i was itching for a long drive. for whatever reason i took a lot of photos and videos on this trip. sadly the photos are in alphabetical order, not chronological.
here's the Southwest trip, June 2017 recorded post facto on RideWithGPS.com. i think i have it right.
LA to Kingman, then highway 66 through Peach Springs, Ash Fork then Flagstaff, stayed in Sunset Crater Volcano National Park, north of Flag. next day 89 and 160 to Tuba City, the Three Mesas and 191 up to Chinle, overnight in Canyon De Chelly National Monument. next day back down 191 (because there no paved roads going east) to 264, Window Rock and Ya Ta Hey, down 491 (used to be 666 until AZ DOT got tired of replacing the constantly stolen signs (i considered it myself) to I-40, i think then bombed it to Santa Fe (thunderstorm).
a couple days in Santa Fe, I-25 to I-40 west to not quite Grants, then 117 south through El Malpais National Conservation area. (huge lava field.) 117 to Techado, 36 south to Quemado then 60 east to Datil. then i wanted to visit the VLA, so i bombed it over there, but the gift shop as closed (after 4pm) so that sucked, then i bombed it back to Datil Wells Campground (just W. of Datil). beautiful place, photos and video below.
from Datil down 12, through a huge isolated high plain (like Plains of San Augustin that hosts the VLA), slowly crawling up the Gila National Forest mountain ranges. lunch in Apache Creek? Reserve?, then 12 ends at 180. altitude here is in the 7000's. took 180 north from where 12 ends so that i could drive the interesting part of AZ 191. holey karap. all over 7000 feet, some over 8000, a very long exhausting drive (all "technical" twisty mountain roads sharp dropoffs... much of the highest had burned some time ago.
until i drove this route i had no idea that there was so much highway over 8000 feet. there were stretches over 9000 feet. this is an amazing drive.
conversed with some with cattle along the way, eventually "down" to Morenci, a giant open pit copper mine, the odd town of Clifton (a sort-of ghost town in the once-booming region), gas in Three Way (which is a FOUR way intersection, what's with that?), 191 down and down hotter and hotter, Solomon, Safford, Cactus Flat, down to I-10, west to Tucson. by now it's 110F and very large fires south of the I-10, actively burning in the heat and smoke. a rough end to a long day in an open car. visited friends in Tucson for a couple days.
from Tucson headed home up 77 through Oro Valley, then 79 to Florence (past the Tom Mix memorial); then cut over to I-10 then I-8 (Casa Grande) to take 85 north to avoid the traffic mess of Phoenix. then I-10 west, exit Salome Road which heads diagonally NW to Salome, Hope, Bouse, lots of dead cattle on the road, then Parker AZ. why is Parker such a sad town? next day after the smokiest stinky motel ever, into California and home via 62 (Joshua Tree) then I-10 home.
nice long hot drive. cold in the mountains though!
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