Friday, June 22, 2012

Days 5 & 6 Tuesday & Wednesday June 12-13

In the previous post I mentioned that I drove the road – AZ 191 – on Monday with the PU and trailer.  And I rode the road on Tuesday.  I actually did a 267 mile loop on Tuesday.

I had filled the MC gas tank as I left Springerville.  I asked a fella at the café in Alpine how far was gas in the direction of New Mexico – He said in Glenwood – about 55-60 miles.  Good-e-nuff thought I, I’ll gas there.

But there was a significant amount of road work between Alpine and Glenwood and the speeds were very slow behind the pilot car for 20-25 miles of the 55 from Alpine to Glenwood.

So… I get to Glenwood and the gas gauge is flickering between ¾ and ½ tank so I make the decision to not get gas.

Well… You know the result – and no I did not run out of gas – but within a few miles of leaving Glenwood the gas gauge was flickering between ½ and 3/8.  By the time I made the turn west on to 78 it was flickering between 3/8 and ¼.  Not too much further it was solid on ¼.

Luckily once I reached the AZ state line the road was mostly downhill and I was more or less coasting – using very little throttle and gas.  But when I did have to use throttle I kept the speed down to between 45-50 to conserve even more gas.

When I made it to the junction of 78-191 I found a dilapidated station that looked to be closed – but there was an attendant and I filled the tank with 3.65 gallons.  I’d have probably made it into Clifton – another 9 or so miles – but lesson learned – DO NOT pass up the opportunity to fuel up and avoid these tense am I gonna make it or not situations.

The previous post has all the good pics so we’ll skip right to…

Wednesday June 13th

Coming down the mountain from Alpine on Tuesday afternoon I thought that the exhaust note was especially loud – but wrote it off as the Hard Krome exhaust pipes have always been loud.

Tired from the ride, I parked the bike Tuesday night and slept like a log.

Wednesday morning I checked the oil and tire pressures and set off at 06:20 for Alpine and breakfast at the café.

On the way up the mountain I again thought I detected some extra volume for the exhaust.  Again – we’re climbing from about 6975 feet at Springerville to over 8000 at Alpine so I wrote it off as the extra throttle needed to keep the speed up going uphill.

After a wonderful breakfast at the café I came out ready to ride 191 from north to south with my video camera going.

But the sun was shining on the exhaust side of the bike just right and I saw this horrid discoloration!


Then I knew that my hearing had not deceived me and there was something wrong with the exhaust.

So back down the hill to Springerville and load the bike in the PU.

I’d paid for the night so I relaxed for the afternoon at the RV park.

Day 4 Monday June 11th

This day started as just another travel day.  Point A to point B so I could get ready for some MC touring at the Grand Canyon.

And it started just that way.

Main Street - Old Clifton
Leaving Clifton AZ you climb toward Morenci and the first thing you see is this giant wall of dirt.

Mine Tailings
After climbing up the hill you enter the town of Morenci.

Not trying to denigrate the folks that live there, but it is a 100% company owned town and it looks like it.

What I found interesting is that the road – AZ191 – is intertwined through the mining town AND the actual mine.  Can’t say for sure, but I’d bet the course of the road has changed a few times by the needs of the mine to access the copper ore.

To give an idea of the size of the mine - the largest copper mine in north America - here's a Google Earth view.
Morenci at the red bubble.  AZ191 is the yellow squiggly line.
Processing Building
See? I was really there on the bike!
Once past the mine the road begins to really climb.  Here’s a few pics of the switchbacks just after leaving the mining area.

Please note – the road is narrow and there are NO GUARDRAILS!  The drops vary from 10-20 feet to hundreds of feet if a curve is missed!

As I climbed higher the forest began to change from low level scrub trees to tall and soaring Ponderosa Pines.  The aroma was something that brought back memories from decades ago.

I did not know what was missing until I got up high and in the middle of the tree lined road.

Elevation - 9177 feet.
Note the black square in the middle of the panorama.  Obviously someone else loved the mountains.  I can't help but wonder if this was another tragedy of war?

