Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First ride of the year and images from Illinois

My dad called me up and wanted to do a ride last Sunday.  So he came over around 10am and we decided to head south towards the boarder town of Nogales.  Then we'd head northeast through Patagonia and Sonoita and then back home through the town of Sahuarita.

View Larger Map

The pre-ride photo op.  My dad recently purchased a Joe Rocket Mesh Jacket, I believe it's the Phoenix 5.0.  He seems to like it.  The only complaint I can observe is that the sleeves have a zipper ,near the wrist, that really needs an additional button snap to keep the zipper from riding up during use.
We stopped for gas near Nogales and then headed northeast to Patagonia.  I visited Patagonia on one of my earlier rides and knew the location of a coffee shop with some pretty good food.  The sun was out but the temperatures were only in the mid-sixties so it was still a bit nippy on the bikes.  Hot coffee sounded really really good.
We ordered a couple of hamburgers and lattes with sides of vegetable soup. 
I felt much better after getting some food in me.  My dad and I headed back to town through Sonoita and Sahuarita.  While it was a great trip overall (~167miles), I didn't have a chance to take many photos.  I've decided I need to hire my own personal photographer to sit on the back of the bike and snap pics as I go down the road.


Since I didn't take a lot of photos of the ride I thought I'd include some pictures I took in the summer of 2010.  I wanted to share them to cheer up people who are dealing with the winter doldrums.  I often find myself looking at these pictures as I really like the lush farm land of the midwest.  It sounds funny, but living in the Sonoran desert I often get tired of the brown landscape and wish I lived somewhere where it was vibrant green.  These were taken in and around the town of Newman, Ill.  It's a small farming community on the eastern side of the state.  According to Wikipedia Newman had a population of  around 865 people at the time I was there.  Unfortunately the reason for the visit was to attend the funeral of my grandmother.  I imagine she would have liked looking at these photos so I hope you enjoy them as well.

Some of my family stayed at a bed and breakfast outside of town.  I felt like this was the place to go if you wanted to lose yourself and write a novel away from the interruptions of cell phones and internet.  According to their facebook page it appears that the owners sold this property in March of last year.  I don't know if it's still being used as a bed and breakfast.
The road out in front of the house.  Talk about a country lane.
There was a pasture with horses nearby.  I remember the horses being pestered to death with flies.  Their tails were constantly swishing back and forth trying to beat away the onslaught of insects.
My nephew tried to call them over with no luck.
Corn seems to cover every square inch of land in this part of the country.  I had to take the opportunity to replay the scene in "Field of Dreams" of coming out of the corn.  Things to note: 1) I made sure no one was coming down the road.  Farmers take their corn very seriously around here and I didn't want to get arrested, or worse, beat up. 2) Once I got into the corn I thought I saw bugs and started to panic.  Luckily I drew upon my inner man and toughed it out. That, and I realized it wasn't bugs afterall so I could stop my urge to run out of the corn slapping at my hair and screaming like a 12 year old girl.  3) I'd like to point out that I'm about 6' tall and the corn was much taller then I was...amazing. 4) Who would have known that corn leaves are like razor blades and will cut you without a second thought.
No corn was harmed in the taking of these pictures.

My Aunt lives in Newman, and I captured my dad and nephew lighting off some firecrackers on her property later that day.  You'll notice the puff of smoke to the right.  When I was a kid we'd visit Illinois during summer vacation and it was always a treat to get our hands on firecrackers.  Firecrackers used to be illegal in Arizona until recently. 
I borrowed my cousins bicycle and decided to ride around town and snap some photos. 
An old church that seemed to be abandoned.
The Red and White stores used to be small food stores that have been taken over by larger supermarket chains.
The town's water tower.
Neat looking grain silos.
Outside of town I found a road surrounded by corn.  It was very surreal.  I just stood there.  No traffic, no people, just corn.
and looking back towards town.
Well that's all I have.  Hope it felt like it was July for a second and you could forget about any snow, rain or ice you may be experiencing in your neck of the woods.  Until next time!

P.S. Hi to Rita, Ryan and Sam!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy 2012!

Made it through the holiday season in one piece.  Hope everyone had a good time and got to spend some quality time with friends and/or family.

I received a text, this afternoon, from a friend in Austin.  He linked a blog site of a gentleman who is currently on a trip, headed south, on a 1999 BMW F650.  Under his "about" section he states this:

"My name is Taylor and I am going South. Into Mexico, past Costa Rica, through Colombia and hopefully much further beyond. Keep checking back often. I’ll be posting daily once my trip begins."

You can find his blog at I wish him the best of luck! and am extremely jealous that I can't be out there as well.  If you have some time, visit his site and post some encouragement his way.

As to my own travels, it's been lacking as of late.  Early December was a rather wet one here in Southern Arizona, and with the activities of the season I didn't get out as much as I wanted.  I did have an old college buddy come out for a visit, who had just taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class, and had gotten his license endorsed.  He asked if we'd be able to take a day trip somewhere and I wanted to give him a nice view, so I thought we'd try heading out to Kitt Peak.  I made this same trip back in March of last year for anyone wanting more information on the route.

I was able to talk my dad into loaning out his bike.  I believe his exact words were "Sure, I'm planning on getting a new bike anyway so who cares about the old one.  Now, if your friend had wanted to borrow my new bike guess again."  WooHoo! Bike in hand my buddy came over and we were ready to go.  Meet Matt, my friend, and most of the junk in my garage.
The ride there was pleasant.  We were lucky enough for warm weather on the way out.  We stopped for gas at a place called Three Points, southwest of Tucson.  My dad's bike has a max range of around 90 miles and the day's route was going to be about 120 miles total.  My wife snapped a quick photo at the stop.  You can just make out the mountains to the left side of the photo.  This was our destination for the day.  We still had about 20 miles to go before we reached the turnoff to start heading up.
Kitt Peak tops out at about ~6500 feet.  Halfway up the mountain I look up and notice what looks like snow...but no that can't be, can it?  It was.  As we kept going the temperature probably dropped into the 40's but we were keeping our speed low so it wasn't too unbearable.  Near the top there were two sections along the road that sat in the shade of the mountain all day, and you could tell there was still some frost there.  I was very concerned about losing traction, especially with the wife sitting on the back of the bike.  It did appear that sand had been put down, which probably helped, and we made it to the top without incident.
We quickly made our way into the visitors center to warm up and drink some coffee before venturing back outside.
I'm not going to post a lot of photos on the telescopes, as I covered that topic to death last year.   Needless to say we took our time and wandered around and checked out all the sites.

Ms. Bonnie
Mr. Bonnie
This view never gets old.
 Shot of the day.
 You've always got to be on the lookout for snow rattlers.  Just as you make out their long little sweaters, it's too late.
 I called for help, but was unable to get assistance from this odd looking couple.  I spent the next hour crawling my way out of the half inch snow drift.  It was life and death there for awhile.
 "Take my picture honey! I want to look like a bad motorcycle mama."
 Modern Art or Ancient Image?  We'll never find out.
That's pretty much it.  Sorry not a lot of cycle shots this time.  We headed back down thinking it would warm up.  But some clouds, and a cold front seemed to have moved through and it stayed pretty chilly all the way back home.  Matt seemed to have a good time, and I was glad the wife was able to make it.  I believe this was her longest road trip to date.

Until next time.