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Posts from the ‘Arizona’ Category

Big Ride, Big Mishaps, Big Fun

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Naïveté: (noun) lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.

I generally do not think of myself as being naive, but today proved differently.

Having spent the past few days riding trails here in Flagstaff (Arizona), I was keen to complete the “Round the Peaks” loop – an approximately 50 mile loop (+/- depending upon where one starts) circumnavigating the base of Humphrey’s Peak (12,633 ft).  Locals I spoke to – in some form or another – consistently described this loop as being “quintessential Flag”.

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Capturing a variety of terrain, offering stunning views, and presenting challenging climbs and technical downhills, I was told to find time for this ride before departing the area.

I was giddy.

Along a route beginning at 7,174ft elevation and peaking at 9,329ft, originally my thinking was to bike camp the ride, overnighting on the mountain, and in the process, splitting the distance into two reasonable day efforts.

However, because I continue to change my ‘perfect’ bike camp set-up and haven’t actually yet bought any gear, I find myself in a situation pretty much devoid of most necessary bike camping essentials.

No worries, I’ll do long day ride. On the trail early, home by mid-afternoon.

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In hindsight, I can now see that my actions this morning were pretty much naive from the start: 1) allotting only 6 hours for the ride, 2) assuming 2.5 liters of water would suffice, and 3) underestimating the toll 5,100ft of climbing would have on my legs.

I missed the 6 hours by 90 minutes, ran out of water 45 minutes from finishing, and hopelessly suffered from legs that turned into jelly.

And, I broke a spoke.

Despite a day littered with mishaps, I nevertheless had a great (and very long) ride.

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Painting the Desert Sky

Because our rig cannot easily sustain continuous high altitude winter conditions, Kelly and I flee to the desert southwest this time of year, biding time until we can again comfortably deal with realities of weather at high altitudes.

Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of the desert.  Given the choice I will always prefer to spend time in the big mountain regions of the west.

However, anyone who has spent time in the Arizona desert – myself included –  will confirm the sunrises and sunsets are crazy beautiful.  Colors that words cannot adequately describe, paint the sky in a fashion one can only appreciate witnessing firsthand.

If ever in the area, I suggest taking pause to experience these moments for yourself.

Yes, as you awake to catch sunrise, the morning air will be shocking chilly as you step outside.  You’d be surprised how well a warm cup of coffee – steam quietly rising from your cup complements the moment.

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Later in the evening, once you’ve completed all the bullshit that consumed your day, grab a preferred cocktail of choice and once again step outside.

The weather will be pleasant – nicer than it was in the morning, but there will be no denying nightfall is quickly approaching.  Cooler air will soon overtake these last moments of sun and warmth.

Sipping from that drink as you observe all that is happening above, take note how the sky shifts colors from blue, to a swirl of pink and purple, before fading to brilliant fiery orange just as the sun dips below the horizon.

Yes, good stuff.

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The Elusive McDowell Mountain Campground

Following our holiday gathering in the desert, Kelly and I drove back to the Phoenix area  – our destination being McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

We visited once before about 15 months ago, but due to my work travels, I was gone essentially the entire time.  In the process, I was denied any opportunity to ride the highly regarded and vast trail network.

Having missed out previously, I was really excited to be going back.  I love riding before work and with trails so easily accessible, doing so would be easy.  But then – just like before – my work travel schedule changed and less than three hours after unhitching the trailer, I found myself leaving the campground and driving towards the airport.

Once again, I missed the entire week at the park.  No riding for me.  Again.

Arriving back to the campground late Friday night, I did manage to salvage half a day of hiking on Saturday before hitching-up and driving away early Sunday morning.

Someday I will be back and ride these damn trails.  At least I hope so.

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A Desert Holiday

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Again this year, Kelly and I spent the holidays in the desert, far away from the snow and ice plaguing much of the country.

With plans to rendezvous with fellow nomadic travelers, we pointed Moose and the Airstream west.  About 2.5 hours later we arrived to Quartzsite, AZ – a location many fulltime RV travelers will know (arguably) as the RV capital of the Southwest.  At least during winter months anyway.

A town of 3,600 residents that swells to nearly 100,000 (yes – 100,000) during winter, Quartzsite is an RV mecca of sorts. When visiting this time of year expect big rigs and big crowds.

Almost as if playing bumper cars with one another, most RVs situate close to town.  Not us.

With a goal to avoids the crowds, we set-up shop about 20 miles south of town on a sweet patch of BLM land adjacent to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.  For ten days, the grounds were nearly empty as we shared hundreds of acres with only one other couple.  Effectively the middle of nowhere, we felt right at home.

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photo credit @gm3sf

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photo credit @gm3sf

photo credit @gm3sf

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Shortly after Christmas Day the New Year’s crew began arriving and we eventually peaked at ten total rigs.  Kelly and I already knew most of the group, but did make a few new acquaintances.

Our group could not have asked for better weather as bid adieu to 2016.  We enjoyed a fantastic group pot luck dinner, champagne, and loads of good laughter as the calendar rolled over into 2017.

It was perfect.

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photo credit @gm3sf

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Photo credit @gm3sf

 

Lost Dutchman State Park

I’ve really come to like this park northeast of Phoenix.
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Out To Lunch

Mountain biking over lunch hour.  I can always eat later.IMG_0958

 

 

Dusk

While I will always prefer camping in the the big mountains, dusk in the desert is just about perfect.