Monday, April 16, 2012

City of Rocks Camping Trip Pt. 2

Saturday was the day we headed up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  This was roughly ~80ish miles away, so a nice leisurely ride with no time pressures and some curvy mountain roads.  Not only that, but Kiri was coming along as well.  Overall a great day in the making!  Looking at the map below we started at City of Rocks, at the bottom, and went up state road 15 on the left, and came back down state road 35 on the right.  Always nice when you can make a loop and see new scenery coming and going.

View Larger Map

We met the other riders at their motel, and after a nice breakfast, we gathered together for the ride details and information on where we'd be stopping.
Heading north on 15, I recalled riding this same road last summer.  I was coming back from my long Colorado trip and was on my own.  They forest service had just tarred and graveled the road and I had to limp along at 10Mph due to the large mounds of gravel created by the cars driving over the stuff.  I was extremely glad to see most of the excess had been swept away. 
When I get on these small mountain roads I like to crack the visor of my helmet open.  It's incredible how good the forest smells with the wind blowing across your face.  You just can't get the same sensation sitting in a car.
Some of the curves were pretty sharp.  Curve signage was posted at 10 to 15Mph. With Kiri sitting on the back, and heading downhill, my arms had the extra strain of holding back both of us as I used engine breaking to do most of the slowing.
Just before the cliff dwellings we pulled over at a nice lookout.
Group photo time!!
One of the best looking couples.  I could be biased.  And yes, that is duct tape on my pant legs.  It keeps my pants from snagging on my foot controls.  I'm pretty proud of the fact my gear contains duct tape.  It makes you more of a man in my opinion.
The surrounding geology was the result of past volcanic activity.  Feel free to read about it.
As the group was milling about, an older gentleman rides up out of the forest mist on another all-black Triumph Bonneville T100!!  I believe that's a sign that society is on an upward trend.
His was a 2003 with ~6000 miles on it that he had bought used.  We spent the next 10 minutes or so discussing differences between the two bikes.  He had made a few cool modifications to his.
Notice the hand made highway riding pegs made out of piping.  Very cool.
He also added extensions to foot pegs.  It dropped his legs down just a bit and allowed his extra thick boots to be able to get under the shifter.
Unfortunately we had to get moving so Kiri and I said our goodbyes and the group proceeded down to the cliff dwellings.
You pay a five dollar donation per person to get in.  And they were serious about their donations.  They had a ranger sitting there giving the hard eye to anyone who didn't pay.  Our group got another group photo with him.  I'm calling him Ranger Rick.
There's a mile long loop that leads up a small canyon and onto a side cliff with the ruins.  I'm not going to cover the history of the dwellings.  You can read up on it or come visit the place yourself:)  I will say that the dwellings are over 700 years old, and they let you climb right up into them..woo hoo!
So it had been a little chilly riding up in the morning.  I made the mistake of leaving my riding pants on, with the wind breaker still in, as I started the hike and yes I started to get hot.  I know, I'm about half way up my legs were really sweating so I had to take my boots and pants off so I could remove the liner.  Then I had to carry the stupid liners with me through the ruins.  Dumb.

Also, Kiri made me a slick hat out of my neck handkerchief.  I assure you that duct tape and handkerchief hats are cool.  You might think I'm wrong...but I'm not.
Perspective on how high up the dwellings are from the bottom of the canyon.
We met this little guy as the trail turned and started heading up the other side.  He seemed to like his picture being taken.
The dwellings are built into interconnecting caves.
Some of our group and gotten out in front of us and you can use them for perspective.  Some of these dwellings were two stories tall!
"Honey, think of the views!  We could move in next week!"
Looking out across the canyon.
There were park rangers in the area answering general questions.  Otherwise you could explore on your own.  There was one large group in front of us, but once they moved on Kiri and I had the place to ourselves.  You start to imagine what life was like back then.
The rangers pointed out a few pictographs on the walls.  This one is in the shape of a person.
No, I'm not suffering from dehydration Mr. Ranger..the handkerchief hat is in fashion and _is_ very cool.  Trend setting takes a lot of work.
After an hour of going back in time, we start to make our way out of the canyon.
View of the ranger station and the parking lot.  You can just make out the bikes.
We were ready to head back and find a late lunch/early dinner.
As you start to head back out on 35 there is a nice little lake called Lake Roberts.  We pulled over to take pictures from afar.  I stopped at this same location last summer.  It was _much_ hotter the last time I was here.
The place we had intended to stop at was closed for remodeling so he had to head all the way back to Silver City for food.
We finished up around 5 and Kiri and I headed back to camp.  Kiri needed to get back to Tucson, she mumbled something about not being able to take any more of the crazy husband, I don't think I heard her correctly of course.  Luckily for me I had talked my dad and nephew into coming out and camping for the night.  Somebody had to pack my stuff back to Tucson.  You didn't think I was going to take it back on the bike did you???  To top it all off my dad wasn't even feeling very well, and he still trudged out to sleep in a tent.

That night Steve and Roger, the Goldwing guys, were nice enough to transport out some firewood and marshmallows to the camp site.  Can anyone say Smores??
I was trying to capture the firelight on the nearby boulder.
"And when the young lovers got out of the car, only then did they notice the severed arm with a hook for a hand attached to the the back bumper.......Muhahahahahahah!  Ok, now your turn for a ghost story."
The morning after bore a hard reality of our great Smore debauchery.
The campsite next to ours had filled up that night.  Lets just say camp courtesy were lost on these people as they were loud and obnoxious waaaaay past 2am. 
The campground had some nice public showers near the entrance, with hot water to boot!  So I was able to clean myself up and start to pack up camp. 

At this point some of the group wanted to head back via the interstate to get some stuff done prior to Monday.  Luckily I had taken Monday off so I wasn't in a rush to get back.  So a few of us headed back through Safford, taking our time.  I only snapped two pictures of the return trip.  We pulled over at one point to grab a photo of the view.
I used Photoshop to stitch two photos together just so I could show all of the road.  Talk about some nice curves!  This is looking down towards "Three Way".
Overall it was a great trip.  Hope you enjoyed some of the photos.

Special thanks to Kiri, my Dad and Colton for coming out and sharing it with me!


  1. Awesome. What a great weekend. Did they give you and Kiri a prize for cutest couple? I would have voted for you two.

    Thanks for sharing all of the pictures. I'd never heard of the caves dwellings before. I can see how it would be a destination to camp and explore.

    And I don't see anything wrong with duct tape on gear. It isn't the first time I've seen it. Although the last time I think it was on the inside of Troubadour's riding suit as he kept getting the liner stuck in the leg zippers.

    Again, thanks for sharing the great ride report. Love that last pic you stitched together.

    Happy riding to you and the misses.

  2. Thanks Trobairitz! Tell Troubadour I have a couple of neat tiger pics for him in my next post. Which I'm hoping to get out later this week. I think he'll enjoy them.