Friday, June 15, 2018

On the one hand we have the Mods...

After you run out of triple digit roads, this is what you find.
...and on the other, the Rockies, errr... the Rockers...

In 1965, I was a boy of ten, living in the Edmonton community of Wellington and prior to that, Kensington... which in itself may have led one to believe there was some Jolly Old influence.*

The Beatles, the Stones, the Who...the Byrd's, were revolutionizing music, and in fact the world was changing and fast.  Rockers rode bikes from cafe to cafe, trying to break the 'Ton' without breaking the engine. (which often happened) while the Mods emulated the new order on their Vespa's and Lambretta's.

I was still several years away from having my very first bike, a Honda S (for Super or Sport) 90 but I was already hooked!  I'd ride my (pedal) bike to Klatt's HD off 95th street, Alberta Cycle on 118th and when I could get there, United Cycle on White Avenue.

I've elaborated in this blog previously  Kelly, my teenage neighbor fantasy girlfriend, whose boyfriend rode a CB 160 Honda with the mufflers hack sawed off at the header.  He was the "Arthur Fonzerelli" before there was an Arthur Fonzerelli.

How can a young boy, whose hormones were already bubbling if not raging not have a fantasy that included girls, British bikes and was riding on rural roads pushing my BSA to the Ton?

Fast forward 50 some years.


Where has the time gone eh?  After decades in the M/C business and having ridden everything from 50's to Rocket Threes... I have in my living room  two vintage Passport step through scooters and and in my garage a SYM 300.  Sure I also have a vintage BSA and a more modern but still retro Triumph Thunderbird.

Hormones if not exactly raging are still quietly idling along with the occasional burst of WFO!

Okay, this is not a blog about sex, but it's very interesting that riding pushes many of the same buttons.  Go on, try to ignore it, it can't be done.


It rained all night, I been listening to the rain which has been falling for more than 24 hours now.  Not much chance of riding off into the sunrise at this rate.

Last weekend I managed a quick trip on what should have been to sunny and warm days.  The forecast had called for 18C Saturday and 20 Sunday but under blue skies all the way from Saint John back to the Island.  I haven't had much opportunity to see William, Rick and Lisa with the various issues going on in my life but this weekend posed an opportunity.

When was the last time you've had to stop for a train, think about it?

I've been having problems with my right hip, bursitis I was recently told, so I chose my SYM 300 Citicom.  This Taiwanese scooter has the best weather protection of all my bikes and that includes the V Strom.  The windshield is close, there are guards for the hands and legs and lots of storage room even though I was traveling light.  Being a cross between a regular scooter and a motorcycle and the coolish riding at highway speeds it was a logical choice. Besides, I didn't plan on riding the entire trip on the THC... once past Moncton NB, I could begin riding the paved but rural country lanes and roads, which is exactly what I did.

Pretty as a picture...

No idea where I am??
I peeled off the main drag after a fruitless search to find my way around construction sites in the City to Motoplex (wanted to look at a BMW 800 there) and headed for the 'old road' up an along the ridge.  This route used to be the main cross Canada highway when I first traveled here in the mid seventies.  Lined with Motels, and gas stations then, it has mostly reverted to woods, the many Motels long gone into history.

Before long I was in quiet back country keeping my speed under 100kph, consistent with the rough quality of the pavement which see's little improvement now that it has been surpassed by the multi lane TCH.  The advantage of riding the old highway was less traffic and the many small towns along the route.

Riding the rural Maritime provinces, is a real sweet treat.  Case in point... riding to Lisa's place in St John (Rothesay) can be a 3 hour ride, or it could be a 6 (or more) hour ride.  Your choice.

Old Honda... older  BSA
I can ride to Cape Breton in an afternoon, Peggy's Cove 3 hours direct, Lunenburg 4 hours or 8, just choose the route you most like.

There are thousands of kilometers of coast, even some remnants of mountains (the Appalachians)

My GPS girl was having a fit trying her best to send me back to the highway.

Her exasperation's were pretty obvious to me, as she kept telling me to...

'Turn right, then turn right' or ' Turn around when possible'

Late in the afternoon I pulled off at the junction of ... but that's another story... :)

* Lots of early Brit settlement here.

