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The Mines of Minas Morenci Mordor


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Ok, this ride tale, from back in November, is a long time coming. It ends in a lowside crash that ruptured my spleen. I will follow with a Ride Well article soon with a similar title.



November 2005


I had been to Tucson before. One of our largest Thermal customers is there, usually has 5 to 10 new users every couple of years and prefers to hold classes at their location. So I would travel again, but this time I would go by motorcycle and see some new sights. I set aside a full day to ride out. My route would take me from Orange County, east on Hwy 74 through the Hemet and the Palm Desert areas, then on Hwy 111 south along the Salton Sea and through Brawley. In the Brawley/El Centro area, I would turn east on I-8 which eventually passes south of Phoenix (bypassing the blob that ate Arizona) then continue east on I-10 to Tucson.




11/14/2005 10:31: This is on the 74 just before it starts heading down to the desert floor.





11/14/2005 10:44: This was taken from a large turnout overlooking the desert. The road snakes it’s way down from the higher elevations. Here you can see some of the world’s best motorcycle curves on “Seven Level Hill.” This section of the 74 is called the “Palms to Pines Highway”.



In Palm Desert, the 74 intersects with Hwy 111 which leads south after passing through Palm Desert and Indio.




11/14/2005 12:00: Highway 111 skirts the eastern (downwind) edge of the Salton Sea. I think the smell comes from excess algae growth. It was apparent, but not too bad in November. I can only imagine what it must be like in the summer. That’s a “campground” out there.





11/14/2005 12:00: Most of the drive along here is just this bleak.



Brawley and El Centro lie further to the south. They aren’t much to look at, but they got me to I-8 where I turned east.




11/14/2005 15:29: This is somewhere along I-8. I was waiting for the train to pass so I could cross back over to the highway after a gas stop. That skid mark is not mine.




11/14/2005 16:59: Further along I-8, the shadows started getting long. I was in Arizona by then but still had miles to go before I would sleep.




I taught class on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The customer’s location was just a short hop from the Marriott, which is near the Tucson airport.




11/17/2005 15:54: On Thursday evening, my trusty steed awaited the next day’s ride. The plan was to get an early start heading east on I-10, then north on the 191 through Morenci and the Apache National Forest, over to Show Low and finally to Prescott that night, then home on Saturday or Sunday.




11/18/2005 06:12: Friday morning’s sunrise, and I’ve already put about 100 miles behind me. This is a large rest area on I-10 near the junction with the 191.




11/18/2005 06:45: Just a few miles north of I-10 on the 191. The bike ran smoothly up the mountain while the sun took smoothly to the sky.




11/18/2005 08:05: The Safford area, just east of town.




11/18/2005 08:24: East of Safford, traveling east on Hwy 191.




11/18/2005 08:57: Our first look at the mines of Minas Morenci.




11/18/2005 08:57: A pond of some sort (probably not for swimming) at the mines.




11/18/2005 08:57: The Phelps-Dodge mine is a big operation.




11/18/2005 09:10: I guess you can flatten anything given enough time and motivation. The loss of the natural habitat is a shame, however this operation is fairly localized. A dedicated land use as it were and even environmentalists use copper. Riding north, it didn’t take long to get out of the mining area and into the National Forest.




11/18/2005 09:24: Traffic stopped here for about 20 minutes for road construction. The far end of this construction zone is where I met the Sheriff on my way back down the mountain in the care of a kind stranger with a maroon Corvette.




11/18/2005 09:50: Still going north though, I’m in the mountains, at last. This campground was much nicer than the ones along the shore of the Salton Sea.




11/18/2005 10:08: Well into the National Forest. I wonder where that road goes.





1/18/2005 10:08: The Apache National Forest is subtitled “Piñon-Juniper Woodland”. The elevation here is 6500 feet and it was 50°F by this time but the sun was very strong.




11/18/2005 10:48: So much for plans. Here’s where it all stopped. Gee, that curve doesn’t look too difficult now, does it.




11/18/2005 10:49: With luggage still strewn about, I lay down by that tree to catch my breath for about 20 minutes. During that time, six cars went by but none stopped. I guess I should have left the bike on the ground.


I got back on the bike and continued north for a few more miles but that was all I could do. I got dizzy, pulled over in a turnout and fell over when I stopped. Within a few minutes, the kind stranger in the maroon Corvette stopped to help. He drove me back down to Morenci where I met the Sheriff who took me to the Morenci Clinic.





The clinic doctor shipped me off to Tucson in a helicopter for a laparotomy.






When you fly with Air Evac, you get the co-pilot’s seat. The ride is good, albeit expensive.

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Fascinating story, very interesting pictures. Talk about space !!! blush.gif


The last part doesn't sound too good, but since you're happily typing it now, I assume you got over the mishap!?


Thanks for the very interesting travel report and pictures !! thumbsup.gif



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Thanks Francois,

I think you'd really engoy seeing the US southwest by motorcycle. I can only imagine the beautiful photos you'd come up with!


Happy? Sure. I don't ride anymore, however. If it were just me, I'd analyze the accident and do whatever is necessary to avoid having another, and keep riding. When I was in the hospital, I promised my wife that I wouldn't ride anymore. Of course I could use the excues that I was flat on my back getting morphine every 4 hours, but i don't think that would go over very well. It was a very difficult time for her, and I wouldnb't want ot put her though that again. In hindsight, that was probably the right decision for me, morphine not withstanding. The only medical problems I've ever had in my life were caused by motorcycle accidents. And both of those accidents were caused by in-attention. I'll write more about that in a Ride Well post.

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Owwww, I am sorry to hear that Rich, I didn't know. crazy.gif But I DO understand it. I am sure Nina would rather want ME to stay healthy too, instead of having 'fun' on a mechanical toy (no matter what WE may call riding). And I too stick to my promises..... don't stop making photos though..... I won't be out there for some time to come, if ever ! wink.gif


Kindest regards,


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Dennis Andress

Hi Rich!


I lost track of you but you've not been forgotten. It's good to see you post again. Are you lurking or is this just a rare visit?



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Hi Dennis. I pop in once in a while. It's a bit of a heart breaker reading about everybody ELSES moto adventures, but I love this board.


I guess I'll just have to put my vehicle/mechanical interest into some other type of vehicle/machine!

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Rich, get a JEEP !!


I did, waited for the opportunity almost 50 years, now I have one !


What is still on my list of things to have and use before I die is a 1945 Willys..... one day.


The Jeep communities are many and fun, lots of forums, adventures, and nice people too. And with a Jeep you CAN actually go off the road without busting things <evil grin>.


Warm regards,


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I'm so sorry to read that this happened to you Rich. I hope you heal well and in time everything sorts itself out for the better. That includes how you feel about riding or not riding.


Still, both of your posts are incredibly candid and perfectly documented with pictures and captions. I hate to think you won't be posting a Ride Tale in the future. Eh, with your skill maybe we can allow a Drive Tale. Anything to get you to post.


Take care. Thanks for sharing, because it does matter.

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Thanks Kathy


Thanks for sharing, because it does matter.


My hope, of course, is that the discussion will help others avoid a similar accident.

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