Arizona Ramblings Day Trip to Jacob Lake

The intent was to go to Jacob Lake for Navajo Tacos..but it didn’t turn out that way. The route was through the cut and then 89A across the Colorado River at Navajo Bridge and then on to Jacob Lake.

I love this area of the country with the different colors in the cliffs. The two pictures above are the Vermillion Cliffs taken from Hwy 89A on the way to the Colorado River.

Ahead a couple of miles is the Navajo Bridge and the turnoff to Lee’s Ferry.

We stopped at Marble Canyon 4 miles beyond the bridge to get something cold to drink and had this lizard stop by. There is also the stone explaining about the Dominquez Escalante Expedition in 1776. At this point in the expedition, Father Dominquez and Father Escalante were in rough shape. Guided by local natives, the Fathers were led to Lee’s Ferry where they found the crossing to be to be too difficult. They were led to a second ford of the Colorado where they carved steps into the canyon wall to facilitate the crossing. This became the Crossing of the Fathers but is now submerged under the waters of Lake Powell.

We made it to Jacob Lake for Navajo Tacos but the taco truck wasn’t open so we opted to eat inside the restaurant after a 40 minute wait. Wouldn’t you know it, when we came out after lunch the truck was open. Figures…. So at some point this week we’ll have Navajo Tacos for dinner. The above pictures are from an overlook on Hwy 89A on the way to and from Jacob Lake. I love the color.

Sam expressed an interest in stopping at Marble Canyon and I suggested we stop at the Navajo Bridge. The wind coming down from Jacob Lake was relatively strong and I hoped that the Condors would be out enjoying the updrafts. As we pulled in we were greeted with a two condors soaring above the bridge. What a treat.

The Colorado River below the Navajo Bridge.

It was a good ride. Temps were in the upper 80s and low 90s down on the desert and in the upper 70s at Jacob Lake. Total ride was 167 miles. We’ll be heading back to Mississippi soon so I suspect Arizona Ramblings are through until our next visit. Stay tuned…

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Arizona Ramblings Lake Powell Loop Day 3

The morning of our third and final day on the loop. The temperature this morning was in the low 30s. Despite the chill we both slept well and that first cup of coffee was a great way to start the day. The plan was to get some breakfast and then head to Bryce Canyon, make a couple of stops for pictures, and then ride toward Kanab and finally Page. Ruby’s Inn is a good place for breakfast. The hot breakfast bar, which was the only option available for a hot breakfast, was quite good. There was also a cold bar complete with a variety of fruit and cottage cheese. Breakfast for me was biscuits and gravy, sausage links, scrambled eggs, and cottage cheese with peach slices. I figured that with a breakfast of that size I should be able to ride for the day. I think the cost was somewhere around $25 for the both of us.

The traffic at the entrance gate wasn’t bad as we headed into the park. Sam pulled in at the sign and asked me if I wanted a picture. “Sure” was my reply as I drove up the access ramp that led to the base of the sign. I heard a chuckle from Sam and the comment, “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but it works.”

We drove the loop and stopped at only a couple of places. The first stop was at Rainbow Point. This is my second time in Bryce Canyon and the beauty of the place has not diminished.

As we walked to the overlook I heard Sam say, “There’s a voice I know.” I didn’t think anything of it and assumed he ran into someone he knows. Sam has been watching videos in preparation for his first motocamping trip. Two of his favorite vloggers are Rich and Chris of TwoWheelsBigLife. Rich was the voice he recognized. We visited with them for a good 45 minutes comparing bikes and trips. They are wonderful people and if you get a chance look them up at twowheelsbiglife.com. You think I would have been smart enough to get a picture but to be honest I enjoyed visiting with them so much that the thought of getting their picture slipped my mind. So….go to their website.

Our next stop was Bryce Point. The parking lot was crowded and the NPS person directing parking had us park next to the brown dumpsters. As we parked our bikes Rich and Chris pulled in next to us to eat lunch. We joined them for a bit before heading out of the park. Our route was down 89 toward Kanab through Long Valley. A pretty valley with a good road and places for fuel if needed.

