Monday, December 15, 2008

Desert Botanical Luminaria

A few from the Desert Botanical Gardens Luminaria show here in town featuring the Glass Art of Chihuly. Amazing art!

It is a worthy show here in Phoenix through May 09

Monday, December 8, 2008

How the West was won

We have talked a lot about getting together in Arizona for some riding in the winter before but since many of the folks here are really into dual sporting lately it became clear that we were actually going to do it this year. Being dirt friendly we decided to rough it and camp as well. This is the story of that adventure.

It is about 11am Friday and I am still getting hammered with work calls. Seems with the fiasco of the Auto guys, I can't get a break and it feels like every corporate flight department in North America is worried about budget cuts. Do these people not know I am late to meet the Hoons at the Lake? Enough already, I tell my Admin to send my calls to voice mail and I get my buddy Rick and we take off to the lake. He is in from San Antonio for the week on business and is going to hang with me and the gang out on the lake for a few days. We decide sort of at the last minute to head out via the Apache Trail. As we get near the Lake, I mention that I see a few bikes behind me and one of them is in a loud jacket that my pal Twisties has. Soon enough it is apparent that they are our group.

Twisties rocketing by us on the pavement!

We catch him in the jeep once we get to the dirt.

The nomads are already making themselves at home roughing it out here.

You can see that base camp life will be a true test of their resolve

Chris takes it upon himself to be the "fireman"

I go and catch the sunset on the water while the Hoons continue to gather

Jamie and Whip keeping the world in balance

We may not be smart but we for sure aren't clever

Mrs. Whip had all sorts of food out for us. I tell you she is just AMAZING!

Mr Happy arrives soon enough

Did I mention my man Chris is making a mean fire? Man it was good to be warm cause it was cool out in the desert.

I end up riding with Rick back out to my house and return the next morning. I have to answer the 74 emails about nothing important. I get up and head out in time to get a great breakfast Saturday.

First man I see is Butters! I has been too long since I got to see my pal from Tucson. We chat a bit and I make the rounds to see Timmy and little Sammy too. It is great but then I notice it.

Love is in the air out here let me tell you.

One of the top 100 Finns I know is there getting a hug from the ever lovely Camille

Mr. Happy and Janet getting into it on the trailer ramp.

Diane is studying for a big test Monday so she is not coming to the lake. I miss her a lot but understand. It is great that everyone asks about her too.

But we aren't here to just kiss each other. We are here to get out and ride! I take the folks not riding out for a little Jeep Tour.

We climb out to the East of the Lake and make our way along the road towards the pines nearby

The majestic Saguaro is a plant I never tire of photographing. They are worthy.

But we keep climbing and soon enough we are out in the pines and having a grand time in the Jeep.

I catch these guys darting over the road. As usual. NO BEARS.

I am on a mission to bring back the glory days of early 70's Album Art. Tell me this doesn't look like that to you. From Left to Right Chris "House" on Lead Guitar. Ely "is coming" on the Bass Guitar, Louise "Fingers" on Keyboards and backing vocals, Rick "Squishy" on Drums, and Mr. "Two Shocks" Lead Vocals and Rhythm guitar.

We roll back into camp to hear about the fun that the others had. I think we win though because the record company is giving us a big advance. The other folks are stuck in tents!

Tim has us in stiches with #14, a rare funny joke even to me

But Sammy steals the show!

We eat like kings. Chase away Javelinas

Drink enough Scotch that wearing White Mittens gets to be a sign of being cool

And fall asleep under the stars of the desert. It don't get much better than this.

Dawn broke Sunday Morning but the blue skies were short lived as a low moved in from California. I guess they were jealous

I spent the night in the back of the jeep and was very comfy! I will be buying a Futon mattress from IKEA for the CA trip, but the Jeep is going to be almost as good as Whip's RV!

Our Hero well rested but ready for a day of adventure...after some coffee of course

Louise gets my vote for most amazing person on this trip. She did so much for all of us and was great in the jeep too! Here she is dishing out breakfast.

This Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast and sausage looks amazing.

But I am trying to be healthy

I still am not sure where those purple streaks came from on my plate!

Even the Vegetarians are happy this morning!

