Bisbee, Part 2

We had one more day in Bisbee and decided to spend it going for a ride and hike. We heard about the Chiricahua National Monument, “A wonderland of Rocks.” According to the National Parks Service website. After a night at the Grand Saloon going for a hike seemed like a good idea. We started the day having coffee with Destiny, a motorcycle friend, who recently moved to Bisbee from the Seattle area. It was fun to take time to hang out and hear her take on living in Bisbee.

On our way back to the hotel Destiny suggested we try the breakfast burritos at a small restaurant on our way. We had noticed the place but it was only open Thursday – Sunday. The burrito was great and good fuel for the day.

The 73 mile ride to the National Monument was pretty but uneventful. Like a lot of the riding in the area there were long stretches of two lane road with little traffic. With no reason to go slow we made it there in record time.

We had a short briefing by the park ranger and headed out with our packs on a 4 mile loop.

The trail wound through a huge section of rock formations called hoodoos.

It’s tricky riding with all our gear and then having to change into hiking attire. We’re trying out leaving everything with the bikes and covering the bikes with our lightweight covers so nobody can see what is there. Not sure how that will work in Mexico but it seemed to work ok in Arizona.

It was awesome walking around and through the rock formations.

We hiked through an awesome slot canyon.

What’s this? Rocks on the trail?

I’m not very good at selfies…

According to my Gaia app, we hiked an astounding 3.6 miles in 2 and a half hours and gained 520 feet in elevation. It was a nice day and easy walk.

We decided to take the long way home to check out a place a couple of people recommended, Rattlesnake Ranch in Dragoon, AZ. The following is in Roadside America:

This appears to be someone’s home rather than an official attraction. Metal statues of dinosaurs line the driveway (arrived 2019). Outdoor displays of helmets and meat grinders. Be careful where you walk; remember what this place is named.

Yes it is someone’s home. There is a huge welcome sign by the gate so we rode in and parked near the house. A couple of big dogs barked a threatening greeting as we dismounted the bikes. Soon an older gentleman came out to call off the dogs and looked at us warily. He seemed nice enough after talking for a bit but I was cautious after noticing all the “Premises Protected by Smith and Wesson” signs.

We noticed the metal sculptures along the driveway and asked about them. He looked at us for a minute before continuing that he purchased them for his wife who he “lost to Alzheimer’s recently and had to put her in a home.” Amazing. A truly humble double wide in the middle of nowhere down a long dirt road and he acquired this huge collection of metal art for his wife.

It was a nice stop, not a typical tourist trap but interesting. The sculptures were very well done and fun to check out.

As we rode back to Bisbee the breakfast burritos were long since digested and we were wondering we would find any food. The Mexican restaurant was closed, the place with breakfast burritos was only open for breakfast, the pizza place never did open as far as we could tell. Hungry, we walked from the hotel once again towards the downtown section. We heard there was a dive bar that had one item, bratwurst. Hmm, we both did grow up in Wisconsin so that might work but Deby wasn’t too convinced.

We walked pas the scene of the crime the previous night, the Grand Saloon. I seemed to remember they had a kitchen but didn’t see anyone eating. I saw this sign in the window.

Then this next one….

Huh? We looked in and saw a table with what looked like the same crowd from the night before. Getting ready to make crafts? It seemed weird but normal in a Bisbee sort of way. We kept walking. Finally we came to Bisbee’s Table, online it says “comfort food and old school character.” Ok, burgers, we could do that. Yes, we could get a table if we could wait 45 minutes. Whatever, we waited for about 20 minutes and the squeezed us in for a rather decent meal. We splurged for some nice wine to really live it up.

We overheard the couple in the table next to us say they were from Wisconsin, geesh, they’re everywhere! We didn’t say anything but on the way out we ran into them outside the restaurant and struck up a conversation. It turns out we both graduated from Milwaukee School of Engineering although he graduated some years earlier. We laughed about engineering and Milwaukee when he suddenly looked very serious and said, “It’s our 55th wedding anniversary and we need to get to the hotel!” The grin on his face told us what I didn’t want to suspect. Cheeseheads!

Ok, just one more stop before Mexico!

