I didn’t post yesterday, so I need to post a weekend update. Not that the weekend was all that exciting. Donna went out for her first bike ride in two weeks. She was away for a week and her bike was in the shop for repairs. She rode the Usery loop, 20 miles, with her friends, Dara and Amber and a few other gals. Her bike is like a new machine. The tune-up with new cables, chain and cassette and new wheels have restored the liveliness of her Trek Madone.
After her ride, we hung out at the pool for a while and soaked in the Jacuzzi. There were airplanes from Falcon Field putting on an aerobatic display to the west of us. Three Russian Yak 52s and an AT-6 Texan flew overhead in tight formation a couple of times. I really enjoy watching these piston-powered airplanes. Last week, there was a pilot roaring overhead – he appeared to be practicing for a pylon race. He would pass over the RV park in a northeasterly direction, then roll into a steep bank as he made a 180-degree turn to the southwest. He continued on that heading until he was almost out of sight before he rolled into another 180-degree turn and passed overhead again.
As he approached the park, his plane sounded like a buzz saw. The sound was coming from the propeller. The tip speed of the propeller was exceeding the speed of sound and creating a shock wave. This phenomenon is hard to get your head around. Here’s what’s happening. The propeller is turning at a certain number of revolutions per minute (RPM). Although the entire propeller is turning at that RPM, the tips of the propeller are describing an arc of greater diameter than any other part of the propeller. This means the tips have to cover a greater distance for a given RPM. Speed is defined as distance traveled in a period of time. The speed of the propeller tips can be very high. When they are exceeding the speed of sound, they create sound of their own.
Once the plane passed by, the propeller sound abated and you could hear the rumble of the piston engine. I stood outside and watched him for several minutes. This stuff fascinates me. I guess I’m easily amused.
On Saturday afternoon, I soaked a cedar plank. Donna prepared miso rubbed sockeye salmon, which I grilled on the cedar plank. If you haven’t tried grilling on a plank, I highly recommend it.
Donna served it with a cauliflower-potato mash with cilantro-jalapeno pesto and green beans on the side. It was outstanding!
Yesterday, we drove the rental car to Tortilla Flat for breakfast. Tortilla Flat is a quirky little place near Canyon Lake on the old Apache Trail. It was originally a stage coach stop that began operation more than 100 years ago. It’s the only remaining stop on the Apache Trail. Legend has it that in the old days, miners would stop at the saloon on their way to the big city (Phoenix). They would write their name on a dollar bill and tack it on the wall of the saloon. That way they knew they would have some cash waiting at the saloon when they returned from the big city.
Today, tourists staple dollar bills on the wall. The entire interior of the saloon is papered with dollar bills.
Today, there are a few buildings and six or seven year-round residents at Tortilla Flat. There’s the usual tourist trap gift shop, an ice cream parlor, small museum and the saloon. The saloon is a favorite breakfast cafe.
When we lived in Mesa, I would ride my motorcycle up to Tortilla Flat nearly every Sunday morning. I would meet a group of fellow motorcycle enthusiasts at the Dash In on the corner of Lost Dutchman and Apache Trail. Our group included a few old road racers and few want-to-be racers. We met early on Sunday morning, before there was any traffic on the Apache Trail.
About 10 miles from Tortilla Flat, the road becomes very twisty. I rode up this road so many times on my motorcycles that I remembered every inch of the way. I called out the turns to Donna and the preferred line through the turns for 10 miles. She rode the route on her motorcycle once with me, but this time, she was more focused on the scenery.
We used to ride up past Tortilla Flat. The pavement continues for about five miles up the canyon towards Apache Lake before it becomes a dirt road. At the end of the pavement we would pull off in a turn-out and chat. Now and then, a small group would ride down the road a few miles to a turn out point and race each other back to the top. We would be dragging our knees around the turns, riding the wheels off our bikes. I had an MV Agusta when I first started riding with this group. Then I bought a tricked out Ducati 848 Superbike. It had all the goods – full Termignoni race system and ECU, Ohlins suspension. We had a blast. After an hour or two, we would ride down to the saloon for breakfast and swap stories. I sold the Ducati when we moved to Michigan. I didn’t think I would have any use for it there.
If you ever get up to the saloon at Tortilla Flat, you must try the chili. Whether it’s breakfast time or lunch, the chili is tops. On the menu it’s called “Killer Chili.” On the breakfast menu they have the “Killer Omelette.” This is a three-egg omelette filled with chili and topped with cheese. Tasty and very filling.
Here are a few pictures of the quirkiness that’s Tortilla Flat. Click on the photos to enlarge.
I’m glad we made it up there. The breakfast was good and it brought back great memories.