Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cave Creek, AZ

Cave Creek, Arizona, is a small town north of Phoenix. Settled over 100 years ago as a mining town, it has retained its cowboy heritage. Right next door is Carefree, AZ, a planned community from the late 1950s, early 1960s. And what a contrast. As the docent at the museum said, "At 5pm Carefree is rolling up the sidewalks, while Cave Creek is just starting to wake up!"
There is a small area called Frontier Town. It is full of small shops and many of the buildings are old, although not original. There was a fire and very few original town buildings are left. Around Frontier Town were a number of these metal statues.

Here is another.
John Wayne was standing outside a small shop which sold jams, jellies and salsa's.

This was one of the local hamburger joints. It used to be a service station. They left the pumps in the middle of the dining area, outside of course. Cave Creek boasts of more than 25 restaurants and Dairy Queen is the only chain in the bunch. Cave Creek even has one of the top ten restuarants in the U.S., Binkley's. Two of our group had dinner at Binkley's and spent over $200. Ouch!

But one of the WINs favorites was The Buffalo Chip. They have live music 7 nights a week, dance lessons twice a week. And a nice wooden dance floor.

Outside in back is a second bar area. There they have karaoke and a bonfire.

And on Wednesdays and Fridays they have amateur bull riding out back, too! It had been raining and there was a mud puddle in front of where we were sitting. And you know, that bull rider rode clear across the arena just to fall in that mud puddle and splatter mud all over me.

Randy, our host, moved to Cave Creek in high school, so he has a long history with the town. But that also means he knows all the neat places to go (and not to go). He took a few of us 4-wheeling down a wash to look at petroglyphs. And I know it was real 4-wheeling because Max actually put his jeep in 4-wheel drive!

Another day some of us decided to hike in the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.

This was a mural on the side of the maintenance building.

The ranch had lots of trails.

It was full of trail signs and trails to choose from.

The Maricopa Trail runs through the conservation area so you can catch it and hike over to Cave Creek Recreation Area or Seven Springs.

With all the choices the group split up. Some took the Dragonfly Trail, some the Spur Cross Trail, and Max and I took Elephant Mtn. Trail. In the distance is Elephant Mtn.

First we came to Cave Creek. Usually this creek is just a dry wash or has a small trickle, but with all the rains, you would have to wade across.

But down just a short distance someone had placed some boards across.

Some places were steep and rocky.

And sometimes the only way to know you were still on the trail was to follow the markers like those on the rock.

And I even spotted signs of past civilization off in the valley. This is a close up (40x with my zoom) of an old, abandonded propane tank.

But once we got to the saddle on Elephant Mtn. (remember the previous picture?), it was worth the view. Here I am looking out over Phoenix/Scottsdale.

Now we have started down. It sure seems like we came down faster than we went up.

And back across the creek. The total hike was about 7 miles. It was a great hike.

Humboldt Mtn is the area's highest and it has this FAA radar tower as well as a forest service fire tower.

On the other side is a small lake. (I forget the name)

Nearby was the Sears-Kay Indian Ruins. They date these puebloan indian ruins to about 900 years ago. It is on top of a small bluff. The park service/forest service has reconstructed the walls partially to show people how many structures would have existed. In the 1800s this area became part of the Great Western Trail. Travelers would have passed by here between Seven Springs, fresh water, and what is now the Phoenix area.

This show the extent of the structures on top of the bluff. They believe there were about 40 rooms in 5 separate buildings.

On the way back from Humboldt Mtn and the indian ruins, Randy took us by what is claimed to be the largest Kachina. He said it was there when he first moved here in the 1960s.

And the day before I left, Claudia, Sadie (her dog) and I hiked the Black Mtn Trail. One way it is less than a mile, but it rises over 1000 feet. Once on top you have a perfect 360 degree view. In my background is Scottsdale and the mountain range just north of the Superstitions.

Here is where we started. You can see the start of the trail is quite a bit higher than the town. Our gathering is parked about 1/2 mile down the road in a large, graveled parking lot. There were about 48 people arrived in Cave Creek for a fun week of hiking, 4-wheeling and dancing.

On our way up we kept seeing what we thought was the top of the mtn. But once we arrived, we found it was just a bluff and the mtn continued on up. If you look about in the middle of the picture, on the left side of the road, is a large square area. That is where the WINs are parked.

Here is the second point where we thought we were at the top. Again, you can look down to where our RVs are parked.

But finally we really did get to the top!

And finally, I just loved this little guys haircut. Quite stylish I think. He was strutting around a small pond inside El Encanto, a mexican restaurant in Cave Creek.


Barbara and Ron said...

Where's the picture of you covered in mud?

ladynomad said...

It just got mud on my pants and jacket. I brushed it off and went inside for dancing.