Those of you who know me may know my road rules. They are simple and work for me. Rule #1 is no freeways unless absolutely necessary. Rule #2 is no chain restaurants, and #3 is no chain coffee shops. I love a good cup of coffee and coffee shops are great places to meet local folks and get good information. Sam was in the lead as we drove though Hatch, Utah. At my exclamation he turned around because we passed Sevier Coffee, the local coffee house. I enjoyed a Shot in the Dark (two shots of espresso in drip coffee) and a poppyseed muffin. Sam had a cinnamon roll and a Shot in the Dark as well. Very tasty.

We stopped at the Pariah townsite marker (sometimes spelled Pahreah, sounds like Maria). The actual townsite is closer and can be accessed by a dirt road. The site was the filming location for several westerns. The town was inhabited from 1865 to 1929. Constant flooding of the Paria river eventually took its toll and the town was abandoned.

End of the loop and the Glen Canyon Dam. We travelled 663 miles on the loop averaging somewhere between 200 and 250 miles a day. Yes, they were short days but there was so much to see and so many places to stop. I’ve done a lot of trips on the bike but this trip was one of the most enjoyable. I hope to get a couple of day rides in before heading back to Mississippi. Blessings to all and stay tuned.

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Arizona Ramblings Lake Powell Loop Day 2

Day two sunrise at Hite, Utah. Coyotes serenaded us as we went to sleep and morning provided this wonderful sunrise. The sun’s glow in the east and then watching the sun creep down the western wall was a great way to start the day. Time for a small breakfast and a cup of coffee. The coffee is Bootlegger Blend from J Brooks Coffee Roasters in Memphis, TN. I ground the fresh coffee beans last night using a hand grinder so it would be ready for the morning cup. There’s not much better than a cup of fresh, strong coffee in the morning.

While we were enjoying our morning coffee this gentleman drove up and began to make some coffee as well. We strolled over for a visit and to get the low down on his motorcycle. Pat, from Florida, comes comes to Arizona every year for a month to explore the countryside on his Rokon. I had never heard of a Rokon but I was impressed. If one wants to explore and get away from the hustle and bustle, this would do it. It has a 600 mile range, can climb a 60% grade, and is all wheel drive. I did some research and I’m hooked. If one want to explore the backcountry and get away from people this would do the trick. Who knows…there may be one in my future. (https://www.rokon.com)

If you look closely at the photo, you can see the “bathtub ring” on the far canyon wall. The ring is the water level when the lake came up to this boat ramp.

We left Hite en route to Hanksville for breakfast. The road crossed the Colorado and headed up the side of the canyon. Near the top of the canyon we stopped at the Hite Overlook. Hite is named after an early settler who found gold here in 1883. When John Wesley Powell explored the Colorado River, he camped at the intersection of the Dirty Devil River and the Colorado (the right photo). The left photo is the where we camped. Our site was just below and to the right of the building (bathroom and shower) seen in the picture. The cost of the site was $24 and can be paid at the store up the road. Gas is available 24 hours as well. Store hours are roughly from 9 or 9:30 until 4pm or 5pm.

We stopped at this station for gas and went inside to see if there was some kind of breakfast available…no luck. However I found the front of the store interesting and appropriate for the country. We headed across the street to the Silver Eagle and Stans Burger Shack. They were open so we had brunch. Fried ham sandwich with chicken nuggets for me and Sam had a chicken sandwich. His was good, as was my ham sandwich. However I would not recommend the nuggets.

As we ate breakfast these three bobbers pulled up for gas and some maintenance on their bikes. It turns out that all three were on bikes they had built and were on their third and final week out of New York. One rider we spoke to said that their bikes were not built for the roads out here and as a result they had to make several roadside repairs. They were on their way to San Francisco and hoped that they would be able find a way to ship the bikes back home as well. They also commented on how helpful, encouraging, and supportive the people had been. Heading to Capitol Reef National Park.

