Thursday, January 22
Dick and Connie Taylor and myself met at Calico’s Restaurant for breakfast and to await any other travelers that might join us. We moved to the meeting point at the Museum parking lot and let Sassy and Buddy have a comfort break before we got on the road at 8:00am. We had not had any other folks join us.
We took old Historic Rt. 66 to I-40 and had an uneventful trip down the freeway. We decided to go on over to California and take US 95 south to Blythe. We made a short stop in Blythe and then headed out to Quartzsite. There Dick picked up his motorhome (he and Connie had been down earlier in the week with Jim and Jeanne Jacobs) Jim and Jeanne were waiting for us and we all moved over to the traditional DE camp site on the west side.
We found Ed and Maxine Manes’ motorhome, Marilyn Martin’s motorhome and her son Michael’s motorhome in place at camp. They were not in camp. We picked out sites for the Taylor’s and Jacobs’ motorhomes and were settling in when Neal Johns pulled in. He and Marian had been shopping and Marian was still out making the rounds.
About 1:30pm, we decided to take a short trail run. Neal helped Dick look it up on his new GPS/Google Earth system. We headed out to the Dome Rock interchange on I-10 and crossed over to the north side. Dick and Connie were in the lead, I was in the middle and Jim and Jeanne were in the sweep vehicle. We found a road that headed into the mountain range past several mining claims. Further in we ran into folks out dry panning for gold. As the road worsened, we encountered another group of modern day miners and they informed us our trail ahead was a dead end.
Dick turned us around and we took another road that basically twisted us around and back toward the area we just left. Dick took another tack and we encountered a group of Jeeps coming toward us. Dick spoke with them and we headed out along another trail that was eventually blocked by a locked gate. We then turned our attention toward heading to Quartzsite via some back trails eventually coming into town near the Hi Jolly monument.
We dubbed this our Christopher Columbus tour. We didn’t quite know where we were going, nor where we were when we got there, nor where we had been when we got back. But we had a great time doing it and took credit for discovering a whole new part of Quartzsite.
Back in camp, others had arrived and returned from their adventures and we settled in for a nice evening of cocktails, dinner and a campfire.
Friday, January 23
Up at 6:00am, with coffee and breakfast made and served in short order. After the camp got up and got moving, we discussed plans for the day. Some were going shopping, some to points of pre-historic interest and some of us were going to go visit an old 1920’s solar observatory site on a distant mountain top.
Ed Manes had done more research on the site since last year and with Dick Taylor in the lead and me at sweep we had our route all mapped out. Our group included seven vehicles that included Dick and Connie Taylor, Marilyn and Mike Martin, Ed and Maxine Manes, Homer Meek, Carl and Nancy Noah, Jim and Jeanne Jacobs and Me and Buddy.
Leaving camp at about 9:30am, we took the Interstate east to exit 69 where we caught a dirt road over to another paved route that took us to the Harquahala Mountain Byway. At the BLM check-in site we reviewed the information available and prepared for our ten-mile ascent of the mountain.
The scenery along the way was striking with beauty every direction. Along the way we saw one of the largest catsclaw trees I have ever seen. Its trunk was more than 3 feet across. It had limbs that were larger than most any other catsclaw.
The road up was in pretty good shape although steep in places. We slowly made our ascent in 4x4 low. About half way up, Ed was having trouble with his 4-wheel drive. Although all indicators showed it was in 4-wheel drive, the front wheels were not helping the vehicle. Ed finally decided not to fight it and he and Maxine got into Mike Martin’s vehicle to finish the climb.
Harquahala Mountain is the highest point in southwestern Arizona. Once at the top, we were not disappointed. There were spectacular views in all directions and there was lots of evidence of the old site. We did not stay as long as we might have as a cloudy cold front had moved in and the temperature was dropping quickly.
We gathered in one of the parking areas just below the peak and had lunch in our vehicles. A group of ATV enthusiasts had arrived before us and were just finishing their lunch in the same area.
After a short lunch stop we headed down the mountain. As usual the views going down were just different enough to be as great as the views were on the way up. After a short stop to pick up Ed’s vehicle, it was about 3pm as we gathered once more at the check-in site before heading back to Quartzsite and our camp.
Back at camp, we rounded out a great day with a cocktail hour, a funny incident (below), dinner and another campfire.
Without naming any names, I need to relate how calling one’s puppy can get you into trouble. Seems one of our campers was making her way from one motorhome to her motorhome when a fellow camper noticed his puppy was over at the motorhome the camper had just left. As she made her way through the rocky terrain, about half-way between both motorhomes the puppy owner yelled out to his wayward puppy – “Hey you, get over here you crummy old dog!” The pause just after the “hey you” just long enough to make the walking camper turn to face him as he finished the rest of the phrase. You’ll have to imagine the surprise on her face and the riotous laughter that filled the air by those of us who witnessed the event.
Saturday, January 24
Again as the camp got going in the morning plans were made by different groups to do an assortment of things during the day. The Taylors, Noahs and I were going to do a short run down along the Colorado River.
We left about 9:30am getting off the Interstate at Ehrenberg and headed south along the river. The river glistened in the winter sun with ducks swimming, fish making rings in the river’s surface and a slight haze still lifting off the water. A little further down river there was what seemed to be a hundred vultures practicing their magnificent and graceful circles in the sky. Their beautiful aerial ballet almost makes one forget their place in the food chain.
Down river a bit more, Dick had us pull off onto one of the washes that runs into the river so that Sassy and Buddy could run and frolic a bit in the water. As this is one of their favorite things to do, they do it well.
A short while later, we continued our journey down river. At River Road we turned toward the small town of Cibola and the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. We made a short stop at the visitor’s center and then took the short driving tour into the Refuge. We were treated to flight after flight of Canadian Geese soaring overhead as they made their descent into the waters of the Refuge. It seemed like these flights would never end.
