Monday, April 29, 2019

230 mile loop to Flagstaff and home

Everything came together today for a gorgeous ride:  sunny skies, warm temperatures, and the pollen count was down. After a colder and snowier winter than usual, we've been waiting for a day like this! We were hungry for long stretches of road with no traffic in sight, winding our way through the mountains, twisting through canyons, and enjoying the sunshine on our faces.

We decided on a familiar and favorite route for our first day-long trip of 2019 to Flagstaff for lunch and then home. We started northeast from Prescott to Camp Verde, then east on AZ 260 through the pine forests.

Even though it was a beautiful Sunday, we had the road basically to ourselves as we climbed up into the cooler mountains.

We were hoping to see elk, but only spied the occasional hawk floating on the updrafts.

We turned onto Lake Mary Road, excited to see the higher water levels in the Upper Lake due to the heavier snowfall this winter. A dam built on Walnut Creek in 1905 led to the development of Upper Lake Mary, used as a water reservoir for Flagstaff.

You can see the snowy peaks of Mt. Humphrey's in the far distance, and as we road north toward Flagstaff the mountains loomed larger.

Lower Lake Mary often has less water than it's larger sister, but today the lake was a beautiful blue color due to the higher water levels.

We stopped at The Tourist Home Cafe in Flagstaff, a favorite lunch spot for the homemade bread and huge dessert display. Skip the chain restaurants and fast food places, and check out the funky south side of the train tracks in Flagstaff for great food.

Our route home led us through the 12 mile long scenic drive on 89A through Oak Creek Canyon, a 2-lane paved road that twists, turns, and snakes around hair-pin turns with steep red rocks on both sides on the way to Sedona.

Oak Creek Canyon is 2000' deep, and the popular Slide Rock State Park. This land was once an apple orchard homesteaded by the Pendley family in the early 1900's and became a state park in 1987. In the summer hundreds of people come here to slide through the water on the slick rocks.

We enjoyed sweeping through the canyon without much traffic until we came to an abrupt stop. For the next mile into Sedona it was stop and go traffic, giving us time to look out over the canyon and search for the elusive wildflowers that bloom in the desert. Sedona is always crowded, and what seems like hundreds of roundabouts and the slow moving traffic make us anxious to get through town as quickly as possible.

We continued south on 89A through Cottonwood into the historic old copper mining town of Jerome, perched high on the mountain ahead of us. We were lucky that there wasn't much traffic on the steep and narrow streets in Jerome, and we quickly left the quirky town behind us.

Coming down 89A from Jerome toward Prescott we got stuck behind a few slow-moving cars, and once they pulled over Mike took advantage of the open space, leaning into the twisties and zooming our way down the mountain.

Our 230 mile ride over 5 1/2 hours today made us hungry for more motorcycle riding and the opportunity to savor familiar routes plus explore new territory on the BMW.

Here's a map of our ride today. Have fun!