Friday, June 8, 2018

On the road to Globe (and beyond)

Globe overnighter

IT was mid afternoon as I approached Globe AZ, for the very first time.  Right around 'rush hour' but there didn't some to be much congestion as I rolled into town at the lights of 188 and US 60. 

I had scouted some hotel/motels out over the net the couple of days previous.  The most likely prospect was not the one I had picked the weekend before.  It looked terribly rustic, the parking lot was empty and my concern before I left home was the ability or inability to load/off load the XT.  I continued through the 'city' and came across my alternate pick, the would be a Motel 6 right on US 60/70 before it branches off on 77 south to my turnaround at Winkelman, but not before I did the Pinal Pass.

After passing the Pass... I would pick up the Gila River and follow it right into the Junction of 77 and 177 at Winklemen.   Doing so would take me through a wide open pit mining area, which obvious to me, had seen both boom and bust cycles! 

I followed the Gila river at different places, what a surprise!
Today's all paved route on secondary highways would be hot and dry under an unrelenting Arizona sun on my Yamaha. Before the day was out, I would pass by or ride through Hayden Junction, Kearny, Ray Junction, Sonora and finally Superior, where I'd return to AZ 60 for the final 25 miles climbing through awesome canyons before a flurry of small towns... Miami, Clayton and Midland City, brought me back to the Motel 6 and Globe.

A little more rugged.

Even though this leg wouldn't have any pure off road riding* (there was a reason for that as I would find out later) the hot dry temperatures, the pretty scenery, the feeling of having traveled back in time at least 30-40 years, made my trip most enjoyable and memorable.

THE staff at Motel 6 and especially my new buddy Manny were most helpful in accommodating me to ease loading and unloading the trail bike. I was able to secure a room at the very top of their complex well above road level at US 70.  I was able to back the Dakota  up with the tailgate down, and basically roll the bike on or off.  This was crucial, my bum hip registering in my brain at "PAIN LEVEL 6" and rising!  I didn't think I had enough left in my 'energy' tank to deal with banging through creek beds and climbing and descending trails.  Part of enjoyable motorcycling is knowing when to hold up, when to fold up and when to walk away!

Beautiful riding country, you see so much more off road.

The room was spartan but I wouldn't have expected anything elaborate, after all it was a M 6 right.  It was tidy, had a hot shower that I pummeled myself with and the overnight rate didn't break the bank which with a 30 percent exchange rate was very important.

Manny even gave me 10% off the rate unasked seemingly sincerely interested in my travels as both a motorcyclist and a Canadian.

I did a final check over of the bike and gear and turned in for the night... early.  (Hey... I'm 63 right, I get tired easier now)

Early the next morning I kick-started the 350 and we coasted down the hill to the highway.  It was already warm and it would get much warmer as the day progressed.

Free flowing Gila river

No problem with the turn off to Pinal Pass on US 70.  The sun was fully up and getting hotter by the mile.  I cruised through beautiful desert country, with little traffic in either direction.  It was obvious to me that this route that ultimately would have carried me to Tucson and beyond. Much as I wanted to check out 'Dudleyville' I opted to turn north at Winkleman.

Fast flowing and lots of water here!

Humanity in the way of subdivisions, towns and cars were pretty thin on the ground, XT burbling on at an even 50 mph with the tallish gearing I had last installed keeping the revs acceptable low on the four stroke single, which by the way has plenty of torque at these reduced speeds and happy taking the wide well paved corners at these speeds.

Teachers were on strike in Az while I was there. 

I pulled off in Hayden Junction for a little shade and a snack, sitting on a bench under some shade, as two big ADV bikes rolled by.  Funny, I felt absolutely no shame in riding my 300 lb 350 instead a big brute of an "Adventure bike".

Lots of railway around the mines.

On this side of the Gila valley, the road surface is a bit more used, the railway carrying copper ore no doubt much busier than say the ride down on 77.  The country was wide open, BIG SKY country and I felt terribly humble to be here doing this, when so many of the people I know are tied to a job 9-5 trying to earn a living.

