Southern Arizona Tour Recap

GO AZ Motorcycles, Scottsdale, AZ – March 30, 2019

by  El Chino Loco

The Southern Arizona Tour (SOAZT) was the second of the six rides of the GO AZ/AZRATPack Riders Series.  This years SOAZT took us to Patagonia, Bisbee and Mt Lemmon with one night out on the road. The trip could not have started off any better. The weather was fabulous and enthusiastic group of riders came out for this ride. 

The SOAZT is not a new tour to the AZRATPack. Over the years we have been to Bisbee, Tombstone and other Southern Arizona cities and towns for many entertaining rides. Any trip to Bisbee is fabulous, a quirky, fun town of the old west. Built into the side of a mountain in the fashion of San Francisco its a real treasure of time and old west culture. Copper was discovered in these mountains and the one of the largest open pit mines of its time. The COPPER QUEEN MINE was operated from late 1940s to 1974.  On the way to Bisbee we will stop in Patagonia (not CHINLE, not enough time for that) for lunch.

The buildings of Bisbee are fabulously well preserved and a thriving community of artisans and restauranteurs keep this town going today.  A healthy lore of haunted houses and many local characters make the town a great place to visit. A wide variety of oddities can be found around the town from crazy cars , unusual statues and a seemingly constant flow of motorcycles. 

With Bisbee being so damn cool how do you make a Bisbee experience even better? The AZRATPack has stayed at all the notable hotels in town and had restaurants cook special dinners for us. On the 2018 6’s Wild Tour (Rte 66 and Northern AZ) we stayed at the Wigwam in Winslow, AZ. That was a definite blast from the past on Route 66.  Ya know Bisbee has the SHADY DELL. The what ? You say? The SHADY DELL a hotel/motel made of TRAVEL TRAILERS… Yes, approximately 32 travel trailer converted into rooms, including a 1940s bus and a Chris Craft boat. That’s perfect for the AZRATPack !!! 

We all met at GO AZ Motorcycles of Scottsdale (GO AZ) for the start. GO AZ is undergoing massive re-modeling and the facility is quite tight on space. GO AZ was nice enough to block off a space (usually reserved for bike sales) in the front for us to assemble and get checked-in.  As people signed in there were snack bags and stickers for those registering. Madison Fox, GO AZ Event Coordinator from Scottsdale and Ali from Peoria, Louis Bartolome, GO AZ Parts Manager, Rhonda Lorenson, Parts Associate were on-hand to see the group off.

The first group rolled out at 9:15am sharp (LOL). The overall group was split into three groups. This journey will pass Marana, AZ, then around the outskirts of Tucson and eventually through southern Tucson with is expanding rapidly with road construction and traffic lights. Smaller groups would have easier travels. 

Heading towards Florence we ran into the Renaissance Fair near Gold Canyon, AZ .. Some traffic delays but not much. A lot of events occur in the next few months in AZ before the heat rises for the summer. Heading to Florence now, traffic moving well, great day to be rolling on the bike. Passing through Florence we head towards I-10. A brief stint on I-10 east and its south through Marana. We eventually reach the West Side of the Sajuaro National Monument. 

After a very healthy rainy season and some snow (even in Phoenix and Tucson) the desert has responded with one of the best flower blooms in some years. The scenery is beautiful. We progress around some huge mountains of mining tailings and eventually skirt around the San Xavier de Bac Mission. It was nice to finally get away from some ofthe hustle and bustle of Tucson.  It is a rapidly growing city with new housing and massive amounts of development. A short jaunt south on the Mission Road and we cross over the I-19 on E Sahuarita Rd. heading eastward. We eventually turn south on HWY 82 towards Patagonia, our lunch stop. 

Patagonia is another SOAZ kinda of place of much lore. Patagonia is about 5 city blocks longs and 3 blocks wide. You feel a strong separation between the big city-ness of Tucson vs the simple streets of Patagonia. As said before people are out traveling, visiting en mass before the temps increase. The restaurants in Patagonia could not take our group so we ended up splitting up to different places. 