Another beautiful place. The plan was to drive Hwy 24, then Hwy 12 over the “Utah Hogback”, then toward Escalante. The plan was to spend the night somewhere around Bryce Canyon. The route took us over a 9600 foot pass and then on to the “Hogback”.

Taken from the Boulder Overlook. Our route was basically around on the left side of the mountain seen in the distance.

The Hogback has multiple “S” turns, very narrow with steep drop-offs, no guard rails, and a 14% grade. There are lots of turn-outs for pictures so take your time.

Outside of Henrieville, Utah, we visited with these two ladies who had taken time from work for an adventure. They were from Philadelphia and one comment was, “This is beautiful…there’s nothing like this in Pennsylvania.” I agreed.

We were unable to get a campsite in Bryce Canyon but the RV site at Ruby’s Inn did have tent sites. The area has lots of tent and RV sites and was a little bit tight but manageable. The water was good as were the showers…and the showers were free. Cost for the two of us was $40. A great day of riding…stay tuned.

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Arizona Ramblings Lake Powell Loop Day 1

My son-in-law Sam had spent some time prior to the arrival of my wife and me, planning a motorcycle trip. He suggested a loop around Lake Powell with the starting point in Page, Arizona. It sounded like a good idea so several days ago we departed on the loop. Here’s day one.

We left Page around 10:30 am heading for Hite, Utah, at the upper end of Lake Powell. It was Sam’s first moto camping trip so some time was spent figuring out where his gear would fit. We had also spent some time on an earlier ride (see the earlier Arizona Ramblings post) making sure our communications would work. Sam is on the left on his 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan Voyager and I’m on the right on my 2012 BMW GSA. With the comms up and our personal music selections providing the tunes, we headed down the road. Our route was Hwy 98 through Kaibito, AZ down to Hwy 160 toward Kayenta and Monument Valley.

Hwy 98 intersects Hwy 160 and then heads northeast. A short way from where the two highways intersect is the abandoned Black Mesa gas station. The art on the left was done at the beginning of the Pandemic. The paintings were done by two different artists. They are very detailed and very well done. it appears that at this site was a portion of the Black Mesa Lake Powell Railroad. It was an electric railroad that transported coal from the Peabody Energy Mine near Kayenta to the Navajo Generating Station at Page. The plant shut down in November of 2019.

We passed this bicycle on the side of the road earlier and wondered where the rider was. We suspected he was taking a nap in the sand. While taking the break at Black Mesa the rider and his bicycle showed up. We had a good visit. His name is Joe and he was on his way from California to Durango, Colorado. Joe feels that he is about a week early because the temperature has been on the chilly side. We wished him a safe ride and then headed for monument valley.

Monument Valley is amazing. The road through the valley was closed but we did skirt the edges and got some good pictures. What an amazing place.

We stopped here for some pictures and to stretch. While here a couple on a Harley stopped for pictures and to visit as motorcyclists do. They were heading In the opposite direction from us but did inform us that 6.1 miles down the road was the section of highway where Tom Hanks in his role as Forrest Gump was running in the desert with a lot of people following him.

I couldn’t resist getting this couple recreating the scene. This is where “run Forrest run” ended his run.

The bridge going over the San Juan River into the town of Mexican Hat. The name Mexican Hat comes from a sombrero shaped rock outcropping on the northeast side of town. Unfortunately I didn’t stop to take a picture of the outcropping….my mistake. Heading toward Gooseneck State Park.

Gooseneck State Park and unfortunately the picture does not do it justice. This gooseneck is the middle one but there is an additional gooseneck on each side of this picture. The entry fee is $2 and is well worth the cost. We made the decision to head up Moki Dugway. We had looked at videos and had been advised that Sam on his Vulcan should have no trouble.

“Moki” is a local term for the ancient Puebloan people who inhabited the Colorado Plateau hundreds of years ago. “Dugway” is a term used to describe a roadway carved from a hillside. The Moki Dugway Scenic Backway is a stretch of Highway 261 in Utah where the blacktop turns into a dirt road that drastically switches back and forth down the side of a cliff at an 11% grade. If you look closely you can see some of the switchbacks and the road we travelled coming in. What an amazing view. One must be vigilant because the road is narrow and one must be willing to pull off to the side on the corners to let traffic traveling in the opposite direct pass. On to Natural Bridges National Monument.

