Relearning Arizona

The Colorado Trail Race was now a thing of the past and I was ready to get back on my bike and actually pedal some desert miles...then I got rained out...in Phoenix. WTF.

Another week went by and my perceived CO fitness had waned, I could tell even before hitting the trails. But that was ok, it was going to happen anyway. Brown's Ranch was calling.
Welcome home!!
It was so nice to be showered with sun rays, dry trail, no hike-a-bike and empty trails.

Blow up your TV, go ride.

It was still a bit toasty, but the end of summer was near. You could feel it. However, the local high country was still calling. I rounded up Jeff & Nancy for a spin up on the Cabin Loops. I've been meaning to check out the Ubar trail for quite some time, this would be a good opportunity.

I was about halfway to Payson when I realized I probably should have at least looked at the weather forecast. Pfft, this is AZ, it's always sunny & warm, right? Hmmm.

We met up for a few miles of overlapping Arizona Trail before we split off onto the Fred Haught trail. It felt so good to be back on the AZT for a bit. By the time we wrapped around and began our stint on Ubar the rumbling began. Ruh-roh. Sure enough a couple miles later the rain began to fall. Jeff & Nancy pulled out their rain jackets while I hung close to a tree trying in vain to stay dry. The temps dropped a solid 20 degrees in 5 minutes. Then the hail came. Lots of hail. Was I back on the Colorado Trail??
At least somebody was prepared!!
We hunkered down for at least 15 minutes while the ground became saturated. The rain/hail finally eased up a bit and we made a dash for it. Until the next round of hail.
Taking shelter & grabbing a snack in the hail. Photo by Jeff.
It seemed like only a few minutes after the deluge let up, Nancy sliced a sidewall. Ugh.
Jeff to the rescue.
We were near a forest road crossing and decided it would probably be best to shortcut back to the vehicles.
Winter wonderland of hail.

Recent fire damage.

FR300 back to the cars.

I arrived back home to a dustbowl.
After this ride, the running joke now is to always bring lights, hike-a-bike friendly shoes and raingear when riding with me!! I don't really have an argument against any claim.


The following weekend I was back in the high country once more, this time no rain in the forecast!! I had been meaning to get over to the White Mountains for a few years, but hadn't made it happen. The only times I had ridden there were during the Tour of the White Mountains races. I wanted to explore more trails in the Los Burros area.

The parking lot at the Los Burros CG was bustling. It was an official pre-ride weekend for the race and I expected to see a bunch of riders. This wasn't the case.
Beautiful singletrack in sections.
I need to explore more in the Sitgreaves NF.

Nice spot for a camp site.

Four Springs trail winding through the pines.

I heard some familiar voices while taking a snack break, it was Ben & Kimberly out for a tandem spin!!
The Land of the Pioneers trail was fun, but I was beginning to push my time limit and needed to get back. I opted to bypass Four Springs on the way back in favor of fast forest roads. Unfortunately, about halfway back my intended route did not exist!! I had to backtrack a few miles and ended up on Four Springs for about three miles anyway. I was now about an hour later than I hoped, oops. Shocker, I know.

Los Burros CG.
There's a Facebook group called Crank Yankers and they often post group rides. I saw they were going to be riding over on the west side of town and decided to join in. Fun group, give them a try if you're local.
Crank Yanker's group ride in the west valley at F.I.N.S. & Pirates.

Checking out a new trail at Pirates.

The next day there was a Burrito Brother sighting at Hawes.  Seron, Jeff, Nancy & Scott all came out for a spin on Gidro Pass. *Bring your hike-a-bike shoes!!
Hey, the gang's all here!!

The views from Gidro Pass are stunning. Would make for a good bikepacking stopover.

Seron showing good HAB form.

Gidro Pass reward: miles of downhill.

The new Horse Tale trail is getting ridden into shape.

It was great to get reacquainted with the desert and AZ in general in spite of the rain & hail up north!! It was still a little warm near home for the all-day type of outing. I found myself looking to head north while I still could.

Scott posted a pic of his bike up at the summit of Mt. Elbert in CO. It's the highest point in the state and open to bikes!! It got me thinking...then more pics began to surface of golden leaves emerging in the high country. Was there time for one last hurrah to Colorado??


Solar Totality

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 wasn't going over Arizona. K and I hadn't really thought much about it when we learned of its path while vacationing in North Carolina a few months ago.

Time ticked by and K's birthday approached. We were trying to decide on something to do and I realized the solar eclipse fell on her birthday. Maybe we could fly to somewhere close to the path of totality for the weekend and check it out? I began looking into flights for various cities about two weeks ahead of the event. Flying standby status has both its advantages and disadvantages. This seemed to be the latter of the two. Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, Boise, Salt Lake City, Portland and Spokane..all booked solid. Just for fun I decided to see what Google suggested a drive time to Idaho Falls would be. That was the closest the path would be to Phoenix. 14 hours. Hmmm, that's doable I thought. I presented a plan to K and she was on board.

We'd drive to Cedar City, UT the first day via Zion National Park and get a B&B for the night. We've always talked about staying in one  Hotel rates around the path of totality were outright absurd. A normal room at a Best Western type of place was advertised at $1595 for Sunday night!! Regular rate was $129. Who's paying that?? K didn't really feel like camping, but then I remembered my riding friends, Denny & Alexis, live in northern UT only a couple hours from Idaho Falls. They were more than willing to have us stay for the night, even after Alexis was scheduled to fly home from Paris that morning!! She runs a little high on the energy scale though.

