The return trip from San Diego, CA was planned to be a long ride with more days on the road. There were quite a few curvy roads in Arizona I was really wanting to ride. Nature had other plans for me though and it changed my return trip completely.
Leaving San Diego
I left in the early morning hours from my Uncle and Cousins' house to get a head start hoping to beat the traffic. At 5:30 AM I was surprised to find so many vehicles already on the road. I suppose it could have been worse if I had waited longer. Interstate 8 was my direct route out of the city to try and make some good time getting out of San Diego.
Sunrise National Scenic Byway
40 miles from my start point was the Sunrise National Scenic Byway. I wanted to ride that road because of the pictures I had seen of the scenery. It was as beautiful as I had expected. Thick forest with the occasional break at lookout points to see far out across mountain ranges. Because it was dawn there were some great lighting effects as the sun reflected off mist, fog, and mountaintops. Many of the overlooks reminded me of the Blue Ridge Parkway because of the blueish color they had.
My only issue was there was so much beauty to see I kept pulling over and didn't make much of an impact on distance along the byway. Once I came off a mountain into a low-lying area that had a thin layer of fog across the valley. It slowly disappeared as I approached it only to become visible again in my mirror.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was my next road destination. Upon leaving Julian, CA I was pleased to ride a very long and curvy road which brought a lot of riding joy. This was CA-78 which I would ride for most of the day heading towards Prescott, AZ. Eventually, the road opened to the open desert. It was quite remote and was exactly what comes to mind when you think of desert. At first, it was sand and cactus. later, however, all vegetation disappeared entirely and it seemed as if I were riding in the Sahara Desert. Fortunately, it was only in the low 80s and made for some comfortable riding.
North Algodones Dunes Wilderness
The Algodones Dunes were where it really became barren. Sand dunes right out of the movie Dune lined the road and as far as the eye could see. I pulled into the Hugh T. Osborne Lookout Park to take a break and take in the sight. Here I met a large group of bikers from Europe! They had come to the U.S. to ride some of the roads in the Arizona and New Mexico regions. They had rented motorcycles from Eagle Rider and had an escort with a trailer and spare bike in case of a breakdown.
The group leader was the Zurich Switzerland HOG Chapter President. I spent some time talking with the group. They were on a multi-day tour covering a couple of thousand miles on Harleys. After taking some pictures and talking with them I headed out again on my solo trip.
Heading To Prescott, AZ
The ride from there was great although uneventful. The scenery was fantastic as was the weather. It was on AZ-89 heading into Prescott, AZ where the rest of the ride home would be affected. As I climbed into the mountainous area outside of Prescott, AZ on an extremely windy road, storms with torrential rain could be seen as I looked in multiple directions. At first, I just wanted to get into Prescott without getting soaked, which I did! The road skirted every storm the entire way up to my hotel in Prescott. That's when it all changed.
Cold, Rain, And Hail
I pulled into the Hotel Vendome which was only 2 blocks from historic Whiskey Row. As soon as I parked the Harley the storm unleashed on Prescott. The wind was howling, the rain was torrential, and then came the hail. Fortunately, I parked under a tree and it provided enough shelter from the hail and my Harley didn't get damaged. The storm persisted for a couple of hours so I sheltered in my room, showered, and relaxed. When it passed I went to Whiskey Row and spent a couple of hours there touring the historic strip.
Change Of Plans
As I pulled up the weather reports I was soon disappointed. An unexpected cold front had come in and dropped the temperatures into the low 40s. The front was also forecast to persist for the next 5 days with a 100% chance of rain. Even worse, the front was moving in the direction of the areas I had planned on riding home. That meant I would be riding in a storm the entire time. I decided to change my route and head north to Interstate 40, then take it to Texas. I was hoping to skirt the storm front. It worked pretty well overall. I still road a few times in some pretty heavy rain but I put on the rain gear, set the traction control to wet roads, and had no issues.
The cold though was tough. I had not brought winter riding gear because of the time of the year, the forecasts, and the areas I was riding through. So I layered up, and though it was cold for a few hours in the morning, by the afternoon I was riding in the low 70s again. I decided since the storm had ruined my back road plans to meander home, I would make an unofficial Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000 out of it.
The Final Day
I have completed one Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000 before so I wasn't concerned about it being official. It just added some excitement to the ride home to make the best out of an unfortunate incident with the weather. I rode from Prescott, AZ to Fort Worth, TX in 17 hours of almost straight riding. It was right at 1036.00 miles. I stopped for fuel and one time to eat a sandwich. I actually felt really good and refreshed when I pulled into the garage. Overall the entire trip was a great experience. So good I plan on doing it again in 2023!