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!


  1. Tucson Bonnie,

    If you really want to ride a Connie in your neck of the woods, I strongly suggest going for a 10-11 model year. The 08-09 is the hottest machine on the world, when the air temp reaches 105 they are near the temperature of a fission reactor. At 115 degrees they will reach critical mass and destroy an entire town.

    Of course, in less than 70, it's quite comfortable.

    I love my Connie. I would recommend getting one, particularly for the price. You can pick up one of the dreaded '09s for less than 10 grand. If you're willing to invest another 1,500-3,000 in customizing, you could have an amazing machine. The bar position is too low (unless you want the crotch rocket feel all the time) the windshield is from a micromachine motorcycle and the seat is made from paving stones. Also, you'll need some air deflectors.

    The newer models addressed all those issues, and even rerouted the heat. The powerplant is amazing, by the way. Not as ... subtle as a BMW, but stunning for the money.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  2. Hey Brady,

    Yeah I had heard the same thing about the heat problems on the pre-'10 models. If I'm not mistaken they also relocated the mirrors to a better spot, starting in 2010, as well. Our local dealership has two '11 models, parked right at the front door, listed at $13,999. I have to sit on them everytime I walk into the store. My dad and I are planning a PCH1 ride next summer and I'd love to have one of these for that trip. I just don't think my wife would let me have another bike right now:( But I'm still working on that.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Bonnie,

    The older models can be found for a lot less money, and some were never sold off the floor and still have warranties. Not bad. They're still pretty sporty, though, so if you get one be ready to have your coccyx broken on the seat. Still, I love it as a motorcycle, and you can't beat the price!

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life