Sunday, June 10, 2018

Overnight BMW motorcycle ride to Cottonwood

We're planning a cross-country motorcycle trip later this summer, and decided to try out the new Mosko Moto soft-sided bags on an overnight trip.

We often ride to Cottonwood, about 40 miles away, for a quick day trip and lunch at Bocce where we can sit outside and enjoy one of their fantastic thin crust pizzas and interesting salads. Cottonwood has developed into one of the premier wine-tasting areas in Arizona, featuring Arizona-grown grapes and local wines. Since we don't drink alcohol when riding the BMW, we decided to spend the night and take advantage of walking around Old Town Cottonwood, sampling wine, listening to music, and trying out some of the other restaurants.

We left home about 2pm with the temperature hovering around 90℉, knowing it would be warmer in Cottonwood at a lower elevation than our home in Prescott. Luckily, the trip east takes us over Mingus Mountain and through the old copper mining town of Jerome where we enjoyed the cooler breezes as we zoomed up the twisties on 89A.

As we got closer to Jerome, the views opened up to the tall cliffs of the Mogollon Rim in the distant north.

Mike guessed the temperature would be 102℉ in Cottonwood, and he was off by only .5℉; it was 101.5℉.

We stayed at the Iron Horse Inn on Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood. It was originally built in the 1930's as a motor court, and retains the same basic outside look.

After checking in, we walked through wrought iron gates into the shady courtyard, and found our room up a steep flight of cement steps.

Cottonwood was founded in 1874 when soldiers from nearby Camp Verde were stationed here. It took its name from a stand of 16 large cottonwood trees that grew near the Verde River. Historically it was a farming area for the nearby mountain towns, and today it's often used as a stopping off point for people visiting Jerome or Sedona.

Old Town Cottonwood boasts an eclectic mix of boutiques, restaurants, bars, wine-tasting venues and stores selling everything from countertops to locally produced art. We walked down the shady side of Main Street and stopped at The Tavern Grill where we sat outside and enjoyed an appetizer. Then we headed back up the other side of Main Street to the Merkin Vineyards tasting room where we sampled a few of their wines made from grapes grown in the Wilcox area of southern Arizona.

Our next stop was The State Bar, with its all-Arizona beer and wine selection. The Friends of the Verde River were hosting a music fest and fundraiser, and we sat on comfy chairs outside listening to different local bands and DJs. When it came time for a late dinner, we walked 3 blocks to the 3 Kings Kasbar for tapas and dessert.

This morning we ate a delicious breakfast of huevos rancheros for Mike and a breakfast sandwich for me with fresh squeezed orange juice for both of us at the Red Rooster Cafe. We listened to a talented musician who played a variety of different instruments, including bongos, drums, flutes and all kinds of bells and gourds while we enjoyed our breakfast.

We retraced our route from yesterday through Jerome and back home, and since it was fairly early on a Sunday morning, there was almost no traffic to slow us down as Mike swooped through the hairpin turns up and down the mountain.

We rode past one of the closed copper mines that brought thousands of people to this area in the 1920's. Today around 500 people live in Jerome, and hundreds more come here to see the quirky town and shops.

We're lucky to live in this beautiful area of Arizona where people from all over the world come to ride their motorcycles through the Southwest high desert.