Saturday, 30 January 2016

Lost Dutchman SP and Usery Mountain Regional Park

With the rain over and the sun showing more each day, we were able to go out without the umbrellas. We went to LA Fitness

One of the two LA Fitness Clubs near us
several times a week, to do weights, our circuits or John to cycle while I did aquafit. We found REI and Camping World, exploring both Mesa and Tempe. We stopped in at an RV dealer that sold Airstreams. He also showed us a Retro trailer, set up like a 50’s kitchen. While we were still at Lost Dutchman, we went to the Superstition Mountain Museum and Apacheland.

The blocks are from the facade of the Roosevelt Dam 
When you first park, there is the Hee Haw Corral with a couple of Burros, for kids to ride

The Hee Haw Corral-  Burro Rides and Henny Penny

And Henny Penny the piano-playing chicken..

The museum is very interesting, giving an interesting and detailed pictorial description of the formation of the Superstitions,

One of many clear diagrams of the formation of The Superstitions
a life-size display of the wildlife,

Fauna of the Sonoran Desert

Javelina [Havel-eena] "Don't Call Me a Pig"

Bobcat in action
descriptions of the early inhabitants, the building of the Apache Trail,

Building the Apache Trail

Roosevelt City, at the foot of the dam as it was being built

Apache Trail as the the first travellers used it

and the early pioneers and miners, 

Life as an early pioneer

including the story and maps of the Lost Dutchman gold mine. 

The entrance to Jacob Waltz's "Lost Dutchman Mine"

One of many maps to the Mine

There are artifacts,

Hopi Kachinas


Native American groups in Arizona

and folklore

One of many examples of the Folklore
of the Superstition Mountain and surrounding area. There is archeological evidence of the presence of people some 9000 years ago. There is also a dioama which is an exact replica of the Movie Ranch Set which was located 11 miles west of the museum in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.

"Apacheland" - Western Movie Location

Originally it was built as a film location for movies and later TV productions to capitalize on the popularity of western movies. It burned to the ground in 1960, was painstakingly rebuilt to become one of the movie capitals of the West, only to once more burn to the ground again in 2004. Only 2 of the major buildings remained, the Elvis Memorial Chapel,

The Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel

The chapel is still used for weddings

Movie posters line both side walls

The Poster for Charro, starring Elvis Presley
an intregral part of his movie Charro, and The Apacheland Barn, the site of many barn scenes in movies, TV productions and TV commercials. 

Apacheland Barn and Blacksmith shop
Audie Murphy made three movies here, and it is sometimes referred to as “the Audie Murphy barn”. Today, the Barn itself is a museum to the Motion Picture industry.

Saloon, Drug store, and daily life...

The sign reads, "Why walk around half dead, when we can bury you for $22.50"

There are two walls of pictures of movie stars and other movie personnel 

Both buildings were carefully taken apart and reconstructed on the museum site. In addition, the 12-acre museum site has reproductions of 19th century businesses, including a Wells Fargo office, jail,

Jail and Wells Fargo office
stage coach,
Stage Coach by the Gallows
assay office, 

and some artifacts from the 1800's.

Water Drill
Outside there is also a 20-Stamp Ore Mill. This is a large mechanical device used to crush ore that contains precious metals. It uses heavy metal stamps to pound and break apart the rock, pulverizing it so the valuable metals can be extracted for further refining. This basic idea has been used for thousands of years. It became an important of the mining process. This stamp mill, built in 1914, was originally used in Bland New Mexico.

20-Stamp Ore Mill

You can also wander the nature walk trails which crisscross the beautiful Sonoran Desert around the buildings. They are in the process of building a Model Railroad on the site.

