We decided the hot weather - temperatures in the high 90's today in Prescott - wasn't going to stop us from riding the BMW. The question was: where to go? Flagstaff, at 7000' feet elevation is cooler, but we didn't have enough time today. Going south to lower elevations where the temperatures would be well over 100 degrees simply wasn't option. We decided to ride on familiar roads to a new destination: pie in Wikieup.
Bright, Arizona blue skies and twisty 2-lane paved roads with almost no traffic made this a zen-like ride. Usually we see several groups of motorcycles on this route, but today we saw only one other bike, a Harley, which we quickly passed.
We headed west on Iron Springs road out of Prescott, riding through the Prescott National Forest. We're currently in Stage II fire restrictions which basically mean we can't do anything that might cause a spark: campfires, charcoal fires, outdoor smoking, operating equipment like chainsaws, and even our town's 4th of July fireworks have been cancelled. All the vegetation is various shades of brown, with a few green bushes scattered around as a reminder that once the monsoon rains start, the desert will come to life again.
Iron Springs road becomes Yavapai County Road 10, and we periodically ride across cattle guards. Instead of miles of fences to keep cattle off the road, cattle guards are basically a series of metal pipes laid across the road over a ditch. When cattle (or people with smaller feet, like me) try to cross, their legs fall into the openings between the pipes and they are stuck. Cattle learn not to cross cattle guards, and I've learned to walk around them.
In Kirkland we turn right onto AZ 96 west, with the highway snaking through the mountains. It seems like we would be climbing higher in elevation, but actually Prescott is at 5500' and we descended through Skull Valley at 4260', Kirkland at 3900' and Hillside at 3850'. A few miles past Hillside we turned onto AZ-97 south for about 14 miles. This is one of our favorite motorcycle roads, reminding us of a roller coaster as we zoom down hills through areas marked 'do not enter when flooded', then zip back up the next hill. There are no straight stretches of road here, and we see only one car over the 14 miles of up and down, twisty fun.
AZ-97 takes us to US-93, a 4-lane divided highway which is the main road between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Luckily we only have about 30 miles to ride through the Big Sandy Valley in the Mohave Desert to Wikieup, a town of less than 200 residents. Wikieup is a Mohave word for 'shelter' or 'home'. In the winter, hundreds of RVs make their home here, but today it was 102 degrees and there were no RVs in sight.
We stopped at the Cool Water Cafe, part of the Hidden Oasis RV Park for lunch, sort of on purpose. I had heard that there was a great restaurant in Wikieup with amazing pie, and when Mike googled restaurants in Wikieup he found the Cool Water Cafe advertising pie and thought this was it. After all, how many restaurants can there be in the tiny town of Wikieup? (apparently there are 5). I saw a sign for Luchia's 4 miles down the road and realized THIS was the restaurant I'd heard of. It was hot, we were hungry, and the Cool Water Cafe had pie. We made a quick decision to stop and enjoyed our lunch of a sub for Mike and panini for me, with homemade blackberry pie for dessert. We were the only people in the Cafe and chatted with the owner about the numerous solar-powered bobble heads on the window sill next to our table as she made our lunch.
After cooling off with ice cold water and lemonade in the air-conditioned cafe, we retraced our route, climbing from 2000' elevation in Wikieup back to the cooler 5500' elevation in Prescott.
At one point today Mike said it felt like he was riding through hot air powered by a hair dryer, and I said it felt more like a convection oven. We're not about to let the heat stop us from enjoying the BMW and the Arizona countryside. Especially when there is pie involved.