WHEN I reached Superior, I missed the turn off and a quick U turn had me back on 60.  As I was picking up speed and climbing, I felt like turning around, should have stopped in downtown Superior, but if you have traveled here before, you know the new route 60 parallels the old route and between the vestiges of the old highway and the fantastic scenery on the climb out, left me speechless.

Too awesome for mere words.

Do the words drop dead gorgeous mean anything to you... ?

I found an old state park.  Pulling off the road, I went for a look see.  You see I had camping gear along, too much of for traveling by bike only but with the mule of a Dakota, I had splurged and brought along my little 4 lb single person tent, a cooler bag and cushions.  In the campground there were sites with stoves but no services.  Bonus though it had trails!

Gas prices were riding weekly

At Miami I pulled off to fill the Yamaha once again, averaging about 82 mpg (IMP) giving me a range of about 175 miles before needing to replenish the fuel.  I must admit I kind of pigged out sitting on the curb and eating some real food, washed down by an iced coffee, a summer treat for the Dr.

I passed a huge Walmart before getting to the M 6 again, where I loaded the bike and swung her west back towards Superior to the campsite I had stumbled on. By mid afternoon I had picked out a spot and set up the tent under, oddly enough, wind picking up the pace.  Once settled, I went for a walk and found remnants of the old route 60 just about a hundred yards from where I was camped!  I actually went for a late afternoon walk in the general area and was very excited about riding some of the old road and some other trails I had found in my walk.

My camp out didn't go so well...

As I was descending the hill back of my site I see  my 4 lb tent blown over and fortunately caught among some trees down the valley from where the Dakota was parked.  Even though I had stacked some softball sized rocks on each corner, the elevated windy conditions had blown the thing away.

Finishing off the last of my real food I was getting settled in for the night when I found that my pillows (yes, pillows) had been left home in the shuffle!  Do you know how uncomfortable it is not being able to lay your head on a pillow? I rolled up my jeans which were a very poor substitute.  But wait... it gets worse!  Remember this blog is mostly about riding and misadventures and here I am in high country in a tiny tent, with no pillows and winds getting very gusty.  I'm thinking , this is not good, maybe even bad but tomorrow I will at least explore the local trails, after all I'm not on a schedule right!

This is part of the old/old route 60, I'd like to follow it some day.

By 11 pm it is near gale force and I should know I live on an Island in the Atlantic right... and to make things even most uncomfortable as trying to sleep with no pillow in a gale when the skies open up!

So now it's flapping like crazy, wind howling in the high country and monsoon season. 

It's generally accepted that a desert see's less than 10" of rain a year.  I think I got 5 of those inches that night.  Even though I had set up my camp on a slight down slope there was so much rain that I abandoned the tent at 4 am when I realized my legs with near frozen and I was soaked from the waist down!

At 4 am I gave up and moved into the truck.

No the Dakota has a crew cab and bucket seat in the front, in the rear there is a bench seat which could have sufficed for a temporary bed had it not had a major 30 degree slope to it.

... and... even worse (yes worse) I am chattering my teeth and knocking my knees so hard near hypodermic that trying to sleep in the truck with the heater on and the engine running is just wearing me out, finishing me off in deed.

Finally the conversation I had been having with myself, "Oh it will be fine once that beautiful Arizona sun comes back in the morning, I can get on my bike and check out the hood, ride the abandoned route 60 and all this will be forgotten."

Blue sky over a hundred degrees and lots of it!
By 5 30 I had packed up in a rather haphazard fashion and heading west to Phx!

No idea...

Good thing the Dakota had just as good a heater as the A/C unit.

The sun didn't come out till I had turned onto I - 10 heading home and I got to enjoy the A/C again in, you guessed it, a city wide rush hour.

* Turns out that a) I have bursitis of the right hip, can be very painful, and... after a ridiculously expensive ambulance ride my last Saturday night/Sunday morning, thinking I was having appendicitis, excruciating pain forced me to call my insurer (at 1 am my local) which got me to a Phx hospital where I was cat scanned, only to find I have Kidney Stones!  Even more painful!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Wow... two posts in one day... will the real Dr.N. please stand up!

EVERY now and again I am in need of reminding myself 'why I continue to write this blog?'

Occasionally someone either emails me or I meet and am asked why I don't have more supporters.

