Copper Country - U.S. 360 Day 20 from Three Way AZ to Safford AZ
My cycling journey around the American perimeter
35 miles – Total so far: 1001 miles
Left Three Way Arizona at a decent hour and was immediately greeted by a tough climb up Mt. Guthrie. After cresting that particular climb, much of the rest of the ride was a gentle downhill into high desert country. Most of today’s ride could be characterized as desert-like, with sizable mountains looming in the distance. The Arizona desert was noticeably warmer than any weather I’ve experienced since Del Rio, Texas.
This is mining country. Nearby communities like Clifton and Morenci, as well as Safford, are almost totally dependent on copper mining. Freeport McMoRan owns the mines, which are some of the largest copper mining operations in the world. The main roads, US 191 and US 70, unfortunately, seem to have been degraded by all of the truck traffic coming to and from the mines. Between the huge trucks hauling mining equipment, the significant cracking of the area’s pavement, the liberal use of rumble strips by ADOT, and debris on the highway shoulders, today’s riding wasn’t completely stress-free. Having said that, if that is the worst roadway condition I’ll see on this adventure, I’ll consider myself both blessed and lucky!
Finished the ride in the Gila River Valley, which ultimately runs through Safford, Arizona. Because of irrigation in the area, the landscape immediately changes from desert-like to bright green with hay and cotton throughout the valley. Between the two ends of the ride, I did not pass through another single town. Also, didn’t see any Eastbound Southern Tier cyclists. Wildlife sightings today included lots of lizards scampering across the roadway and into their desert homes.
I intend to sleep well tonight in preparation for a long ride through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. My goal for tomorrow is to make it to the Apache Gold Hotel and Casino, where I most certainly intend to lose money in exchange for a cool room and a cold beer.
It’s All Good.
Photo of the Day: Cotton fields just beginning to take form
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