Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Prescott AZ to Farmington NM via the scenic route

We never take the Interstate or the direct route unless it absolutely can't be avoided. Today we rode 4 miles of a total 413 miles on Interstate 40. The rest of the time we wound our way along the Mogollon Rim that forms the high edge of the Colorado Plateau, through the tiny yet famous town of Winslow, Arizona; along miles and miles of straight road through the little traveled Hopi and Navajo Nations, next to the breathtaking Canyon de Chelly, over the remote Buffalo Pass through the Lukachukai Mountains, and finally next to the massive Shiprock in New Mexico.

413 miles, 10 hours, two motorcycles. It's a fantastic start to a week-long trip into Colorado.

The beginning of July is the start of monsoon season in the Southwest when we get the bulk of the rain for the entire year. Overcast and cloudy skies kept the temperature reasonable, with highs in the mid-90's. We came prepared with rain gear, and needed it for only a short time as we headed north toward Canyon de Chelly. The winds picked up, the temperature dropped 30 degrees to 65, and we were pelted with big, fat raindrops for a few miles. The only downside to the rain and wind was that the waterproof cover for the Viking Cruise Roll Bag given to us by Motorcycle House a couple of months ago flew off the bike despite using the bungee cord to tie it down as securely as possible.

The rain stopped just as we turned off Route 12 onto the twisty paved road that leads to the Antelope House overlook which gave us the opportunity to climb over the wave-patterned rocks and peer cautiously over the steep cliffs down into the canyon.

Ancient Puebloans built stone houses and farmed in the canyon until the mid-1300's. They were followed by the Hopi and then the Navajo, who continue to live here today.

We wanted to show Tom and Christine the Lukachukai Mountains on Navajo Route 13 that follows Buffalo Pass. We discovered this 2-lane paved road filled with hairpin turns and climbing to over 8000' elevation in May, and looked forward to riding it again. The towering red rocks, sculpted into formations ranging from smooth, horizontal waves to rough towers that resemble sandcastles, rise over the tall pine trees.

These videos give you my pillion-seat perspective of the twisting hairpin curves and scenery as we descended down Buffalo Pass:

We ended the day riding past Shiprock, the remaining center core of an extinct volcano that rises 1500' above the surrounding landscape. It's a focal point for the Navajo and can be seen for miles. You see it rising up through the clouds as we descend Buffalo Pass in the above video.

Tomorrow we head north into Colorado, looking forward to more mountain passes.

1 comment:

  1. Fun!! Well,maybe not so much the rain, but at least it cooled things off.

    Enjoy the ride and post lots of pictures.