Continuing southerly we came to the area of the Cibola dry lake and found an old homestead that dated from 1910. It had been built by C. Bishop and was called the Cibola Cabin. The mud packed log structure with a mud and thatch roof was actually a duplex with a covered breezeway between. We decided to have lunch at the site.
After lunch, we continued to follow a road to the south until we encountered a sign saying only authorized personnel were allow to proceed past it. We turned around just as a group of 4x4 vehicles arrived with all intent to ignore the sign. It’s folks like them that give all of us a bad rap. We retraced our earlier route looking for other routes to the south. Finding none, we headed for the Hart Mine Mill that we had passed along the way earlier. We made a short stop at the mill to look it over. Based on the mill leavings, it was a mystery to me as to what they might have been processing. We continued our journey heading up the hill to the Hart Mine.
When we got to the mine, with the Taylor and Noah vehicles ahead of me, I spotted four big horn sheep off to our right behind us. I was able to get the other vehicles turned around and back to where the sheep were spotted. The sheep put on a grand show for us. They had only gone across a small ravine by the time we caught up to them, and we watched as they traversed an almost vertical cliff face to move away from us. It was an awesome sight.
As we made our way down from the mine to the main road, we spotted a burro off to our left and watched him watch us for a while before we moved on. We took another side road that took us up into the Trigo Wilderness area. We were following a nice little trail with great rock formations and beautiful little keyholes when we came to a sign that informed us that the “motorized trail would end in two miles.” It did and we had to backtrack once more. A map of the area shows the trail as a cherry stem that goes through the wilderness area.
We returned once more to the visitor’s center for a comfort break and then made a short stop at a unique sign post at Cibola for some pictures. Back on River Road we headed north to Blythe and stopped for supper at the Steak and Cake restaurant.
After supper, we returned to camp and enjoyed cocktails and a campfire with our other campers to finish out the evening.
Sunday, January 25
Camp got moving late today and most of the camp had left or were leaving today. The Jacobs, Taylors and I would be going to do some limited shopping today and leave on Monday.
We went to town to have a late breakfast and ended up at Carl Jr’s as every other place were packed with travelers.
After breakfast we headed to the Big Tent Event to look around and for some new camp chairs. We spent our time mostly outside of the tent and eventually found the chairs we were looking for and made our purchases.
We returned to camp and just hung out and visited. The wind came up and created some dust blows that threatened to make us retreat into the motorhomes, but we toughed it out until dinner time and headed back into town to have pizza for dinner.
After dinner we returned to camp and had some cocktails and a small fire as it was still a bit windy. Everyone had retired by about 9pm.
The wind continued and it was a chilly night.
Monday, January 26
Camp got moving about 7:30am and the Taylors, Jacobs and I got packed up and headed for Ehrenberg for a late breakfast. We stopped at the Flying J which had the only active restaurant in town. After breakfast we headed up the river highway past the historic La Paz and Poston sites to Parker.
We had been invited to stop by and see the Noah’s at their riverside home and we did so. Carl and Nancy gave us a grand tour and we visited for a while.
I bid my farewells and headed for Kingman. The Taylors and Jacobs followed soon after.
This was another good trip, with good friends and good times. We hope to see more of you on the trail real soon!
by Marilyn Martin
After an uneventful trip, son, Michael, and I arrived at the designated Quartzsite camp site about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Maneses had arrived the day before and set up camp in a spot large enough for the expected group. Mike and I were soon off to go shopping.
Next day folks started arriving and the final list included: Neal and Marian Johns, Dan Messersmith, Dick and Connie Taylor, Homer Meek, Don Sweinhart and Betty Wallin, Jim and Jeanne Jacobs, Sunny and Jean Hansen, Bill and Barbara Gossett, Carl and Nancy Noah, Charles Hughes, Bob and Shirley Bolin, Lou and Pat Carfield and one couple Dan and Rose with a white American Eskimo dog who disappeared when they went to get a carburetor repaired. There were several dogs along but the hit of the group had to be Don and Betty’s new pup , 9 week old Molly, a Toy Boston Terrier.
On Thursday folks took off in every direction – some 4 wheeling and some shopping, but all returned in time for Happy Hour and later a campfire.
On Friday 7 vehicles decided to follow Dick Taylor, with Ed Manes in #2 spot as navigator and Dan Messerschmidt as Tail End Charlie (a group of leaders par excellence) to the abandoned Harquahala Peak.Observatory which is on Harquahala Mountain, the highest peak in west central AZ, and was established in 1920 to measure solar activity.
There is a very nice interpretive site at the bottom of the trail which informs one that Harquahala comes from an Indian word – aha qua hala – which means place where the water is high and that 4 wheel drive is necessary to take the “45 minute. very steep ’road’ to the abandoned site”. They forgot to mention ROUGH. There was some really
lush desert flora to enjoy.
About 3/4 of the way up on the 1/1/2 hour trip to the top Ed discovered his car would not go into 4 wheel drive, and he and Maxine were forced to jump in with the Martins. As everyone was enjoying the spectacular view and interpretive signs the sky darkened and a few sprinkles were felt. They group quickly agreed it would be prudent to get down the hill.
The same day other groups took off for shopping or touring. Maybe someone will write about their own tour. That evening another Happy Hour and campfire along with descriptions of the day’s activities were enjoyed.
On Saturday Neal and Marian and others took off for a 3 day tour to parts south. This is one trip where you only see the entire group in the evenings. The remaining group enjoyed another Happy Hour and campfire.
The weather remained pleasant the entire time Mike and I were there. Unfortunately we endured heavy winds on our ways home, and I went through several heavy showers to discover a light snow at home. I really enjoyed getting out to visit with so many long-time friends.