This is as close as I get to riding because the tailbone frown Maybe next time

Philly Flash even shows up on his RT and takes off on Whip's Dirt Bike. I will let them tell that tale though

Whip wastes no time hoping on Chris' KTM to give chase!

All the while Bob sits waiting for his chance to try and kill them out on the trail.

While all the moto's scatter, we take off in the jeep to go explore.

Now we take off on a small fire road and I decided to take a left and not go into the mountains. As we cut through the Cholla forest the road turns into a trail, then into a ATV track as it makes it way out into the desert. I am not concerned but do not want to back track. We come to a point and at first I think we have hit a dead end because all of the ways down look pretty steep. Then I see the trail heading down a bit of a slope. The ladies choose to walk down the hill. Chris and I decide to ride down.

It is always tough to show the real steepness of the hill, but this picture comes close.

We make it down and back out to the road. The colors in the lower desert are finally changing and winter is coming even here.

On the way back we see two of these guys out in the marshes near the top of the lake on a nest.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Utah in the Off Season

Diane and I decide that it is a grand idea to head up to Torrey for the weekend. She and I both have some vacation left to burn this year and while there is a opportunity to ride out to Death Valley and see the hoons, we decide to get to Torrey for the weekend.   She has never been there, and I have not in the "off season".  Since it is high on my list of place I want to live (there is no real runner up), I want to ensure I understand what it is like with most of the place closed up for the winter.

We leave Phoenix early and traffic up through Flagstaff is light and we catch the dawn near Black Canyon City.  Before we know it we are past Flagstaff, Cameron and are out in the Painted Desert.  The sky is perfect and the weather brisk but I love it this way.

The Jeep in the Painted Desert just seems to fit in.  As I drive the Jeep more and more it really is turning into the most worthy of steeds for me.  Diane can drive it fine and she is pretty comfortable in it.  Its only quirk is that it just has no desire to go faster then 75mph.  Oh well I can finally smell those roses I always seem to miss on the moto.

Sometimes a hitchhikers can be a good thing!   

We decide to cut the corner and head up Cottonwood Canyon via 36 miles of unimproved road.  This is the same road that I had my adventure on several years ago on the GS.  It is much more pleasant to drive it in a Jeep.  Plenty of water in the creek and colors are just surreal on this road this time of year.  I am going to come up here for a few days over winter and do some real exploring.

Diane walks up to me as I am trying to get a photograph of a rock formation.  Normally I do not like having people around when I shoot pictures but she actually doesn't bother me at all.  She is as into the landscape, critters, and plants as I am so we don't have any issue spending time outdoors together.

Ok Ok....maybe looking right into the sun isn't a grand idea.  

Mars with plants.  The geology of the area different in appearance every single time I come here.  The reds this trip really stand out and I am just amazed at the views around here.  Utah just "rocks".

After passing it 2 times we decide to go turn and see Grosvenor's Arch.  I get there just as a plane was passing through the area.  We have the place to ourselves for a bit once we part with a Frenchman in Pajamas.  I don't have any excuse as to why I didn't take his picture.  I apologize.  The arch has a great place to picnic and we make the most of it.

I take this picture of Diane and just am totally happy to be out of the hustle and bustle of the big city.  There is a future for us up in this part of the world.  Many say I would miss big business too much living in the hinterland.  Today sure seems to be proving them wrong.

Sometimes the simplest of lunches are the best.  We have some Pita, grapes, and cheese along with smoked turkey.  I am a happy man.

We role on out towards route 12 and back to the pavement.  We have spent 3 hours exploring the back country and have seen 2 cars and almost no people.  As we approach the highway again. we start to see signs of ranching and other people out hunting or enjoying their ATV's

We come upon a real Cowboy.  I can't help but to think of this young man and the John Wayne movie.  His spurs jingling, I dip my hat to him and off we go.  Not far down the road we come upon his grown up brethren working a herd.

There is something just worthy and even comforting in seeing real people working the land.  This picture is one that Diane told me to take as the cows moved by us.  The face of the cowboy's horse is one that I won't soon forget.

With Boulder Mountain on the left and the Henry's in the back Right the Escalante is just basked in perfect light.  I try and tell Diane that each mile between here and Torrey is just beautiful and she slowly understands that I wasn't over hyping the story.  

We stop at another vista and just take it in.  Yes that is a beer bottle in her hand.  I will let her explain her issue with it.