Mountain Memorial
Moth seeking nectar
A high plain - No cars, so I stopped in the road - no hazard!
Believe the sign!
Miss the corner - and it's a long way to the bottom!
I’d lived out in the low lands – 767 feet elevation at the San Antonio airport – for over a decade.  While Texas has a tall mountain – see the previous pics of the Guadalupe’s – it’s in the desert and 700 miles from SA.  The Texas hill country is nice – scenic even – but it’s called the hill country for a reason.

Riding in the west Texas Davis Mountains was nice, but they were not particularly tall and the pine trees were nice, but stunted compared to the towering Ponderosa’s here.

Essentially, a part of my soul was segregated and hidden during the decade in SA.  And the most ironic thing?  I was unaware there was a piece hidden away.

So now that I am aware, I’ll not allow so much time go by without venturing into the mountains to smell the scent of pine in the air – regardless of where I’m living.

I drove the road with the PU and trailer on Monday.  I settled into an RV park in Springerville AZ that evening.  I unloaded the bike and rode the road on Tuesday.  I intended to go back with the video camera on Wednesday – but you can read what happened in that diary.

For my riding buddies on Volusia Riders and David and Kevin in SA - put this on your "must ride" list before you stop riding.  It is that good!  Ride it both ways - north to south and south to north.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 3 Sunday June 10th

Today was a travel day.  About 470 miles.  Map.

Leaving Fort Davis while the sun angle as low, I found a dozen of these rock formations interesting in that light, here's one.

If you look at a map of west Texas and southern New Mexico you might notice that the east-west travel routes are somewhat limited.

I10 is not too far from the only reasonable choice. Years past when driving to and from California it was mostly I10 for the sheer expediency – can’t beat 80 MPH speed limit when you need to be somewhere fast.

Today however, I made a choice to see some different desert.  From Van Horn I took 54 north toward Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Now I am quite sure that there is something special about these mountains, otherwise they would not be a national park, but from a distance and from even closer they look to me like big chunks-o-rock in a dry land.  Perhaps you can see something special that I cannot?

West from the junction of 54/180 is yet more desert.  Long straight sections of road dominate from back there to way out there.

Cruise control keeps one under the speed limit as there were a couple of incidences of Texas Highway Patrol sitting concealed behind a curve or large bush at a cross-over, waiting on the next fool that thought 75 wasn’t enough speed to put the miles of sagebrush and alkali lakes behind them.

West from Las Cruces there was no choice but I10.  The miles came and went and my planned stop for the night at Deming faded quickly behind.  Why not stop?  Well, the RV park I had thought to stay at had little shade and the west wind was howling.  I had little desire to subject myself to those conditions.

So on to Lordsburg and then northwest on US70 toward the night stop at Clifton Arizona in the city owned RV park.

Once in the RV park I took advantage of the unregulated wi-fi and did a complete reset on my iPhone 3gs hoping that this would cure the ills that it had demonstrated with increasing frequency.  This whole trip is doable without a reliable phone, but in today’s world it sure would be inconvenient.  The reset went well, but was ultimately unsuccessful as the phone took another dump less than 12 hours later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 2 – Saturday June 9th

Here at Davis Mountains State Park.

Awoke early with first light.  Did not feel the need to jump outta bed so turned over and went back to sleep until the sun peeked over the horizon.

I unloaded the bike and prepared for my McDonald Observatory loop trip.  Texas 118 up the mountain to the observatory then down to I10.  East on I10 to RR3078 and then back to the park on TX17.  Google maps link.

At 7-ish there was a gust of hot wind that came through the campsite.  Not cool, not refreshing, but hot.  I knew then that this day would be brutal.  But I came here to ride the loop and I would.

Going up the mountain it’s easy to see the telescope domes – they stand out.

Arriving at the visitor’s center at 8:25 I had hoped that they would open at 9 – but it was not to be – 10am for visitors.  If it had been a lot cooler – it was even warm at the top of the mountain – I might have hung about, but with the heat coming on quickly I knew I had to git-r-dun.

A wonderful MC road is 118 – through high dry valleys and sparse pine forests it’s crooked and enjoyable – and nearly empty of cars on this Saturday morning.  This road cries out to be aboard one of the ‘sport touring’ bikes and not a poky V-Twin cruiser.  But it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Breakfast was amid the sparse pines of a roadside picnic site.  In this post I mentioned about the noise and hubbub of living in the city.  Here at this idyllic roadside rest stop there wasn’t a noise one but for the wind in the trees and the bird calls.  I spent about 40 minutes eating and walking around and in that time there were a total of 5 vehicles that went past – one of them was the contract caretaker that checked the garbage cans.


