San Diego to Prescott by Motorcycle — Part II
…sloped series of sweeping switchbacks…
Unfortunately there was some wind for the start of our trip today. The 10 is elevated, so it just makes the wind worse in this section. On the way back we did not have wind; it was better. But we broke up the ride with a stop in Quartzsite, AZ.
I love Quartzsite. It is a funky place that is home to snowbirds every winter and almost abandoned every summer. There are great rock and gem shops here; we stopped to gawk and stretch our legs. Quartzsite has a two-month-long rock and gem show in January and February. It is worth the trip if you love rocks, gems, jewelry or art.
After Quartzsite we got back on 10 and headed for 60 north. I’m not much of a highway rider, but from Quartzsite to 60 the traffic is not too bad. And there really is not a good work-around to avoid the highway here.
Heading north on 60 you go through a series of small desert towns — Brenda, Pioneer, Desert Wells, Hope, Salome, Wenden, Love and Aquilla. We stopped for lunch at the Salome Cafe heading up and back. The food was that good! The menu is varied and the portions are generous. Trip up we got burgers. On the way back I had a salad and Franz had a grilled cheese. Everything was really good. They have some great old photos on the walls from when the town was in its heyday.
After Salome the road is very straight. You can see the mountain at the end that you are riding to, but it seems to be moving toward you at a very slow pace! You can get some strong winds in this area, and on the way out we were challenged with some gusts. Thankfully, the way back it was a smoother ride. Head north on 71 for another long straight stretch. Here you are a little more protected in spots with taller vegetation along the road. That helped with the wind. At Congress make a left onto 89 north toward Yarnell.
The reward for all of that straight mindless riding is now close enough to see! The ride up to Yarnell is a nicely-sloped series of sweeping switchbacks. Franz is a much more experienced rider than I am so I sent him ahead to enjoy the ride. I love this kind of road but I’m slower. It was a perfect run, no cars and an incredible view on the way up.
There is a new memorial to the Granite Mountain Hotshots on the downhill side of this road to honor the 19 Prescott firefighters that died near here June 30, 2013. There is a shuttle in the town of Congress with parking. The day we drove by you could not park at the trail head. It is a seven mile round-trip hike. We did not do this hike on this trip but hope to get back to check it out.
At the top we met at the witch in Yarnell and continued along 89 through Peoples Valley to Kirkland Junction. We made a left onto Kirkland Valley Road. Note: you can go straight into Prescott by following 89 but it is a road full of very tight turns. Probably no problem for more experienced riders but I don’t like that part of the road in a car, so I wasn’t ready to check it out on a bike this trip.
We followed 78 to the Salton Sea. The geography changes completely down here as it opens to the desert. You can see for miles and it is very dry. This is a stark contrast to the last few miles through the mountains and forest. The road straightens out and goes past the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. Normally there are people out on quads and dirt bikes covering the sand dunes and hills. It’s a little late in the season and getting a bit hot for that now.
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