We found the Ovens Patagonia. Pulling into town we saw some of our group. Wait we were the first group… LOL.. A GPS malfunction and some general road knowledge had our second group get to Patagonia before us. They were sitting on a cute patio, thats a definite stop !! When you walk in you cant help but notice the PASTRY in the display. FRUIT PIES.  Holy molythe fruit pies were GREAT.  Many noticed the seemingly thousands of little birds around town.  There are large numbers of hummingbirds and finches that live in Patagonia, AZ 🙂

Onward to Bisbee. About another hour in the saddle. You know your close to Bisbee when you see the tunnel, then you see the building stacked up on the hills. All so colorful. We progress past the town (thats not far) toward the town of Lowell. You see the now defunct open pit mine to the right, the COPPER QUEEN. You wonder why the sides just don’t collapse and suck the whole region into it. The road approaches a big roundabout and you almost end up comin back on yourself when you see the sign for the Shady Dell.

You’ve arrived and the excitement is running high.  Behind two gates are the converted 32 travel trailers. We are greeted by the manager and the check-in process could not be any simpler – you are ? (Pre-paid reservations). After getting some small things the manager takes each of us to the assigned trailer and gives us the history. You are welcome to see the others get briefing for their trailer. The history is fascinating with  some of the trailers, bus, boat? Yes a boat!! Having some interesting history.  Almost all have bathrooms but most will use the shower facility attached to the check-in.  There are also many available amenities such as rotary phones, phone booths, bbqs and gazebo with couches to sit around. The person lucky enough to stay in the boat gets a bottle of champagne WOO-HOO.

Note: Behind the Shady Dell is a huge cemetery. Is that part of the experience. More information when available. 

Each unit has an AC, mandatory in AZ, although you are at 4500ft elevation in Bisbee summers can be HHHHOT. You also have space heater and electric blankets or some combination there-of. I was happy to be in Bisbee at this time. Nights are chilly, down to freezing and daytimes are delightful. That being the case at night you did not hear 32 air conditioners running all night.

My unit had a RECORD player with 45s and LPs by Frank Sinatra, Don Ho, Herp Alpert and The Beach Boys.  The record player also had a BLUE-TOOTH speaker in it if you needed your own music (GOOOOFY). Some got an old style coffee percolater.  I was in the tiki bus with Victor (El Presidente). It was fashioned in a Polynesian theme with its own cabana and bar.  All the units had a theme and were finished off with amenities and items of the appropriate period. One unit had a BLACK & WHITE TV with the guts removed and DELL FLAT PANEL TV wedged in. 

Of particular interest is the 40ft Chris Craft boat, Yes a BOAT. It looked like the SS Minnow, propped up not to fall over. Our Road Captain Steve Stoops got the honors. A Captain should have a boat, right ! It was amazing, with a back deck setup to sit, and the cabin setup to sleep. It came with a Captains and mates hat. You could see Gillian’s Island, Skipper, Gilligan, a millionaire and his wife……, a movie star….., the professor and Mary Ann here on BISBEE ISLE.

After settling into our trailer, boat, bus the AZRATPack went to the local Safeway grocery store and picked up food for the BBQ onsite at Shady Dell. Others went to purchase drinks and other food, some deserts, etc, etc. Is fun to watch that much food populate the cases of the motorcycles. Hey DONT CRUSH THE CHIPS !! Safeway is a great store with numerous varieties and bargains on food. 

GO AZ Motorcycles of Scottsdale was kind enough to pickup the expense for the food. GO AZ has been a stupendous sponsor making the whole GO AZ/AZRATPack ride series a memorable experience for so many riders. GO AZ also treats AZRATPack members to many specials as well as discounts. If you are an AZRATPack member mention it whenever your purchasing something, getting service or talking to the sales staff about your next great ride. 

Brian Norrie our Canadian AZRATPacker jumped right in and got the BBQs going. The Shady Dell provided briquettes, lighter fluid and bbq amenities.  He’s definitely a BBQ man, perfect fire for all the food. Others jumped in to cook and there was the great sitting around doin what bikers do best, YACK :-).  Burgers, marinated chicken, dogs and fried chicken (ElChinoLoco requirement) with 4 different salads made up the evening feast. 

