Monday, November 15, 2010
'CAUSE WE'RE ROLLIN' IN HEAVY TRAFFIC
Sunday 11/14/10 Elton John sang it. I don't think we've ever heard it. But we have lived it! When we left our motel 8 miles east of Globe, the temp was 40 but felt almost balmy. We speculated that our bodies might be acclimating to the cool desert mornings. The route elevation profile on our map promised a lot of climbing through the Pinal Mountains today. Our 8 mile ascent to Globe on Hwy 70 was gradual. At Globe, we took Hwy 60 and our climbs became steeper and longer. Unfortunately, the traffic was horrific, and most of the shoulders were useless for cyclists due to rumble strips and loose gravel. Cars, trucks, and packs of weekend Harleys sped past us entirely too close to feel at all comfortable, all day long. As we rode through the small towns of Claypool and Miami, there was evidence of copper and gold mining with large deep gaping holes in the hillsides. Smoke stacks and conveyor belts were nearby where whatever was gouged from the earth was processed. It is not a pretty sight, but has to be balanced with the jobs mining creates in this area and the material it provides for our comfort and pleasure. It was encouraging to see several reclamation projects underway. We crossed 2 very high bridges that could give even an eagle a slight feeling of vertigo. The first was over a deep gorge carved by Pinto Creek. The second one remains anonymous because we didn't dare look up as the traffic kept us pinned near the side of the bridge. After climbing for what seemed to be a very long time, we encountered a 3 mile, 7 % drop toward the Queen Creek Tunnel. A sign at the entrance informed us the interior lights were out. With our tail lights blinking, we entered the dark and kept a straight line as vehicles that were still enjoying the 7 % drop, blasted past us. It was a scary and disorienting ride through that hole in the mountain. We arrived, with nerves rather jangled, in Superior Az (pop 3200) and checked into the 1940' s style Copper Mountain Motel. Superior has a "Northern Exposure" quality due to its small size, location in the mountains, and some interesting people who live there. The 2 guys who operated the motel did a great job renovating the place in keeping with its original style. It felt like you could expect Packards, Chevy Coupes, and Hudsons to pull into the parking lot at any moment. Next door is a coffee shop owned by a local who recently moved back to Superior after having lived in San Francisco a number of years. A percentage of the proceeds from the shop are being donated to the local schools art & theatre programs that had been eliminated from the school budget. The coffee shop employs several young people who have an idealistic drive to create a community garden and are dedicated to an organic, ecologically sound lifestyle. Certainly not what you would expect in a small mining town. We ate dinner at a nearby restaurant where local folks wandered in & out. They were known by name. The town of Superior seems to have a level of sophistication and sense of community that is not immediately evident, but emerges as you interact with the people who live here.