2009, and loaded up Jewel, my 2006 F650 GS. I was not sad.

Off we went, me smiling ear-to-ear, and comfortable, Pelican cases loaded, and a tiny overnight bag on the back. What could be better? Jewel does everything so well, and she happily purred down the road to meet up with Hal and his R1100RS. We were about 10 minutes late to our meeting place because of the switch from one bike to the other.

On the way up Hwy. 87 to Payson, Hal and I discussed breakfast. We are both kind of tired of hitting the same old places, so we decided on the Long Valley Café at Clint’s Well. We haven’t been there in years, the last time I was there I wasn’t too pleased, but as I said, “now’s a good time for it to redeem itself!”

At the Long Valley Café:

We had to ride farther and longer before breakfast, but it was worth it because when we got there, the food was good, the bacon was crisp, and best of all, the coffee was decent. It wasn’t gourmet, but it was good! We enjoyed our breakfast, then got going again.

Horses in the field across the street. They were wound up about something, and running around, until I got my camera out.:

Then came the best part of the ride, Lake Mary Rd. I always enjoy it, and especially so on Jewel. She’d been with me last time, too, in the cool and rain. She’s so pleasant to ride. I’ve heard it said that the F650GS single engine sounds “like a sewing machine,” and maybe so, but I have always found the sound of Jewel’s engine to be pleasant. She was stitching the miles together along the road as I enjoyed every moment.

The only disappointment was that the air didn’t seem to be getting as cool as it usually does when we ride north. The sun was incessant, beating down, glaring, and there was not a cloud in the sky. Yes, it was cooler, but only in the 80s F., when I was hoping for 60s. But it was still better than 110°+!

We fueled up at the edge of Flagstaff, then rode through town to Sunset Crater, our destination. You might say that we left the Vulcan heat of Phoenix for the cooled heat of the volcano. Sunset Crater is an extinct volcano that erupted roughly 900 years ago.

In the Bonito Lava Flow trail:

There, we walked through the Bonito Lava Flow, and viewed the cinder cone. It was super hot to gear up and down, but I was very interested in the geological wonder. The volcano itself is closed to hiking. More information can be found here:

It was worth it to me to get some interesting images, and I will be posting some of them on my photography blog soon.

We also rode up to the overlook to see the volcano up close, and also look down into the valley where we could clearly see the cinders. To the southeast, there are the trails from Cinders OHV area, and we could hear dirt bikes down in it. Cinders are sharp and jagged. I would think that it would wear out tires quickly to ride there, and hurt if you crashed! After shooting photos for a while, we were getting overheated, so we rode back into Flagstaff.

We rode through the main area of town, which I hadn’t seen in a while, and noticed that the downtown area is very charming. It is near the campus of the university, NAU, and it caters to the college kids. Over the intercom, I told Hal that it would be nice to come back in cooler weather and enjoy walking around downtown. At that point, we were riding on a segment of the famous Route 66, which is another ride I would like to do soon.

We finally made it to our nice cool hotel. After unpacking the bikes and putting them up for the night (I always think of them sort of like horses), Hal kindly went to the lobby and bought us each a can of soda! I hadn’t had a can of soda for so long, and it was so sweet and cold! I especially loved the “cold” part. Later, Hal and I went to dinner at our favorite restaurant, Delhi Palace, for Indian food and a glass of wine.

Waiting for dinner:

Wonderful food!:

It was delicious, and the whole experience was so relaxing and enjoyable. We went for a walk afterward and watched with relief as the sun disappeared behind the mountains.

Sunday, we would have to get on the road early to be back in Phoenix for a Father’s Day brunch, so I carefully laid out all my stuff the night before so I could get into it quickly in the morning. I slept well, and dreamed of ice!

Tomorrow: what “hot” really means.



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