On The Road, Day Six, part one
Trip Start Sep 19, 2009
9Trip End Sep 25, 2009
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Where I stayed
Rode on Through After Meeting The Challenge
This is a painful part of the story for me. Morenci and Clifton are contiguous copper mining towns, "company towns" as my Globe guru put it. Identical lined up shacks for houses visible from the highway coming in, but the worst part for me was seeing, and feeling, the massive environmental devastation that this mining has produced. I don't want to get into politics or even economics here; I'm just sharing my personal experience for what it was.
The first five miles of the 191 into the mountains were the hardest for me
As I said, the severe switchbacks do begin right away, and the going is real slow. In the first hour of this I covered about 20 miles, so you do the math. These are 10, 15, sometimes 20 mph switchbacks, one after another, for miles on end. The whole 90+ mile length of the road isn't this way. There are portions that open up into a more or less flat plateau, and there you can do 50 or even 60 mph. Or there are portions where the twisties are just "normal" mountain twisties, and there you can go sometimes up to 25 or 30 mph. Other portions, as you get closer to Alpine, run through forest where a more or less moderate cruising speed is possible. Then there is the gain in elevation, from about 2900 feet at Roper Lake to 8000 feet at Alpine.
All in all, a beautiful, sometimes stunningly so, mountain ride. Alpine itself consists of a couple of shops and small businesses, and about nothing else, not even a place to eat that I saw. It's set in a glorious alpine meadow though, so who's complaining?
A note on photos of this area: given the severity of the terrain, and the need for close attention to driving, there were fewer opportunities than I'd have liked to stop to take pictures. Hopefully the one shot and a video will give you some idea.