Friday morning we had another breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club before detouring north to Silver City, New Mexico. Our memories of quirky Bisbee would be with us for awhile. Our tourist visas and motorcycle import permits wouldn’t valid until Monday so we needed to kill a few more days. We wanted to stop and visit a gallery in Silver City run by some friends of friends, Anamalia Gallery. We had been collecting some the art from the proprietors, Todd and Karen and wanted to pick up a couple more things to ship home. We had a great visit and it was nice to finally meet them in person.

We spent the weekend hanging out and took a day to ride up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The dwellings were cool but the road to get there was awesome. According to the NPS website:

You need time to drive to the Monument. The 44-mile trip from Silver City will take at least 1-1/2 hours and up to 2 hours due to the mountainous and winding nature of the road.

Perfect, we left early and had almost no traffic and made it there in an hour! The road twisted and turned with elevations between 6,000 and 7,000 feet and spectacular views.

Not the type of environment we expected in New Mexico.

I had never visited any of the cliff dwellings in the US before, it was pretty cool.

The approved trail took us inside some of the dwellings.

Soon we were heading back to Silver City making good time on the mountain road. Deby and I both had to remember to keep out toes lifted up on the pegs to keep them from scraping on the blacktop.

Our accommodations were at the Bear Mountain Lodge on the edge of town. We learned that the lodge was involved with a project called One Million Bones. Click HERE to learn more.

On June 8, 2013, approximately 2,500 volunteers from across the United States gathered on the National Mall to lay out 1,018,260 handcrafted bones as a visible petition against on-going genocide and mass atrocities. The installation of the bones was the highlight of a three-day event that included speakers from across the anti-genocide movement, a candlelight vigil, educational activities and an advocacy day.

The project is continuing on the property of the lodge. The bones were shipped to the property in boxes and now people are encouraged to take a bone and hike up a hill to place them in patterns in a designated open area.

We grabbed a couple of bones and started the hike up the hillside.

The path was lined with bones and was a sobering reminder of the project. We passed a couple walking a dog and it occurred to me that a dog might get rather excited being around so many bones. Nope, the owners told us that with just one sniff the dog knew they were ceramic and lost all interest. Probably a good thing.

At the top of the hill there was a HUGE area full of bone patterns. A million bones is really a lot. We made our small contribution of three bones by arranging them under a tree on a rock. Simple.

That’s it. We spent the next few days hiking and exploring a place called “The big ditch.” Hopefully the next post will be from Mexico! If they let us in….

Thanks for following,

Donn and Deby

Mexico 2022 – Heading South!

Ok, that’s it. We’re spending the winter in Mexico! On motorcycles, of course. We decided to make this a slightly different type of motorcycle trip. Instead of blasting through the country we are going to slow down and explore things at a slower pace, get to know the places we visit and work more on my Spanish speaking skills. We’ll see how that goes..

The plan was to leave on the bikes in early November 2021. It’s usually tricky riding from Seattle in that time of year because of rain and the potential for snow. This year was no exception. The day we choose to leave was sunny and relatively warm but the forecast further south was rain, wind and snow at higher elevations. Deby wanted to ride, I opted for some creature comforts so we loaded the bikes on the trailer and started the first part of the ride in the truck.

Not much to say about driving a truck south on I-5, lots of traffic and boring sections. We got as far as Medford, OR for the night and checked into a chain hotel. Day two was more exciting as we crossed the Siskiyou mountains. The forecast was correct, we had cold, rain and snow at times. It would have been no fun on the bikes and slightly dangerous.

By mid day we arrived at our friend’s Airbnb near Ahwahnee, CA. CLICK HERE to see the listing. Kim and her husband are motorcycle riding friends of ours and it’s always a blast to have an evening hanging out together. They graciously let us park the truck at their house. You will hear more about them later in the blog since we will be meeting in Puerto Vallarta for the Christmas holidays.

Wednesday morning was cool but clear with a warming sun. After rearranging our gear from the truck onto the bikes we were soon saying our goodbyes and eager to start the motorcycle riding in earnest. Kris helped us plan a great route to our destination of Kernville, CA for the night.

Ahh, great to be back on the road.

We suddenly hit some fog in the higher elevations which would be gone as we descended into the next valley.