The sun was beginning to set when we arrived at the park. I took several pictures and this one was the best. There are several hikes that one can do to get better pictures of the bridges. Once again an amazing place. Now on to Hite, Utah and a place to camp.

The valley where Hite is located. The turnoff is down the road a couple of miles.

Our camp at Hite. The camping fee was $24 per site. 15 years ago Lake Powell stretched this far and Hite was a place where people could camp, bring their RVs, and launch their boats. This area has been dry for the past 10 years. As a result we had the choice of 50 camp sites to set up our tents. We chose this one because of its location near the restrooms. It was amazing. For the past several years I have been wanting to camp where there were no lights….and this night there were no lights except the moon. After supper we enjoyed the night sky over a bourbon and a good cigar. A great way to end the day. Stay tuned for day 2.

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Arizona Ramblings

I’m currently in Northern Arizona visiting family. The bike made the trip in the back of my truck with no trouble so I will be doing some rides including a 3 day camping trip with my son-in-law Sam. Looking forward to some great riding and I intend to blog the rides. I am a bit rusty with the blog so thanks for your patience and for dropping in from time to time.

The top picture is of our two bikes at the Cut with the Vermillion Cliffs in the distance. Sam’s bike is a Kawasaki Vulcan Voyager and mine is a BMW GSA. The ride today was a prep before leaving on our moto camping trip in a few days. Sam had made some modifications on his bike that he wanted to test and we had paired up our comms system and wanted to see if it worked. The comms system we are using is the Cardo Systems Pack Talk and after a bit of a struggle we got it set up so that we have comms and each of us can listen to our preferred music.

The drive from the Cut to Lees Ferry (one of my favorite places) was smooth with no issues. After visiting with a friend of Sam’s at the ferry, we went to the Lonely Dell Ranch just up from the launch site. Three separate families lived at the Lonely Dell Ranch over the years of operation. For over sixty years, Lees Ferry was the only way to cross the Colorado River in this part of the country.

Sam, a man who loves snakes (not really), had a close encounter with this three foot beauty, a Western Hognose snake.

The ferry operators followed the Mormon faith. One of the information signs mentions that one reason for moving to this remote location was to embrace their religious practices. The photo above is of a Polygamist cabin located on the grounds.

Another shot of the Lonely Dell Ranch. The ranch grounds support an orchard that is maintained by the Park Service. When the apples, pears, and quince ripen, the public can harvest a limited amount of the fruit.

We left Lees Ferry and decided to head home via the Gap. The entire trip was around 130 miles. It was a good loop and we had the chance to make sure everything worked for the upcoming trip. Stay tuned….

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New Helmet Ride

For the past couple of years I have been struggling with my helmet. The helmet is the third Shoei Dual Sport I have had and for some reason this one refused to break in. Maybe my head has changed or the manufacturing process has changed a bit. In either case I was tired of getting serious TMJ pain and a headache after only two or three hours so I bit the bullet yesterday and purchased the Shoei GT Air 2 you see below.

I spent three hours with this helmet on and had no issues. The three hours were spent driving the backroads of North Mississippi. Several of the roads were old highways that connect counties or cities. One road was the Marshall Tate road and another one was the Oxford Memphis. Tiny roads winding through areas that I haven’t been on.

On one of the country roads in Marshall County I came upon this memorial. As I drove up I thought it was about the Civil War. There are several sites associated with the Civil War and the Blues Trail. Further investigation showed it was the site where Marshall County Sheriff Osborne Bell was killed while assisting a Deputy arrest a suspect on drug related charges. The site is well maintained.

One of my destinations was to check out a pond where I frequently fish.

