Friday, June 22, 2012

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.


  1. Ok, now do I ride it on the ST1100 or on the Burgman 400, which I just found out is a good touring machine for one person. Performance-wise it's like a modest car. It'll cruise at 75mph (by the GPS, not the optimistic speedo) and go to 90mph, although it's 1,000rpm in the red at that speed. In the altitude in Colorado at highway speeds, it got better than 72mpg. Keep ridin' and writin', Leo.

  2. The ST1100 would be my recommendation for either solo or two-up with Bea. You'll like the HP on some of the steep sections.

    This is just a superb road - good riding and wonderful vistas.