No contrails overhead.  No jet noise.  No barking dogs.  No lawn mowers.  Just what my soul needed as a part of the first MC ride.

No pictures – but flies!  WOW!  Everywhere and in abundance.  I stopped to drink about ¾ the way down the mountain.  Standing in the shade of a Yucca it took about 30 seconds for the flies to find me.  There were no cows, no human habitation within sight, but the flies were there.

Yeah, we had flies in SA, but not to this extent.  I’m curious as to why they are so prolific out here seemingly in the middle of no place west Texas?

I stopped in Kent – was a wide spot in the road with a Chevron station – but now it’s all boarded up and nothing is left but the empty buildings and canopy over the (former) gas pumps.  Welcome shade.  I drank some more and saturated my cool vest with water.  This cool vest goes on under your outer layer – in my case just a long sleeve shirt – and the passing breeze evaporates the trapped water keeping the body core cooler.  I will say that it works just fine.

A strong west wind – did I mention hot? – pushed me east on I10.  The bike ran really well at the 80 MPH speed limit.  Lots of comments on the VR forum about vibration at higher speeds – but it was tolerable today.

Some might say I’m an odd sort of character – and maybe I am in some ways – but I am always on the lookout for seemingly out of place – unusual – things.

Today I found a small Catholic chapel out in the middle of abandoned farms and houses. 

It’s got a history – Catholic mission when this area was a booming farm community.  But the water source – a spring – dried up in 1983.  There’s not much left but rusted farm machinery and falling down houses.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.


Under the Latin prayer book was this marksmanship medal.  I’d think that a mother, or sister left it for one of our fallen.  Poignant and sad too.

Day 1 – Friday June 8th

Awoke at my usual 05:20-ish having to pee.  It’s hell getting old and the bladder not being as elastic as it once was.

Tried to go back to sleep but unsuccessful, so up and about by 6.  Loaded everything – MC included – by 7:30.  All hooked up and ready to roll by 8:10.  Goodbyes and pictures took a couple minutes so pulled out of the driveway of 8607 at 08:20 Friday June 8th 2012 – 4 days later than planned.

By the time I had stopped by the bank, got fruit and other groceries, topped off with gas it was 10:35 when I hit I10 westbound.

I set the cruise on the speedometer at 62 – GPS said it was 68.  This 10% speedo error is new as it was not there when I brought the truck back from Vegas. I wonder if the slightly oversize rear tires I put on contribute?  Maybe it’s a calibration thing with the PU’s computer.

Filled with gas at Fort Stockton – only 13.25 MPG @ 64-65 MPH on the GPS.

Now typing this settled in for the night at Davis Mountains State Park.  Overcast with a wonderfully cool breeze.  Just ate some beef and rice.  Caravan plugged in to the electricity and the AC has cooled the interior so it should be cool enough to need a light blanket tonight.

Tonight would be really pleasant – if it wasn’t cloudy so I could see the Milky Way and if the damn midges and flies weren’t so overbearing.  The flies being a great reason to want a different campsite that’s not so plagued with them.

Davis Mountains State Park - Dry and desolate huh?

Had to drive to to of mountain to get a cell signal.

Cooking dinner


These acronyms come from the armed forces during WWII.

Wikipedia here – FUBARSNAFU

These terms pretty accurately describe the final days of my house buyer’s ordeal getting the mortgage to fund and the funds transferred to my bank account.

Ameripro Mortgage Company and Reliance Title Company did their best at every turn to delay the closing.  I will not go into great detail, but suffice to say that neither of these companies are on my recommended list.  I’ll merely say that if possible, avoid these companies like they had the plague!

If there were problems – then we can deal with these things as long as the communication flows.  But no one answered their phone.  Voice mails were not returned.  People said the mortgage was ready for a.) approval, b.) funding when in fact it was not.  When I grew up they called this lying.  Nowadays it’s just business as usual.

We finally signed papers on Wednesday night at 8:15 pm.  Yes!  That late.

Fortunately, the notary was competent and we signed and initialed in all the correct places so that once the title company processed the papers there were no further problems.  The mortgage actually funded late on Thursday afternoon and my proceeds were wired to my bank account by 5:00 pm on Thursday.

