End of the road (for now)


Above: The kind of scenery that breaks my heart every time I have to leave Alpine

**

Last day of the trip
July 12, 2015

“Well, we’re down to our last cash, and all our clothes are dirty. I guess we ought to go home now,” said Hal.

Whatever.

Those weren’t the real reasons we had to go home. There was also the four-letter word “work.” Hal had to be there Monday morning, and it was looming on the not-too-distant horizon for me, too.

It was very difficult to bid Alpine, AZ goodbye on the last morning of our trip, as we ate breakfast at the Alpine Grill. We speak with the people who work there or eat there as if we were locals ourselves. One of our favorites, Myron, asked when we were moving to Alpine. I wanted to say, “tomorrow!”

One last time:

We packed the bikes one last time on this trip, for the journey home, and soon we were flying down 191/180 toward Springerville. I cried when we were passing Nelson Reservoir.

“I don’t want this to end!” I sobbed to Hal over the intercom.

“Me either,” he answered in a tragic voice.

There was too much beauty in front of us, as there had been each day of the trip, and too much that we want to see in the relatively short time that we have left to make the most of our riding years. In an ideal world, I would go home, do laundry, catch up on things, hang out for a week or so, and then hit the road again for a couple of weeks, or more.

We fueled up in Springerville, and then we left that town behind. No sooner did we reach the outskirts of town than we noticed storm clouds building to the west. It was more apparent after we got on the road, and after a brief conversation over the intercom, we pulled into a rest stop to put on rain jackets

A few miles down the road, while we were in the Springerville Volcanic Field, the sky darkened, and the rain began to fall. We were especially glad, because we were earning the right to say we’d been rained on every single riding day of this trip! Then, it rained harder, and soon we were being pelted with hail. Big hail that hurt!

“Owww!” shouted Hal over the din of ice pellets hitting our helmets. It really did hurt, and later I would find bruises on my fingers and upper thighs.

One of my ice pellet bruises!:

The ice kept coming down, and soon Hal shouted, “I’m slipping!”

“Me too!” I answered. There was so much ice accumulated on the road from the hail that the bikes were sliding, but not enough to worry too much about. We slowed down, but kept a steady hand on the throttle. “This is awesome!” I shouted. Hal laughed. We love our adventuresome rides.

“We’ll soon be out of it, I’m sure,” I added. Anyway, there was no place to pull over and seek shelter, so we kept going. I turned on the bike’s emergency flashers for about the hundredth time this trip (slight exaggeration), and we proceeded slowly for a couple of miles. Soon, we no longer felt the sting of hail. It continued to rain, but as I’d predicted, we were quickly riding out of it. We picked up speed again, and we were once again in sun and clouds, starting to dry out.

The trip home passed too quickly. Show Low, Heber (where we stopped at Family Dollar), then Payson. We had planned a fuel stop there, with a break for coffee and a snack. Chevron stations are the best for coffee, especially this particular one that even has Douwe Egbert’s coffee, the best coffee, in my opinion.

Then, we descended into the heat. It was terrible. I hate it anyway, but it was particularly terrible having been in cool, lovely weather all week. I sighed. When will I ever get away from Phoenix, for good? I have hated it since I arrived too many years ago.

One more stop for cold drinks in Fountain Hills, where our trip should have started over a week ago, and after talking with some other bikers for a little while, we got back on our bikes again to ride the last few miles home. Hal and I split at Gilbert Rd. and the freeway, and it was difficult to accept that our week on the road was over. “Crushingly heartbreaking” would be one way to describe it, and I wondered when we’d get the opportunity again to be out on the road for a week or more. Not soon enough for me.

Yet I was glad to be home, kiss my husband, and my dog, and get my laundry started. But, trust me, in a day or two, I will be ready to go again, and it will be hard to accept that I can’t – for now.

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