It's been suggested to me that I could have a lot more 'views' and thousands more readers if I were to allow advertisements on the blog and commercialize it, you know dress it up with fancy stuff and flashy graphics and maybe even do a U Tube thing.

I will attempt to clarify this.

Divvie in Italy

Back in the years just after the last ice age (it seems) I was riding around in old / New Europe.  I had planned doing that since I ordered my 1973 BMW R60/5 from Alberta Cycle at age 18 on the European delivery plan. Which btw was thwarted by my brother in law and father, putting me to work right after high school.  I was informed (chuckle) that I was going to apprentice as a machinist starting the day after I closed my books.

What I wanted was to ride long distances and of course having been born in Hungary in the mid fifties, I felt a pull to return.  You see, our family left the country along with 249,996 other Hungarians shortly after the death of the biggest mass murderer in history, *Uncle Joe Stalin, the (real) man of steel! We left the country as the Russians pulled in, sparking a major uprising, some would call it a revolution, followed by plenty of Molotov cocktails and shooting at anything with a red star.

Unfortunately all that was quickly overshadowed days later as the Suez Canal seizure took place.

*Now some have argued that Genghis Khan held the number one spot but I really don't think there was 60-70 million people on the planet back then. I'm sure if the Mongols had more people, tanks and MG 42's, their numbers would have been inflated as well.

A n y w a y...

I digress, but you see I am allowed because this is my Blog.

The Citicom 300i in summer lupins

Okay... so I bought a very pretty Yamaha 1993 XJ 600... what we called the Seca II after the famous California racetrack and over the pond, they knew it as the Diversion.  I bought the Diversion that I called "Little Red" and was riding it over two seasons to places like Istrea, the various mountain ranges, Elba (do I need to explain the significance of that Island?) the Brandenburg gate, Budapest and Athens... drinking Americano coffee and pretty much doing what I wanted to. Which is important to me.

Being pre, what I like to affectionately call, the "Smarterthani" phone era, I found myself holing up at some Alpine hotel or Spanish hostale or some French B&B, trying to send an email on a keyboard based on a language I didn't know.  Or the keyboard would be damaged, or it didn't want to load my photos.  The tipping point was A Rua Spain when I found a bar down the main street and trying to decipher a key board that was missing keys and doing my best to get a few pictures added, while costing me about 5 Euro's per hour, three quarters of which was wasted, Holly suggest that instead of me writing 20 emails and trying to upload pictures of different things, places, sights etc... she says...

"Dad, why don't you just do a blog?"

Now I had heard of blogs but the mechanics of it was beyond me, she says "I'll set it up for you..." and I began this Blog.

From the beginning it was a far better way to communicate with people back home and those I was meeting abroad.  All I had to do was plug in my camera (remember them?) download some photos onto the Blog and presto... I just saved myself hours of frustration and keyboarding!

I could sit down at the hotel in the French Alps, or at an internet cafe in Portugal and in a much shortened time frame, inform my friends and family where I was, what I was doing and that I was still alive (many thought I wouldn't make it) and after tapping out a blog... I could reward myself with a local dinner and a cold beer.

The Rocky Mountains, a fitting backdrop for a big bore single

From those days, I have written over 600 posts, loaded thousands of photographs and had over 60,000 views.  Sixty three thousand and thirty two in fact, and counting. Some people rely on my keeping this up to get their jollies and because I have resisted commercializing it I can say what I want as I want it and sometimes even beat my drum while standing atop my soap box.

To be perfectly honest, I couldn't care less about the thousands of topics that are blogged every day.

I'm happy when I see viewers from France, Italy the U.K. Germany, the USA and even Russia.  I love getting comments but couldn't care less if I didn't.

If the video technology had come out sooner, I'd be Vlogging no doubt.  At 63 years of age having been carried from the country of my birth in a potato sack in the dead of night*, to say nothing of my satisfaction in riding motorcycles since 1968 and having had the opportunity to be a father, a racer, and now a grandfather, spent time in Baja, and more recently Arizona, and living once again on a lovely little jewel of an Island and yes having overheard a tourist one day in a local restaurant ask the server if PEI, having a bridge connecting it to New Brunswick, was still an Island?

