White Knuckle Ride

What is it with motels and stale Fruit Loops…I mean, I’m staying at the finest money can buy…Super 8, LOL!!  Oh well, it’s free and a nice variation from my standard fare of beef jerky and cheese sticks 🙂

Yesterday I decided that pushing and pushing from one destination to the next is not all that much fun.  After departing from the expressway west of Albuquerque, I’ve most definitely enjoyed myself more than just hammering out miles on the super slab.

I’m starting to settle in to the fact that for the next few weeks I’m sans schedule and have been sleeping and getting on the road a bit later than I would usually.

Since I opted to stop early and stay in Camp Verde, this morning I’m able to check out Montezuma’s Castle National Monument.  I was surprised at how full the parking lot was and how many tour buses there were.  After fighting my way into the visitor’s center to stamp my National Parks Passport and to purchase the ever elusive “AAA Indian Country Map” I headed out toward the ruins.

Now in Michigan, we don’t have lizards darting about on the sidewalks whenever a step is taken, so it’s quite a novelty to me.  They are so fast and funny it’s hard not to laugh at them.

Lizard Buddy

After a short walk through a gauntlet of other overexcited tourists I was able to get my first glimpse at the ruins.  Though my favorite ruins to visit are in their natural state, in places where there aren’t crowds, the ability and ingenuity of the cliff dwellers never ceases to amaze me!!

Montezuma’s Castle

After baking in the sun for a bit too long I decided it was time to hit the road.  On the way out, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw a jet with a perfect contrail making its way across the sky above the castle.  What a contrast from 1,000 years ago to now!!  What would the Sinagua people think if they saw a jet flying over? 🙂


My plan was to head north on I-17 toward Flagstaff to catch AZ-89 down to Sedona.  I definitely made the right decision by stopping in Camp Verde, there were at least 10 dead elk on the side of the expressway!!

I thought I could make it to Flagstaff before I need gas, but my light went on about 20 miles north of Camp Verde (yeah, I know I should have filled up before I left).  Thankfully, the Mund Park exit came shortly after with a Shell station right off the highway.

As I finished filling up, a guy came over and started asking the standard questions “Where ya heading?” “You traveling alone?” “Where are you from?”  He then told me that several years ago, he had loaded up his Norton and did odd jobs while working his way across the country for a year.  How amazing would that be?!?!  Across the parking lot, he was selling carved statues that he had made.

Keeping with my tradition of gas station dining, I passed over the healthy apples and oranges and grabbed yet another cheese stick and some black cherry soda.  A couple from Phoenix, both riders, asked about my trip, gave suggestions for routes and warned me about tar snakes along the route.

The ride from Flagstaff to Sedona along 89a was fantastic (and a little bit scary – good warmup for later), tons of switchbacks, red rock cliffs and evergreens.  Prior to leaving I had read quite a bit about Slide Rock State Park so decided to stop for a bit to check it out.

Slide Rock is a natural red rock water slide on the Oak River, from what I could tell while I was there it’s a pretty happenin’ swimming spot!!  I didn’t think my motorcycle garb would cut it down the slide so I opted for a hike on the upper part of the little canyon.  Unfortunately, I didn’t study anything about the local flora and fauna prior to my trip and ended up with a bleeding wound on my palm.  For those of you that didn’t know, agave is not aloe and has very sharp points which puncture innocent hikers hands 🙂

See the scary spikes?!?!?

After walking along the creek a bit and giving the old tootsies a soak, I saddled up and headed south to Sedona – the headquarters for new age vortices and large red rock formations.  My first impression of the city was that of Mackinaw City (for you Michiganders) in red, lots of T-shirt shops and theme bars.  Aside from a nice conversation with the owner of one of the t-shirt shops,  I wasn’t getting the greatest feel from the town so I decided it was time to move on – next time I’ll have to explore the natural areas around the city, perhaps I’ll enjoy it a little more.

Just to prove I was there

Heading south out of Sedona, my nerves started to surface as the road climbed higher into the town of Jerome, an old mining town built on the top of a mountain.  If my nerves weren’t fried before that, Jerome definitely finished them off!! I stopped at the Mingus Mountain Scenic Overlook outside of town to calm down for a bit (have you guessed, I’m afraid of heights).  While living in Phoenix, Andy rode this route quite a bit so I gave him a quick call for reassurance…he convinced me that I had to come down from the mountain at some point.  In hindsight, the road and accompanying scenery were gorgeous it was just a little overwhelming because I had never ridden anything with exposed switchbacks and dizzying heights prior to that.

Mingus Mountain Overlook – I look alot more relaxed than I was 🙂

Upon descending into Prescott, I decided I was running out of daylight and instead of taking the route I had originally planned, I’d head north to Ash Forks where I could catch I-40 west to Kingman.  Motoring into the sunset as semi trucks sped past, I was finally able to experience the purple mountain majesty we sang about in school.  I pulled into the Days Inn, grabbed some Sonic from across the street (Andy Devine St. for you western movie buffs)


1 Response to “White Knuckle Ride”

  1. 1 Jessie
    May 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I can totally relate to your white knuckle experience! I had a simiar experience on the Devil’s Triangle in Tenn. That road has a lot of very steep switchbacks very close to the edge of the mountain and no guardrails. I’m afraid of heights too, and I remember looking over the edge thinking, “If I take this turn too wide I am going to fall off the side of this mountain and no one will ever find me.” Fortunately, I did not fall off, and I enjoyed a stiff drink at the end of the day!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow heronwheels on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 246 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 12,867 hits

%d bloggers like this: