Note To Self: Always Bring Helmet And Jacket. Jerome To Williams. 5-29-11

So here it is Sunday morning and we have no plans. Ralph says to me “Let’s go for a ride!” Of course I’m all for it. But where to? He’d been talking about a trip from Jerome to Williams through Perkinsville that he’d like to do but it had been too cold. So I’m thinking, ok it’s warm here now so this trip should be fine, right? We had been riding helmetless for a month at least so it didn’t even enter my mind to bring them along. I grabbed a few different weights of jackets, the heaviest being a double layer fleece. I hopped in the truck wearing my summer riding clothes of lightweight pants (I never wear shorts, thus avoiding the dreaded shorts tan), and a tank top (I never wear t-shirts either, no sleeve tan for me, thanks!).

All was wonderful as we cruised up I-17 in Ralph’s comfy truck. We stopped for gas just before heading up the hill to Jerome. When I got out to run inside to buy some Mentos, all of a sudden I got that “Uh-oh” feeling. It was kinda chilly! Up the road we drove through Jerome to our parking spot.

I love Jerome. Old west mining town turned tourist, tons of history and charm. We had been here recently on a road trip at the end of February by way of Prescott. It was snowing in Prescott and there was an ice cold wind blowing through the streets of Jerome. We had a fabulous dinner at the Asylum restaurant at the top of town and Ralph bought me a t-shirt and some fudge. It was an awesome trip. Today our parking spot was right off the dirt road going north out of town. When I got out I felt the wind and went straight for my heaviest jacket. As we got situated and started out I realized immediately that this just might be a cold ride.

It was a beautiful day and the view was incredible north towards the west end of the red rocks of the Sedona area. We descended into the valley and crossed the railroad tracks near Perkinsville. Ralph pointed out the entrance to a notable 680 ft long train tunnel through solid rock. It had warmed up significantly and I was feeling fine. Just after crossing the Verde River we came upon a quad crashed into the side of a bridge over a creek. Ralph got out to check for the injured rider but nobody was around. On the trip back the quad was gone. Interesting.

We turned off the main road and took a route to the east that passed by a very large, operating slate mine and continued up into the pines. It was about 25 miles to Williams and getting colder. I had put up my hood and was gripping it tightly under my chin. Ralph was just in shorts and a short sleeve shirt and I was wondering why he didn’t stop and put his jacket on. He told me later in the trip that he hadn’t brought it. Oops.

We arrived in Williams, parked and got out to browse the shops and find some lunch. We were near the Grand Canyon Railroad depot and were lucky enough to see the train pass by. Williams is on old Route 66, so I thought it fitting to buy a small bag made of fabric themed with Route 66 symbols. It was cold and windy and we quickly decided to get burgers at a nearby diner. I was surprised to see on the menu a choice of about 8 beers on tap, brewed locally at the Grand Canyon Brewery. I had no idea there was a brewery in Williams. Beer isn’t my preferred beverage but I decided to try the White Water Wheat. It was the best beer I have ever tasted! And that’s the truth! Ralph suggested we get a six pack to take home but sadly, only two of the flavors came bottled and the White Water Wheat wasn’t one of them. The waitress told us about a half-gallon glass jug called a Growler that could be filled from the tap. Awesome! We watched as she expertly filled up my Growler and off we went.

Back in the RZR I found out that Ralph had no jacket. We carry a blanket, thank goodness, so Ralph draped it over him and we started back towards the truck. Our route back was mostly on a highway which means we were driving around 50mph. The cold plus the wind made conditions pretty darn uncomfortable. Ralph had the blanket tucked as tighly as possible around him. I was gritting my teeth and promising myself I would never go anywhere without my helmet ever again. The thought of my Growler filled with yummy beer stowed in our quad bag, was a slight distraction. Right out of Williams we had to slow for a herd of sheep crossing the road. I’ve never seen so many sheep before. It was a very cool site.

Finally, around a corner I glimpsed the truck up ahead patiently waiting for us. We loaded the quad on the trailer and climbed inside to warm up. We drove slowly down the hill back through Jerome and headed home. I was completely satisfied.

Sometimes things happen on our trips that are unforeseen or unplanned for. Some of them are our faults and some of them aren’t. But it doesn’t matter how cold, hot, windy, wet, or bumpy it might have been, one thing is for sure: I’m always filled with gratitude. I am always grateful for the privilege to experience Arizona off the beaten path. But mostly I’m thankful that the most wonderful man in the world wants to take me there.

About Ellen

A native Arizonan, who grew up camping and backpacking all over Arizona. My husband and I share a love for the spectacular Arizona landscape and rich history. We are passionate about spending our weekends exploring in our RZR. Backcountry driving combines my love of the outdoors with the thrill of experiencing my husband's expert four-wheeling skills on challenging terrain!
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