Jim Breen's SEAT Challenges
Arizona Courthouse Challenge
I began my Arizona Courthouse challenge as I returned to the state for my snowbird season in October of 2014. My first stop was on a warm Saturday afternoon in Flagstaff for the Coconino County Courthouse. Except for the traffic is was a perfect day. I spent the night just north of Phoenix so I could get the Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix on Sunday morning. It was a great plan because I had little traffic and cool temps.
Flagstaff, Coconino County Clifton, Greenlee County
Four days later I went to Silver City with the Tucson Retreads. Rain threatened on much of this ride but we only got drenched walking back to our motel after dinner. On this ride I visited the Graham (Safford) and Greenlee (Clifton) County Courthouses. There was a small group of characters gathered on the steps of the Courthouse in Clifton and I asked if the building was open (it was Saturday). They said I could come in with them, but I would probably be required to attend “a class”. I chose not to.
The next weekend was with the SEAT riders to Alpine. Saturday most of the group chose to ride a loop I had done the weekend before so Ross Carrol agreed to accompany me to St. Johns and Holbrook for the Apache and Navajo County Courthouses. We took the opportunity to ride through the Petrified Forrest National Park on the way. It was a bit of a challenge finding these two courthouses but we had a good time doing it. The next day the group was taking the “Devil’s Highway” (Rte. 191) home. I chose not to flirt with the Devil again and instead catch the Gila County Courthouse in Globe on my way home. The courthouse was uninspiring but the ride through the Salt River Canyon on US Hwy 60 was beautiful. It was my first time down this road. It was threatening rain when I left Globe and I put on the rain gear in Mammoth. When I reached Oro Valley it was raining and blowing so hard I needed to pull off the road to let the storm subside. This storm caused some issues in the Tucson area. After a ten minute break I was able to resume my trip and return home damp, but unscathed.
Ross Carrol St. Johns, Apache County Holbrook, Navajo County
After a plane trip home to Oregon for the holidays, I resumed my Courthouse Challenge rides in February, with a ride to Florence for the Pinal County Courthouse. There actually are three
Florence, Pinal County Inside the Pinal County Courthouse
Courthouse buildings in Florence. Two are used as Courthouses. The 1860 building currently houses a great museum. Florence has a surprisingly large and stable population because a significant portion of its inhabitants are incarcerate in the local prisons.
On my next excursions I bagged Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties. The historical Pima County Courthouse in Tucson was built in 1929 and is a beautiful Spanish Colonial building. The newly completed Courthouse is modern and looks functional. My friend Vic accompanied me to Tombstone for a bonus historical courthouse, then on to Bisbee and Nogales for the Cochise and Santa Cruz County Courthouses.
Tucson, Pima County
Vic accompanied me again as we headed for the western counties of the state. Our friends Travis and Ted came along as far as Organ Pipe National Monument. We were a diverse group of motorcyclists as we left Cindy Lou’s on a Honda Goldwing, a Honda Goldwing trike, an Indian and my BMW RT. After Organ Pipe, Vic and I continued on and found lodging in Yuma which was a short walk to the car show that was going on in town that evening. It was also just blocks from the Yuma County Courthouse. We took our courthouse pics in the morning and then took a beautiful ride following the Colorado River north. After taking some pics of the non-descript La Paz County Courthouse in Parker, and pausing in Oatman, we arrived at to our nights lodging at the Colorado Belle in Laughlin, NV.
Our last day began with the short ride to Kingman, the Mohave County seat. It seems I had inadvertently saved the best on this trip for last. This was a magnificent old courthouse with a small, historic old church next door. From Kingman we needed to beat it back to Tucson, stopping only for lunch, and the best tamales in the world at Anita’s Cantina in Wickenburg. This day’s ride was a long one and we were hot, tired and thirsty when we arrived home.
Kingman, Mohave County It’s Vic and he’s not a prisoner.
You can communicate with him
My last stop on my Arizona Courthouse Challenge was appropriately on my way back to Oregon in April. As I had done once previously, I stayed at the St Michael Hotel in Prescott. I spent the evening walking around and snapping pictures of the Yavapai County Courthouse which sits in the middle of the “Plaza” which is honored as one of the TOP TEN PUBLIC SPACES in the United States.
As it grew dark I retired to one of the historic establishments on Whiskey Row (the 100 block of Montezuma St) and reflected on my Arizona Courthouse Tour. This is the second tour like this I have done. I did the 36 counties in my home state of Oregon in 2012. The two tours were different in climate, topography and architecture. They were the same in that they were only partially about the courthouses. They were mostly about the ride, which means the roads in between, and the drinks, meals, and laughs that were shared with old friends and new.
As you, and some of those on the Alpine ride know, I am doing the SEAT Courthouse Challenge. Here is an update on my progress so far. When I was in Arizona in October I bagged Apache, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, and Navajo Counties. Since returning to Arizona after the holidays I got Cochise, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz. That's eleven,. so I only have the four western counties to get, which I plan to do in early March.
During the summer of 2012 I did a similar tour of the 36 counties in my home state of Oregon. I have found that doing these tours give great incentive to travel to the far corners of the states.
Attached are pictures of some of the Arizona Courthouses.