Exploring the White Mountains


July 25, 2015

Another trip, thank goodness. I am so happy to be on the road again even though I am not actually touring on my BMW. We are traveling to Alpine, Arizona, our preferred town in which to stay; however,  it is unfortunately completely booked because of a high school reunion, so Hal and I must stay out at Hannagan Meadow Lodge. It’s more expensive at HML, and we can’t walk to the restaurants of our choice, among other things. But, that’s beside the point right now; at least I am able to get out of town one last time before I have to go back to work.

We embarked on our journey late Saturday morning at 9:30, and as we were on the way out, we stopped and fortified ourselves for the long drive by getting bagels at Einstein’s. I had already brewed coffee at my house before we left it, and we each had our own full mug.

We left this hot town behind, enjoying the air conditioning of the Xterra, the bikes behind us on their little trailer. Hal likes to look in the rear-view mirror and do their voices, like this:

“I wonder where we are going now?” asked Alex (my Kawasaki KLX 250S).

“Where else?” Juliette (Hal’s Suzuki DR650) answered in a bored voice. “I’ll bet we are going to Alpine and the White Mountains again.”

“Well, that’s okay,” said Alex happily. (Alex does everything happily.) I will be glad to get out of the heat.”

“Me too, but I wish I were clean,” muttered Juliette, glancing at Alex, who had once again been washed, her chain cleaned and lubed. She was glowing with cleanliness, however short-lived that would be.

Anyway, we continued our journey. It has five parts: Gilbert to Payson (85 miles), Payson to Heber (40-ish miles), Heber to Show Low (40-ish miles, but seems really long), Show Low to Springerville, (another 40-ish miles), and then Springerville to Alpine (26 miles). Plus, this time it was going to be another 22 miles to Hannagan.

Between Show Low and Springerville, in almost the exact same location where the hailstorm hit us (literally) on the way home from our long road trip, we ran into another big thunderstorm, this time without hail. It was beautiful again, and I got a few photos through the windshield and out the side window of the truck. Pretty.

In the Springerville volcanic field:

I can’t seem to stop myself from taking those photos. It’s like I want to preserve those moments to look at the images later when I am in what feels like another life after vacation time is over.

We actually reached HML around 4:00, but we drove past it and went to Blue Point Vista to get some IR images. I don’t bring the big camera with me when I am on the dirt bike, but I can bring it in the truck. I was lucky and got some lovely images to treasure later after I use post-processing magic to transform them into what I hope is art.

Here is one of the images. If you follow my photography blog, the image, shot in infrared, will be familiar to you. This stairway is part of a hiking trail that leads steeply down and away from the top:

After shooting for a while at Blue Point Vista, we drove the 10 or so miles back to HML, and got settled. We weren’t going to miss any chances to ride, so we immediately geared up after we unloaded the bikes and took them out for a short ride to Aker Lake.

The lake held more water than we’ve ever seen in the past, and I continued to notice how abundantly lush the forest is. This is the first time we’ve seen it so green in the years since the Wallow fire. I wanted to drink in that sumptuous green, think of the rushing sound of the Black River that I was sure I would hear when I saw the river the next day.

Hal: “I didn’t realize it was so marshy out there. Now my boots are wet!”:

Then we rode to FR25 to see if we could see the local herd of elk that we often see, but they were not out. We rode back to the lodge, put up the bikes, cleaned up a bit, then drove to Alpine for dinner at Foxfire, a perfect place for a nice dinner of excellent food. The chicken piccata there is to die for! On the way, we were treated to a spectacular sunset in colors of orange, peach, and “sky blue.”

After dinner, we drove slowly (watching for elk!) back to the lodge. We got to see part of the big herd we always see in that area. They were running away, and I got a nice photo of elk butts, as usual. At least I got to see them.

Elk disappearing into the forest:

The moon peers down on some of the many burned trees:

I found that at the beginning of this trip, I was not “into” dirt riding as I have been in previous years, I wanted to continue our “on the road” adventures from our big trip. But it didn’t take long before I settled right back in to my enjoyment of riding in the endless forest. It made me feel small and insignificant, as it usually does, the correct perspective from which to see the world, to make sure I have the proper respect for the Earth!

Our next day would be our only full riding day of this trip. I hoped for a good night’s sleep so I could make the most of the next day’s exploring.

**

Reason to celebrate! Today, August 23,  is the five-year anniversary of this blog. 🙂  I remember I made my very first entry from Ocean Beach, California. Back then, it was scary! Now, I enjoy writing this blog very much, and I hope you enjoy reading it as well.

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3 thoughts on “Exploring the White Mountains

  1. Hi, Mrs. Smee! I know you probably won’t see this, but you probably would remember the name associated with this comment, being Amir. It is not only my unique name that you may remember me for, but other things that I prefer not to mention while in the company of people whose favor I wish to earn.

    I remember one day in the 6th grade you showed us a video about watches, their various intricacies hundreds of small parts moving, and you mentioned you particularly enjoyed skeleton watches. I only remembered that once I went onto Amazon, searching for a nice watch for me to dream that I can own. (I settled to imagine myself swaggering around school with a Seiko SKX007K, but then I realized one of two things, A, that they are costly, and B, it’d likely get stolen.)

    In the event that you are wondering how, indeed, I found your blog, Trevor (As in, Trevor Leavitt, not very tall, orange hair, I used to talk to him) linked it to me on Skype a fair amount of years ago, and I bookmarked it, not thinking much of it at the time. About 2 years later, I check my bookmarks, and see I have this thing bookmarked named ‘AZGSGirl’. I check it, and it is indeed your blog.

    And, curious as I am, I decided to partake in reading the stories you have posted. You really are quite the writer. I hope you think that I am, as well. I like to think that I am, but I keep that under wraps since that makes me sound a bit pretentious.

    On a SIGNIFICANTLY less happy note, I’m sad about Mrs. Linthwaite. She was one of the best teachers I ever had, and I respected her. I wish she didn’t have to go when I wouldn’t know about it until I happened to visit on an early release day. I likely won’t visit again, as I will likely burst into tears if I do. Typically, I visit you, Mr. Kimble, and Mrs. Hummer, and their classrooms are too close to her class for me to enjoy being around that area of the school. Tell them I said hello, as well. But I think I should visit one last time as a courtesy, considering I’m moving to Seattle in December. I hear it rains often, and I’m not used to the rain, ESPECIALLY considering the weather here.

    Sincerely,

    Amir

    • Amir, it is so good to hear from you! Thank you for your kind comments. I also miss Mrs. Linthwaite; I could swear I heard her voice in the halls before school opened this year. We all miss her very much, and everyone who knew her thinks of her every day. It is so sad that she’s gone.
      On a happier note, lucky you, moving to Seattle. I would give almost anything to be going there permanently. I hate the sun and the heat, and if my parents hadn’t made me move here, I wouldn’t be here! It was a long time ago, I know, but I have never escaped. I love cool rainy weather, and I love the Seahawks team! I know we need the sun, but I would rather not look at it and be so aware that it is there. And I hate summer clothes with a passion.
      I hope you will be able to come by the school and say good-bye before you leave. Another one of my friends, my former BMW (motorcycle) mechanic moved there last year. Lucky him. Lucky you.
      Hope to see you soon!

      • I wouldn’t doubt the fact that I couldn’t make it, today school ends 2 PM. But I’m in Tempe, and Oak Tree is all the way in Gilbert.

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