Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride

Monday, May 05, 2008
Surprise, AZ to Aguila, AZ
62 miles (3392 total miles)

A pretty quiet day. We had breakfast right next door to the motel and left by 6:30. Our route today was entirely on US 60 which was pretty smooth most of the time and had good shoulders. The wind was calm starting out and was a tail wind for most of the morning, as it had been the last 2 days. It did get stronger and changed to a side wind later in the day, but wasn't much of a problem. We went up a gentle incline most of the day with a long, level or slightly downhill stretch at the end. The temperature was pleasantly warm in the morning, getting hot in the afternoon; again, much like the last 2 days. The only novelty was that a few small clouds began to appear in the afternoon - something we haven't seen for several days!

Still in the fringes of the urban sprawl we had been in all day yesterday, we were in the midst of rush hour traffic when we left the motel. We entered and soon left the town of Surprise, of which we saw only a long strip of large stores (including Wal=Mart) on one side of the road and a few ranches on the other. In about 5 miles, the terrain slowly returned to the unspoiled southwestern landscape we have gotten so used to. There were two small towns along the way, Wittmann and Morristown, before the larger town of Wickenburg. Wickenburg was a major gold prospecting town in the 1800's and has a large museum with art and historical exhibits. We also saw some samples of metal sculpture in one shop along the road - large animal and other shapes made from metal sheets. Half-way between Morristown and Wickenburg, there was a rest area with an educational exhibit on the nearby Hassayampa River and on the riparian (riverside) habitat that they are trying to preserve/restore there. Apparently, this river has one of the few remaining Cottonwood-Willow riparian forests in Arizona. Although we did not see the river, our route followed along it for a few miles and we could see the trees lining it from the road.

After Wickenburg, we didn't pass another town for the next 26 miles until we reached Aguila, our destination for the night. We saw a few mountains, including Black Mountain, a peak of about 3100 feet, and Seven Mile Peak, about 2,820 feet high. We had dropped to less than 1200 feet yesterday and slowly climbed to about 2500 feet today, dropping back to about 2100 tonight. Tomorrow, we'll drop even further, back down to about 1100-1200 again. We traveled 62 miles today in just under 6 hours of bike time, arriving in Aguila at 2:45. It was not a very exciting day, especially compared with yesterday, and we don't have a lot to relate, but hopefully you'll enjoy the pictures anyway. They'll be a day late getting posted since we couldn't get internet access in Aguila (population 600).

Early morning rush hour - luckily most of the traffic was going towards Phoenix

Surprise is a very new town - much younger than we are!

Part of the string of stores in Surprise

Even the highway bridges have a southwestern design and color

Pat's namesake

The landscape becomes rugged again - brush, railroad, distant mountains

Mountains getting closer

An interesting ranch along the way

Saguaros and brush, with Morristown in the background

A large cholla bush - our new friend, Terry, tells us this plant is nasty (evil, he says).
It throws off prickly seed pods if you disturb it at all, and they're very hard to get off

Saguaros, with a little bird perched on an arm of the left one. Terry says these plants
grow for a hundred years before they sprout any arms. They are transplantable and
are usually moved whenever they get in the way of construction. In fact, we passed
a Saguaro Restoration company on the road today

Part of the rest area informational exhibit on the Hassayampa River riparian habitat

A detail describing the various parts of the exhibit, which included a discussion of the
problems with invasive species, like the tamarisk tree (the Tammy Whacking subject
was about efforts to get rid of tamarisk trees and other non-native plants)

A rock edge with what looked like sedimentary rock - stones embedded in hard rock

A sign had warned of this being a 'slide area' and here was some evidence of it

A small memorial to a bike rider...

Charles Peterson, 10/12/26-9/18/07

A sign for the Hassayampa River Preserve

The trees here mark the edge of the Hassayampa River

We enter Wickenburg, a gold prospecting center

A sampling of the animal-shaped metal sculptures for sale in Wickenburg

The Wickenburg Museum

Some shops along Wickenburg's Main Street

A pizza shop named after my brother

A historical marker of an Indian attack on a stage coach in 1871

The terrain outside of Wickenburg

A very large, fancy ranch

Black Mountain

An interesting saguaro

A yellow-green growth that looked a lot like moss

Very reddish-brown rock

More mountains on the left side of the road

A closer view of Black Mountain

The ground here was covered with a very short, scrubby-looking, brownish grass

What are those little white puffy things? Clouds?

This may be Seven Mile Peak

We started this morning at 111th Avenue and they're still counting!
(The highest we saw was 491st)

A mountain with interesting ridges on it near Aguila

We start to see farms with irrigation ditches along the road

The hay was pretty high here

This crop looked to be doing well (couldn't tell what it was)

Some fields had plastic lining each row of plants - weed or water control?