5 States (TX, NM, AZ, UT, CO)
3 Bighorn Sheep, countless Deer and Elk, Racoons, Beaver (yes, really), Porkupines, tons of Rabbits (alive and dead), and a bazillion squirrels/chipmunks (some suicidal).
Excluding TX, hottest temp was 94 at Page, AZ. Lowest temp was 42 between Cedar City, UT and Panguich, UT (in the hail and rain)
Speeding Tickets: none, but 2 warnings, and several finger waggles.
Jim is on a 2001 K1200LT
David is on a 2002 K1200RS
And I was on the new K1200GT
David Scott, Jim Sutton, and I started our 3rd annual summer ride at Jim's house on July 7th. The plan was to ride to Lamesa, TX and spend the night before heading across New Mexico. But after seeing the high quality of resort lodging in Lamesa, we continued an extra hour to the booming vacation spot of Hobbs, NM and the Desert Inn Motel (a.k.a., the Desert Inn Casino and Resort). I don't think we had even finished dismounting the bike when the local "welcoming committee" rolled into the parking lot in their circa-1980s compact car offering us a friendly welcome and asking if we needed any "party favors" for the evening. What a great place to vacation if you asked me.
The next day, we headed west across NM and the mountains around Cloudcroft. Traffic was light, but started picking up around Cloudcroft. After following a slow line of cars, we were finally waived around the last of them. As a result, I came around the corner into Cloudcroft a little hot and was subsequently lectured by a local deputy. His final warning to me was "if I didn't have to respond to another call, I would have chased your buddies down as well." Oh well. No harm, no foul.
In one of the few rainstorms we saw on the trip, we had to don our rainsuits from Alamogordo to Las Cruces. We stopped in Las Cruces for some New Mexican quisine (gotta love Hatch Green Chili). Upon leaving the restaurant, we noticed some fluid leaking on David's K1200RS. It appeared that one of his fuel line disconnects chose to break at that point. Good thing we were parked next to an Autozone. After a few minutes of trying to communicate our needs to the clerk (which English was a distant 2nd language), we were able to aquire the right parts to complete a roadside repair and off we went.
After taking the old road that parallels the Rio Grande from Las Cruces to Caballo, we took NM 152 toward Silver City. A buddy from Arizona was going to meet us along the way, and on schedule, Don on his Bumble Bee K1200S shows up. From that point, we headed through Silver City, NM and up to Clifton, AZ -- home of the Morenci Copper Mine, the largest open pit copper mine in the world. When we arrived at our second luxurious resort hotel, the Rode Inn, we were greeted by the weekend shift for the Morenci Mine. A nice bunch of guys who normally get off work at 3pm and leave for work at 4am. So at 5:30pm when we arrived, they were pretty piss drunk. Offered us all cold beers before we were even off our bikes. Made for an interesting evening -- which ended promply with every drunk person staggering back to their room by 9:00pm. You could have heard a pin drop at 9:01.
Since Arizona has this strange habit of NOT following daylight savings time, we found ourselves waking up at our normal 7am CDT, which ended up being 5am local time. It made for an early departure from Cliffton. Just in time to view the morning migration of the local wildlife. We followed the road up the mine and stopped at an overlook to understand the scale of the mine.
If you look at the above picture, you will see a little spec on the main road across the mine. The picture below is a zoom of that spec. It's one of those big dump trucks you see on Modern Marvels. This dump truck is bigger than a two-story, 5000 sq ft home in Dallas. I'd be lucky to stand as high as the width of the tire from the ground to the outside rim if I were next to it.
Here we were at the overlook:
After taking some pictures of the mine, we finally started toward the wilderness of US 191. Around the second or third corner, a group of 3 bighorn sheep jumped between Don and Jim's bikes. Quite a pucker moment. I tried to stop, pull out the camera, and get a shot, but this was all I got.
I have to say that US 191 from Morenci, AZ to Alpine, AZ is one of the most technical roads I have ever ridden. Most of the road is 20MPH hairpin turns snaking through the mountains of Eastern Arizona. Think of several Deals Gaps with a couple Cherohala Skyways in between for over 100 miles. Temps ranged from the low 50s to the high 70s throughout the ride.
I was quite surprised at finding such an alpine climate in Arizona in July. It blew all my preconceptions of the region out of the water. Most of the ride up US 191 and across the state on AZ 260 were at 5000 feet or above and through alpine forests.
We dumped out onto I-17 just south of Flagstaff and headed north. After playing cat and mouse with a AMG SL55, we arrived in Flagstaff in time for our second rainstorm of the trip. I couldn't be more perfectly timed, as the temps were finally heading into the high 80s and we needed a break.
After stopping for gas and a quick food break in Flagstaff, we headed north to Page, AZ for the night. While US 50 across Nevada may be the lonliest road in America, I think us 89 north out of Flagstaff has to be the straightest and most boring. At least the game of pass the moron in the cage kept us from being bored to death on the last 2 hours of the day. We arrived in Page and grabbed a room at the first cheap hotel we saw. Air Conditioning, Beer, and Mexican Food and we started to get comfortable with the place.
While in Page, we met Walt at Matt. Walt was on his K1100RS on his way to meet a couple buddies who were in the latest round of the World Series of Poker. Matt was riding by on his K1200RS while we were out front drinking a couple cold ones and introduced himself. Matt flies for the local CareFlight air ambulance service. After a beer, Matt offered to lead us on a ride the next day and show us a couple less traveled destinations.
The next day, we stopped on the overlook that views the beginning of the Grand Canyon. To the right of this photo is Lake Powell. We headed down US 89A to the North Rim and made our way across Northern Arizona at record speed (having a CareFlight pilot with you who knows every LEO in northern AZ is quite a treat
Once we blew by the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we headed into Utah and Zion National Park. This is the first time I had visited Zion, so it was a real treat. The 2 mile long tunnel was a real trip. On the west side of the tunnel, I stopped to take pictures and saw where the road came out at the bottom of the canyon.