Model Railroad site
It was time to move to Usery Mountain Regional Park in the northern part of Mesa, 21km away- our shortest move yet. This is a gorgeous, well run Regional Park, with both camping and day-use areas. There are a lot of programs offered for campers and for folks who pay the $6 entry fee for the day. Some of these are run by Rangers, some by the Volunteers and some by outside guests. In addition, there are miles of hiking trails, most of them classed as easy or intermediate, with just two classed as difficult. One of these is a 7.5 mile hike around Pass Mountain, and the other, which John is going to do before we leave, is up to the Wind Cave, carved by wind erosion in the tuff on Pass Mountain.
Pass Mountain from our kitchen window.
The light band is tuff, volcanic ash welded together.

The sites are varied, but generally very large, level, naturally landscaped,

We are on the corner, this is from the side road

Looking out the doorway
and outlined with stones. Sites are well spaced, so we hardly know we have neighbours.

These are our closest neighbours- a pack rat's midden

Our first evening there we attended an interesting talk by a local geology professor, A.J. Lombard, on the Geology of Arizona. He was fascinating. We had read some of it; however, his talk and slides brought the words to life. The Superstition Mountains are in fact a collapsed caldera of ancient volcanoes, originally a mile deep, raised by resurgence or more recent volcanic activity to a mile above the surrounding land. Slow uplifting and erosion over 15 to 20 million years formed the mountain as we see it today.

We walked the Merkle Trail, which circles the bottom of The Merkle Hills, with informative plaques around it.

It is an easy walk on a flat wide trail,

but really attractive as you see a vista from every direction.

Merkle Hills...

Flat desert...

Mistletoe in a Paloverde tree

A saguaro arm draped over a rock
Then we hiked up the Vista Trail, over the Merkle Hills. The narrow trail climbs up one side of a hill,
The first Merkle Hill
Looking back down at the parking lot and the 

A different perspective on Pass Mountain

Across the valley towards Phoenix

Back towards the campground
down a bit and back up the second hill,

Interesting rocks on the path

The path on the first hill

A fabulous view of the Superstition Mountain 

Odd split in the rocks

A pile of rocks, on the way down, all leaning one way

before winding back down to the opposite side of the Merkle Trail.

Looking across at Cat Peaks...

Sunday, our Airstream friends hosted a gathering of Airstreamers who are staying at Mesa Regal RV Resort. We had a great visit, connected with folks we had met in BC and met several new folks. Everyone share stories about Airstreaming across the country, from being caught in Tornado-like winds to full-timing for 30 years to having 5 Airstreams.

We started out to swim at LAF, but decided to drive further along the Usery Pass Road past the Park to see what was there.

Rocky cliffs to the right and volcanic cones to the left.

John had ridden part way, but he was going downhill for a while and knew he would have to climb back up, so turned around. This is another beautiful drive. The road winds between mountains- rugged on one side and cones of volcanic debris on the other. The cone mountains look as if they have been carefully placed in an artistic arrangement.

We turned off on the Bush Highway to Saguaro Lake. 

Rocky cliffs all along the road to the right
Volcanic debris to left

We drove into the “Water Users Recreation Site” an access to the Lower Salt River, with a beautiful view of the river and cliffs.

Lower Salt River at Water Users Recreational Site
A little further down the road, we came to a turnoff to Saguaro Dam, but you can only drive to the resort and Trail Rides, so we turned around. Further on We caught a glimpse of Saguaro Lake.

Saguaro Lake and the marina
When we got to the lake there was a Recreation Day use park, the Sheriff’s office, Saguaro Lake Marina and a restaurant.

The Lake

The dock for the tour boat, Desert Belle...

Looking back up to the restaurant from the marina
We wandered for a bit, watching the ducks

A type of Mallard, we think...
and the serenity of the lake, 

A beautiful serene lake
before driving on. Just as we were about to turn around, we spotted the Four Peaks, 

Four Peaks, a popular hiking mountain in the Phoenix area
and a sign for a Day Use area, so we drove down a long winding road and ended up in a beautiful park, with a sandy beach. We missed our swim, but had an interesting drive.

The mountains fascinate me, they are so different, craggy and rounded...

We have one week left here at Usery Regional Park, and more trails to walk.

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