Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Riding back to Colorado from Arizona, Part 1

I left the Phoenix area on Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig this morning around 7:30PM and would end the day in Kayenta, AZ by 6:30 PM or so.  Long day in the saddle.

I elected to check out AZ 87 out of the urban sprawl that is Phoenix metro.  Not a bad road through the Tonto National Forest.  The scenery was sure better than on I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix.  If ever I find myself going to Phoenix (very doubtful by motorcycle again) I will use this road to get there from I-40.

There was a bit of snow the last 100 miles or so south of the junction of this road with I-40, it made for some cold riding especially as I'd neglected to don the usual fleece layer under my riding coat!  We made it to Winslow with no issues however and after a bit of getting turned around, finally located the northbound version of AZ 87 which was a bit east of Winslow.  This was the route that the GPS said was fastest to Kayenta, Arizona...the southern gateway town to Monument Valley.

 An interesting rock formation I saw shortly after heading 
north on US87 from its junction with I-40 

The one thing that the GPS didn't let me know, and I assumed, was that there'd be no gas stations between I-40 and Tuba City, AZ!  I had counted on there being gas in Second Mesa but no go, not sure what the native-americans of the Hopi tribe do for gasoline in this area!

I was sweating the ability to reach Tuba City but in the end made it without having to tap into the reserve 1.5 gallons of fuel in the spare tank.  In fact, I only had to put in 4.65 gallons when I finally got to a gas station in Tuba City.  Pheeeew!

From Tuba City it was a mere 75 miles more to Kayenta and I fueled up one more time there after arriving at 3:51 PM.  There was time so I dashed the 30 miles or so to the spot where I wanted to capture today's sunset.

Another interesting rock formation south of Monument Valley

I made it to the chosen sunset viewing point with just minutes to spare.  I tried Scarlett in a couple of spots and finally ended up pretty much where I'd posed her before on a previous trip with Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol sidecar rig: LINK

Valencia, May 2012

Sunset pictures done, it started to get cold.  The on board thermometer read 25°F (-3.8°C) before it got too dark to read the display.  I motored the 30 miles or so south back towards Kayenta in gathering, deepening darkness, the cold seemingly getting colder.

Finally I saw the lights of Kayenta!  I got back to the junction of AZ163 and US160 and pulled into the McDonalds there to warm up and get a bite to eat.  I couldn't get on the Internet so I ended up calling my loving wife who returned home via plane with the boys.  She speedily got me a room at the local inn via an online booking site and I went there after finishing my meal.

Did I mention it was cold?  It sure felt colder when I went back outside to motor across the highway to where the Inn was located.  I checked in and repositioned Scarlett outside my second story motel room in the back of the inn.

I finally got on the motel's Internet feed and checked the weather, it was a cool 19°F (-7.2°C).  No wonder it felt cold, though I suspect my body had used up any reserves it had for generating warmth after riding in cold temperatures most of the day.

Assuming the cold doesn't zap the battery on Scarlett, I hope to be back on the road by 8:00 AM for the final (hopefully) day of riding back to the metro Denver area.  I plan on using US160 all the way to I-25, the only iffy points will be Wolf Creek Pass and La Veta Pass I think.


SonjaM said...

Spectacular, Dom. If a sunset in Monument Valley doesn't win a Ural photo contest, nothing will. Worthy to become your new header as well as going into a Ural commercial ;-) Save continued travels, and stay warm.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM for the comments, it turned out OK didn't it? At the time of shooting the issue was in doubt, the spot I had chosen wasn't where at least ten cagers had chosen; though of course I avoided them lest they interfere with the shot.

RichardM said...

Nice sunset photos. That still seems like a long haul back to Denver from your stopping point. Do you anticipate any problems getting through the passes or is that part of the challenge?

BTW, typo 7:30AM.

Melissa said...

Beautiful, breath taking pictures you have taken. These look professional! Love your bike its gorgeous.

Trobairitz said...

Glad you made it safe to an Inn in that cold weather. Hooray for Martha to the rescue with the booking.

Great sunset pictures too. I like that you used a familiar location for the pics.

Unknown said...

You gave me whiplash, Dom!... There'd been great photos of snowy Colorado, and then suddenly we were lookin' at desert rocks and cacti and a hot air balloon and a marina full of boats, and then Monument Valley and snow again (all great pics, by the way). I was almost afraid that I'd hibernated through the rest of winter. :)

That was pretty ambitious of you to take THAT ride this time of year.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, to be truthful, weather was always on my mind and up until last night, I was really worrying about the conditions but then something clicked...see next post for that.

Thanks Trobairitz, I wanted something familiar to folks who've seen pics of Monument Valley.

Ry Austin, how's that neck doing? As to ambitious....see next post, it'll publish later on tonight.

redlegsrides said...

Melissa, sorry for the late reply....thanks for the kind words.