|Santa Barbara Botanical Garden Signage|
While reminiscing over Philly in general I received a text from Darin. He had plenty of room in his hotel suite to accommodate me and gave me the address. I told my brethren from the NE that it turns out I won't be needing to camp after all. They asked the name of the hotel. When I told them it was the Bacara, they both gasped. The Bacara is a five star spa and hotel, they said. I bid goodbye and told them I would email a link to my project for future reference.
He invited me to stay for the next couple of days and take advantage of the hotel room as he couldn't and would be working the whole time. Instead I left the next morning. I was eager to get back on the road and begin heading east towards the southwest. I had lunch in SB and by 1:00 PM I was headed due east towards the mojave desert.
I had half a tank of gas went I came to the exit for the mojave desert national forest. It was already dark. The sign read 20 miles to the campground. That's at least 40 miles (up and back) and there was no sign for the nearest gas station. I had no choice. In the dark I rode to the campground at a leisurely pace of 35 mph. I arrived to be the lone person spending the night. I set my tent and gear under the illumination of my head lamp, opened my two legged elite camping chair, pulled out the bottle of deerhammer whitewater whiskey I have been traveling with since I left Colorado and began to star gaze. This had been the best view of the stars I have yet to see. There was no moon, just the distance glow of las vegas way into the northern horizon. The next morning I barely made it the nearest gas pump, 60 miles from the campground. My destination, and what would be home base for the next 4 days was flagstaff, AZ. Arizona has 3 eco-regions on my agenda, and two of them I had yet explored.
All of a sudden I realized I was traveling parallel to historic route 66. When I pulled into Kingsman, AZ I had a bite to eat in a gaudy neoned 50's styles diner. It was an overboard exaggeration on how we imagine a 50's style diner to be. The food was not the focus. I wondered across the street to the visitor center. On display was the archive and equipment from Arizona Highway's first and most famous photographer, Carlos Elmer. It was more like a shrine. I was excited to learn about this gentleman and appreciated every word in reference to his lengthy career.
Before sunset I arrived to Flagstaff, AZ. My good friend Lee was expecting me. Lee is an old Philly friend who moved to Flagstaff 3 years ago to be with his daughter. Lee is an exceptional artists and has built a steadfast business doing artistic and graphic production for Golf. He is responsible for the official logo and poster of such golf events as The US Open, British Open, Womans OPEN, etc. He is a master of his craft and an inspiration to be around. His art studio is located in the heart of historic downtown Flagstaff. It overlooks the public square bordered by restaurants, bars and galleries. This would be were I would make base camp for the next several days.
The day I was planning on leaving, my buddy Len from Colorado agreed to meet me in Flagstaff and travel with me south to Tucson. He was only 8 miles north of Flagstaff when he called to inform he suffered a flat on the rear tire. I drove out to help him fix the tire. It took us about an hour to replace the tires tube only to discover the replacement had a leak as well. We realized that once the tube was installed. Ooops. I called a local cycle place, told them the situation, and drove the rear wheel to the shop. They fixed the tire and I drove it back to Len on the side of the highway. This was a 4 hour ordeal, so we decided to just spend the night in Flagstaff and head out early the next day.
The next morning we were off to Tuscon by way of Sedona and the Tonto Forest. It was the long way to Tuscon but the most fun on a bike for sure. Sedona is pure eye candy. We stopped in Prescott to check out the infamous Whiskey Row. We ate lunch in the legendary Palace Hotel. The short and sweet is that whiskey row had no high end boutique whiskey joints at all. Len is connoisseur of whiskeys and I like to drink them. We were appalled. We even asked around and the answer was, naw. It was 3 hours still to Tucson.
|Saguaro National Park|
We camped in the Suguaro National Forest that evening. Spectacular. We also managed a ride through some Suguaro Cacti on a dirt road. Check out the video!
The next morning I did my Native Project thing and photographed numerous native southern arid-desert plants. I made the campground bathroom my studio for a couple hours. You do what you need to do sometimes. After that, we headed out toward Silver City and we took the long way there!
|Near Silver City|