Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ducati’s First Camping Trip! (Roper Lake State Park and the Swift Trail Parkway)

Okay, back to our story…

After breakfast, I passed through the beautiful sauterne colored grasslands near St. Johns, my  heart’s magnetic north this spring.  One more gas stop and it was time to have another go at that 100 mile stretch of twisty turny goodness I love so much, the Coronado Scenic Byway.  You know, the road that was a study in road hazards when I rode it a month earlier?  I’ll be damned, that sand trap, not unlike the pile of sand that I woke up to in my tent, thanks to the ever present wind, was still there.  Placed for maximum excitement factor, if you goof, you’ll wish you were wearing a parachute for that unexpected trip off the side of a mountain.  I didn’t goof.  Obviously.  There were some other obstructions along the way but…

Lean left…

Lean right…

Left… right


For 100 miles.  Wheee!  Good times.

By the time I get to Clifton, I always need gas.  Next time it won't be the usual Circle K gas-up and ice cream sandwich break, but a visit to Maud’s Drive-In (“Get Sauced!”), and a turn around the art gallery I noticed for the first time as I was riding by, looking nervously at my gas gauge.

I landed at Roper State Park, near Safford, AZ in time to find this.

Looks like a good place to pitch a tent to me!  A good soak was just the thing after a few days of riding.  After my bath, I watched the birds chase down mosquitoes as the sunset painted pretty pastel colors on the marsh.

Roper Lake State Park (19)

And for the first evening of the tour, I set up my tent in peace.  The wind machine was taking the night off, I guess.

The next morning it was time for this good thing to come to an end.  But I wasn't heading home without a turn (two turns, actually) up Mount Graham via the Swift Mountain Parkway. This is  a road as tight and twisty as you could hope for.  Here’s my blog stock photo of the Parkway (you’ve seen it before).

Mount Graham Swift Trail Parkway 002

But first one has to fuel up. Petrol and a breakfast burrito at the Mt. Graham Grocery and Deli.  I’ve been here so often, the owner recognized me.  This would be one of my favorite gas stops of all time, but for two absent yet critical features.  Real cream for the coffee (it has that awful “creamer” which has nothing to do with cream), and no premium fuel. The latter wasn’t an issue back in the Kawi days, but that Ducati, she gets what she wants!

Mount Graham

One last photo before I point the bike homeward.   Already I was plotting a “training weekend*” back in the area, to spend a day just running up and down this mountain.

'Twas a good little tour**!

*Plan foiled.  Road closed soon thereafter due to fire danger.  Could very well still be closed.
** 1400 miles, I do believe.

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