Explore Arizona II
November 24, - December 1, 2012
Leader: Mal Roode. Photos by Mal Roode. Story written by Neal Johns
This time , we just laid back and let someone else do the planning! Mal did a great job and a good time was had by the three vehicles that followed him wherever he went. We were gone for a week.
We met Mal at a nearby rest stop and headed for camp four miles from Wickenburg, AZ where the other two vehicles met us. The next day we explored the Agua Fria National Monument and found some petroglyphs and a historic site of one of the original settlers of this area. In camp, we were entertained by watching a large group of vehicles supporting a helicopter working on the big powerline a mile away. Busy little bee.
The next day the group decided I was too old to accompany them on a petroglyph hike and following ancient Native American custom, left me to die. I survived and we drove onward to the interestingly named Bloody Basin Road. It turned out to be named after the red hills nearby.
Having learned my lesson, when we went on a short hike to the Pueblo la Plata Ruins, I was at the head of the procession. Trust no one. The ruins were really ruins, just heaps of stone where walls once housed several families of Native Americans. The ground was covered with pottery sherds testifying to many years of occupancy.
The high point of the trip was the Brooklyn Mine area. It had everything, a really bad rocky road, deserted mining buildings, ruins, petroglyphs, and a good camping spot with a view. A fantastic place, and nary a person or vehicle track to see. Bad roads mean good people and good roads mean ….
The next stop was Sheep Bridge over the Verde River. It was originally build by local ranchers as a foot bridge to get sheep across the river and later replaced with a more modern foot bridge. Plaques showed hundreds of sheep crossing in the old days. John Wayne would have rolled over in his grave. We camped alongside the stream and chatted with our horse people neighbors; a couple who were sightseeing like us, only on horseback. Interesting people; they told us the water was up to the horse’s belly so we gave up the plan to ford the river and continue on the road.
And then the world came to an end. Pulling into a camp spot for the night, one of the Tacoma’s made a funny noise and listed to the right. A broken coilover/shock was in three pieces and one piece was missing. The company that made the assembly had long ago gone belly up so a whole new assembly had to be fitted. The only good thing was the asphalt we had stumbled on to use for a camp. The Poor Devil and I immediately took off for Phoenix 40 miles away to shop for a new coilover assembly. Getting off the freeway somewhere on the outskirts and stopping at the first auto parts store, we asked where the nearest four wheel drive shop was. Ta Da! Just down the same street we were on a mile or so! Zoom down the street we went and told our sad story to the counter man. He tried mightily to find a $1,000 a pair replacement in the greater Phoenix area and failed. After a short out of earshot consultation with the manager, he reappeared with a $200 coilover assemble that would work just fine. The relieved Poor Devil bought two and we headed back to camp trying to beat nightfall. We failed, so I blamed it on Marian, back in camp where she could not defend herself.
The next morning the men stood around and decided they would be supervisors. Their claim that I was quite old and liable to die soon anyway did not thrill me as they slid me underneath the truck held up only by a rickety jack. Four hours later we drove onward to the next adventure, taking The Apache Trail to Roosevelt Lake. It is a scenic, mostly paved, road that few vehicles were on this late in the tourist season. On the way, we took a three mile side road to a trailhead to camp. Many converts to religion were made during the drive over that mountainous, narrow, one track road.
Next, we stopped at the Tonto National Monument Ruins where my ears heard it was a 150 foot elevation gain hike to reach the ruins. I can do 150 feet but it was a little disheartening to have my current wife tell me “You deaf old bat, the ranger said 350 feet.” I made it! but I am fairly certain it was 3,500 feet.
Time to head for home, so we decided to take a little shortcut by Castle Hot Springs, a very scenic road I am told. We drove it a night because we could not find a camp spot to lie over until morning. When the private land ended and a wide spot appeared, we had passed most of the scenic areas. Such is the life of the intrepid Desert Explorers. My dogs love me.