Southern States Tour – Day 16

Day 16 Route
Day 16 Route

Today was mostly sunny with some fluffy white ‘Simpsons’ clouds here and there. Temperatures were largely in the 80’s but started and finished in the 70’s.

Day’s distance: 334 miles
Total trip distance: 2,811 miles

I woke up early, as often happens when I camped. I packed up camp at a leisurely pace and was still ready to leave by about 7am.

Tire pressure … check. Oil level … check. Sena device (my bluetooth helmet communication unit) … Ugh. It wouldn’t turn on. I had problems late in the day yesterday, but simply thought the battery was drained so I had charged it overnight. Anyway, I tried to reset it using the controls to no avail.

I dug out the one-page manual and it suggested depressing the very small reset button located on the back. I needed a pin or something similar, but everything I was carrying was too big. Luckily my nearest camp neighbors, who were also up packing, had something that worked and soon I was on my way.

I stopped at the Why Not Travel Store located a few miles north of camp in Why, AZ.

Why Not Travel Store in Why, AZ
Why Not Travel Store in Why, AZ

I noticed when I topped off my gas tank that they had an open wi-fi network so I purchased a cup of coffee and a snack and update the blog.

This morning’s destination was the Kitt Peak National Observatory. It’s elevation of 6,883 feet makes it an ideal home for the largest collection of optical telescopes in the world. And there is an 11-mile twisty two lane road that takes you to the top πŸ™‚

Road to Kitt Peak, AZ
Road to Kitt Peak, AZ

I remember some 25 years ago when I first saw Saturn’s rings through a telescope belonging to the Cabrillo Community College Astronomy program. Everyone knows the planet has rings but when I first saw them for myself, I was quite giddy. It made a lasting impression.

Today I saw the sun’s surface through two telescopes here at Kitt Peak. Here’s a photo of the small telescopes used.

Telescopes used for solar viewing
Telescopes used for solar viewing

Looking through one of the telescopes showed the full light spectrum, resulting in an uninteresting white sun. The other telescope, with the yellow shade at the top, contained some very expensive filters that allowed only a small portion of the light spectrum, the frequency emitted by hydrogen gas, through to the eyepiece and one could see solar spots, if present, and prominence (flares), etc.. It was an orange-red color. No solar spots at this time but there was a hydrogen prominence that had broken off the surface of the sun. It was impressive and very cool – an experience I will likely remember always.

It was after noon by the time I was again on my way. I stopped for lunch at Cindy Lou’s II, in Three Points, AZ. It was well rated and turned out to be really good. I had a Southwestern Melt sandwich and about a gallon of ice tea πŸ™‚

I really wasn’t sure at this point whether I wanted to continue towards Nogales and where I was going to stay for the night. After talking to Carson, my housemate back in Seattle, he suggested I stay in Bisbee, AZ. It’s an interesting historical mining town – a small downtown would make it easy to find somewhere for dinner without having to get back on the bike.

He also suggested that I make a reservation early. This was brilliant as it turns out people that run the historic hotels go home at 6pm and I didn’t arrive until after 7pm. More on that later. I decided on the Eldorado Suites right in the historic downtown.

With reservations made and lunch finished, I continued to follow my Butler Motorcycle Map south on some roads that were marked as interesting. Thing is, I was a little casual today about my route.

I traveled Hwy 286 south to Arivaca Road. The first half was a little rough, but the second half seemed to have better pavement.

Arivaca Road, AZ
Arivaca Road, AZ

I turned south at I-19 until reaching Hwy 82. The land seemed more fertile as I entered the hills of the Coronado National Forest. Encouraged to keep exploring, I took Hwy 83 south. This road turned out to be a very rough, very crappy country road with speed limits of of mostly 25 mph.

The route I followed dead-ended at the West Gate of Fort Huachuca, a military base. I honestly thought when I looked on the map that this was some sort of nature preserve or historical site. Instead, I end up at an automated, highly secured gate with cameras and everything. πŸ™

It was after 6pm, and the sun was falling fast. I don’t like traveling at night on the motorcycle and I started to feel a bit panicked. There was a call button, so I pressed it hoping for the best.

Someone answered and I told them I was lost, I was trying to get to Bisbee before dark and I didn’t want to retrace 60 miles of what was mostly crappy country roads. I guess they took pity on me and after presenting my driver’s license to the camera, they let me pass through the gates and cut through the base.

Of course, I got lost on the base because none of the roads are straight and there are no road signs on how to get to the East Gate. The first person I asked, apparently a German officer there for training, had only been there two weeks and wasn’t helpful. He did say that he owned a 1983 BMW motorcycle and loved it (everyone has a motorcycle story).

The two enlisted soldiers I asked about 10 minutes later seemed very intimidated and didn’t know whether they should salute, stand at attention or parade rest, who I was, or anything. Eventually, one of them gave me some pointers.

Anyway, I finally found someone who pointed me in the right direction at the gas station. I filled up and took off out the East Gate. It was now 7pm and almost dark.

This story was hilarious to tell Carson and all turned out well, thanks to decision of the person who controlled access to the base (thanks!). I really got a kick out of the reactions of the soldiers, especially the young enlisted men who seemed really scared someone without a recognizable rank was talking to them.

Bisbee looks like a wonderful place. The suite was super large, with its own living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and walk-in closet. I had a light dinner and a not-light dessert at The Bisbee Table located conveniently in the historic district. Recommended.

Eldorado Suites in Bisbee, AZ
Eldorado Suites in Bisbee, AZ

It looks out over the historic part of town. This view is from my balcony.

Eldorado Suites, Bisbee, AZ
Eldorado Suites, Bisbee, AZ

Overall, besides being a long day, it was an eventful day. Even the really crappy road led me to seeing some wonderful country. I am continual surprised at the variety of environments here in Arizona. It is fast becoming one of my favorites places to visit on a motorcycle.

Hwy 83 southwest of Elgin, AZ
Hwy 82, AZ

2 thoughts

    1. I suppose I’ll continue to stoke that yearning in you. Thanks for the comments and readership. Plan and go – life is short πŸ™‚

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