2011.05.12 – Arizona to Idaho

With the efficiency of interstates this trip probably could have been done in a day or two. Seemed to me there was some cool country off the beaten track though so I stretched it into four fantastic days of exploring; riding from sunshine to blizzard as I worked north. Seemingly away from South America, yes, but with a globe in hand one could almost convince with a chuckle that north points directly there.

The first day found me at Petrified Forest National Park after a scenic drive through copper mining country in mid-eastern Arizona. Some abandoned and some active, none left any doubt in my mind why copper is priced as high as it is.

Abandoned mine tailings near Winkelman, AZ - HDR

Abandoned mine tailings near Winkelman, AZ - HDR

Taken from within the structure in the photo above - HDR

Taken from within the structure in the photo above - HDR

Probably makes changing the camel's tires seem like child's play

Probably makes changing the camel's tires seem like child's play

The Ray Copper Mine - Those tiny dump trucks use the tires in the photo above

The Ray Copper Mine - Those tiny dump trucks use the tires in the photo above

Petrified Forest National Park is yet another one of those places where it’s easy to envision that you’re on another planet. My only question is, who’s the poor bastard who had to chainsaw up all these rock solid tree trunks into nice manageable logs?

Petrified tree trunk

Petrified tree trunk

Petrified log about 2 ft in diameter

Petrified log about 2 ft in diameter

A nearly 100 ft long petrified tree trunk

A nearly 100 ft long petrified tree trunk

More petrified logs

More petrified logs

After such a long day it was nice to meet up with Patrick and Eddie, charismatic brothers out on the open road to celebrate Eddie’s 40th, who welcomed me into their impromptu motorcycle camp behind an abandoned roadside structure. Finally sheltered from howling desert winds, I eagerly accepted their kind offer of soup warmed in the campfire coals and cold beers. Soon we were discussing the finer points of two-wheeled travel, from riding sideways through dust-storms to hairpin mountain switchbacks and roadside mechanical repairs. Life is good, and all the better for the people you meet along the way.

Home for the night nicely sheltered from the wind

Home for the night nicely sheltered from the wind

Friends on the road

Friends on the road

The next day, though short when judged by miles, was made long by temperatures barely above freezing and 80 miles of schizophrenic precipitation, going from rain to blizzard to sleet and back again. With frequent stops for hot chocolate and soup I finally arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in time to make camp and spend the afternoon on the rim. What a view!!!! Though lacking a true sunset, the light cooperated enough for some decent HDR photography.

From the South Rim - HDR

From the South Rim - HDR

Somewhere down there nearly 5,000 ft is the Colorado River - Composite Image

Somewhere down there nearly 5,000 ft is the Colorado River - Composite Image

Looking down the Bright Angel trail, my knees hurt just looking at it!

Looking down the Bright Angel trail, my knees hurt just looking at it!

The North Rim in the distance is 10 miles away - HDR

The North Rim in the distance is 10 miles away - HDR

Stone structures at Hermit's Rest - HDR

Stone structures at Hermit's Rest - HDR

The Grand Canyon, a composite of 19 images

The Grand Canyon, a composite of 19 images

A clearing sky that night meant for chilly sleeping but also the hope for sunshine the next day for morning canyon views. Thanks to friends Adel, Victor, and Adriena who are all master Malaysian coffee exporters on the side, I’m well stocked with Old Town White Coffee to warm the belly and put a little crazy back in my morning grin.

Are those jitters from the cold or the caffeine?

Are those jitters from the cold or the caffeine?

The hoped for sunshine arrived and soon I was back on the precipice of the canyon. This vantage was quite a contrast to that from 65,000 ft altitude, as can be seen from the photo below which was taken by the pilot and this same camera from the cockpit of NASA’s ER-2 during our instrument flight campaign earlier this year. Oh the joys of being employed!

The Grand Canyon from 65,000 ft

The Grand Canyon from 65,000 ft

Thanks guy from Helena for taking my picture!

Thanks guy from Helena for taking my picture!

Same view as yesterday, this time no Photoshop trickery needed!

Same view as yesterday, this time no Photoshop trickery needed!

Ranger Ty explaining how the canyon came to be

Ranger Ty explaining how the canyon came to be

Looking downstream (west) - Composite Image

Looking downstream (west) - Composite Image

Looking upstream (north-east)

Looking upstream (north-east)

Thanks guy from Japan for taking my picture!

Thanks guy from Japan for taking my picture!

Looking up the interior of the Desert View Watchtower

Looking up the interior of the Desert View Watchtower

The afternoon’s drive from the Grand Canyon was one of the best yet with wild southwest skies, badland-like rock formations, and some fantastic mountain roads twisting their way into Utah.

Some shade from the sun near Cliff Dwellers, AZ

Some shade from the sun near Cliff Dwellers, AZ

Arriving in Utah I camped in the Dixie National Forest where there was still 2-3 ft of snow in places. Good thing as I had run out of water and needed to melt snow for drinking and cooking. After doing so I enjoyed a gourmet dinner of ramen noodles, pine needles, and dirt, noticing that the reflection of the waxing moon was visible while slurping up the noodles. There isn’t a five star restaurant in the world that can offer the moon in your soup.

Roadside drinking water aplenty

Roadside drinking water aplenty

Voila, snow into drinking water! Now if only I could turn that into wine.

Voila, snow into drinking water! Now if only I could turn that into wine.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

There's a moon in my soup!

There's a moon in my soup!

The next day would be the last on the road for a while, home wasn’t far away. But between Utah and Idaho they had quite a day of scenery planned for me.

Near Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT

Near Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT

Home is in sight!

Home is in sight!

Home now for some R&R, and finally able to spend some relaxed time with family. Might drop off the radar for a little while…..

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Gallery | This entry was posted in Place Report, Ride Report, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 2011.05.12 – Arizona to Idaho

  1. Dave says:

    Obviously, the “no tresspassing” signs at the mine must have been lost on you… wicked photos! There was a lot less activity when I went through there on Sunday- thanks for waiting for me, jerk!

  2. Bailey says:

    Tremendous photography, Ryan! Can’t wait to see what comes out of South America!

  3. Joella says:

    Ummm…ever consider selling those photographs?! Just sayin’…you could make a fortune!!!
    Also…next trip should be Canada: The last frontier. Naaahhh….that’s too boring.
    Can’t wait to see pics of South America!

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