Life has offered a bump or two over the past few months, but it is time to shake out of the self imposed rut and get back out on the road. Yesterday it was off to the Top of Arizona to ride the Arizona Snow Bowl Ski Lift.
A weather check showed that there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms in the Flagstaff area for Saturday. But, that only meant that there was a 60% chance of no rain and off I went. The morning, in Phoenix, was clear and warm as I headed out at 7:30. Traveling north on I 17 I made a stop in Black Canyon City to have breakfast at Blyer's Amish Kitchen. I have mentioned Blyer's in a previous post and if ever in the area I recommend stopping in. These pictures were taken as I was approaching Sunset Point, or Eleven Mile Hill, on the ride up. This is a great section of highway when there is no traffic. Cagers tend to drive like a bat out of hell on the straight sections of this road, but find the need to slam on the brakes when they realise the road is about to turn to the left or right. Some that don't break tend to drift over into the other lane. I assume they believe that a motorcycle doesn't really need all that room anyway.
The ride was a pleasure getting to Flagstaff. After a stop for gas, I was back out into the late morning traffic in Flagstaff. But, all isn't always peaceful in such a beautiful setting. A squeal, a scream, and then a car out of the corner of my left eye. Turning my head to look, locking Petunia up, sliding to the right, now back to the left, quick check in the right mirror for an opening, foot slipping off the rear brake peddle, and Petunia is down. She was all the way down, completely over and standing on her crash bars. I was standing next to her still holding onto the bars, thankful that I had, again, been able to miss a wayward cage. Ten or so people came out of nowhere to help upright Petunia, an ambulance traveling in the opposite direction turned on his lights and siren while pulling across traffic to check if I was alright. The cage had slowed, but didn't stop and disappeared into the confusion of the morning. Petunia came through rather well. The stirrup on the highway bars is twisted and had to be moved so the brake would operate and the brake lever on the bars is broken.
I am fortunate, again, that this event wasn't worse. I again will take a lesson from this and I take full responsibility for having gone down. I let the slower speed and memories of when my daughter was at NAU get in the way of knowing where my escape route was. Because I wasn't aware my first instinct was to find the source of the squeal instead of a path away from it. That momentary lapse is all it took to not be able to get away and safely stopped.
A near miss isn't enough reason to abort a ride, so on to Snow Bowl. As I was approaching the entrance I began to see lightening off in the western sky. It was then that I began to worry if the ski lift might be closed. Getting to the Lodge I found they had to shut down for half an hour because of the lightening. Thirty minutes became forty-five, but they were finally able to reopen and up I went.
It takes thirty minutes to ride up to the top. As I was going up it began to get windy, dark, cloudy, and cold. The view, however, was spectacular. OK, it would have been even better if it had been a clear day, but breathtaking none the less.
This is what greets you at the top of the mountain. Then there was a hike up another 800 or so feet just because it was there. A Forest Ranger was at the top telling all about the view. It isn't true that you can see San Francisco from there. No, not even on a clear day. Yes, you can see the Grand Canyon from here even on a cloudy day.
On the way down I noticed a bra hanging in this tree about 18-20 feet off the ground. If I did it correctly it is in the red box. Hey, it is near a college town after all. It was really starting to get cold now and at the bottom I went inside and had a cup of hot apple cider. As I was drinking it the sun broke out again and it started to warm up. I left to start for home in bright sunshine.
About forty miles from Flagstaff it began to rain. Needle pricking hard, and I was wishing I had brought the full coverage helmet instead of the half helmet. But it only lasted about thirty miles and then the sun came out again. But, there was an even heavier shower about sixty miles farther down the road that required me to slow to 50 mph. The passing cars would throw sheets of water from the road onto me. I made my way to Rock Springs Cafe for a burger and a slice of their to-die-for Jack Daniels Pecan Pie. The pie alone is worth the ride. They claim their pies are world famous and folks must believe them judging by the line waiting to buy them.
Finally home about 7:00. I was gone longer than I had planned, but it was a great day all things considered. Now it is off to eBay to try and find a new brake lever. I hope I don't have to go to the dealer, but then again it is hard to operate the brake without that knob attached. But, wait, putting safety first should have me at the dealer when they open this morning and not taking any stupid chances. Didn't I just mention about learning something?