Monday, April 30, 2012

El Malpais Trip 2012

We're going to take a break from the vintage show pictures.  I still have plenty more, which I'll post later, but I had the chance to take a road trip last weekend and I'm excited to get these photo's online.

This trip came about last second.  I took Friday off to keep from losing vacation time.  Then I found out my parents were heading up to Alpine to visit their cabin.  After a quick call to see if I could tag along, and if they could transport a duffel bag of clothes, I was on the road.  First stop.  My dad has been looking for a new bike for quite some time.  He's had his eye on the new Triumph Explorer but our local dealer hasn't gotten any in...until last week.  They just received a single blue model and my dad has put some money down on it.  I stopped by the shop on my way out of town to snap a few pics.  I'll do a post on this a little later in the week.  For now here are the only pictures of a Triumph Explorer in Tucson:)
Then I was off.  Ooops..I forgot to add in a map.  One sec.

View Larger Map
 The last time I headed up to Alpine I took the Coronado Trail road up the east side of the state.  This time I headed north out of Tucson, through Globe, and then a few side roads to see some new country.  I left town around 10am.  It was warm coming out of Tucson.  Once I made it past Winkelman I had to pull over to put on some warmer gear.  The views were amazing and I was glad to be on the road again.  These were taken in the small section of Tonto National Forest you have to go through before dropping down into Globe.
Once I reached Globe I stopped at the local McDonald's for lunch.  After I had gotten my food another motorcyclist showed up and sat down close by.  It wasn't to long before conversation was going and we were talking bikes and where we were headed.   His name was Jim and he was riding to Pinetop for a religious retreat and some golf.  As I had done with my parents, he had talked/con'd some friends into taking his bags and golf clubs so he could ride his new bike.  Lighter bikes make for better rides:)  He had recently bought a used Suzuki 650 and was deciding if he really wanted to get back into riding.  Pinetop was his first "long" trip and I could tell he was having a blast.  As a funny coincidence he mentioned he had stopped by the Tucson Triumph dealership the day before and had sat on the new Explorer.  He was surprised when I told him my dad was buying the bike.

Even though we were heading the same direction he didn't mention pairing up, and I didn't offer either.  I enjoy making my own speed and stopping for photos whenever I want.  So after filling up the tank I was off.  If you're traveling towards the White Mountains from Globe you have to pass through the Salt River Canyon.  This place will amaze you every time you ride it.  I pulled over just before heading down into the gorge.
 The last time I had come through here was with my dad on his Honda 650.  Seems like many many blog posts ago!
 After descending down into the canyon I crossed over the river and pulled over into the first pull-out.
 It's good to see water flowing in any river in these parts.
 As I was standing there enjoying the view I saw another motorcyclist coming down into the canyon.  Yep, it was Jim on his Suzuki.  So I started taking pics as he came down the road.
 He passed me at the first view point, but I met him again at a scenic viewpoint higher up the canyon.  I showed him the pictures and he gave me his email address so I could email them to him.  Meet Jim.  And his bike.
  He was kind enough to get my picture.  We must have the same tailor.
 The views are amazing!
 Here's the famous photo merge shot.
From here you typically head up to Show Low when going to Alpine.  I decided to side step Show Low and turned off towards the town of Whiteriver.  I stopped for gas at an Apache gas station in town, and while I filled up, I met a nice fellow outside who said he was security for the gas station and kept the pan handlers away.  He seemed pretty nice and he told me how he recently drove his car out to California and saw the ocean for the first time.  I wanted to take his picture but I'm always nervous about how people are going to react when I start breaking out the camera.

From here I headed north to the Hon-Dah Apache casino and took a right on highway 260. At this point I took another side step and headed towards the Sunrise Ski resort.  Kiri and I had come out this way last summer.  But now I could still see some left over snow on the slopes.
 Instead of heading up into the resort I veered left and pulled over at a deserted rest stop.  It's always a little eery when you're surrounded by lots of empty land and you can't see another human at all.
 I was up around 9000' feet elevation at this point.  Luckily the sun was out.  I saw plenty of signs that said this road wasn't patrolled at nights and that it was closed in the winters.  I went as far as Crescent Lake and pulled over for pictures.  There was only one other truck in the parking lot.  As I was getting ready to go and old man and his son came walking up.  They were fishing but said they hadn't gotten any bites.  The old man thought the lake was to shallow and might have frozen solid last winter, killing all the fish.  
 I took a left at Crescent Lake and headed back towards the towns of Eagar and Springerville.  Just before you drop back down into the valley there is a nice lookout.  Again I had the place all to myself.  The views were amazing but you could still see the signs of last years wildfires.  It was depressing to see all the burnt trees.
 The landscape is dotted with ancient volcanic cinder cones.
 There were quite a few fun sharp curves as I headed down into town.  From there it was a quick 20 mile ride into Alpine where I turned up the heater and waited for my parents to show up.

Tomorrow! Pictures from El Malpais New Mexico! 


  1. What an awesome day of riding. It is cool that you met up with Jim again. It is amazing how motorcycles are conversation starters.

    I like that there wasn't a lot of traffic. One of the benefits of riding on a weekday.

    That Triumph Explorer in blue is pretty sweet. Congrats to your dad. We saw a graphite grey one at the motorcycle show in December. I like the blue better.

    Thanks for sharing all the pictures. They look like great roads.

  2. Thanks! I do find it amazing how easy it is to start up a conversation with anyone riding a motorcycle. I feel like I'm part of a huge club. I don't get that same feeling with people driving their cars.

    I'll be posting the rest of the trip later this week!