Another Way Home

Deryle & Wanda Merhten

June 2013

This past June Wanda and I rode up to Prescott, Arizona to join 21 other SEAT members and guests for the Annual SEAT Overnighter.  This was the first year the Overnighter was in Prescott and except for the heat is was a great ride, a fantastic turnout. And, it was the first overnighter for our new-to-us 2002 K1200RS.  We call her Rotti, she’s red, and it sounds like what they called the red bratwursts at the Volksmarches when we were in Germany!

Wanda and I like to think we know a bit about Arizona, we’ve ridden down most of the paved roads all across this great state we’ve come to call home.  There’s still a lot more we haven’t seen and every now and then we get the opportunity to incorporate a new road or a new roadside attraction into a planned ride.  We got just such an opportunity to do that on our ride home from the SEAT Overnighter.

Back in 1971 according to the Guinness Book of Records the fountain in the center of Fountain Hills, Arizona was the largest fountain in the world.  Fountain Hills is a small town in Maricopa County, neighboring the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and is just north of Scottsdale.  The 33-some million gallon lake the fountain draws from provides enough water for the fountain to shoot as high as 560 feet when all three pumps are operating.  Seeing as how Fountain Hills is in between Prescott and home, why not check out one of Arizona’s famous tourist attractions.

Our initial plans were to come down from Prescott on Hwy 69 to I-17, get off at New River Road and take a ride out to Bartlett Dam before stopping to see the world’s now 2nd tallest fountain.  Leaving Prescott at 6:15 am it was already getting warm.  By the time we hit I-17 it was even warmer, it was going to a hot one.  At the New River exit we decided to pass on riding out to Bartlett Dam, we’d ride out to the day in the fall when it’s cooler.
Click here to go to Google Maps to get a closer view.

Getting off I-17 at New River Road we looped around a bit, steadily heading south toward the Carefree Highway.  We were definitely off the beaten path on a couple of these back roads.  At the end of the Carefree Highway we took Pima down to Dynamite Road/E Rio Verde Drive and south on Forest Road to McDowell Mountain Road and into Fountains Hills.  All the roads were well maintained and had little to no traffic early on a Sunday morning.  Sweet riding on the Rotti.

Once into the town’s center the lake is the dominating feature.  At 8 am there were dozens of joggers and walkers on the inviting paths that twist and wind around the lake.  Lots of green grass and trees surround the lake, virtually an oasis in the middle of the desert.  A Veterans’ Memorial Park on one end of the lake and a small outdoor mall next to it were the only attractions or shops we saw on the lakeside of the road.  The other side of the road all around the lake is occupied by very large and very expensive looking homes. 
Pulling into the parking lot that gives the best view of the fountain we were all set to see the fountain do its hourly spout.  Turns out the fountain show doesn’t start till 9 am, we were way early.  A cup of coffee and some cookies in the shade under a tree only used up about 25 minutes and it was getting into the high 80s.  We decided to ride on and when we ride through again we’d time it better.  After a loop around the lake we headed to Safford where we would spend the night.
Leaving town on Grand Boulevard (that turns into Mohave Road) we connected to Fort McDowell Road and down to Highway 87, the Beeline Highway.  We made a note that on our return to see the fountain do its thing we would take Fort McDowell Road to Bartlett Dam, the little piece we did was a very nice back road, for sure.  We rode north on the Beeline Highway to the Bush Highway exit, wound our way southwest to Usery Pass Road then down to the Superstition Highway and on to Globe. 

Riding southeast to Safford on Highway 70, The Old West Highway, it got hot, 105 by the time we came into town.  As we rode through the San Carlos Apache Indian Nation we had a 10 to 15 mph tail wind which made it seem even hotter.  Rotti’s fans came on and stayed on for last few miles.  The hotel air conditioning was fantastic!  

What a great way to spend a weekend - riding around our favorite state on our new-to-us K1200RS!  Deryle and Wanda, always looking for another Arizona attraction.

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