Hell's Backbone is something I have written about before.  We are totally stoked to know it is still open through Thanksgiving and we make reservations for dinner.  We have about an hour though before they open and decide to go down the Burr Trail but Diane wants to explore the grounds of the hotel first.  Seriously, if you are there, hungry or not, you must try it.  Oh and the hotel there is amazing too!

She leads me into the main hotel and up some stairs to the back balcony where looking out I see this amazing pond and vista looking to the North.  I would not have known this was even here had she not pointed it out.  Very worthy.

As we drive on the trail we see the sun starting to set and the moon rise.  The patterns of light and the rocks just are so beautiful

These trees are almost like small bonzai in front of the majestic rocks.  Totally worthy and I can tell Diane is as awe struck as I am.

We get into the valley floor just as sun starts to set. I do not have a lot of time to frame shots but the light on the rocks, the blue sky above, are just stunning. Sometimes you take what you can get and know that you must return sometime later on to try again. I have no problem coming back.

We pull into the restaurant and find a wonderful meal awaiting.  The food is so good here and very well presented.  The owner comes to our table, signs a cookbook for us and we catch up about the happening of the area.  In a matter of moments we go from tourists to locals again.  The fact that I have friends in Torrey makes me part of those in the know.  Very cool.

This may be the closest thing to a shrine that I will ever be connected to.  There is peace here.  but it gets dark and we still have to go up and over the mountain before getting to Torrey.  I have an idea where the key is but I am sure that the house will need to be habitized before we can stay there now that the owner has moved on up to the big city up north.

We are amazed at how everything is organized for us and other than the heat Diane is very pleased with Chez Palin.  She gets to work making us some hot chocolate.  And Bob, I finally find a use for that cheap peppermint schnapps you have been hoarding!

Clean Room and once I get past Palin not being there we settle in nicely.

We sleep in a bit as the weather is not supposed to be all that great Sunday but we get up to find some wind. some snow on the mountain but a very workable day ahead of us.  I decide to show Diane the house of my dreams and we set off to explore Torrey.  We grab carrots for Fletcher but I am not real sure where he is this time of year.

I think she likes it as much as I do

There is no doubt that the hot tub would get a lot of good use out here on the deck.  I really want this place.  You all can have Sedona.

We strike off to the park to explore the area some more.  It is cold but the weather is dry.  Fall has now come off the mountain and is in the valley. Only a small amount of tourist remain but we hear French, German, and Russian as we go from point to point.  

The Canyon in color

Art of the Ancients are now much easier to go visit without the 300 tourist bustling through.  It is actually very interesting to see this type of art

The Path to the art strikes me as very beautiful in the fall.

There are still a great many deer around and we take a few pictures.

This fella was just lounging around out in the open and didn't pay a whole lot attention to me.  

From here we ventured back to Torrey and Teasdale to look for a house for another friend of ours looking to move up this way.  We decided to head up the Donkey Lake road and find some snow to play in.  

It is here that I learn to never ever turn your back on a woman wearing mittens and who has an arm like a Cy Young Winner.  I am only typing this because her aim is a lot more like Barney Fife.

The day is getting towards late afternoon and we take a drive over to Bicknell and then Loa.  We decide to drive up highway 72 and I make a stop at Mt Gleno.

Mt Gleno is still a place where I go to say hello and remember my friend Glen who is no longer he in one sense but I know is always around sweeper madness looking out for riders like me.  

As we head back to the house for the night, we look for Fletcher and decide to ask at "The Lodge" if they know.  The guy feeding the buffalo has no clue and thinks he may be in his summer quarters but a check earlier showed us no fencing and no camel.

Diane decides we can feed the carrots to the horses and quickly makes a new friend

We have a great evening at the house just enjoying being off the grid for a bit.  I think the tequila helps take the edge of a little too for both of us.  Both of us agree that Torrey is a place that makes us very happy.

In the morning the weather is again very nice though cold.  It is now Monday and I have to force myself to pull out of the driveway and head back to Phoenix.   We make great time through the park and the road is empty of all cars.

We do see a flock of turkeys though.  As we get to Hanksville Diane takes over the wheel and drives us towards home.

That's Diane!  Always trying to keep the world clean.

Oh and she handled driving the Dugway like a champ!

When can I go back?

See ya all soon