Thursday, June 21, 2007
Williams, AZ to Safford, AZ
Having eaten only fruit salad and fruit juice the night before, I was happy to get back to my normal yogurt and coffee prior to starting off the day on I-40.
Reaching Flagstaff, I headed south on US-89Alt to Sedona. I was somewhat disappointed to find more Native American bazaars at every overlook point. Makeshift booths full of wares lined the walkways, making it hard to get great shots of surrounding landscape.
Just north of Sedona, I enjoyed the views of Slide Rock State Park but didn’t enjoy the traffic. I had no qualms over skipping a dip in the famous swimming hole.
The town of Sedona itself appeared to be a lovely place to while away an afternoon. Cute shops attracted hordes of tourists without feeling kitschy. There was lots of construction in the area, with red dust drifting over the road in many places.
After a short stint on I-17, I headed east on AZ-260. The ride was mostly unremarkable with long portions of busy slab through hills around Payson. It was very hot. I stopped often to refill my camelbak and even took a short break for some gas station soft serve ice cream.
I began to take interest in my surroundings again while riding through the foothills of the White Mountains.
Late in the day, I turned onto the most anticipated road of my day, US 191, the Coronado Trail. It was past 4 PM and I had around 150 miles to go.
The main thing I’ll say about US191 south from Alpine, AZ is that it was a whole lot of work.
I love these kind of roads…. Slow turns, switchbacks, curvy runs down shaded forest paths. I was doing a whole lot of back and forth transitioning.
It was high elevation, so cooler than it had been in the heat of the day. I went through a few areas that had seen recent rain (judging from the wet pavement) but saw no rain myself.
I was constantly worrying about making it out of the mountains before sunset, but I just HAD to stop whenever I saw a great photo-op.
Too many pictures…. Yeah.
Reaching the area of the huge open pit Morenci Copper Mine, I was shocked by the contrasting landscape. The largest (in total output) copper mine in North America, Morenci covers 60,000 acres.
After rock has been crushed and copper removed, it is put back in place. These terraced “benches” are all that remain of the mountains in the area.
US191 wound through Morenci and the very obviously company town of Clifton.
Finally getting out of the hills, I enjoyed the sunset and braved the heat of the desert plains on my approach to Safford.
I parked the R1200ST next to several large mining trucks at the Econolodge in Safford.