Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Palm Canyon-Quartzsite

Nine of us decided to hike Palm Canyon outside of Quartzsite. It was rated as an easy hike and only 1.5 miles long.
3/4 of a mile into the canyon, on the left, up a crevice, is this series of palm trees. This was the end of the Palm Canyon 1.5 mile hike.

But 5 of us turned around and saw this big horn sheep trail and thought it looked challenging.

We made it. We are on the rock outcropping seen on the far right in the previous photo.

When we got down we looked on up the canyon and decided to see where it went.

This took a little bouldering.

But the view up top was worth it. The ground sure does look a long ways down.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I had never been to Wickenburg, but my friends are workamping there at Horspitality RV Park, so we went up to visit them and have lunch.

Oh my, a rattlesnake!
And a Gila Monster. So friendly!

And they still have miners and their burros hanging around.

And even a tarantula.

The town doesn't look a lot different today than it did in 1915.

And my friends, Brad and Barb.

I think roadrunners are go cute.

This poor guy!

Back during the mining days they didn't have a jail so when people needed to be confined, usually for drunkenness and fighting, they just chained them to this tree. One story says there were as many as 15 chained at one time.

Even saloon girls still hang out in Wickenburg.

We decided to drive up to Yarnell and I spotted this green frog on the way.

And I even saw some of the left over snow from last weeks storm.

What are 'Brand New Dead Thing'? The store was closed but we think it might be a taxidermy shoppe.

The way back down is the old stage coach route. A beautiful Arizona sunset.

Hiking the Superstitions

I love the Phoenix area because there is so much to do. And I don't mean town things, but within just a short distance there is hiking, biking or geocaching. In the week I've been back in the area I've been hiking twice. First I did a 5 mile round trip on Peralta Trail. Not long, but over 1000 foot elevation on the hike. Even through I huffed and puffed going up, it was worse coming down, the knees. But what view once you got to the saddle. Not just the Superstitions, but Weavers Needle too. My second hike was the Massacre Grounds Trail, again, not real long, about 5.5 miles and only a 900 foot elevation change. But I did get pictures.

This was about where the trail started, but the road has been closed and you now have to walk .7 miles just to start the trail. Make note of this little rock knoll.

Here is the same rock peak, but I am now 1/2 mile away.

Much of this trail you have to follow the cairns. And we even found the local watering hole.

Right in the middle, the darker area, is Massacre Falls. There is only water after a hard rain. And even though it rained a lot just two days earlier, you can see it is already dry again.

Way off in the middle is the peak again. Now I am a mile away.

Even though it is just a rock pile, it looks like a large trail marker (cairn). Maybe the Jolly Green Giant put it there!

We are at the end of the trail looking down onto the massacre grounds. The story says a group of Mexican miners, back in the 1800s, were killed by a group of Apaches in this area.

Behind me is Four Peaks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Van Horn, TX

Since 2002, every time I travel I-10 through west Texas, I stop at Van Horn. I have always before spent the night in the parking lot of Chuy's Restaurant, which was made famous by John Madden. In short, John Madden, since he travels by RV, always stops and spends the night in Chuy's parking lot and there have been tv shows and magazine articles about Madden's friendship with Chuy and how Chuy has created a 'John Madden Hall of Fame' inside the restaurant. But with the temperatures forecast for 28 degrees and an even colder wind chill, I chose to find an RV park. El Campo RV park has full hookups and was only $16. This is also the first time I have gotten into town while there was still time to do a little sightseeing, so after setting up, I got out and drove around town.

I really want to take a ride in this, but not today. Too cold.

This is the Clark Hotel, first built as the Cox Building in 1901 it has functioned in many capacities. After housing various buisinesses, from 1912-1914 it served as the courthouse. By 1920 it was bought by Fred Clark and turned into the Clark Hotel, which it remained until the 1970s.

This bar has sat in the building since the early 1900s when one of the businesses this building housed was a saloon. Even though the citizens voted the county dry in 1918, Fred Clark chose to keep the bar when he built his hotel. It made for a great conversation piece. I was told by the lady at the museum (now the old Clark Hotel building houses the towns museum) the bar itself was built in England and shipped to Van Horn. I can't find any info to verify her story, but that just makes it all the more intriguing.

This eagle is made from various sizes of arrowheads.

Snow in Southwest Texas

Everyone heard about the snow in El Paso and surrounding area, well, here are my pictures as I came into Van Horn, about 100 miles east of El Paso. They say it was snowing still yesterday, Dec 1, but at least the roads were clear today.

Looking off toward the mountains and you can see they are topped with snow.

This was the view through the windshield.

And here was the snow on the side of the road.

Caverns of Sonora

I had heard from Diana and Max about these caverns, so I detoured just a little so I could check them out. After arriving about 3pm, I found I could still get in on a tour. My tour guide was Scott and I was the only one on his tour. As we talked I found out this was the same Scott who guided Phil and Diana, and the same Scott who gave the tour to Max. Scott is a workkamper who was at the Caverns last spring, and only arrived again for this season a few weeks ago. He is also not the only tour guide, so the chances of all of us getting the same tour guide has got to be slim to none, but it happened.

In all the caves I have toured I have never seen as much cave coral as I saw on this tour.

Cave coral even covered the stalagtites. Cave coral is just calcium/limestone deposits. Like Scott said, think limestone deposits in your bathtub.

Now this looked more like a huge geode, but was just more cave coral.

These were the longest, skinniest soda straws I've ever seen.

I can't remember what he called this, but it is the only kind of formation in caves which can form under water.

I saw this and immediately thought, spiny urchin!

Aliens or a huge jellyfish?

A perspective on the size of some of the formations.

I thought this was one of the prettier formations.

Only an 8th of an inch apart. Maybe in another 50-100 years or so it will become a column.

The witch's hat.

And finally on the way out, in the belly of the whale. My guide, Scott, seems really interested in something on the wall. Truly, if you ever travel past Sonora, stop and visit the caverns.

Headed through Texas

My first stop after leaving Oklahoma was Weatherford, TX, just east of Ft. Worth. This is the courthouse on the square.

The next day as I was headed to Sonora, TX, I took a Texas Ranch Road which led me down to Fort McKavett State Historic Site. Unluckily it was raining and I chose not to explore on foot, although I did stroll through the museum.

This was not a walled fort, but a frontier fort. Primary soldiers stationed here were Buffalo soldiers. Although I had heard this term many times before, I did not realize it was the Indians name for the black soldier since he was the color of the buffalo. Maybe I can get back here someday when it is not cold and raining and get a chance to investigate the ruins.

This is what the road looked like for most of my 200+ miles. Nice road, but narrow and no shoulders and very isolated. But it was a peaceful drive even if it was raining the whole way.

I saw a lot of this, mistletoe. In Oklahoma they named it the state flower (it is pretty when it blooms), but it is actually a parasite and can kill the trees.