Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prescott, a short ride & Arizona desert driving

After two tiring rides on consecutive days, today was supposed to be a driving day. But unable to sleep from 3.30 this morning I eventually got on the internet & found a short loop just out of Prescott - a town that was vaguely on the route we were taking towards Joshua Tree NP. I did eventually get back to sleep, so after a lazy start we made our way down I-17 towards Prescott ("Press-kit" apparently). We got a little distracted by Montezuma National Monument - more cliff dwellings, but not nearly as many or as grand as Mesa Verde NP.

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A fair way & many traffic lights down a highway off the interstate, Prescott is a nice big town. We did seem to park on a street that is mostly antique shops (the town's not that old), so after lunch we perused these until I got bored & then eventually found the center of town. A nice big leafy square with the grand county court house in the middle - & plenty of statues of course. It was pleasantly warm, but breezy so I wasn't too worried about going out for an easy afternoon ride.

Just west of town we found the trail head in the National Forest & I set off for what sounded like a fun little loop (or so it seemed in my sleep-deprived state this morning). There was a short easy climb to begin with up to a saddle & then the trail skirted a hill & descended for about seven kilometres. The trail was wide & smooth - mostly dirt, with a little sand - & fast. It was great fun, especially all the little water bars to jump off & some nice banked corners. I was having a great time in the sun, but with the breeze & a few small trees around to provide shade it wasn't too hot. I would have no qualms about taking a confident beginner down this section of trail.

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At about the half-way point of the loop the trail turned southwest & started making a gradual climb up a wash. It was a little sandy in parts, but OK. As the canyon narrowed the climbing got a bit more technical periodically - there were a few steep rocky bits I couldn't clear. That beginner I was thinking of bringing along better not mind a bit of pushing for a while. The trail eventually came out at a small manky dam & meandered along & across roads for a while - trail finding became a little more of a challenge. With one final climb out of the way, it was downhill all the way back to the parking lot. Having not intended to ride today, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this little ride & wasn't really tired when I finished.

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With the ride out of the way, we could make for the Californian border. Valerie had mapped out a route through various backroads which was great. From the Prescott area we headed south on the 87, dropping a lot of altitude in a hurry to get down to the plains. Managing to find gas in a small town, we were more confident that we wouldn't be stranded in the desert as night fell. The big cacti were starting to appear & the towns were looking more delapitdated as we got further away from the main highway. There are an amazing amounts of derelict hotels & gas stations in these parts, with the associated shells of various vehicles. Occasionally we would happen upon a small town that still had a little life in it.

One such town was Salome - we stopped for dinner at a bar/cafe. The bar was dark, with thin strips of neon & full of locals - unfortunately for me, Valerie preferred to eat in the '50s style diner, which was still fun (at least the burger was great & the lime drink concoction I had was supercharged with sugar, but very drinkable). Not finding a motel room with two beds in it in Salome, we pushed on to Quartzsite (we're on the I-10 now, the freeway between LA & Phoenix) & are staying at the Yacht Club Motel. That must be a bit of desert humour, as there's no sailing on water to be had for miles. It's really a motel of trailers - first time I've ever stayed in a trailer. There's more room in here than we've for weeks & almost a proper kitchen - I wouldn't buy one, but it's a pleasant change.

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The jagged silohuette was very pretty as the sun set

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I couldn't reach high enough to Tipp-ex an 'n' on

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