For those of you that like reading my drivel... thanks and keep doing it.  

Bet you thought I was going to have to tackle a Gila Monster barehanded didn't you?

Longest single span suspension bridge in the US and one of the 12 most amazing bridges in the country

MY 1998 Yamaha XT 350 air cooled, double overhead cam, 4 valve shim over bucket, Mono-X rear suspension, right side up forks in fork boots up front and approximately 10" of travel and 6 speed transmission with altered gearing... is an excellent tool for the kind of riding in the outback of Arizona CA and Baja I prefer.  Newer bikes frankly have few advantages and many disadvantages over my 20 year old Yamaha.  

Old Reliable  Dusty from its ordeal.
Trusty Dakota

Sure I could have a WR/CR 450 Baja kitted, for the road but why?  More complexity equal more possibility for a failure, a damaged radiator, failed water pump, seat height.  In return I get more power than I ever use out there.  Some of my very best off road rides in North America have been on simple and often aged machinery that I keep well tuned and in top condition.  For example, it may be a bit of a hassle to kick start the engine (does anybody remember those days?) but the 3 amp battery is about the size of two cigarette packs together (does anybody remember cigarette packages?) 

Besides that weight reduction and potential problem area, I can start and operate the 350 with a dead battery.

That's straight up folks!

Many years ago I did a week long adventure ride in southern BC after trucking two XT 225's, 500 miles to do this.  Turned out my Serow had a dead battery and in those days replacements for then then new BS sealed batteries were very scarce.  Fortunately the bike weighs leas than 250 pounds and I always stopped in an area where the bike could be push started or rolled to start.  I never stopped in a ravine or valley on that trip.

Descent to Fish Creek

Having the use of a Dodge Dakota pick up truck I loaded the bike onto the short bed diagonally and my gear including camping stuff, into the rear cabin.

Down we go :)

I left Glendale (which is diagonally opposite of the area I was headed to) in the wee hours of the morning just after sun rise and traversed the freeways to the city of Apache Junction.  From here I headed to Tortilla Flats and the Apache Trail, just so I could see that amazing canyon at Fish Creek.

Lots of these in the area

I took a bunch of photos again, not sure why as I have pics from several previous visits, dreamed what it may have been like for the Hohokam and the later Apache tribes that inhabited the area well before the 'white-man and woman' arrived.  Often in our air conditioned cars and homes that alter our living space we forget that for thousands of years, these areas had little running water, were even drier and more arid than today and life as it were, was full of hardship and danger.

Even in the early 1900's the trip via wagon train from Payson took days and was fraught with danger.  

I stopped at the final look out before entering Fish Creek from the top headed down, not another vehicle or soul about (except for the spirits from centuries past) and of course was immediately smacked upside the head by the suffocating heat.  Out here even in early May, temperatures are well into three digits and I was glad the old Dodge while not perfect, did have a working A/C unit.

The road is little used and to be honest, more scary going down than riding the bike.  There is precious little room but the descent (or ascent) is simply... fabulous!  

After more photos (thank goodness for digital camera's) I drove the 20 odd miles of the gravel Apache Trail for what seems like two hours, and I emerged at the Teddy Roosevelt dam.  An impressive structure as these things tend to be, it was the gateway for my planned circumnavigation of the lake, something I have been meaning to do for some years. 

T.R. Dam
After a few more photos and once again thankful of the coolness of the truck, I turned south on 188 , headed to the village where I checked in with the local tourist information center.  Most people that come here do so for the water sports recreation offered by the large lake.  I was looking for a different perspective, wanting to find a place to unload the bike and ride around the lake, a distance of some.  I had wonderful memories as I rode south on 188 as I passed Tonto National Monument and another trip I had written about some years ago. (CB issue #307 December 2014 Rolling up the Rim) 

I followed the lonely highway some dozen or so miles through the desert until arriving at State route 288 which gradually climbs from the Salt Lake river valley up into the Mogollon Rim.  

The overnight trip previously was an eye opener.  During the 500 miles I put on the XT on that trip I had climbed into pine forest at 8000' and stopped at Young for some nostalgic history of the worst range wars in Arizona, where the Tewksbury and Graham family succeeded n killing themselves off.

