It's hard to believe that today, October 18th, is the first overnight motorcycle trip we're taking in 2019. We've been on several day trips, but a combination of bad weather and work have made longer trips impossible this year. Riding through the changing Arizona landscape, from high desert to pine-tree covered mountains, past a huge reservoir, watching the fluffy clouds over the rocky mountains, seeing swirling sand dervishes in the distance, marveling at the fields of cotton made us promise to not let so much time go by before another overnight trip on the BMW.
It was 56 degrees when we left Prescott, and I wore all my motorcycle liners to stay warm as we rode east up and along the pine-tree covered Mogollon Rim to Payson where we turned south on AZ 87, the Beeline Highway. After a few miles riding south and descending 3000' in elevation we stopped to shed the warm liners as we rode through the Tonto Forest in the bright Arizona sunshine. We were reminded about how large Arizona is as we looked far in the distance in every direction and rode 400 miles, all in Arizona. The Tonto Forest itself is over 3 million acres, and is the 5th largest forest in the United States.
Soon after turning south onto AZ 188 we started to see the northern edge of Theodore Roosevelt Lake, formed by a dam on the Salt River in 1911.
Every time I see large lakes in Arizona I get excited because we here in the arid Southwest there simply isn't much water. I started daydreaming about swimming and boating as we rode along the 8 mile long lake.
We turned east onto AZ 70, riding through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation that encompasses over 1 million acres of mountains, forest and scrubby desert.
We watched rain clouds in the distance, and then saw pools of water along the sides of the highway. The last time we rode through this area 3 years ago we were stuck in a torrential downpour. Today we were lucky and missed the rain completely, although we could smell rain in the air. We stopped in Pima at Taylor Freeze, a family owned ice cream and burger spot that's been in business since 1968.
We rode past fields of pima cotton, which gets its name from the Pima Indians who worked with the US Department of Agriculture in the early 1900's to perfect this specific type of high quality cotton.
We continued south on US 191 then rode 50 very windy miles west on I-10 because there simply aren't that many paved roads in this part of the country. Once off I-10 we rode past the Boot Hill cemetery and OK Corral in tourist-crazy Tombstone where you can walk the dusty dirt streets of the old West and watch actors re-enact the famous gunfight.
Finally we came to our destination: Bisbee, founded in the late 1800's as a copper, gold and silver mining town in the Mule Mountains just 11 miles north of the Mexican border.
We're staying in Bisbee for the weekend, walking the steep, winding, narrow old streets that are now home to a wide variety of restaurants, shops and art galleries.