We stopped for a photo op at an overlook. You may notice I’m no longer on the Africa Twin. I finally upgraded to a BMW R1250GSA, wow what a bike.

We rolled into the touristy town of Kernville late afternoon and settled into the Riverview Lodge for the evening.

A quaint little family run hotel, although we never talked to anyone who worked there. Covid protocols dictated a “touchless check-in”, which meant the door was left open when we arrived and just leave the key on the bed when we left. The town seemed pretty quiet so we went for a walkabout before it got dark at 5:00 and then found a restaurant with not very good food. Back in our cozy room we worked on route planning for the next day and got a good nights sleep.

The view from our walk around Kernville, CA

Thursday we rode into the heat…. Our plan was to ride to Palm Springs, CA and meet our friends Michael and Dee Dee for a few days of relaxing around the pool. You may remember Michael from the 2012 trip to South America and again in Patagonia. I’m re-posting what has become famously known as “The Dee Dee Dance.” Deby and I do this dance almost every day in the morning to loosen our bones and get ready for the day’s ride. It’s fun!

We checked into the Indian Wells Resort Hotel in Indian Wells, CA. From their website:

Founded by Hollywood legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1957, the Indian Wells Resort Hotel is filled with Hollywood history and has a generous touch of old school glamour. You might call it a hotel for the retro set… or perhaps the value seekers. This boutique desert oasis is a labor of love to Palm Spring’s golden age of stars and style while delivering
modern luxuries at a reasonable rate

Of course, pictures of Lucy were everywhere.

But we choose to finally warm up at the pool. Remember, ride slower / take time to get to know the locals / enjoy the sights? Ha!

I felt bad when I got this notice on my phone while at the pool.

We got out of Seattle just in time as a series of “atmospheric rivers” slammed into the area causing flooding, mudslides and general misery for days. All we had to contend with was riding in 95 degree heat…. we managed.

I get slightly stir crazy spending too much time poolside so I talked Deby into letting me use her motorcycle so Michael and I could go for a day ride in the area.

I had a blast riding Deby’s F750GS and Michael was test riding my 1250 as he is thinking about getting one. All in all we rode 183 fantastic miles at elevations from near sea level to over 600 feet.

The first stop was a lookout up highway 74 just out of town. The road climbs to nearly 5,000 feet in the first thirty miles. Certainly one of the best rides in the area. You can see the road in this picture from the lookout.

For lunch we stopped at the Motodoffo winery. Click on the link to learn more.

It’s an awesome place with a very nice collection of over 100 vintage motorcycle on display.

Really a nice place to visit with beautiful views.

There was even a Norton! Although, it was not restored and relegated to the outdoor display. Still, it was fun to see.

Reluctantly, Michael and I both skipped the wine tasting. On the way back we stopped in the touristy town of Idyllwild for a break and a beverage. This must have been on the Harley tourbook because the town was full of Harleys on what must have been a weekend club ride. No worries, we parked next to the cruisers and followed them into the best spot in town, this time we each had a well deserved brew.

Here’s a helmet cam shot of me on Deby’s bike.

Michael and I returned to the hotel with our fill of riding for the day. What a great ride through twisty roads with some fantastic stops. As we parked the bikes I looked down at my right boot and it was spotted with oil…. that is never a good sign.

It was Saturday evening and it looked like an engine oil leak on Deby’s relatively new 2020 BMW. How could that be? Sure enough, oil was covering the upper engine. Valve cover gasket? Head gasket? Hmmm, no way to know without having a shop look at it.

We had one more day in Indian Wells and then we would ride to Tucson, AZ for a day. There is a BMW dealer there and I hoped they could sneak us in and give the bike a look over. Hopefully this wouldn’t derail our trip but it would be better to have it checked out in the US than in Mexico.

I tried to put the oil leak out of my mind when we spent the last night with our friends where we celebrated milestone decade birthdays they were both having (no more details there…)

So — yahoo, the first post in a long while and the start of a new adventure south. Thanks to everyone who has been encouraging me to continue with this blog. It means a lot to me. Thanks for comments and well wishes even though I can’t always respond due to time and bandwidth issues. I hope everyone enjoys the ride!

Donn and Deby