Monday, 18 January 2016

Barstow to Phoenix- Beginning 2016

We readied the trailer for travel, and left Barstow about noon. The day was perfect for driving to Arizona.
Bright blue skies...

Looonnng trains across the desert...
Fields of basalt...
Mojave Desert...
Interesting formations...

and over the Colorado River into Arizona
Into Arizona along Highway 40

We had checked, and discovered a Passport America RV Park near Lake Havasu.
It was getting dark as we neared Lake Havasu
However, by the time we got there we were told that Passport America prices didn’t apply in winter, so we tried several other RV Parks. All were full, but there was a casino 30 miles down the highway in Parker. So although it was dark by now, we decided to continue driving. The highway follows the Colorado River and apparently has many scenic pull-offs!
After dinner, we went into the Blue Water Casino, and spent New Year’s Eve with a free band, hats, balloons and cheap drinks.  

Our first- and probably only- selfie!
 In the morning, we walked around the resort grounds

Blue Water Casino in Parker

down to the Colorado River, before we left the next day. It is quite beautiful, with all the resort rooms facing the river,
Back of the Casino. The structure to the right is an outdoor concert stage.
and a day-use area with a beach and picnic ramadas.
A beautiful day use area - complete with a lab in the water
The drive to Lost Dutchman State Park was uneventful. We had heard so much about Quartzite that we decided to drive straight down SR 95 to I-10. It is a conglomeration of RV Parks

As you look across, all you see are RV's or RV's for sale.
and 2 large BLM Long Term Camping grounds

A beautiful old bus conversion...

BLM land
beside the Fairground where the big “Mineral and Gem Show” was just starting.

There was some traffic on I-10 through Phoenix which we discovered was due to the Fiesta Bowl being held at the stadium.

Lost Dutchman State Park is beautiful. Sites are well spaced, level and about half have water and electricity. It is in the Sonoran Desert, and sits right at the foot of the Superstition Mountains – an awesome sight.

View from the front door of Run Around Sue
According to the legend, there is a rich gold mine hidden in the SW US, believed to be in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction. There have been so many stories about how to find the mine, each year people search for it! In most versions of the legend, Weaver’s Needle is a prominent landmark for locating the lost mine.
Weavers Needle Photo by Chris C. Jones

The cacti are amazing – huge sagueros,

and a variety of different cholla,
Chain Fruit Cholla [Choy-a]

some prickly pear and ocotillo. We have a beautiful pull-through site with electricity and water.
Run Around Sue basking in the Arizona sun

Our eating area looks out at the mountain, and the kitchen side has an unobstructed view west over the desert.
Our first evening, harbinger of great days to come...right?

The first couple of days were sunny and warm, and we walked the Discovery Interpretive Trail from the campsite to the Rangers’ office,

A Saguaro skeleton - Superstitions by day...

A lovely tribute on the path

a Palo Verde as a nurse tree for the saguaros

A sundial- accurate too

The saguaro are sooo healthy- look at all the arms
then the rain set in! It rained more or less steadily for a week. The Superstition Mountains are really beautiful though, even in the clouds and rain.

A day of rain- with a "sucker-hole" of blue sky

We did get to LA Fitness, got shopping done, and went to Starbucks for wifi each day though. We tried our ‘go-to wifi’ place- McDonalds, but their wifi was so weak, we couldn’t even send an email! On one of our shopping trips to Walmart, we got Christmas lights [75% off so they cost $1US each] to put under the truck so our wires and plastic under the hood would not get chewed by the pack rats in the neighbourhood.  Apparently one of the volunteers had extensive damage done to the wiring of his truck.

When we finally got another sunny day, we went to “Goldfield Ghost Town”. This was a real mining town, which has been reconstructed.

Monument to the Unknown Miner

The entrance to the town
It was originally created by the rush following the discovery of gold in the vicinity in 1892. At its peak, it reached 4000 residents with a general store, hotel, post office and school. In late 1890’s there were also three saloons, blacksmith shop, brewery, meat market and boarding house.  By late 1897, it was abandoned when the mine had played out. From 1909 to 1910, a small community evolved on the site called Youngsberg, but when the mines again played out, this too was abandoned.

In 1970, Bob Schnoose, a long time ghost town enthusiast moved to Mesa. He had heard of the old site of Goldfield, but upon inspection, he found little left other than a few foundations and rambling shacks. He and his wife, Lou Ann, then located another five-acre site that was once the location of the Goldfield Mill and decided with to rebuild the old town. Purchasing the old mill site in 1984, they first reconstructed a mining tunnel, which included a snack bar and opened for business in 1988. Next came a photo shop, the Blue Nugget, a General Store, the Mammoth Saloon and the Goldfield Museum. Today,
Looking up the main street

it is a tourist destination with museums,

a bordello,
A 'Family Friendly" Bordello- so John didn't bother going up...
gift shops,
The Mercantile- the largest gift shop

The 2 Bounty Hunters confront the 4 "bad guys"
mine tours, train rides

a beautiful little church - that had a wedding while we were there-

A real church
and gold panning. We were there on a weekend and caught the 1pm gunfight!

Then we drove to an outdoor Market and Swap in Mesa, open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday.. This is huge - 2 looonnng tents filled with booths selling everything you could want [but not necessarily need], from purses and t-shirts to kitchen gadgets, flags and garden ornaments.

