American Routes: Blacktop, Backdrops, and Backtalk

To see America is to LOVE America.

I love America. I love to ride my Harley. So it just stands to reason that I would naturally love to ride my Harley on the open roads of America. I seriously enjoy being out on the open road; no schedule, no time limit, no hurry. My wife, though,  is one of those people that would rather fly to any destination we might have planned. She enjoys that. Her goal is the destination; get there and get there as fast as you can.

I’m more focused on the journey. What’s between here and there that I’ve never seen before? Or, maybe, what have I seen before that I would like to revisit? The people, the places, the past, and the present. What’s the local history?

The ride is my therapy. “In The Wind” is my prescription and I can always tell when a dose is overdue.

The rest of this blog is dedicated to the fight for the soul America. This page is set aside for the R ‘n’ R segments in between the battles. There will be many battles, I hope there will be as many of these….. treatments. Rest assured, though, that these rides invariably stir the Patriot in me and whether it be a rant or otherwise, there will be some opinions.

I’ll do my best to capture and post my thoughts in words and images of the essence of our American Routes.–Dex  

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02/10/2012–02/14/2012  Tombstone, Arizona

Friday morning had arrived and we had already adjusted our schedule to accommodate the Federal Government (indirectly). My son and riding partner, Bryan, had scheduled the only available appointment to complete his income taxes at 11am that day. I completed some last minute preparations and waited.

Bryan arrived shortly after noon, we checked the loads, gassed up, and headed east on Interstate 10 close to 1pm. Friday was providing perfect riding weather even leaving so late. The sun was shining and warmed the air into the upper 70’s and even the low 80’s in a few spots. Excellent.

The plan was to arrive at my daughter’s house near Yuma that evening and leave bright and early with my son-in-law the next morning. Before we even arrived, Uncle Sam would have his say one more time.

My son-in-law is an instructor at one of the military bases near Yuma. He is the one that suggested Tombstone, booked the cabin and set the date. He was at work on Friday and as Bryan and I were preparing to leave, one of the trainees in Yuma committed a serious party foul. The ‘gentleman’ lost a very expensive and very sensitive piece of equipment in the middle of the Arizona desert. Not only did the Base Commander order my son-in-law, the guilty party, and the rest of the group to search the desert that day, they and over 100 non-involved servicemen were ordered to return to the area the next morning to search until the item was found.

Bryan and I would be traveling alone.

An early start was not in the cards either. Apparently, once your weekend has been cancelled, it is appropriate to try and squeeze in all that beer and trash-talking into Friday night….until 3:30am…with 10 other guys….which is what they did. Since Bryan is a very sympathetic person, he was right there with them. Since I got up at 5:30, I watched a lot of early Saturday morning tv fare with one of my grandsons until Bryan finally rolled out at 9am. Hiding bloodshot eyes behind his shades, we hit the road.

We gassed up at Barney’s on Fortuna and, once again, headed east. Another beautiful sunny day, but quite a bit cooler.  Layered and leathered, we were finally on our way.

Heading east on Interstate 8, there is a gentle climb into a winding pass where the freeway separates and actually crosses over its opposing lanes several times. On reaching the summit, the emerald green of Dome Valley’s agriculture, well watered by the Gila River, can be seen stretching out to the opposing foothills and miles east.

One of the many things I dislike about riding the Interstate as opposed to highways, is not being able to pull off at a convenient place and soak it in, take some pics, and stretch a bit. Use your imagination, the green was intense in that gray/brown desert landscape. I’m fairly certain the were food crops too…….not medicinal.

Had to hit a rest stop early on and… well they have some different rules from the ones posted here in Cali….

Yeah, we were disappointed, but we rolled on to Gila Bend, where we stopped for gas and browsed the local arts and crafts.

It’s just really unfortunate that we had no room available on our bikes…

Oh well…. time to go.

Back on the 8 and miles and miles of …. well not much at all. We merged with Interstate 10 and the traffic got heavy all the way through Tucson. Disclaimer: Heavy as in cars in both lanes, not California heavy. Exiting the 10 at Benson was a relief. Benson is another older community with a history of its own that we may take a look at in the future. We gassed up again and motored down the 80 for the short 25 mile ride through St. David to Tombstone. Following our directions, we turned off the 80 just after Boot Hill and just before the Circle K on Bruce Street and again on Second, finally arriving at The Lucky Cuss Cottages. (The Lucky Cuss Mine and The Toughnut Mine were two of the major sources of Tombstone’s silver bonanza)

Our home away from home for the weekend. Not extravagant…

… but very nice on the inside.

