Monday, January 31, 2011

Quartzsite-Jan 2011

Upon arriving at the usual location out off Plomosa Road at Quartzsite, AZ, I found a group of bluegrass musicians holding a rally. It was the last day, so I only got to see a few groups, but one group was great and I even bought one of their CDs, Mark Phillips and the III Generation.
They had tents set up and even a stage.

Mark Phillips and the III Generation. Someone said they have been nominated for Bluegrass Band of the Year.

An annual tradition at Quartzsite is to head out to the Desert Bar outside of Parker, AZ.

Here we are heading to the Desert Bar the back way on the Gray Eagle Mine Trail. Although its not a lot of miles and not too rough a 4-wheel road, it did take us over an hour to go only about 4-6 miles.

We always stop here to admire unusual rock formation. Notice the change in the rock structure halfway up.

Along the way we pass the leaching tanks of the Grey Eagle Mine.

Here we are finally. Ahead are the cooling stacks at the Desert Bar.

Notice Randy almost verticle? He likes his own spot which no else bothers to take.

Dancing, good friends and live music on a Sunday afternoon. This bar is all solar powered, so it is only open on the weekends, during the day.

Max and Gord are challenging each other on how low they can go doing the twist.

The solar even powers all the bands equipment.

Until this year, the hamburger menu was all that was served.

But this year they added some additional food vendors. You could get brats, chicken sandwiches or tri-tip sandwiches along with kettle corn.

They also added additional seating for this year. Notice then entire roof is made up of solar panels. I wonder how many batteries they have?

Someone said this was the owners home, which is also solar powered. The 2 stacks are the cooling towers.

At the entrance there are several older antique tractors, machinery and this old car.

The chapel sits in the middle of the parking lot.

But notice, it is only about 6 feet deep. But they do have weddings here they say.

After leaving the Desert Bar, we stopped at 'the floating bar', officially known as The Roadrunner Bar and Grill, located in LaPaz County Park in Parker, AZ.

Their Sunday evening special was prime rib with all the fixin's. Several of us thought this would be a beautiful way to end the day, eating prime rib as the sun set on the Colorado River. Life just can't get better than this, can it?

I had to leave Quartzsite and return to Mesa one day, so I drove the car. I filled up with gas in Bouse, got on the highway and drove to Mesa, transacted my business and returned to Quartzsite. I didn't believe what my speedometer was telling me so I took a picture. I really did get 41 mpg, avg speed was 57 mph, and this was over about a 240 mile trip. This car was only rated for 34 mpg by Chevrolet. I love my HHR.

Desert Golf is also an annual tradition while at Quartzsite. There were 4 groups of 16 playing over several days. It's only a 4 hole course and takes about an hour to play.

If you haven't ever played desert golf, it isn't like real golf. I mean, you would never try hitting a tennis ball in real golf. But that is what you do in desert golf. Using regular golf clubs, you are trying to hit this tennis ball and get it into the coffee can buried in the desert. At one time my team was winning, but alas, another group went out after us and beat us.

Another annual tradition is to head to the Somewhere Bar in Bouse, AZ. I don't know why, but people just kinda look at you funny when you tell them you are going to Somewhere in Bouse. And they ask, "Where"? and you reply "Somewhere". Millie is singing with several members of the original Silver Buckle Band. Although Millie doesn't belong to our club, the club has unofficially adopted her. She owns property along the Green River in Utah where the WINs have launched several week plus river trips.

I am hosting the WINs Annual Dance Rally in Casa Grande in February. Several of us were promoting the dance rally at circle one day.

About six cars decided to check out the ghost town of Swansea.

The map had an arch located along our route. And here it is. A window arch. I almost missed it because I was looking up along the ridge of the hills, but is was down almost at road level.

Swansea really was never a town, but a mining community. Originally founded in the late 1800s, it wasn't really developed and mined commercially until the early 1900s and only for less than 20 years. Today, ruins like these are about all that is left.

A couple of walls are left on the old copper mill. At its peak, they smeltered 50 tons of copper out of this mine per day. Although they could get copper out of the rock, it was costing more to get the copper than it could be sold for, so eventually, the mine closed down.

