A day on the bike

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 27, 2017 8:24 PM

Ever since we moved into the house, most weekends are spent doing house things. Kevin spends his Saturdays working outside, building rock walls and swails, shoring up the rip rap on the hillside below the house and to the south. We have erosion problems. Not to the extent that the house is going to slide down the hill and end up in the backyard of the Roesly's, though I do joke about that. The hillside is mostly solid rock, but the dirt and fill continues to erode because of the horrendous rains we get and because everything above us runs down onto us and then gushes on by. The rocking is a necessity as well as a catharsis. He might not love it when he's doing it, but he loves the result. And he does enjoy the total mindlessness of it. Brain power replaced by brawn. 


While he rocks, I often run errands. Or clean. We have yet to retain cleaning people and instead prefer to do it ourselves. This is good and bad. Good in that we know that things are done correctly and exactly to our specifications; bad because the house is big and it's impossible to clean the whole thing at once. So I piece-meal it. The guest room and bath are clean so I don't have to do anything in there; ditto the bathroom off my office. But the master bath, which gets the most use, needs more attention. Our shower alone can take me an hour and a half. 


So Saturdays are spent in and around the house. It has occurred to us that, with the exception of spending time with friends in the evenings, we don't have much fun anymore. When we lived in California many a Saturday was spent happily drifting through the many canyon roads. We'd climb on the motorcycle and go off to Ojai for gas, taking Kanan to Westlake, then south to Avenida de los Arboles to Moorpark Road. Heading north, we'd make our way to Tierra Rejada, turn left and take that until it ended at Los Angeles Avenue. Another left and we'd twist along until we hit Balcom Canyon which would wind its way to Santa Paula where we'd pick up the 150 and cruise into Ojai. It was a delightful ride and while it could sometimes be hot, we were always moving and there was some shade, some respite from the heat.


Tucson doesn't have a lot of back roads or canyons that wind to somewhere else. To get anywhere you have to move through the city which means near constant stoplights. To the north is Mt. Lemmon and that's a lovely drive, cool and lush, but you can only go to Mt. Lemmon so many times. 


We've been wanting to go to Apache Junction and Tortilla Flat, old mining towns that are to the west and north, heading toward Phoenix and Scottsdale along the 79. But we haven't been able to get ourselves out before the weather turned scorching. It's a two and half hour drive under the unrelenting heat of the desert sun. We decided, again, not to do that today. Instead, we opted for Oracle which is on the other side of Mt. Lemmon. The only way to really get there, though, is to head west through town, go north on Oracle 77 and then wait to break free of the stoplights just south of Saddlebrook. It takes about an hour to do that. Mileage wise, it's not bad. Traffic light wise, it's brutal. It's about 40 miles total, and takes about an hour and a half. 


We left the house just after 10. It was already starting to get warm. The sun was lazy and the sky was white. The wind, which has been gale force all week, was softer though still hot, the breath of the desert breathing fire. We were lathered up with SPF 50 so we wouldn't get burned; we'd just feel like we were disintegrating in the atmosphere. 


Oracle is slightly more elevated at about 4547 feet, so we knew it would be cooler. Otherwise, we didn't really know what to expect. What we found was a small town, a lot of abandoned homes, a lot of trailer parks. There were several restaurants. A pizza place we had no interest in; a Mexican place that's closed on Saturday. We found a place called Ore House Hilltop Tavern and buzzed up the short hill. Both of us started to grin. It's a total dive, a wonder of a spot that time forgot. The dusty road and parking lot are red dust. There's an old travel trailer in the shape of motorcycle helmet. In front of that is a rusted out old motorcycle with a metal skeleton rider. A rusted metal horse pulls a dilapidated wooden wagon.


The building itself had to have been an old mining location. The floors are uneven; the ceilings, all wooden planks, are low. Scattered around the outdoor patio area are various old and rusting pieces of equipment. Our kind of place.


One of the things we love about going off on the motorcycle is finding a true dive. To climb off the bike in the summer, dusty, sweaty, is one of the true joys. In the winter, it's much the same except then we're dressed head to toe in leather including chaps. We're bikers when we're on the motorcycle, and bikers love biker hangouts and biker hangouts tend to be dives with great people, decent though not healthy food and cold beer on tap. 


I had fish and chips; Kevin had a panini Rueben. We decided on root beer rather than alcoholic beer, and we had a wonderful time. Afterwards, we wound our way back to a truly miraculous hole in the wall called Jerry & Sue's Trading Post. The place shows off all kinds of rusted pieces of antique equipment alongside rusted metal sculptures of people and animals. Inside, there's a plethora from which to choose including Christmas ornaments, antique plates and glasses, pre-owned cowboy boots and new cowboy hats, books, artwork, and tomahawks. 


We didn't buy anything but thanked Sue and climbed back onto the bike for the very hot trip back to Tucson. An hour and a half and too many stoplights later, we pulled into our garage. Hot, sweaty, tired. In need of more water.


It was a good day on the bike. One spent living out loud. 


live out loud

Add comment

  Country flag

  • Comment
  • Preview

Filter by APML