Ummm, I mean Mine. To the Vulture Mine.
WHILE scouting around through my library books (aren't libraries wonderful!) and wanting to test my new gearing on both pavement and off, I was looking for a route, a few days back that would give me some of both.
|Beats me...flood of biblical proportions maybe?|
|15 miles south of Prescott|
As most of my riding is in various local mountain ranges and I can get as high as 8000' on some of the highest trails, at the very least it can be cold and like last year getting to Prescott via the Senator highway* I rode the last 15miles in snow covered switchback mountain road. Not a whole lot of fun gang...
|Go west young man, go west.|
Sure I could restrict my riding here to the SW which is typically warmer but there is little that attracts me besides an entry into Baja via Yuma, in that direction. That and the fact I had hurt my back just days before, dictated a relatively short ride. Eyeballing Google Maps, I found the Toyota proving grounds NW of my home. It looked to be in a fairly well established sub division, laid out more or less on a grid, and if I followed the lines on the map, I could come out on the Vulture Mine road and hopefully visit the Vulture Mine ghost town.
|THE Sub division. looked different on the Google map.|
Their website was pretty interesting, it's one of the better preserved sites in the provin... umm, I mean state, and was about 50 road miles from me, the first of which is divided highway, giving me a chance to see what the new gearing could do without hindering traffic. Route 60 was my entry into the greater Phx area when driving down from Alberta in the "old days" I knew it well and also knew it would be very busy. After all, its the straightest route to Nevada and just across the border at Hoover dam, was Vegas.
|Many abandoned homes.|
If I pulled off 60 at Patton road, I was betting I could find my way through the subdivision to Vulture Mine.
Now of course, the big deal out there is the Toyota test facility, a restricted zone that the biggest manufacturer in the world uses to put various Toyota's through their paces. From my understanding, there is a (very) high speed paved oval, off road sections and various other facilities out there in the desert. I expected, like many other outlying communities that would be accompanied by wide four lane blvds, Lush green grass, golf courses, mega homes on mega lots with tons of toys in driveways, a couple of gas stations and even convenience stores. I had rigged up a portable cigarette light from my battery so I could charge my auto/hand held Tom Tom and get used to using that moving forward.
|Should read Wolsen road. At least there was a sign.|
I knew I was looking for 299 th avenue and from there to Wolsen road, then west to Whispering Ranch road. Piece of cake right... I even took a few minutes to shed my riding jacket and consult Tom. Well Tom was no help at all, showing narrow lines with no names, so I went back to my compass and hand drawn map. I back tracked to 299th and turned north on a dirt road and believe me, road is stretching the truth, it was more a dusty track. I eventually made my way to 307th ave.
I consulted my gps once again, drinking some water while doing it. It showed my little blue Blazer, alone and forlorn with nothing, and I mean nothing, else.
I've tried to explain to people while riding in Baja that common sense, and a compass are still the only way round in places where even gps fears to tread. Best thing I could do was follow my compass heading west and keep coming back to it. I knew from google that eventually if there were enough tracks, I would find my way out to Vulture Mine road.
|Once more, Gold will come outa them hills!|
|VULTURE Mine on Vulture Mine road, south of Wickenburg|
There across from me literally a hundred feet south was two tall poles with fake vultures resting atop and guess what... a closed gate.
|Typical road sign...|
Very congenial 23 year old Eric tells me he's always hankered for a dual purpose bike and was quite interested in my cross country route to get here. He said he is buying an 1100 Shadow from a friend so he can get started on his biking career.
I did manage to take a few photos from a distance, no close-ups, before re mounting and heading north towards the town of Wickenburg.
|Couldn't see much of the Best preserved Ghost town in AZ.|
Vulture Mine road is perfect pavement, smooth, follows the lay of the land unlike interstates that basically 'bore through it'. The XT cruised right along at 50- 60 mph, sweeping curves like a sport bike, torque laden 4 valve engine needing little shifting. I was very pleased with having found my way across and around desert hills and dry arroyos to get to the mine, even if I couldn't scout around the old site.
|Some of the old Mine buildings|
|with my zoom lens.|
Before reaching Wickenburg I detoured off onto the Vulture Peak road and followed that past numerous RV's camped out for the winter it looked like, with many atv's and side by sides in tow. I'd heard people say they park in the AZ desert, set up their solar panels or generators and live there the winter months. Canadian's of course and visitors from Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and other northern states that are in themselves, snow birds.
|Close as I'd get today.|
Finally finding a wide enough place I was able to wrestle the 350 around and eventually get myself out of that ravine. Trust the Doc... a BMW GS anything, V Strom, 1190 KTM, or any of the so called ADV bikes, would have been torched on the spot hoping to attract a local Cessna or F 15 Eagle! My 300 lb Yamaha was plenty to manhandle/ride out of there. I could not even imagine a loaded 650 pound Adventure bike in here. Ewen and Charlie would have been calling in the National Guard, with a chopper!
|And the Earth shook!!!|
*travel guide warns "Don't be fooled, Senator highway is really just a dirt track..."