This place has everything you need; fridge, stove, microwave, dishes, linens, television, and of course….

…our very own VHS copy of TOMBSTONE to watch! …and yes, we did

We unpacked and headed into town.

The Cochise County Courthouse stands out as one of the classic western buildings in town.

The locals in period costumes

On the right is Campbell and Hatch Billiards where Morgan Earp was shot and killed

The sun was quickly setting so we grabbed some dinner and headed back to the Lucky Cuss.

The weather changed dramatically the next morning, bringing clouds and cooler temps.

The OK Corral can be seen on the left, walled in so they can charge admission and stay in business.

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon on the right. The wind began to pick up and eventually blew the clouds away for the most part. It also added a very appropriate element to an old west street:

As if one of the performers acting on cue, this lone tumbleweed tumbled in the wind down the entire length of historic Allen Street. As the wind continued, the sky began to turn a deeper blue and the low clouds dissipated.

Didn’t see or hear a lot of politics here in Tombstone, but the sentiments were about what you’d expect anywhere…

The stage coaches and their driver/tour guides began to set up and were busy with tourists the entire day.

Tombstone was celebrating Wild West Days that weekend and the local American Legion was an impressive presence.

“Boss Hoss” an impressive custom V-8 powered trike

Brothers and Sisters from The Patriot Guard were there

I was told this was a ’65 Cusman

A little bit of contrast…

The road was calling so we headed out for a short ride to Patagonia out Highway 82. West on the 82 puts you in a desert prairie environment. The rocky, sandy soil gave way to the blonde prairie grass that waved in the constant wind. This area is touted to be the heart of Arizona’s ‘Wine Country’. The elevation neared 5000 feet so it remained chilly the entire ride.

Stopped in Sonoita for refreshment at the  small, family run Sonoita Fuel Stop. Tucson born and raised, the family traveled frequently to So Cal to surf and camp at the beach. From the looks of the mural on the side of the business, they really enjoyed San Onofre

Towns seem to have personalities determined by the residents. Tombstone is a tourist town, Tucson a busy city. Sonoita is one of those friendly towns that are few and far between. Probably due to the mature age of the roughly 1000 residents (Median age estimated at 50). The entire family was at work inside the market, preparing food, cashiering, as well as making us patrons feel right at home. 

We soon mounted up and headed southwest toward Patagonia.  Patagonia is a bit bigger, has an ‘art community’, a theater, and a nature conservancy. A bit too ‘la dee dah’ for me.

Now this, I thought, was my kind of place, The Politically Incorrect Gas Station. They only had 87 octane gas and diesel so we didn’t spend any time chatting it up there.

Nothing really caught our interest so we motored on back to Tombstone and a stop at Boothill.

Now a lot of you seem to get real offended by these signs. But to a Californian, it’s a constant reminder just how free the rest of you still are.

The iconic grave marker for Mr Moore. 

The ‘Unknown’s must have been a big family. They were a majority in this place.

Now I wouldn’t have buried these fellows so close together, but that’s just me.

Packard Hearse parked in front of the tourist shop closest to Boot Hill

Henney is the company in Illinois that fitted the Packards for hearse duty as well as ambulance conversions

But the sun was setting on another day and with the sunset came the clouds and moisture.

The coldest morning yet, but time for the ride back to Yuma.

Monday morning and we were more than ready to stop in Benson after only 30 minutes on the road. Thin blooded, we were both numb from the wrist down and ready for a hot breakfast. The Horseshoe Cafe hit the spot. The ladies tried in vain to find us a place to get some better gloves. We took our time with breakfast, gassed up and headed to MalMart to see if they had any. Nope. But they did have those nifty little hand warmer packets that stuffed quite nicely into our gloves.

Picacho Peak on I10

Well, there’s no local timber, so you improvise where you can…

We made it safely into Yuma and crashed for the night before I left for home the next morning. Bryan stayed on as he had more time off, but I wanted to beat the weather home. So much for that. It started raining in Quartzsite but let up after 20 miles or so.

Another stop in Chiriaco Summit to warm up and take a quick look at the General Patton Museum and I was off again.

It was a great ride. We missed having my son-in-law and didn’t ride down to Nogales but it was a good time. As a side note here, on this one ride I saw more Border Patrol Officers, vehicles, and checkpoints than I have my entire life. They are alive and well in the Tucson Sector.

Ride safe–Dex 

 

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One thought on “American Routes: Blacktop, Backdrops, and Backtalk

  1. Pingback: Travel Blog: American Routes; Blacktop, Backdrops, And Backtalk « DEXTER AMERICUS

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