We finally touched base with friends who come down to Mesa each year. They took us on one of their favourite drives, along the Apache Trail [Highway 88], 42 miles from Apache Junction to the Roosevelt Dam. Originally constructed so that supplies could be hauled to construct the Roosevelt Dam, it follows the original aboriginal route used by the ancient peoples. It winds its way through some of the most spectacular scenery in Arizona. In many places, it is like driving down into the Grand Canyon, with spectacular, multi-coloured cliffs rising above you as you drive switch-back roads to the bottom. The first section to Tortilla Flats, where we stopped for lunch, is beautiful, on a paved road winding up into the Superstition Mountains. Our first stop, just past the Lost Dutchman State Park, gave us a view of Weavers Needle, [4536ft].

This is what we could see of Weavers Needle
This and the mountains around are all that is left of an extensive volcanic field from 20 million years ago. Early this was known as the “finger of God” or “rock pointing to the sky”. Some say the lost mine is in its 4 o’clock shadow. We took a short walk into the beautiful and green, after all the rain, Sonoran Desert,
Grey mountains of basalt

with many large bright green creosote bushes, saguaros and chollas. Some of the mountains were volcanic grey, while others were maroons, buffs, and greens.
Mountains- buff, with greens, yellows and some maroons 

Since we had so much rain, the higher elevations had snow. Poking up in the distance were higher snow-covered mountain peaks.
Snowy peaks in the distance
The snow line had come down to 4000 ft. Each corner we rounded gave us another spectacular view.

Unusual rocks
As we came around a bend...

and another...
From here we wound into the mountains to a viewpoint, Canyon Lake Vista, overlooking Canyon Lake.
A glimpse of Canyon Lake

The Canyon Lake map with Vista

Sheer cliffs fell right down to the water’s edge. The road wanders down and along the lake.
Canyon Lake
Here too are black volcanic mountains, side by side with layered sandstone.
Tortilla Flat, the last remaining stagecoach stop on Apache Trail,  is a lunch stop beside the river,

with a couple of restaurants, a mercantile, an Ice Cream Shop, and an old schoolhouse.
Along the walk to the schoolhouse, a tribute to the last
Stagecoach stop on the Apache Trail
Schoolhouse and museum
This was once a welcome stop for travellers on Yavapai Trail [now known as the Apache Trail], and then an important water and supply stop as the Roosevelt Dam was being constructed. We had a delicious lunch in the funky "Tortilla Flats Saloon", where the barstools were saddles and the walls were papered with $1 bills.
Tortilla Flats Saloon

From here on, the road was a graded dirt road. In a couple of places, the road was still wet with the wash from all the rain.
This would have been closed as the river rushed down the wash in the rain
In places, the hills were covered with prickly pears

Incredible range of colours - rivals the Grand Canyon
We stopped at a viewpoint overlooking Fish Creek,

Look at those colours!

and lower Fish Creek Hill. This part of the road is famous for its steep, narrow and winding descent.

A large group of ATV's make their way down
Our turn...

We were rewarded with beautiful views of the road in the valley
That is the road way down...

and towering cliffs.

We had to pull off and wait for a car to cross the bridge,

climb, and pass us, before we could descend down to the bottom of the canyon.

Looking back up beside the road

A waterfall down the cliff

Looking up the canyon of Fish Creek
We wound along the canyon floor,

gradually climbing until Apache Lake came in sight.
A first glimpse of Canyon Lake

Now we understood where it got its name. The cliffs on the right
march right up the river- reminding me of a Great Wall


It looked as if there was an RV Park beside the lake, so we drove down a steep mile-long road to the beach.
A beautiful sandy beach- campsites along its edge

The trailers were being stored there, not camping, along with a few boats. We decided we would not want to drive our Airstreams over these roads to bring it there!
The road meandered along beside the river

The saguaro is a reminder that we are still in the desert...

with cliffs to the water

until around another corner, we spotted the magnificent Roosevelt Dam.

Roosevelt Dam
The first stone was laid in 1906. Over the next 5 years, blocks were cut out of the canyon walls, shaped and lifted by block and tackle and pulled by cable to fashion the Roosevelt Dam. By the early 1980’s, it was determined that the largest possible flood that could flow into the reservoir was far greater than originally thought possible. The height of the dam was raised 77feet to increase the storage capacity in Roosevelt Lake by 20 percent.
We drove up to the top of the dam
The highway wind up to the top of the dam

and just gasped!
This sight met our eyes- the bridge over Roosevelt Lake

The 1,080 foot bridge over Roosevelt Lake is the longest single span, two-lane- steel-arch bridge in North America. It was painted blue to blend with the lake and the sky, thus letting the form speak. It was a challenge to build due to the porous limestone foundations, a narrow width to height ratio and erection 300 feet above the water. Notice the arch on the roadway viewed from a distance.
Just a slight arch on the roadway...

If it were level, the drivers would have the perception that the bridge was sagging.
We drove back along the highways, through more beautiful mountains.
A beautiful drive...
even at 6000ft with snow

At one point we drove through snow at 3883 feet and again at over 6000ft, where there was actually a few inches on the ground beside us. Driving into a beautiful sunset, ended a wonderful day.
Driving back into Phoenix- good friends, a beautiful sunset, a wonderful day.

1 comment:

  1. your photos through Apache Trail bring back great memories!