Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday at Lost Dutchman

Once again, it promises to be a beautiful day.  The sky is clear and blue.  We just have to wait for the sun to peek over Superstition Mountain for the temperature to start its climb from 40-45 into the high 60s and 70s.  We have used our full amount of blankets each night.  We find it is best to bring several blankets and layer them on as needed with the 100% wool army blanket for the coldest.  Each morning we enjoy about 15 minutes of furnace time to warm up the PW as well.

About 9:00 am we hear a helicopter that sounds like it is right over our camp spot.  Actually, it almost is.  The Search and Rescue Team is practicing a short distance away. They spend at least two hours dropping people down from the helicopter, raising them back up




I finally decide there is enough excitement with the helicopter and go back inside to get something for breakfast.  About that time Dan yells at me to see what is happening.  I ran out and there were three parachutes open and almost to the ground (no time for a picture).  They had base jumped off the top of Superstition Mountain.  Later we asked at the Park office if they had seen the jump.  They said they had not, but were not surprised.  It seems it is illegal so people sneek up the mountain from a place that is not in the National forest or State Park.  As soon as they are down, they quickly scatter.   There has not been an accident with the parachutes, but a hang glider got hung up on the side of the mountain and had to be rescued.  Probably by the guys who were practicing nearby.

Here is a picture of Superstition Mountain I took at sunset.  The part of the mountain they jumped off of is just out of sight to the right looking at the picture. 


That afternoon, we rock n’ roll at the Arizona Opry—their program is music of the sixties.  Fun program 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Castle Hot Springs

(Note:  I am catching up on our trip and backdating the posts.  We are home)

My cousin, Richard and his wife Marcie McVay live near Sun City Arizona. 


I am so glad we called and set a time when we could get together.  They are gracious and interesting hosts and we throughly enjoyed our day. 

After a delicious breakfast of fresh blueberry pancakes, we all piled into their car for a tour.  They have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and, although we didn’t need it, I was glad knowing it was there as we meandered around Lake Pleasant Regional Park and then on through the Bradshaw Mountains. 

Lake Pleasant Regional Park would be a beautiful camping distination as a home base to explore the northwest side of the area.  

The real destination, though, is Castle Hot Springs. 


The hot springs were first used by the Yavapai and Apache Indians who thought the waters had healing powers.  When the white settler came, they thought the area resembled a castle, thus the name of the settlement which at one time was the regional capital. 

Well known families such as Rockefellers, Wrigleys and Carnegies spent time at Castle Hot Springs for rest and relaxation.  During WWII it was used to house recuperating pilots including President Kennedy.  At this time a flag was put on top of Salvation Peak which still stands, watched over by area Boys Scouts.

In 1976 a fire devasted the main building and from then on it has seen multiple private owners.  There are still three pools containing 112° clear, odorless water.  We could not enter the grounds but it obviously is being maintained so who knows what the future holds.

Here is another picture of the Castle Hot Springs remaining buildings.  As we approached it, it seemed totally out of place—like a beautiful oasis in the rugged surroundings. 


Amazingly, we spotted cattle grazing  and wild burros.


I wonder who has this route—it would be a bugger.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt Dam

Our long time friends Bob and Terry Roseberry are now residing in Mesa, AZ.  They invited us to spend the day driving to Globe and then around to Roosevelt Dam and then back to our campground over the Apache Trail Scenic Byway.  Most drive the road from Apache Junction to Globe and on back to the valley, but Bob wanted us to be on the outside so we could fully appreciate the drive.  Which we did!

First, here are Bob and Terry. 


Roosevelt Dam was built between 1905 and 1911 just below the confluence of the Tonto Creek and Salt River at a narrow canyon location where Natives and early settlers crossed.  It was the largest masonry dam in the world at the time with a height of 280 feet.  It is thought that the dam contributed more than any other project to the settlement of Central Arizona.  In 1989 a expansion and renovation project encased the original “rubble-massonry” dam  in concrete and raised the dam from 280 to 357 feet.  A bridge was also built at that time so that cars would not drive over the top of the dam.  At the completion of this project a drought kept the lake from reaching its full capacity until 2009. 



The Visitor’s center had a informative video about the construction of the dam.  Materials used in construction were brought up the Apache trail by mule and wagon.  Families lived in makeshift housing in the area as told by a woman who was a young girl at the time.  She told of personally witnessing the start of an entire mule team, teamster and wagon go off a cliff before she covered her eyes and ran.  

It also told how early developers recognized the need for water for the Arizona valley.  This led to three additional dams and lakes below Roosevelt as well as other projects in the area.  This water feeds the canels that provide water in the Phoenix area.  As I mentioned earlier,  Dan and I rode our bikes along the Highline Canal. 

A side note about the canals:  The park ranger at Lost Dutchman gave  a short history of the canals on a moonlight hike (that’s another story).  Archaeologists believe the Hohokam Indians were peaceful farmers who inhabited the valley  from AD 300 to 1450.  They were known for digging ditches to irrigate their crops.  The modern canals follow these same routes.

I have a few more pictures of our drive from the dam along the Apache Trail Scenic Byway, but that would put too many pictures on one post.  I’ll continue with those tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Apache Trail Scenic Byway

We have driven to the touristy Tortilla Flats several times.  It is paved and scenic.  But the road beyond has always been a mystery.  We heard it should only be driven with 4-wheel drive and was single lane.

When Bob & Terry invited us to ride with them on the Trail, they told us there were driving their street car, not their Jeep.  The road from Roosevelt Dam to Tortilla Flats is not paved, but was well maintain.  And, we appreciated the car because it handled the washboard areas smooothly. It would not be a good idea to take a vehicle like our camper van on the ride—just too narrow and rough.   

Roosevelt Dan is nearly 60 miles from Mesa and 40 from the mining town of Globe.  Before construction began, a road was constructed.  As it turned out, the best and most skilled workers in laying the dry laid stone retaining walls that were required to make a road along the sheer sides of the mountians were Apache men living nearby.  Many of these walls are still holding the road today.


This picture was taken near the top of Fish Creek Hill.  At the bottom of this steep and narrow hill is a high bridge over Fish Creek.  The road approaching the hill is in the picture to the left.

The story is that it became a challenge to see how fast the early 1900 cars could manage this portion of the Trail.  The Federal Government finally put a 15 mph speed limit on the hill.  It was not because a car had shot off the side of the mountain killing the driver, but rather to protect the mule teams from the speeding cars.


A forest of Saguaro. 



Along this retaining fence was a small plaque that stated a name, birth and death date.  We specualated that someone requested ashing thrown off the top of the maintain.


Canyon Lake is beautiful in the setting sun at the end of our day long tour


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Pie Town Arizona

On our way down here on Route 60, we traveled through Pie Town.  It is a small town along the road—not even a stop light.   But, the town is proud of their name.  Surprise, they even have a Pie Festival in the summer.  They have an impressive display of windmills.


Just as we left the “city limits,” we encountered this vehicle


Dan caught the name and alerted me, but it was too late for me to get a picture.  So, I borrowed this one from their web site.  I doubt if they care.  Here’s another picture


Just dropping the kids off at the stool, I guess.