Another run to Monument Valley (or - how I learned to check the weather forecasts) - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Another run to Monument Valley (or - how I learned to check the weather forecasts)

I love the sights up in the north of Arizona/ south of Utah region, so try to plan a ride up there for shortly after we return to AZ for the winter, but BEFORE the weather turns bad.

This year it was looking good for a 4 day trek from Tuesday, 25 October till Friday the 28th, from Florence to Page, AZ day one mostly via 2 lane roads, then through Monument Valley and on to the Four Corners before overnighting near Shiprock, NM on the second day. From there various Indian roads meander along the AZ/ NM border south to Window Rock, AZ and join into highway 191 (used to be 666 till changed) which wiggles down to Morenci, site of a HUGE copper mine, looking even MORE twisty than the Dragon! Plan was to motel it somewhere around Eagar, AZ putting all those curves into my last day's ride which then would lead home via Safford, the San Carlos Apache Reservation to Globe, then Hwy 60 and 79 to arrive in roughly 1200 miles.

THAT was the plan, anyways....

Ed
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Day one came after a cloudless night. Watched the weatherman on the morning news showing a large low pressure system moving through central AZ, but, he assured everyone, it was bringing an end to the 99F temperatures and substituting mid-80s, with really NO down-sides.

Because it's only 1400'ASL here, and around 7,000 at Flagstaff, knowing that the temperatures would decrease as I climbed, I settled on my windproof (and waterproof...) boots, Kilimanjaro jacket with hi-vis vest, and my Tourmaster 12V jacket liner (for chilly mornings) along with raingear to use IF it got really cold, to block any wind, then hit the road at 8AM. The route up the Beeline Hwy to Payson is very scenic, transitioning through Strawberry, Pine and Lake Mary before passing Flagstaff, and I put the heated gear on LOW near Pine. Now on Hwy 89 heading north, in the sun, I saw rather ominous clouds on the far distant horizon, but, as I progressed so did they, and were east of 89 before I got to Page at 3PM, in a lovely sunny AZ afternoon.

Got a reasonable motel, unloaded the bags, then grabbed camera and hiking boots, and back-tracked several miles to the trailhead to the Horseshoe Bends on the Colorado River. A small parking area is the start of a sandy half-mile trail to walk to the Bends. Pretty incredible when you arrive to a 1000 foot cliff culminating in the Colorado River. As an aside - I read that MOST suicides in AZ happen from these same cliffs. Very spectacular, particularly IF you get close to the edge - I'm not-really-in-love with heights!

After MANY pictures I started "Big Red" and returned to the motel, changed and headed for dinner.

When you see the line of cliffs past the Versys, west, they are the Vermillion Cliffs. The FIRST of tomorrow's pictures will feature them, in a FAR different light!
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 05:50 PM
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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It's Wednesday morning, oh-dark-thirty, I'm 'shaved, showered' and packed so I open the motel door... whatthehell? It's clouded over and looks like rain.... THAT wasn't in the TV news forecast! Back into my room to put rainpants on and search out waterproof gloves, then pack up my steed, and over to MacD's for an egg McMuffin and coffee. Half way through the "Happy-Meal" it changes to an "un-Happy" - it's starting to pour! Looking west it's VERY dark and forbidding, and a bit southwest over the Vermillion Cliffs (remember, this is BEFORE sunrise, and I'm looking AWAY from where the sun might come up...) is an ominous sight (see picture 1). It appears as if clouds are cascading over the cliffs like a waterfall! With the Versys gassed up and me fed and waterproofed (???), I saddle up heading east on 98 toward Kayenta and Monument Valley.

An hour later I'm out of the rain, but low clouds are skudding over the rock formations, and it's wet everywhere. By Monument Valley the odd sunbeam gets through, and I'm becoming optimistic that the day MIGHT go as planned . Another hour east, it's still NOT raining, and I enter Colorado with 15 miles to Four Corners, but as the road bends its way south it's getting dark ahead.... It's pretty obvious that it has rained a LOT at the Four Corners park, mud everywhere, but there IS a bit of paved lot available, so Big Red is put onto her stand, I take my camera and go stand simultaneously in FOUR states! COOL!

It's not too far from there to Shiprock (a large formation that suggests an old schooner, and was a landmark when the wagon-trains made their way through here heading to California), but the rain is starting again, while west it looks much worse. A large, indistinct shape shows through the fog/ rain mix - it's Shiprock! - but as the rain lashes down my decision is made to forgo the Indian roads along the border. Some are dirt, and, today impassible (to me on the V, anyway), so I gas up in the town, check my map re-programming the GPS to Gallup (93 miles south), then head that way in driving (riding...? ) rain.

