On our last day in Moab we decided to forgo Arches National Park, as it just seemed so congested when we rode past and instead we went on a fabulous ride on Highway 128 to Cisco. This is one of the most stunning valley rides I have ever experienced.
We had the road almost entirely to ourselves. The red rock landscapes just went on and on as we followed the river through the valley.
We thought we would stop for a coffee at Cisco at the end of the ride. We were shocked to arrive and and find it was a ghost town.
There are many of these scattered across the country but I have never come across one quite like this.
It was a major water stop for steam trains in the past and then became abandoned following the building of the interstate highway nearby which bypassed the town.
It was pretty spooky with rotting cars lying around. We had the feeling a few people still lived there and did not want to risk getting off the bike to wander around.
We rode from Moab via Page to Flagstaff, Arizona. It is much colder up in the mountains and we got caught in a full on hailstorm on our way into the town. We loved it there and ended up staying in a motel in the centre of town for three nights. We got lots of work done (I am up to 45,000 words!), enjoyed the local health food supermarket and had a couple of trips out-one for beers and burgers and the other to Lowell Observatory. This is one of the most famous observatories in the world, where Pluto was discovered. We waited for a clear night and were treated to views of the moon through a small telescope and views of Jupiter through the huge, historical Clark telescope. We could see four of Jupiter’s moons and brown stripes on the white surface of the planet. Very cool. We saw a skunk on the way back.
We rode to the famous meteor crater nearby. This is apparently the finest preserved meteor crater in the world. The meteor hit about 50,000 years ago and created a hole a mile across.
Research taking place here has enhanced understanding of meteor craters across the whole solar system. Although this is in the middle of nowhere, the visitors centre is really state of the art.
We had an amazing ride down off the mountain into Sedona from Flagstaff. Oak Creek Canyon is really very special. The atmosphere in the canyon was amazing. It reminded me of the atmosphere at Big Sur.
It was wonderful to be back in pine tree country after a week in the desert. The air smelt amazing. We saw a coyote cross the road in front of us.
The red rocks of Sedona are extraordinary but I really felt the town that they have built and the widened road to serve the tourist industry were big turn offs.
We stayed away from the main tourist area and stayed instead in the Verde Valley on a nice campsite. We got raided by racoons in the night who ate EVERYTHING, including a whole, raw, sweet potato and a pound bag of ground almonds. Lesson learned.
We had a great ride out to Jerome. This was once a thriving copper mining town and then became a ghost town around the 1950s. Fortunately, it has recently experienced a revival being adopted by artists and other bohemian folk and is now a popular tourist attraction. We were lucky that we arrived early in the morning and avoided the crowds which were building up as we left.
We rode through the nearby Mingus mountains, enjoying the winding roads and we both agreed it was the first “real ride” we had experienced in months. There were a lot of other bikers around, mostly on Harleys and the area seems to be a popular bikers meet point.
After two nights in the Verde Valley, we left for the Lost Dutchman State Park, east of Phoenix. I must admit that I thought the ride and campsite would be humdrum. I could not have been more wrong.
The whole route was stunning; mountainous and green at first and then mountainous and desert with huge saguaro cacti everywhere-very reminiscent of Baja California. It was very windy though, making the air dusty and riding and camping a challenge.I was kept awake last night by the coyotes howling but the bird song this morning was wonderful. The desert is so green and full of wildlife at this time of the year.
We are now enjoying a second day on the campsite. I will share some photos of the site next time as it is extraordinary. We will head back to the Mexican border tomorrow to Organ Pipe Cactus National Park. We have come full circle in the last month since we arrived in the USA. Once we leave Arizona made week, we will then start heading east to New Mexico. The USA really is the gift that keeps on giving.