Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kitt Peak with the In-Laws (Part I)

Fifty miles southwest of Tucson is a famous national observatory called Kitt Peak.  I've been wanting to ride there for awhile but other trips, and weather, kept me pushing it back all winter.  In a long, round about way, an opportunity to ride it came this weekend.  My wife and I were having dinner with her parents, on Friday night, when they announced they were taking my wife's nephew for a visit to Kitt's Peak the next day.  Unfortunately my wife had an all day class Saturday and wouldn't be able to join them.  Hmmm, sounds like the perfect opportunity to invite myself along and put some miles on the Bonnie.  Plans were made and I suddenly had my Kitt Peak ride! Woo Hoo!

The next morning her parents called when they were leaving their house and I told them I'd meet them in the parking lot of the observatory.  I was excited, as this would be my first ride where I gained significant elevation.  The peak sits at 6,875 feet.  Can you say curvy mountain roads..muhahahah.  I rode through Gates Pass and headed southwest on Ajo Highway until I came to the Kitt Peak turn off.

You can see the 4 meter telescope right off the highway.  One of many telescopes they have up there.  I met up my wife's parents when I pulled off to snap a few pics.  Talk about timing.  I told them I'd meet them at the top and they waved and headed on.

I thought this small mountain range on the way in looked pretty cool.  Had to pull over and snap a photo. 

I took most of the following pictures as I was headed down the mountain.  I wanted to enjoy myself on the ride up, plus people were waiting on me.  Through the magic of blogging, I'm able to make it look like I'm snapping pics as I ride up.
Most of these pull-outs had tons of loose gravel.  I had to rub the ground with my boot just to make a solid footing for the kick stand.  Gravel is the bane of any motorcyclist.
Curvy roads, great views, and you keep wanting to look up to see the telescopes.  Where's that autopilot button?
This is a great shot as it shows the road curving up the mountain.  What a blast to ride!
Kiri's father told me the temperature dropped 10 degrees at the top.  It felt like it.  I was only in a t-shirt and mesh jacket and it got a little chilly going around those curves.  Can you say chicken skin?
I finally made it to the top.  Not sure why, maybe because the basketball championship had started, but the top wasn't busy at all.  There are days when you can't even find a parking spot, or so I've been told.
 A couple of other bikers that I had trailed near the end of the ride.  At one point I saw the rider of the trike point out loose gravel on the road to his fellow riders.  The other two riders were going pretty slow.  I'm not sure if they were new to riding but it seemed like it.

Right away you can feel the education of the place.  Quite a few Universities have a presence here.  What's amazing is that they leave it so wide open for the general public to explore and discover.  You don't feel locked down at all.
The visitors center, where I met up with Kiri's parents.
Here's a good shot of my wife's nephew looking like a G6.
I couldn't help but grab a self portrait in the reflection of a window.  This is more of a G4.
More pic's to follow this week.  I took so many photos I feel the need to space them out.  Don't want to overload everyone all at once.  Pace yourself people.

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