Every once in a while, people have the need to get out of the city, and go explore. Unfortunately, besides my trip up to Washington State in April (which was mostly by air), I hadn't done this in a year. Needless to say my brain circuits were fried, and I was really feeling out of it. After my 10 AM meeting with the head of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, and a 45 minute wait for a lockout truck (because I locked my keys in my car, and forgot to put a spare in my wallet), I headed straight for AZ 87... the Beeline Highway!
The drive to Payson, Arizona was quite nice. Plenty of twists, curves, and hills. I had one destination in mind... pine trees! I decided that my first destination would be the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Although I wasn't prepared very well to do much hiking (such as down INTO the canyon and under the waterfall), but the view (and the air!) was worth the trip. In all it was a little over an hour's drive from the Loop 202 in Mesa to the park, which included a stop at the tourist info centre in Payson.
I left Mesa at 12:30 and got to the park at some time around 1:45. The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a nice stop, but can be a pain in the rear to get to... very steep grades down into the canyon where the natural bridge crosses a creek. It was so nice to be able to let the wind hit you in the face without the feeling of being sandblasted! And the spray from the (albeit small) waterfall cooled the air quite a bit. Needless to say, after a few hours of being all "touristy", I was feeling quite refreshed. I left the state park sometime around 3... I think. I stopped looking at my watch.
Rather than take AZ 87/260 back to Payson and down into the valley, I decided to go further up the road to see if I could quench my need for pine trees... and it was only a mile or two up the road did I find my treasure... tall stand ponderosa pines! It's nice to see trees that aren't palms that actually stand tall above the ground! I headed north on AZ 87/260 and went through the tiny towns of Pine and Strawberry. Then, it was a climb to the top of the Mogollon Rim. Once to the top, I took a left where AZ 260 split off from the multiplex, and headed for Camp Verde. This was quite a drive as well, with plenty curves, hills, and etc.
Halfway down AZ 260, I noticed a quite large electrical storm brewing to the north. And when I stopped to top off the tank in Camp Verde, the cashier said she had someone who reported golfball sized hail just a few miles away! Talk about the potential insurance claims!
It was going on 4:30 or 5, and I was considering driving through Cottonwood and Prescott... but with the reports I was getting of the storm to the north, I decided to take I-17 straight back to the valley.
I made a pitstop for some grub at Cordes Junction, just as lightning was flickering all around. This was about 5:49 now that I think about it, because I drove up to Arcosanti to see what that was all about, and the sign said they closed at 5 or 5:30 or something like that. (I really don't remember now... I guess in taking this drive I relaxed so much I really didn't pay attention to time).
I only made it as far as the sign welcoming you to Arcosanti. The sign, which is a metallic circle that has some rust, and what apperears to be brushed alluminum lettering for the signage. Sitting in front of that sign, with a good sized electrical storm bearing down on me, gave me the feeling of being in some post-apocolyptic movie, with Arcosanti being the "fabled living city, where people still grow food and have government" and all those beans... was really cool. I will have to go back up to Arcosanti one of the days that they are open!
My final stop was at Sunset Point rest area, where I just called home for a bit to check and see if my brother's birthday present had arrived.
I made it home after doing some shopping for supplies for working with the Red Cross.
And on a side note, I also used this trip to test something... which is more popular, CB's or GMRS/FRS radios. Between Mesa and Payson, I had 99% of 2 way radio traffic coming from..................(wait for it)............GMRS/FRS radios. Next to nothing on the CB. Apparently I hit the area just as a bunch of 'caravans' were heading north into the Rim Country, but still, it points toward the hypothesis that more people are hitting the GMRS/FRS airwaves than the CB (probably due to the profanity you hear on the CB these days! Sheesh! Talk about your R rating!)
Anyway, that's my 7 or 8 hour roadtrip.
See you all on the highways!