Now there is a catchy title if I ever saw one. Yes, I was wrong. I know I’ve been wrong about a lot of things and for me its tough to admit when I’m wrong. But what I’m talking about here is not something major. Some huge mistake I made in business or having to apologize for assuming something … gosh I never do that anyway. Yea right!
Anyway, here I am living in this desert state of AZ. For a better part of the year I love living here. Where else can I ride my motorcycle in the winter … all winter long and not worry about rain, heat or cold? And for what I have seen of AZ, its pretty much all desert. At least that’s what I imagined and yes, I assumed it was all desert.
I was wrong. This past weekend we decided to take a last minute trip camping in the higher altitudes of Arizona to escape the 110 degrees of scorching heat. I have never really ventured outside of the Phoenix and Scottsdale area other than a quick trip to Sedona but even there it was still desert. Prettier but desert none the less.
I never imagined Arizona could have lush green areas with pine trees that reach into the sky spreading fresh oxygenated air for all to breathe. And the drive to this place in the mountains was incredible and definitely not for anyone who may get motion sickness. So where did we go? Pinetop/Show Low. I’d heard of Pinetop but obviously have never been. We left Phoenix on highway 60 and headed west through Globe, AZ an old mining town that dates back to the late 1800’s. Not a whole lot to see there and it was still pretty hot. 100 degrees and no relief in sight yet.
Once you leave Globe though and you make that left hand turn and head north east on the 60, things start to change. As you begin make your way up to the 6,900 foot summit (2,100 meters) the scenery changes dramatically. The temperatures start to slowly dwindle their way back down into the double digits … to the point where you no longer need AC in the car. Nice … 73 degrees. How perfect is that?
Be warned, though. If you travel there via highway 60 east, you will have to go through the Salt River Canyon. It’s a breathtaking scenic drive that takes you through lush green forests and cliffs with boulders that seem to jet out from solid ground. Falling rock signs posted here and there. And then there’s the snake of a road. Its hard to describe so I looked it up on Google maps and found the section where we saw two halves of a motorcycle, one on each side of the road. A scorched piece of road with black soot plastered on the side of the mountain wall. Perhaps these drivers where too ambitious. But how I wish I had my motorcycle in that moment. I saw myself leaning into the hairpin turns feeling the rush as I found that perfect balance of speed and control. Focus … Check out the Google maps.
We had booked a campsite prior to making the trip simply because as I discovered, everyone from the valley wants to be up here. And why not? It’s a cool (meant literally) quiet sleeper town with a lot of log cabins and full time residents that seem to be retired. The city is sparse and not really concentrated but once you find a gem of a restaurant like Darbi’s Café, you will return for seconds and we did. Maybe it was all the fresh crisp air, the cool rain we had all night or the clear blue skies, but the food was simply amazing.
Its about a three hour drive from Phoenix and in my opinion worth the effort if you can call it that. Spend a weekend up there. Rent a cabin or rough it to some extent and camp out and enjoy everything nature has to offer. We will definitely go back for another break from this exhaustive heat. There’s so much to explore …. So yes. I believed all of AZ was just a desert with some places more barren than others.
I was wrong. Perhaps that was simply ignorance on my part. I know differently now and am happy to have discovered this new face to this sun drenched state.