We'd then make the long drive home in one push and hope for the best. Time to hit the road!!
We ended up just doing a quick drive through, no hiking this time.
Archway in the making.
Zion, the cul-de-sac of National Parks.

We pushed on to Cedar City where we'd spend the night at the Iron Gate Inn. We wanted to arrive in daylight, which we did. The owners also run a winery, but it had outgrown it's space at the Inn and relocated downtown. We got a quick tour of the place before the owner left for dinner. She suggested we try a wine tasting before we ate, since it was closing soon. We're glad we did as we were very surprised by the quality of the wines produced.
All of the guests for the night.
One of the common areas.
Beautiful home right in the middle of Cedar City.
Only a few blocks away...
Our room for the night.
We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast on the patio.
Another common area.
It was easy to feel relaxed here.

Nice to have parking in the rear of the property.
We didn't have a long drive to reach Logan, so we looked for a side trip on our way north. We found Parowan Gap was nearby and offered a short hike to view petroglyphs.

The signature glyph at the site.

Most of the petroglyphs are to the right of the gap.

Raised relief dinosaur tracks.
We were soon traveling north once again and arrived in Logan around dinner. It was great to hang out with Denny & Alexis. They are usually down in AZ when we cross paths, it was nice to be up on their turf for a change. We can't thank them enough for putting us up for the night.

We were moving early the next morning to avoid any potential traffic issues leading into Idaho. Overall, the traffic was fine. It was a bit heavy, but moved well coming into Idaho Falls.
Only a few high clouds at sunrise. They would be gone by 8am.
It was interesting to watch 95% of the traffic take the exit towards the Grand Tetons & Yellowstone. While it would've be cool to have that as the backdrop, the astral show would be directly overhead. We stayed on I-15 for a few more miles. We wanted to be as close to the center of totality as possible. Route 33 did the trick. It was quite a sight seeing every pullout, spare piece of dirt occupied by eclipse seekers. There wasn't much else out there, just open fields of lava rock. We found a dirt road about 2 miles off the interstate and set up our watch party of two.
K all set to go!!
See? Not much out here.
Our dirt road filled up with onlookers.

I wanted to get a couple test shots in before the eclipse started. I borrowed a tripod from a coworker and was getting things organized when I noticed I couldn't find my adapter clip to secure the DSLR to the tripod!! I dug through everything I had, two..three times. Nada. I was a bit upset at myself for not double checking that simple piece of equipment. The tripod was essentially useless at this point. How steady can I hold my hand?? I'd have to take hand held shots if I wanted anything. Ugh.
Not too bad, you can see sunspots!!
 I played around with the settings while snapping a few shots. Here are a few that don't look too bad.
First sliver of the eclipse.

Sometime around this stage a few of us noticed the temperature dropping.
The next series of pictures were taken within a 15 minute time window.



11:32a. The shadow of totality approaches!!
 That's K's new Prius and first roadtrip. That car drives really well and we averaged over 50mpg even with 80mph speed limits in Utah & Idaho.

11:33a Totality starts!! It looked like this in every direction.

11:35a My best shot. Not too bad all things considered.

11:37a Show is about to end.

11:37a And just like that it's daylight again.
It was such a surreal experience. The two and a half minutes of totality went by incredibly fast. I didn't waste much time trying to get a good picture, since that wasn't happening anyway. I only took 5. The first 10-15 seconds were neat, hoots & hollers could be heard all over the countryside, then it went eerily silent as folks took it all in. The temperature dropped a good 15ยบ almost instantly, like stepping into the shade on a warm summer's day. Venus made an appearance as did a few bright stars. We didn't notice any wildlife near us, but we heard stories from friends who witnessed animals getting ready for a night's rest. We're looking forward to seeing the next one in 2024 when another solar eclipse crosses the U.S.A. San Antonio is the nearest location for that one.

Thankfully I have a few friends who were also up in Idaho and had all the fancy camera gear to capture amazing pictures. Here are a few from Kathleen, who happened to tie the knot on her eclipse roadtrip. Congrats Kathleen & Doug!!
Bailey's beads at C2


Timelapse of the entire event. So cool!!
 As soon as daylight regained its presence the crowd began dispersing. We hung around for about 15 minutes or so, but knew we had to get going.

The first task? Get off the short dirt road we had found. That took 25 minutes, then another 20 minutes to reach I-15. So, 45 minutes to move 2 miles. I-15 turned into a parking lot a couple miles south and we resorted to Google maps to see if there were any workarounds. We found a few here and there, but in the end, traffic. It took us 6 hours to reach the Utah line which would normally be a two hour drive. By the time we made our way through Salt Lake City and into Provo it was nearing 8p!! We still had a long way to go and I had to work. I-15 opened up after Provo, we were at least doing the speed limit but the traffic was thick, nothing but tail lights leading into the distance.
Near Ogden, UT.
We kept the pedal down late into the night arriving in Page, AZ just after midnight. K took over the driving duties while I caught some much needed zzz's. Next thing I knew we were in Flagstaff, 3:15a. I guess I'm going to be late for work!! We pulled into our driveway at 6:15a, 19 hours after leaving our viewing location in Idaho. I ate breakfast, took a shower and went to work. Of course I was now in rush hour and my typical 30 minute commute turned into 1 1/2 hours thanks to an accident. I was only good for a half day before heading back home to rest up. Oof. We both agreed it was worth it. Looking forward to the next one.