So… I am no longer the owner of 8607.  I can no longer suffer the joys of home ownership.  LOL!

Now I’ll suffer the joys of pickup, trailer and motorcycle ills!

11 Years – Enough!

Some folks put a bumper sticker on their car that says, “I’m not a native Texan, but I got here as fast as I could.”

That does not fit me!

It’s tough leaving good friends – David and Bea – David and Tammy – Mike and Patty. But I’m sure we’ll keep in touch – even though I don’t do Christmas cards! There are other folks I’ll miss too, but they’re not as close. 

San Antonio – I loved the winters and detested the summers.  95ºF (35ºC) or more from May to September and humidity that just drenched ya!  Typically the summer temps were 95º to 104º in the late afternoon and it was still 88º at 2am.  The low occurred just before dawn and was frequently in the 75º to 78º range.  So a 20º to 25º night-day difference was typical.
These temps made it easy to move from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned work to air conditioned grocery to air conditioned restaurant and then back to your air conditioned house.

No more $300 (or more) monthly electrical bills in the summer for me.  I’m finding or traveling to a climate where the days are warm but the nights are pleasantly cool.  Then in winter I’ll bundle up and throw another log on the fire.

Finally, selling 8607 also completely closes an 11-year period of living in a suburb of a HUGE city.  Having a house – no matter how convenient – too close to a freeway and the international airport and thus suffering constant noise and dirt.

I know I should never say never – but I am confident that I will never again live so close to a freeway or a major airport.  I will not suffer the noise or pollution.  Additionally, I am also confident that, while I may visit Texas at some point in the future, I’ll not live in a house in Texas again.

Been There Done That and now it’s Good-Bye Texas!

Wi-Fi - Yeah!

Traveling as I am and updating this blog requires I find free wi-fi.  I've got no other way to do it.

So here in Springerville Arizona at the Casa Malpais RV Park, I have a strong wi-fi signal sitting here in the RV.

So I've saved several and we'll do a mass post tonight and tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vacating 8607

Well… The final move out of 8607 happened more or less as planned.  Minor glitches – but those things part of living I suppose.

I left SA on Friday May 25th and was on the road by 11 from 8607.

Stopping for gas for the U-Haul I ran into the first of several “for your protection” limitations on how much gasoline you can pump at one time - $100 worth.  Here in SA that was about 29 gallons.  Other places the price was higher and therefore the gallons less.  Doesn’t take a calculator to figure that a $100 worth of gasoline does not take a loaded U-Haul very far when the truck gets about 6 miles to the gallon.

Nice scenery – if you call the west Texas desert nice. But what I had not realized was that from about Junction ( west to the summit outside Sierra Blanca ( that the road – even though it looks level – actually gains a couple dozen feet per mile.  I don’t remember the exact elevation at the summit, but I found it interesting that a seemingly flat and level looking road was actually going up significantly.

There were some nasty winds on Saturday as I went across southern New Mexico and on into Arizona.  20-25 steady with gusts to 40-50 was the forecast.  And I believe it!  That U-Haul was rockin’ and rollin’ side-to-side.  Makes for a tense day driving a rig that has super-loose steering that throws the truck around every time a significant bump or pot hole was hit.

And speaking of road conditions – I’m spoiled by the roads here in Texas.  In comparison to Arizona and California roads the Texas roads are as smooth as glass.  I can see the effects of AZ and CA being broke – their roads are in very poor condition.

But I always find the scenery in Arizona to be interesting.  Would love to someday be in this rocky area at sunrise to catch the interplay of rocks and shadows.

Not much else of note happened on the drive – SOSDD* mostly.

Unloaded lots at Jeremiah’s place – stuff he can use immediately or tools that he can use whenever.

There’s some things in a storage unit – WOW are they expensive! – that will have some disposition within 18 or so months.  Either they go to my new abode or sold.

Had a great time with the grands – got to see both Trevor and Garrett play baseball.  Kinsley was all over me, loving and snugglin.  Ain't she a cutie!

Colton was a bit more reserved than other visits – but since we’ll be seeing the grands a bit more often I expect that will change too.

The next post will detail the joys of the house sale process.  I look forward to putting all that behind me.

*Same Old Shit Different Day