Very modern tourist information in Roosevelt AZ

Good thing I get along with my neighbors on County Line Road, the Grahams...

I found one of many basic pull offs used by locals for picnicking or fishing in the Salt, unloaded the bike and in the 110F heat, pulled on my gear.  To be perfectly 'frank'  I was already drenched by the time I had my ICON boots secured.

Locked up, I found my way back to 288 and turned left... over the Salt River and the climb up toward the NW side of the Lake, which by the way, is the largest lake in Arizona!

I made certain my bike was in good order, no spits or pops from the exhaust, tires were good and handling and braking were in proper order.

Picking up FSR 60 on the climb, known locally as the A-Cross road, I saw no one until arriving back at 188 on the NW corner of the lake.  This route was not difficult (except for the washboard sections) and would be passable in dry (who am I kidding, there's less than 10" of rainfall a year!) conditions by the family sedan.  Only a few spots were loose golf ball sized rocks and going slow, the family SUV could easily manage this.

Does it get better than this... Sunny warm and a great Dual Purpose bike 
Right away I realized that this route is much better ridden clockwise.  Riding it in a counter clockwise direction I missed out on the views.

Note to self.

Salt River Old powerhouse

The washboard sections were rough, but limited to corners and hills for the most part.  In fact it was so rough in some places I realized I had inadvertently lost my slime and tire sealant somewhere from my tail box!

I knew I was close to civilization at Methodist Creek, the ride widened and was better graded.  After a short detour to Indian Point, where I realized I could not cross... I eventually back tracked and picked up state highway 188 once again.

Once back on pavement I turned up the dial to an even 60 mph and by late afternoon I was back loading my bike back onto Dakota but not before experiencing a rare misstep for me.

Crossing the Roosevelt Bridge, I pulled off to the right onto the narrow shoulder.  I misjudged the camber of the pavement and upon putting my left leg out to support XT and I, found it to be just an inch or so short.  For any of you that have done this, that inch is pretty much enough to topple me over.  With a toenail on the ground leaned over to the left I thought I might be able to save it but about 10 seconds of struggling right at the tipping point, I was out of strength and over we went!

Old dirt bike trick, loosen levers just in case.

No damage was done to either bike or body but once again I am reminded how easy it is to spill, even went stopped!
Found in excellent tourist info, Roosevelt

With everything secure and the A/C doing double duty I bid farewell to the SL valley and headed out to 188 and beyond Globe which I hoped to reach by early evening.  Still on the ups and downs of a well paved 288, lo and behold I spot one of, if not the most rare of the SW desert creatures.

Vast vista's.

I pull off the highway, grabbed my camera and walk back the 50 yards or so to my very first and likely last genuine Arizona, Sonora desert Gila Monster. 

After waving two cars around him as he plodded his way across the road in no particular line, crossing the yellow line several times, I found a short piece of sturdy brush and gently veered him off the highway, twice he stopped and refused to continue turning around and hissing audibly at my intrusion into his life.  Of course I was convinced that had I not pulled over, his life would have been moments away from squished!

I was stoked beyond words!

Interesting side note... where he eventually made it to the should, and in the fe seconds I took to dispose of the brush in my hand, I could not fine him/her.  The 16 inch long Monster just vanished into the surround undergrowth.

One of , if not the Most rarest of desert creatures.

Can you imagine how stoked I was getting back into the truck.  I've been traveling s down here and never had I seen a live and intact Gila Monster.  Apparently they are incredibly rare and most locals will go a lifetime without seeing one outside a zoo.  

I smiled all the way to Globe!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Gila Monster Lives!

SEVERAL years back, during a late November ride, I had mapped a route that would get me out to some Jeep trails and also allow me a shake down cruise of a couple hundred miles (or more).  From my home in Glendale in the early morning, before traffic begins in earnest... I would ride directly across greater Phx on surface streets to Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd and then head out on the Beeline highway.

Entering the Superstitions

Self explanatory

If you have never been to Phx or most any large urban city in the US of A, my experience riding in Arizona or Southern California generally includes riding on various freeways, which of course is not what the XT 350 was designed for.  Street legal yes, but also basically a TT 350 off road play bike.