If you’re from North Mississippi you may recognize this pond. Currently the water is too high and muddy for decent fishing. I consider myself a novice bass fisherman and my fishing partner Hal said to have patience…my time would come. He was correct. Two weeks ago I caught two bass at 5.5 pounds and 5.6 pounds in this pond. So now I’ve moved from novice bass fisherman to lucky novice bass fisherman.

According to my wife Bottle Trees used to be a common site in the south. When Africans were brought to this country they created bottle trees from limbs found outside their quarters or house. They adorned them with glass bottles scavenged from trash piles. Blue bottle were coveted because they repelled evil and trapped night spirits to be destroyed by the morning sun.

Across this area and others as well there are many abandoned houses. I took this picture but there are several that are older in the area.

This field is close to home. Many of the fields are this color during the spring. The flowers may be Butterweed but I’m not too sure…they are pretty.

It wasn’t a long ride, 130 miles, but it did accomplish the intended outcome…to see if the helmet would cause any problems. It didn’t for which I’m grateful. It’s been a while since I posted but I hope to get in more rides this year. God bless and safe riding.

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Traces – Peyton MS, Tunica County

I decided it was time to ride and see if I could find another ghost town or a town that’s no longer there. My destination this morning was such a town. Peyton Mississippi is located in Tunica County and was a port town on the Mississippi River.

It was a nice ride to the Delta with temps in the low 70s. I researched the town, plotted the GPS coordinates and headed west. I had some concerns about finding where the the town because, according to the online maps, the roads looked questionable. That might be fun.

The Delta…flat, usually hot this time of year, with miles and miles of fields. This shot is west of Senatobia after my encounter with the local Police Department. The small towns in Mississippi and Tennessee have a city limit and then have a incorporation limit. Yesterday while departing Senatobia, I began to accelerate once I left the town. There were no houses around but I was still in the incorporated section of town (I didn’t realize that). Coming toward me was a Senatobia police car and he lit the lights just for a second and pulled over. I pulled over and waited for him to turn around and come up behind me. I saw his hand waving from the open drivers window so I turned around and pulled up beside him. He was very nice and just wanted me so slow down until I was out of town. I thanked him and headed back west. I guess I need to pay more attention to the incorporated city limits.

I passed through Evansville heading toward the location of Peyton. The map I posted stops at Evansville but the location of Peyton is roughly six more miles west. Heading west the road crossed over a section of swamp. Just beyond this picture there was a family on the side of the road fishing. They hadn’t caught anything yet but told me on previous times fishing there they had caught bass, bream, and catfish.

The end of the road and still 8 tenths of a mile from the location of Peyton MS. The levy road was posted and I was sorely tempted to drive along until I could go no further. However, being a law abiding citizen (except with incorporated city limits), I decided to stop here.

Enjoyed an airshow while on the Levy road. This crop-duster was working a field on the other side of the Levy.

There are lots of mounds throughout Mississippi and I have stopped as several. Unfortunately this one is on private land. In addition it could not be seen because of the high grass. Check this link for more on the Mounds located in Mississippi.

Mound Builders of Mississippi

After this stop I headed back home. The total trip was 167 miles. The Delta is a great place to explore. The Blues Highway runs up the Delta along with interesting places to eat and visit with folks. I’m looking forward to when COVID 19 done and I can do more exploring and eating what the Delta has to offer. Until next time….God Bless and ride safe.

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Bay Springs Lake Loop

I did a mile loop yesterday to explore Bay Springs Lake on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. I’ve been considering fishing on the lake and the feasibility of using my fishing kayak. When I set out on the ride the weather was clear and temps in the mid-forties. Overall a nice day for a ride.

These two buildings, a couple of miles apart, are located on Hwy 4 between Ashland in Benton County and Ripley in Tippah county. I wondered if at some time in the past they were a community or small town. My guess is that at some point there was a collection of homes in the area that never got large enough to be incorporated into a community. I did some research but found nothing. Perhaps something to explore in the future.

This photo was taken at one of the boat ramps along the western edge of the lake. This ramp is located 4 miles from the locks and has a very interesting area just a short distance from the ramp that looks perfect for kayak fishing. I suspect I’ll be driving over at some point in the future to do some fly fishing. After doing some more exploring I’ll be heading for the Natchez Trace to begin working my way home.