As the evening wore on the temps started going down and the days ride caught up with us. Some came over to the the bus where we played RECORDS. Todd Gillis decided he wanted to be the bus driver.  I swear the bus moved when he moved the gear shift.  Todd noticed this thing on the floor you stepped on… What is this?? What kinda special thing is this? Something to do with the clutch ??  El Presidente stepped into the conversation of 4 people, uh thats the high beam switch, OH YEAH they used to do it that way LOL. After some records, Todd treating us to records spinning faster than they should, the chipmunks and faint hearted attempts to sing along we all crashed, a bright moon shining over the Shady Dell that night.

My sleep was good, but I seldom sleep very long. I was up at 4:30am, packing, charging devices on phones, wanting a cup of coffee. Geez, nothing opens till 6am. I could goto Safeway. Well walking around at 6ish I ran into Brian Norrie and then a few others. I decided I’m going to the Bisbee COFFEE COMPANY in the heart of town BEFORE breakfast at the BISBEE BREAKFAST CLUB less than a minute from the Shady Dell. The COFFEE company is one of my favorite hang outs right in the heart of town across from the COPPER QUEEN hotel. I was responsible for confusing everyone where breakfast would be but it was at the BISBEE BREAKFAST CLUB. Both places are great. It’s amazing when people are confused the PHONES come out and browsers engaged. If you were on ATT you won this time, certain others did not do so well. 

At the COFFEE COMPANY Brian and I sat down with 80+ year old Mary. A local resident of 40+ years in Bisbee now a widow she walks 3/4 miles everyday to get her newspaper and meet familiar faces at the COFFEE COMPANY. We shared a round table where other AZRATPack people came and shared a little time with Mary. She told us about Bisbee in the past and that she also danced RAP and HIP HOP. She gave us a short demo. She also loved motorcycles. She told us of the old days when her husband had a dirt bike. They would go ride the bike and in the most coy-ish manner says “and smoke marijuana”.  You had to be happy to share a morning with Mary.  Brian also met a couple that brought their cat to breakfast. He’s a cat person. You cant help be fascinated with these old settings, sitting your coffee with the locals and the cat to think LIFE is really NOT city living. Without a BEST BUY within reasonable distance I couldn’t do it… LOL.  The COFFEE COMPANY is a great place, I make it a point to go there every visit to Bisbee. The AZRATPack would NEVER fit in there, its too small, but visit there when your in Bisbee next. 

DRAMA unfolds at the BISBEE BREAKFAST CLUB as our group is confused with another group of bikers doing their 40th ANNUAL breakfast at the CLUB. As we file in confusion starts as tables thought to be the other club ( a group of recovered alcoholics) start to arrive. Eventually it looks like we are out maybe and have to find another place. With a little luck and calm we all sorta get shifted around and eventually served. 

Sunday the group was heading to Mt Lemmon for lunch.  I unfortunately had to head home because of a work situation.  At breakfast everyone was getting served at a little different time so people started heading off on their own. Some went to Mt Lemmon, some went to Tombstone and some headed to the I-10 for the journey home. 

Time to stop writing. There were so many great moments I could write more about on this trip. A lot of good memories for sure!! The AZRATPack hopes you had a GREAT RIDE. We certainly enjoy everyone’s company on the GO AZ/AZRATPack Ride Series.  We, again, wish to thank GO AZ for their support in helping make these rides a great experience for all. 

Many expressed thanks to GOAZ for dinner. If you would like to pass on some appreciation to GoAZ please send an email to Madison Fox  at [email protected]

I also thank and appreciate my fellow board members for working hard to get these events coordinated and executed. A lot of personal time goes into making these rides as interesting as we can.

AZRATPack is an AMA chartered club.  The AMA works tirelessly to advocate legally for the best conditions and rights for the American Motorcyclist. If you are not a member you can join on the links provided on or AZRATPack is also an affiliate club of the Southern California Motorcycle Association (SCMA). SCMA provides a number of regional, national and international challenge rides for the long distance rider. You can check them out at Check them out, take a challenge !!!

OH, OH, WAIT – Our next ride is the Alien Encounter Ride. You gotta LOVE Aliens. Check it out on the website. Alien rides are the BEST …. Remember, “I WANT TO BELIEVE”. Look forward to seeing you out there !!!