Bob's Friday Ride
Deryle & Wanda Mehrten
We have two guys in Southeastern Arizona who like to organize and
lead a “Friday Ride.” Craig Littlefield living in Tucson has a distribution
list of folks
in the Tucson area, and Bob Muller has a distribution list of folks
living south of Tucson - Sonoita, Patagonia, Sierra Vista, etc.
They both have a couple of favorite routes that
include a coffee stop or two and at least one major meal, usually a
breakfast for the Tucson riders and a brunch for the southern
This past Friday Bob invited us to meet at Mustang Corners and ride
over to Sunizona for a late breakfast/early lunch. Based on past
experience there could be three to five bikes meet up for a loop
around SE Arizona. Usually only one or two bikes would be two up
with their significant other. This Friday it turned out to be four
bikes, three two up. Good to see the ladies make the ride.
Bob and Marianne ride a nice R12GS; Bob and Karen ride an older
R1150GS; Wanda and I ride a slant motored K1200GT; and Bob rides his
K1200LT alone. We are all in the second half of our journey though
life, so although we consider ourselves spirited riders, we duff
along most of the time. Probably for the best.
The first leg of our route would take us across Hwy 82 to Hwy 80.
About half way to Hwy 80 we crossed the San Pedro River at
Fairbanks, an old ghost town that is being preserved by a local
historical group. It’s a good stop where you can enter some old
buildings constructed in the early 1900s, or hike along the river
which is usually underground unless there has been some recent rain.
Heading south on Hwy 80 we rode through Tombstone and down to Davis
Road. Davis Road is a semi-twisty road that has a speed limit of 55
mph. Most riders do closer to 65 or 75 as there is a lot of forward
visibility and very few side roads. A few manmade hazards are
planted along the way - a couple of the high speed sweepers have a
cattle guard either at the start of the turn or the end. It’s good
to know where they are and to cut straight across them. Not sure
why ADOT does this.
Some 22 miles from Hwy 80 Davis Road’s only stop sign is at the
Central Road junction. Turning north on Central we rode along some
older farm land that has been lying fallow for a bunch of years.
Not all the farms out here have survived the drought that been
around for a bunch of years.
It’s only a couple of miles up Central Road to Elfrida and Hwy 191.
Hwy 191 is the main drag through Sulphur Springs Valley and runs all
the way to the Canadian border. Lots of traffic coming and going
between all the small towns on this piece of the highway. During
harvest times there can be a lot of tractors and hay haulers.
Our lunch destination was Sunizona and the newly re-opened Sandy’s
Restaurant and RV Park at the junction of Hwy 191 and Hwy 181. The
food was OK and the service was good. Chewing the fat with friends
can make even the most mundane location a wonderful stop. We’ll
stop here again.
The next stop would be the Espresso
in Willcox on Rex Allen Drive. Rex Allen was the last of the
singing cowboys and lived in Willcox until his untimely demise - his
girl friend backed over him with his station wagon. He was in his
80s. There’s a nice park with a statue of Rex Allen right across
from the Rex Allen Museum. Wanda and I have stopped here many
When we left Sunizona we took the long way around on Hwy 181 that
joins up with Hwy 186. Most every time I take 186 around to the
Chiricahua Monument entrance there is at least one wash crossing the
road that is flowing. You can see the washes coming by the line of
trees that snake across the desert. And, yup, the first wash had
about 4 to 6 inches of water flowing. We had no problem crossing
and it did wash the bugs off the toes of my boots.
Each of us had planned to gas up in Willcox. Turns out the extra 30
or so miles to Willcox by taking Hwy 181 through Dos Cabezas wasn’t
accounted for by Bob and Karen. About 2 miles from Willcox Bob
coasted to a stop, out of gas. After 10 or 15 minutes of fiddling
with a plastic siphon hose to no avail, Bob and Marianne rode into
Willcox and bought a gas can and a gallon of gas. The rest of us
stood beside the road and kicked tires and told tales
The coffee shop in Willcox is an antique shop as well. It takes all
of 5 minutes to see all the old pieces and “collectibles.” I found
the old male cat that came out to visit with us on the porch the
most interesting piece of the shop. His ears were pretty chewed off
and he walked with an “I’m the Boss” swagger. We enjoyed our coffee
The route home would take us back south on Hwy 186 then south on
Kansas Settlement Road. There are several fruit and nut orchards
along the way and Wanda and I have helped bottle wine at a vineyard
off of Kansas Settlement Road a few years back. There is also a
dairy farm that if the wind is coming your way…you will smell it
before you see it.
The old Kansas Settlement General Store burned down some 6 or 8
years ago. A couple of rusty out-of-service gas pumps and a power
pole mark the site. Coming home from northern Arizona this past
year Wanda and I stopped on the old hardstand and watched the
Horseshoe II fire flare up on the Chiricahua Mountains. Little did
we know that when we came into Sierra Vista that same day we would
see the beginnings of the Monument Fire that sent a lot of people
packing, including several of our friends. Fires are scary!
We would backtrack most of the route we took coming, - Hwy 191 down
to Elfrida and Central to Davis and Hwy 80. In Tombstone we split
up. Bob and Marianne would continue through Tombstone and turn west
on Hwy 82 and to their home in Sonoita. Bob and Karen, LT Bob and
Wanda and I would take Charleston Road over to Sierra Vista and
home. With the heat wave we’re having and the good company of Bob,
Bob and Bob (and their lovely wives), it was a most excellent ride.