There are mounds located in several area in Mississippi. I didn’t realize the extend of the indian trade and trade routes that passed through this area. Well worth investigating.

Additional Information can be found at: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/ms-moundbuilders/2/

Time for a late lunch. This gem is about 20 miles from my house and I’ve been wanting to try it. It wasn’t bad. I had a sausage sandwich with their sauce. They asked me if I wanted sweet or hot sauce…I chose hot. The sandwich was good and the sauce did leave a little bit of an after burn. Next time I’ll try the ribs and see if they’re as good as mine.

6+ hours on the bike today with a total of 240 miles. A good ride with the bonus of locating a future kayak fishing spot with perhaps some camping. Stay tuned…..

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Traces – Dogtown (Lafayette County) & Winborn (Benton County)

Headed out this morning to find a couple of places that are no longer incorporated. According to Mississippi they are ghost towns despited some folks still living in the area. Below is a map of today’s ride.

All good rides should start at a coffee shop.

Before Christmas the coffee shop in Holly Springs closed. However Marie and her husband Mark are in full construction mode and on their way to opening up a new coffee shop. “Coffee in Holly” will open in what will affectionately be known as “the Lodge”. I stopped by this morning and Marie gave me the tour as she explained her vision for the future. As a sell-proclaimed coffee expert (snob) I can say without a doubt that it will be one of the best coffee shops I’ve visited in my travels. I am looking forward to the day it opens. Now on to Dogtown.

According to my directions and the map, this is what is left of Dogtown. I will have to check because according to Google all that is left of Dogtown is a White’s grocery which may be the building in the back. Just not sure…

Gas station lunch. As a general rule gas station food, especially the chicken, is very good in the state of Mississippi. While this gas station had chicken I felt the urge to have a sausage. I was very tasty.

My final stop was the former community of Winborn. I didn’t find much about the history of Winborn. According to an ancestry website the town of Reed’s Switch was renamed Winborn in the early 1900s after Joseph Winborn. Joseph Winborn was the third sheriff of Benton County and served for 22 years.

I enjoy exploring and looking for communities that are no longer in there even though there may be some houses in the area. As I expand my rides this summer I plan on including some interesting place to eat that I’ve found on Mississippi Obscura, a website that explores the experiences and history of the state. Today’s ride was 250 miles with temperatures in the mid 50s and very enjoyable…stay tuned.

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Traces – Holcut MS in Tishomingo County

Went on a 235 mile ride today to the site of Holcut MS in Tishomingo County. In 1976 the US Army Corps of Engineers bought out and demolished the town because it lay in the path of the Divide Cut, a 29 mile section of canal for the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway.

A shot of the countryside between Holly Springs and Ashland along highway 4. As you can see it was a perfect day for riding.

Lunch in Martyville MS. The main course was a slugburger with an Almond Joy for desert. The slug burger was a bit different from others that I’ve had but still tasty. At this point I’m was only about 10 miles from Holcut…I just didn’t know it.

Above is the memorial to the community of Holcut. During more prosperous days, Holcut was a pass-through for railway system. From here it’s only about 12 miles to Iuka, the County Seat of Tishomingo County. My route from here is to Hwy 72 at Iuka then east until Hwy 2. As I rode away I wondered how much the residents of Holcut were given for their property…and if it was fair compensation for being uprooted and forced to move. I suspect not but I could be wrong.

The Tennessee Tombigbee waterway below the Holcut marker. The waterway is a 232 mile long channel that runs from the Tennessee river to the Tombigbee river system which empties into Mobile bay on the Gulf of Mexico.

The country along Hwy 2 between Kossuth (southwest of Corinth) and Ripley MS.

A overview of today’s ride. It was nice to do some exploring before the weather moves in. The forecast for Friday evening, Saturday, and into Sunday is for severe weather with possible of high winds, possible flooding, and possible tornadoes. It could get busy. Blessings to all, be safe, and stay tuned for the next Traces.

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