As the route book points out, Arizona is a state full of contradictions….and today certainly proved that.
The morning started with our drivers meeting to discuss possible black ice and low temperatures in the morning, before heading off to the mountains and cactus before we finished the day in Tucson. Fortunately the sun decided to shine enough to chase away the worst of the ice, leaving just enough chill in the air for the Egg’s temperature to maintain happily at the halfway mark. She’s a trooper, and smiled sweetly as we were passed almost immediately by the big Bentley, D-Type and Pantera when we reached the open roads….but at least they all waved encouragingly as they left us in their rear-view mirrors!!
From Flagstaff we headed out to National Forest, and within ten miles found ourselves on a fabulous stretch known as Lake Mary Road. Snaking through the forest surrounded by pine trees and enjoying big sweeping curves, it was almost automotive heaven. Despite her 1600cc engine, the Egg isn’t fast like her 911 cousins, but she still loves this kind of driving, as every change down to third sticks her to the ground like glue. All weather tyres have certainly added an additional sense of security, and I’m happy to report that we more than held our own amongst the fir cones.
However, there was a slight blip on the horizon, when we found ourselves stuck behind a Camry. The combination of limited passing options, and the car travelling just those couple of miles fast enough to limit any slick maneuvering resulted in us staring at the back end for slightly longer than appreciated. When the opportunity finally presented itself, we were able to slide past and glance across at our conquest. A rather grumpy looking individual, who clearly didn’t appreciate the moves quite as much as us….but then, they were in a Camry whilst we were in the Egg; so no matter which side of their car we sat, they were going to be miserable!
The temperature continued to rise gradually through the morning to more comfortable mid to upper 70’s as we followed the trail through Devils Canyon and it’s “hoodoos”. According to the route master, they are the result of freezing and thawing of water, with differential resistance to erosion. At this point I have to confess that I’m not completely sure what that really means; but they are big, red, odd shaped rocks that resemble a kid’s idea of the terrain on Mars; and shouldn’t be missed!!!
The afternoon took us on towards Tucson through ranch country, copper mines and endless cactus (or would they be Cacti?). At this point I have to divert slightly and mention that Copperstate is a well oiled machine, and part of its success comes from the 100 plus volunteers supporting the entire event. This includes 8 motorcycle highway patrol officers, who come with their badges and bikes, and are only interested in ensuring that everyone is having a good time! Throughout the event they’ll ride past, or be positioned at various junctions to ensure our navigator isn’t holding the map upside down.
For safety, the local constabulary are also notified of our whereabouts; and the combination of fast cars, open roads and opportunity to enjoy both could easily become the speeding ticket equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. So, every morning our trusty Captain (or maybe he’s a Sergeant), would also remind us of the varying speed limits throughout the route, to ensure our pocket money wasn’t unavoidably diverted to the local police collection bucket.
Back to the driving……………and as the terrain became more desolate, the sizes of towns diminished. With each new location I was expecting to see a sign informing us that population was no more than one person. Ironically, the names started to also become more familiar as we passed signs for Mammoth, Miami and Sherwood Forest (that scored a ten on the bizarre scale)!!
Although Miami has a sister in Arizona, they clearly weren’t twins. Other than a faded sign pointing to a downtown arts district, there was nothing else in common. Beaches have been replaced by desert sand, art deco replaced by stucco….you get the picture. However, no matter how small the location, there was always a gas station, and it clearly is a worthwhile business, because everyone is trying it. Proven absolutely as we tore through one particular almost ghost town when I spotted a bright red sign proclaiming “God’s Filling Station”.
Outskirts of Tucson, and the sun is starting to set. Almost three hundred miles under our belt today and the Egg seems to be stable. Will be checking the oil before we set out tomorrow, but for now it’s cocktail time!