It's bittersweet whenever a motorcycle ride comes to an end, and especially so after a fantastic 17-day, 3400 miles in four in our favorite states: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. We planned a short, 96 mile ride today to beat the heat (and have time to do laundry) from Flagstaff to Prescott, Arizona.
Flagstaff sits at about 7,000' elevation and the temperature was in the mid 50's when we hopped on the BMW at about 7am. We headed south on I-70, riding through the tall pine forests that surround Flagstaff. As we continued south, the elevation dropped and the landscape changed to shorter pine trees in less dense forest as the temperature climbed into the low 70's.
I-70 skirts Sedona, but we could see some of the famous red rock formations off in the distance.
By the time we reached the Verde Valley about 55 miles south of Flagstaff, we had dropped to around 3,000' elevation and the temperature was in the high 80's. We no longer saw stands of tall pine forests, but rather scrubby chaparral and even cactus, reminding us that much of Arizona is high, dry, hot desert.
Thankfully the Verde Valley is the lowest, hottest point on our trip, and when we started climbing the temperature cooled into the mid 70's again. When we turned onto US 169 we were only 30 miles from Prescott and the dry grassland told us that the monsoons which provide much needed rain in the summer had not been active the previous 2 weeks while we were away.
As we rode along the familiar highway this morning, I thought about everything we had seen during our trip: mountain passes in the Rockies above 10,000', cold mountain reservoirs, rivers and streams that actually contain water (unlike most of the rivers and streams in Arizona that only have water after a rain or sometimes during snow melt), miles of riding without seeing another vehicle, a couple of fabulous dinners and times when we couldn't find a restaurant and resorted to an energy bar for our meal, a soak in the mineral hot springs in Saratoga Wyoming, a weekend with our sons in Silverthorne Colorado, hairpin turns, twisting mountain roads, long straight highways that stretch almost to the horizon. We're ready to head out again!