There are piles of tailings next to each of the mine shafts. In the last few years the state has come in and covered all the old mine shafts with these metal mesh coverings. There were 6 major shafts which were between 200 and 500 feet deep.

I thought it was spooky to walk on top of these grates covering the shafts.

But it didn't stop me from climbing up there and taking this picture of the shaft down below.

Do I need say more?

About 4 miles further along a 4-wheel drive road was supposed to be the remains of the original power plant.

Now all that is left is the well where they stored the water. All the water needed to smelter the copper came from the Bill Williams River, so they placed the power/water plant close to the river and piped it back to the smelter.

The Bill Williams River has been damned since then and probably changed course too, but about 1/4 mile from the power plant we did find water.

Back towards Swansea we found the remains of the old train station. There was a special spur through the canyon linking the mine to the outside world. Now there is a 4-wheel drive road following the old railbed through the canyon. All in all, it was a great day!
One afternoon some of the group brought Pete Bonine up from Yuma. He is a special WIN and the group did a tribute to him.

Here is some of the group from his houseboat from the Lake Powell Houseboat gathering in Fall of 2008.

video

Randy even wrote a poem for the event.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wellton, AZ

I moved from Yuma to Wellton, which is about 20 miles east. Myself and about 30 other RVing friends are parked on government land a mile south of town. Early morning walks with the dog along the canal and off road touring of the area were all part of the week, but the first thing we did....
was go out to see the sight of the new Dateland Arizona Solar Energy Project, located about 50 miles east of where we were parked.

The project will eventually comprise about 2400 acres of solar panels out in the desert.

These solar arrays will generage 925 gigawatts of electricity. (Remember Back to the Future and Dr. Brown was concerned about generating a mere 1 gigawatt?) Construction has started but is not expected to go online until 2014.

Just down the road is the small town of Hyder, where we planned on stopping for a burro at the town store. But were we surprised when we got there and it was closed. I guess everyone is being impacted by the downturn in the economy. The store is now open only from 2-6 daily, except it is closed Sunday. So we headed back to Dateland and stopped for date shakes. mmmm mmmmm.

The annual trek is always to "the fence". What fence you say? Why, the border fence. There are miles and miles of the fence separating Mexico and the U.S., located south of Wellton on the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range. After getting our special permits to be on the range, off we go to "the fence". Wait, I think someone is trying to sneak through......

The border fence is not really designed to stop foot traffic, but to stop vehicle traffic from heading across the border with illegals or drugs.

I wonder if these are more 'aliens' trying to sneak across?

About a mile from where us was this Border Patrol doing is job and watching the activity along the border.

Notice the little Saguaro Cactus. Although small, it could very well be at least 10 years old. They always start out underneath a small tree or like this, an elephant bush. As they grow up they take more and more water away from their "nurse", and eventually the nurse tree dies. What gratitude!

Cactus art in the desert.

Just a beautiful desert view.

We took off road trips and on the first trip we eventually made it to Tule Wells, once a stopping place and rest area along the Camino Del Diablo or Devils Highway. Now it is a campground in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Up the hill was this monument. I just had to go see what it was.

A dedication rock, mostly built by the boy scouts long time ago.

On the way out we kept seeing these piles of rocks and I remembered reading that many people were buried along the old travel route. Maybe this is an old burial plot. Maybe? The Camino Del Diablo has been a route across the southern desert since the 1600s. I think it must be the oldest highway in the U.S.

Most of the road was high clearance, but not 4-wheel drive, except for this spot. Everyone made it through with no problems and it wasn't as bad as it looked, except for a couple of the wider vehicles.

These stations are located throughout the desert area and the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range. They warn people that you cannot walk out of the desert from this location and it is dangerous. Just push the button and they will come get you within an hour. "No Carolyn, don't push the button...."

We found the platform you step on to push the button is actually a sensor pad, which also alerts the Border Patrol. Although we never pushed the button or stepped on the pad, there are other sensors in the area. The border patrol was coming down the road towards us with their lights on. I guess we set all kinds of sensors off and they were coming to investigate. No worries, just some old seniors out playing in the desert.

During the wild card football games, Kurt, who lives in the area, graciously invited us to his home for a potluck and to watch the game.

Trying to get to the food in his small kitchen when there are 20 people waiting.

But there is nothing better than good food and friends and football. Is there?