Because of the need to ride so much urban area to get me off road, I bought the used XT for just this purpose, a dual purpose you might say:)  I had owned a TT 350 some years ago during the early 90's and found it to be a remarkable trail bike.  Lot's of grunt, easy to start (automatic de-compressor helps)

Famous Tortilla flats and the end of pavement
The only disadvantage was the rather tall seat height which typically required me to find a rut/rock/curb or other such obstacle that would assist me when at a standstill especially when starting the engine.  I liked the decent suspension, the plastic fuel tank of the TT and the 6 speed transmission not to mention for it's day, a thoroughly modern DOHC 4V engine.

For my late November ride, I chose a route that would take me out of Phoenix central, up through the mountains into the Mogollon Rim and the city of Payson.

As it turned out with the jetting problems I was having and the low gearing supplied by the last owner of the bike being a hindrance, I made a mid route decision in fact literally at the last minute, engine bucking with the ahem... modified features of the bike attributed to the previous owners obsession with lean burning engines to pass emission  testing. and turned off State route 87 onto route 188.

The significance of this over the last few years being that I absolutely loved this area which included the Tonto National Forest, Roosevelt Dam, a spectacular bridge and of course the Apache Trail... leading me back unexpectedly, into the city of Apache Junction and home on the bed of a trailer when I suffered a puncture.  (I wrote that story in CB issue 290 "Karma on the Apache Trail" April 2013)

That trip was only an appetizer if you can call a road that, given that it was almost completely on paved roads with the occasional detour on a FSR* into the hinterland.  Only a chance meeting with a helpful KLR rider, who I just happened on packing his camera as I was shutting down on a gravel pull out ultimately contributed to my desire to explore this area in depth. He pointed out that my rear tire was looking flat and sure enough, it was.  With his help and a bottle of Slime and an air pump, I was able to continue homeward.

Overlooking an arm of Apache Lake

My planned ride to Payson, changed by circumstance into a detour onto 188 from where I heading in the direction of Globe until I was forced into a further detour onto the 23 mile gravel section known as the Apache Trail from where I was, through the Apache river valley bisecting this area of the famous Superstition mountains.

Fast forward.

Since that fateful trip, I have covered much of the back country in the vicinity, several times traversing the Superstitions to such places as Payson, Young, Tortilla Flats and of course the Mogollon Rim.  This... was real Out West Country up until fairly recently not much more than 50 years ago.  Even in modern day Arizona, residents are still independent and although F 150's have replaced "Old Paint", modern day Arizonan's are still packing heat!  This is a state that has very liberal gun laws and you will often be greeting by signage indicating that "Guns are not allowed" in restaurants, stores and some public buildings.  There is so much gun activity out there that if you could somehow collect all the millions of brass casing from spent cartridges... you'd probably retire as a millionaire!

Fish Creek valley floor

I had ridden the Apache Trail from east to west and back now, several times.  If I rode this route a dozen more times, I wouldn't tire of it.

Roosevelt Lake part of the Salt River system

From the deep blue of the reservoir of Roosevelt Lake, the winding river valleys that alternate from road level to high up in the mountains where the Lost Dutchman found his Eldorado and then lost it for all history, to the absolutely amazing canyon of Fish Creek.  In perpetual shade, the thousand foot high sheer cliff face provides a cool departure from the typical Arizona heat which can easily get into 120F temperatures. Caves abound and the dry riverbed is not far from the relative lushness of the river and the various lakes that are part of the Salt River project.

Down into Fish Creek

Over the years I have ridden on highway 87, 188, 288 down the Mogollon Rim, but had never completed the circumnavigation of the largest Lake in the State nor have I been to Globe.  After moving back into my place this April, and having the benefit of my friendly neighbor Judy's brother's truck, I was determined to link up a few more paved roads via the unpaved back roads and trails.

I don't know how much longer I will be coming the thousands of miles from my northern home to my southern home, so covering ground is a priority for me in what little time I may have left to do such exploring.  I maintain that even if we had 10 lifetimes, you would never see all the wonders the planet has for us mere humans.

... to be continued

The desert calls to me!