Sunday, September 11, 2011

Labor Day Weekend 2011 - Pt. 2

Saturday the family and I just took it easy.  I enjoy walking the dog in the cool weather so we took her out for small walks through-out the day.
The Wallow fire had consumed most of the hillsides around Alpine.  Luckily the forest service had cut a protection ring around the town a few years before, which helped stop the spread of the flames heading for town.  Quite a few embers landed in this same meadow though, and firefighters had to bulldoze protection rings around the surrounding cabins to stop ground fire. 
On one of my walks with the dog, she decided to roll around in elk poop.  It smelled good to her I guess?? So that meant she got a bath.  That water was ice cold!
 Later in the day, the wife and I took a quick spin out to Nelson Reservoir.  It felt good to be on the bike in the cool weather and beautiful country.  There were people fishing there, and we hiked around a bit.
As we were walking back to the bike a group of ~20 bikers pulled up.  They were riding quite the variation of bikes.  Everything from Hayabusas, to Goldwings, and even a few Triumph's.  One guy had decked out his Tiger 1050 with all the accessories.  My dad is considering getting one of these so I asked if I could snap a few pictures and the owner said yes.
I believe they said this was a 2007 model.  I should have taken pictures of the rest of the bikes but didn't. *FAIL* on my part.  Talking to one of the riders we found out they were a RAT (Riders Association of Triumph) out of El Paso.  They looked like they were having a blast.  I wished I could have gone on with them, but the wife and I headed back into town.


On Sunday my wife and I decided to head out to Sunrise Peak Ski area to ride the ski lift.  Rain clouds were constantly rolling in around noon so we left early in the hopes of riding the lift in the sun.  (A) is Alpine, (B) is the ski resort, and (C) is the town of Greer where we stopped for lunch.

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It cost $10 dollars a person if you were just riding the ski lift.  There were _a lot_ of mountain bikers taking the ski lift up and then riding back down.  I believe they had to pay more, but I can't remember how much.  This is the line to the ski lift.
Some bikers behind us, waiting their turn.  It was fun to listen to them talking about their adventures down the hill.  I called the lady in this picture "Mad Max" due to her hair cut and bike armor.  She looked bad ass!
Posted sign before you got on the lift.  The fact that the "Stix and Stones" trail was closed was quite the upsetting news to the bikers.  I've got a picture of that trail head later in the post.
The ski lifts could seat 4 people but they allowed couples to ride up without having to share, which I was thankful for.
As we rode up, you could watch bikers riding down the hill.  It looked like tons of fun!
It was probably a ~10 minute ride to the top. Very enjoyable.
I asked someone standing nearby to take a picture, which they kindly said yes.
Kiri bought a coffee from the snack shop and we hiked a round a bit.  Here's that "Sticks and Stones" trail head.  It looked rather rugged.
Clouds started to roll in and I told Kiri I wanted to get down before it really started to pour.  So we jumped back on the lift.
A fuzzy picture of some bikers coming up.  The bikes ride on hooks on the back of the chairs.  One bike per chair.
The obligatory foot picture.
One of the bikers had gotten hurt coming down the hill and was being assisted onto a quad.  Kiri told me I shouldn't take the picture but I did anyway.  What do you think? Should I have held off?
Final shot of the ski resort as we ended the ride.
As we walked back to the bike it started to sprinkle.  After we got our rain gear on it really started coming down.  We road in the rain until we got back to highway 260 and then it cleared up.  The wind dried us up pretty quickly.  We headed over to the town of Greer for lunch.  Kiri took some pictures of the fire damage outside the lodge.  You'll notice I parked the bike facing away from the road.  When Kiri and I left I had to maneuver her back onto the road, and since it was uphill _and_ on gravel I had a heck of a time.  Kiri had to push on the front forks before the Bonnie would finally free herself.  It was a bit embarrassing.  Riding a bike you always come away with lessons learned.
The lodge where we had lunch.
There were small ponies out front.  They were stunted at birth due to smoking and coffee.
While waiting for a table I snapped a picture of a humming bird.  One of my favorite shots of the whole trip.
We sat out on the balcony and had chicken and rice soup and salad.  Mmmmm Mmmmm!
Two bikers parked near my bike as we were leaving.  This guy is my hero.  Check out the crescent wrench strapped to the sissy bar.  There are bikers, and then there are "real" bikers.
At this point Kiri and I headed home.  It was a beautiful ride!  About 8 miles outside of Alpine we hit some rain but it didn't spoil a perfect day.

After we got back, my dad took my mom out on the bike.


My dad and I headed back down the Coronado Trail on Monday.  We had heard about something called the "Arrow Tree" so we kept out eyes peeled for it.  It's an old tree that people shoot with arrows from the road.  I can't explain it.  It just is.
After about ~70 miles from Alpine I had to use the restroom so I started keeping an eye out for any pullouts that had faculties.  I rounded one curve and saw one out of the corner of my eye.  I slowed down pretty quickly, and was checking my mirrors to make sure my dad saw me breaking.  What I failed to observe was that the entrance to this pullout had very thick gravel.  Below that gravel was soft mud created by rain and cars pulling in and out from the road.  As soon as I got off the road my front tire sunk into the gravel/mud and wrenched to the left.  I was probably going ~2-5Mph and my forward momentum pulled the bike to the right and I was down in a split second.
It happened so fast I never had time to react.  I can remember hitting the ground and being more upset about dropping the bike then I was worried about what happened to me.  My right leg got pinned under the bike and when I tried to jump up I didn't get very far. I had to slide myself out from under the bike, in doing this I ended up burning my left pants leg on the exhaust pipe.  Luckily I had my jeans on under my riding pants so I didn't get burned.  My left exhaust pipe ended up with some nice waffle patterns.
Damage to the bike was a broken turn lens, the right mirror and to be re-tightened, and I have some scratches on the right side transmission case.
Luckily nothing major was damaged.  After after making sure the rest of the bike was OK my dad and I continued on.  Kind of a bummer to end the trip on, but overall I had a great time.  I've had the bike for almost one year now with ~9200 miles.  I'm glad the first drop was done out on the road and not in the garage.  Lessons learned..always know the traction of your road.  If you see gravel you can always park somewhere else and walk to the restroom.

