Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Exploring, exploring!

Whitlow Ranch Rd

Whitlow Ranch Rd


Road to Cochran


Coke ovens


Lower part of side canyon


Upper side canyon


Lower side canyon


Waiting to wreck your running board or rocker panel


Last Chance Mine area


Hewitt Station Rd


Hewitt Station Rd


Hewitt Station Rd

December 27, 2008
We stayed around home this morning even though it did turn sunny. We had a nice white frost which hung around quite awhile after the sun came out. Aileen made a mincemeat pie using the mincemeat she made from scratch. We had some for supper and it was delicious. I went to the library for more books and took Mitzy for a longer walk.
After lunch we took our new county map and went to Cochran. The roads have mostly dried up now so no problems. You wouldn’t want to drive that road during or shortly after a heavy rain as much of it follows washes and it looks like the water really boogies down them. We met many bikes and ATVs along the way plus a few vehicles. The big surprise was getting to the end of the road and finding a new Class C motor home and a large 5th wheel towed by a semi! And Aileen was worried about us in our 4x4! We were able to see the Coke Ovens across the Gila River but no way to get to them. They were built in 1882 and are conical 30 foot high rock structures. They actually produced charcoal (not coke) from Mesquite to help in the mine processors. There is a ford across the river at low water. We talked to a Jeep guy and he said last time he crossed it was hood deep and it’s way deeper today after this rain. It was only 33F when we got out of the pool tonight. Guess we’ll have a good frost again since it’s mostly clear. They’re talking mid to high 60s this coming week so hope they are right. We tried to get back to Florence on Whitlow Ranch Rd and after getting 2/3 of the way through met some guys in a pickup who had been quite lost down there and said it dead ended. Since it was nearly dark we decided to turn around and take the known route home.
Dec 28
We went off exploring again this morning. Drove down the Diversion Dam Rd which we should have connected with last night from Whitlow Ranch Rd but it didn’t happen. The gate Randy had told me about is before the roads join so it is a good thing we turned back last night or we would have been returning in the dark. There doesn’t appear to be any way to get through even though the most recent county map shows the roads all joining.
Next we drove Price Rd up to Box Canyon. We stopped for lunch where there had been some kind of development. Some one came along and said it was the former site of the Last Chance Mine. After lunch we drove another ½ mile or so and parked as we’d heard the canyon wasn’t for the likes of our monster truck. We’d heard the truth! We walked the canyon for ¾ of a mile or so and found where we’d definitely damage the running boards trying to get over a large rock. We saw dozens of ATVs and dirt bikes, quite a number of Jeeps and other sport utes plus even a few jacked up pickups. Some ATV riders told us about a side canyon worth looking at so we did on our return to the truck. ATVs can access the side canyon for about ¼ mile then it is foot exploration only. Mitzy and I went another few hundred yards and were topping out of the canyon. Included pictures will be titled side canyon. I treated Aileen to Chinese food for supper. There is a very good Chinese restaurant just as you enter Florence.
Dec 30
Yesterday was a rest day mostly. I went to the library. We looked at a used park model some old people have for sale. They moved to the park next door so they don’t have any stairs. Some parts of the trailer were interesting but the price was more than we would pay. Later, we went to Coolidge for groceries. Spent an hour in the pool later. Our neighbour, Carol, knew we’d be there so she came and visited and heard all about our previous day’s exploration (Box Canyon) until she got too cold. She should have jumped in the pool with us!
Today we drove up to Queen Valley, about 22 miles north of here. We were just checking the area over when we saw a sign for Queen Valley RV Park. Sounded interesting so we followed all the signs and finally found it tucked away in a little valley on the outskirts of the village. It was very quiet and felt really good, the residents seemed very friendly and they have all types of happenings and arts and crafts to keep one occupied. There’s a Jeep club, ATV club, hiking club, music jams Friday night, art, quilting, library, puzzles, pool tables, swimming pool/hot tub, saunas and the list goes on. The big downside is you can’t buy your lot, only rent. $3210 per year includes everything except hydro. $500 per month for an RV lot. So you can put a park model on it and pay $3210 per year which would mount up after awhile. And, your park model will depreciate whereas if you own the lot the price should remain constant or even rise over the years. The park is about 20 miles from the outskirts of Greater Phoenix so not too far removed but nice and peaceful. There is a nice 18 hole golf course right in Queen Creek village but there didn’t seem to be much else for commercial. Maybe we missed some of the village.
After leaving Queen Creek we took the Hewitt Station Rd east then north. As we got closer into the Superstition Mountains, the scenery became very interesting. Once again lots of ATVs and of course gunfire. I just can’t understand the American’s fascination with guns; it doesn’t seem to matter where you get to, you can hear gunfire. After awhile the road became very knobby and rough. Then I met a Jeep who told me the road climbed up to a pass in about 6 miles and it was very icy up there. Given that we weren’t bargaining on that, we turned around. Aileen walked Mitzy back through the rough section and let her play in the running water in the wash while I drove further to find a turn around. I wasn’t out of sight yet when Aileen twisted her ankle a little so I had to run her cane back to her. When we returned to Hewitt Station Rd we continued on to the east and popped out on Highway 60 a few miles west of Superior near the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. From there it was only 25 minutes home. Just as we reached the highway, we saw Happy Camp Rd head east so we’ll have to come back sometime to drive it. Carol, next door, has a map which shows some ruins up it although none of my maps give any hints about that. No visitors during our pool time tonight. Most nights we have some people lean over the wall expressing amazement someone would actually be in the water.