Almost two hours later, about 10 miles north of Gallup, the rain ends and blue skies emerge - straight ahead and left, but NOT right! The whole sky west is black with thunderheads along the front, so I'm NOT heading to Window Rock and the original route. After searching my map, the GPS gets programmed to St. Johns, AZ via Zuni Pueblo which 'sort-of' looks clear, and away I go. Awhile later I return to AZ, then south toward my NEW destination for the night. A motel found, then off for grub and a beer.

Later, watching TV news, the forecaster assures me that, while the storm has dumped 24" of snow onto Denver, and is now making life miserable in Pennsylvania, tomorrow in ARIZONA at least - it WILL be fine, with blue skies everywhere. Time for bed.

Check out the dirt on Big Red in the last picture, taken where the road turns west to Zuni.
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Ed
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 10-30-2011 at 06:54 PM.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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It's 1:30AM - time to get rid of last night's beer, so I peek through the curtains after hitting the 'john'. DAMN! IT'S RAINING AGAIN! Looks like I'll have to 'beat it back home' in the morning rather than the twisties on 191.

Up early again, I part the curtains, and - it's NOT RAINING! Cloudy as hell, mind you, but not raining. I packed up, grabbed something for brekkie at Circle K, then turned south onto 191, where I took picture 1 in the first half mile. SNOW! Will I or won't I...? A few miles south comes the turn to Springerville, east of there, but the start of the twisty parts of 191. The clouds keep getting lower, there's snow on the hills, the road's wet, but it's still not raining. Road turns south, starts climbing. Before long I'm over 8300'ASL, snow on the sides, chilly, but still not raining. And the road is turning left, turning right, but the sky is clearing. This area is where the HUGE forest fire burned for weeks early this summer, and though it's not as devastated as I expected, there's lots of evidence of the burn.

From there it's around 90 miles of tight turns till Morenci and Clifton, high, and at one point I'm above 9300', but it's sunny and the day is good.

The whole road is a real adventure, and for any of you that can access it, it HAS to have way more turns than the Dragon. It 'ends' at a huge open-pit copper mine (Morenci) and an old mining town that appears to have been transported there from 1870. Neat. From there it's a 200 mile grind through Safford, the Apache reservation, Globe, Miami, Surprise, then 79 to Florence. BUT - the sky is crystal clear blue, warm, and NOT raining! When I pulled into my garage the GPS said my modified route had been 1,114 miles (averaged 55 mph) while my odo said it was 1146.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 08:50 PM
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Good stuff, Eddie!
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 09:33 PM
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The last time I got to see that image of the bridges near Page and the Vermillion Cliffs was in 1998. I got to spend 18 days on that river.

My brother and nephew are on the river now. I wonder what that is like with all of this rain?!?!

Depending on the projection, the Four Corners monument is like 0.5 miles away from the "correct" spot. If I remember correctly, when this came up not that long ago, it was decided to leave the monument where it is.

What a wonderful place to ride a Versys!

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 12:05 AM Thread Starter
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[QUOTE=Mursili;176129

Depending on the projection, the Four Corners monument is like 0.5 miles away from the "correct" spot. If I remember correctly, when this came up not that long ago, it was decided to leave the monument where it is.

What a wonderful place to ride a Versys![/QUOTE]

I believe you are correct about the location being wrong. I figured it was like getting your picture taken where Marilyn Monroe had the famous "skirt blowing vertically" picture taken - not so much about the location as it is about the spirit!

Ed
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 03:39 AM
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Most excellent, thanks for posting!
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 10:30 AM
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Very nice pics! Thanks for taking us along.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 11:40 AM
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Pretty stuff, looks like a good adventure!
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 12:42 PM
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Welcome "home."

Great pictures and adventure!

John in AZ
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jmlmjmjm View Post
Welcome "home."....
Thanks John. When I can get my act together, I'll write up a roughly 200 miler I did to Young from the west via 288, then out NE via Payson, and probably the WORST 20 mile rock road I've ever ridden.

Maybe we can head out for a ride together sometime...?

Ed
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-01-2011, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
Thanks John. When I can get my act together, I'll write up a roughly 200 miler I did to Young from the west via 288, then out NE via Payson, and probably the WORST 20 mile rock road I've ever ridden.

Maybe we can head out for a ride together sometime...?
In, as long as you don't mind a Victory plugging along with you.

Just today, I sold my Versys to a chap from Canada who oddly enough, also winters in Florence! I told him about this forum and that you were a frequent contributor.

Hopefully he will log in and make himself known.

Maybe all three of us can take a spin together.

John in AZ
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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John - stay in touch, and we'll do it!

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