So we don't end on a low my dad and I were heading out of Morenci, we saw some big horned sheep along the road.  One even had a baby.  They were interesting to watch!

That's it for this trip.  I've already replaced the lens cover on the bike and given her a full washing.  So no major problems.  Round trip mileage was ~750 miles.  Until next trip, stay safe out there.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend 2011 - Pt. 1

For Labor Day weekend my wife and I decided to head up to my parents cabin in Alpine, AZ.  My dad and I would drive our bikes up Friday morning, and our significance others would follow up later in the day when they got off work.

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 Since it's been hitting 106 degrees in the afternoon my dad and I wanted to get an early start to avoid the heat.  I arrived at his house at 6:20am.  My wife was bringing all the luggage so I didn't need to pack much on the bike.  In the backpack I had my Frog Toggs rain gear and a motorcycle cover.  The Renntec pack had a clear helmet visor, towel, microfiber cloth for cleaning the visor, some water, and other small items.  In the tank bag I had maps, wallet, phone, and spare ear plugs.  For this trip I wanted to try various foam ear plugs.  I bought a sample pack from the Ear Plug Superstore and was pretty happy with their products.  Check'em out:)

 My dad is still looking for a new bike, so he's stuck riding his Honda 650 dual sport the ~280 miles up to Alpine.  Here she is all prep'ed and ready to go.
 Our first stop is in Benson, AZ for gas.  We were going to eat breakfast here but my dad wanted to push on to Wilcox.  I believe he has a ~2 gallon tank on the Honda, so maximum range is about 100 miles at best.  so we were stopping for gas every 70 miles or so.
 At Texas Canyon I had us pull over to get a shot in front of The Thing.  I have never paid the dollar to see it.  From what I hear it's an old (blank) of some sorts.  I didn't want to spoil it for anyone.  If you really want to know what it is you can click on the link.
 We stopped for breakfast in Wilcox and then pushed on to Safford, AZ.  After a very quick, and humid, stop for gas we pushed on to Clifton, AZ.  These pictures really don't do the town justice.  It's a very unique town and I could have spent all day there getting some good shots, but we wanted to press on and get out of the heat.  I did want to mention that I bought a small 30oz fuel bottle from Twisted Throttle.  I bought it for my dad for this next leg of the trip.  The only fuel stop between here and Alpine is at Hannagan Meadow's.  In case they were closed I didn't want my dad stressing out about fuel.  So I bought the bottle.  I filled it up for the first time at Clifton and of course I over filled it and fuel went spraying everywhere.  When you have cars lined up behind you, waiting for you to finish, it's a little embarrassing.
 Outside of Clifton is the mine, and mining town, of Morenci.  This is the largest copper mining operation in North America, and one of the largest mines in the world.  Driving through it is like being on another planet.  These shots are from a small overlook above the mine.
 Leaving the mine we headed north on US Route 191, otherwise known as the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway.  A lot of motorcycle riders rate this as the best motorcycle road in Arizona due to the large number of sharp switchbacks.  Here is a shot of the road coming up out of Morenci.
 Quick shot of my dad scouting the route ahead:)
 We quickly gained altitude as we headed into the national forest.  Signs of the Wallow Fire, from earlier this summer, was evident everywhere you looked.
Afternoon rain clouds started to roll in and we stopped to put on our rain gear as a precaution.
 I started calling this his "Blueberry" outfit:)
 We were right on the edge of the rain clouds and I really thought we might get lucky and miss the rain so I only put on my rain jacket.  Wouldn't you know after the first 500 yards we ran into a wall of water and it rained pretty good for the next 10 miles or so.  My pants got pretty wet.  Luckily the rain stopped and my gear dried out pretty quick.  But my dad made the wiser choice on going with the jacket _and_ pants.
 I like this shot as you can see steam rising off of the warm road.  My dad went with the Shoei Multitec helmet and really seems to like it.
 We finally made it to Hannagan Meadows.  The lodge and gas station seemed to be closed, so it was a good thing I brought the extra fuel bottle.  It was a perfect ride to the lodge.  The rains had passed and you had the scent that only fresh rain can bring.  The green scenery and cool temperatures was a sharp contrast from the brown and hot desert we had just been in a few hours ago.
 We met a couple of fellow riders that had passed us when it had started raining.  They were looking to grab a couple of hamburgers but the lodge was closed.  My dad told them of a place in Alpine for burgers and they said they'd meet us there.
 The gas station.
 A quick 20 miles or so and we made it to Alpine.  This is in front of the gas station there.
 As I was waiting for my dad to fill up I spotted a couple of Kawasaki Concours 14 riders on a black and silver model.  I quickly pulled out the camera and got a shot of one of them.  I really like this bike.  I'd love a chance to ride one.
 We pulled into the Bear Wallow Cafe and got to park on the street like real bikers:)  First time for me.  The riders we met at the meadows were already there and eating.
 After a nice meal and some coffee we made it to the cabin.  My trip odometer read 281 miles.  My dad said he felt fine on the Honda.  No back problems at all.  Overall a very nice ride.  Stay tuned, there are more pictures of this trip coming.  With an eventful ending!  You won't want to miss it!