Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back to the Future!

WHEN I last left you guys in the desert NW of Phoenix, I had just had a self guided tour of the Pioneer cemetery in Congress.

A short scoot down the highway brought me into Wickenburg, a pretty little hamlet about an hour out of Phoenix.

Typically I pass through this quiet little roadside town on my way south from Las Vegas/Kingman via the Hoover dam en-route to Glendale.



HAVING been riding most of the day, I thought I would take a break, fill up the XT and have a bite to eat in one of the many fast food establishments that ring the highway.

It was around four and the sun would set pretty soon at this time of year, slipping beyond the mountains west of town.

There are several choices for my ride back into Glendale proper.  I could choose to stay on route 60, a four lane divided highway that most traffic  used going south.

ALTERNATELY there was route 74,known locally as the "Carefree Highway".  This would allow me to enter the city along a less traveled 2 lane road, depositing me in Peoria, from where I was but a short ride to home.

Then there was the Castle Hot Springs rd.

I hadn't been to this end in a couple of years but I knew the road surface could be rugged, there was a detour north, and it would be far more scenic but much slower as well.


MY Nolan helmet has a tinted visor, not much good when the sun goes down, plus I wore shades to protect my eyes from the strong UV in the US South West.  If I chose this route, I would most likely be riding the last hour in gathering darkness with no eye protection.

In any case I had to leave the Taco Bell and ride.  I had a few miles till I hit 74, and then still more before I had to make a decision on the Castle Hot Springs route.



IT was still incredibly bright, so I took the left lane onto 74, and when I arrived at the junction over the mountains, I didn't even hesitate.  We were off to the Castle HS road.

Apart from many more houses built out there, the ride was familiar, after all I have done it several times since 1998.






THE first couple of miles is built up ranch houses and sprawling acreages, but we soon leave that behind.  The first thing you will notice as you climb higher are the red rocks and canyons.  With fading sunlight setting them on fire, it is truly magnificent.

The road narrows and undulates over mountain tops and canyons, requiring my attention, which by the end of a long day, may leave something to be desired.




SIGNS warn road users of the hazards of this back country travel which to me is the most rewarding.  There are very few vehicles, mostly local ranchers and the odd delivery truck, just peace and quiet to compliment the burbling of the Yamaha beneath me.

I've never counted the corners, after all, what difference would it make, I just enjoy myself immensely being out here, just another creature of nature.




THE deeper, narrow canyons that follow the meandering dry stream bed casts long shadows making photography more challenging.  Sometimes that great shot is spoiled with the photographers shadow.

There is standing or trickling water in the deeper recesses, left overs from the rains and even snow from only days before.





STRANGE the desert is.  Somehow it always amazes me.  I've often wondered what drew me to these places in the beginning.  Maybe it was the cowboy programs on television or the comic books or the stories I read.  I don't know, yet I always manage to come back.

I'm in my late fifties and still love riding out here!

My devil may care antics have been tempered by better judgement, but nevertheless, here I am once again on a road marked with warnings signs.


THERE is no use pondering the "why" just enjoying the "when."

Whenever I am here, I feel peaceful, with a great pride of accomplishment following every ride.

Whatever it maybe, I crave this sitting atop a two wheeled stallion, riding places most only read about.





BEHOLD... Lake Pleasant has plenty of water once again!  Strange.  Less than one year ago, it was full, some months later, the water had retreated leaving 60 foot high dry banks, and after a winter... plenty of fisherman and boaters doing their form of peace and quiet.

Mother earth and yes even our own ingenuity never cease to amaze me, maybe we will survive into the distant future yet...




IN the dry riverbed are a family of burros.  Mostly wild now, these are the descendants of prospectors animals generations ago.  Using my long lens on the Canon... I get decent shots of this small group far in the distance.  They seem so gentle, free now to roam the countryside.  Only a few days before I was watching the local news with a story of a similar group being slaughtered by a thoughtless idiot. 

Once again I am reminded of the cruelness of some.  Protected as these simple content, gentle creatures are, not harming anyone, there are those that have no more brains that the typical ass, killing these animals for no reason at all.

I arrive home in the dark, my only light, the artificial man made creations powered by the force of water from the Hoover Dam, several hundred miles distant, that line 59th Avenue.


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