Heading West Part 2

60 West Into Arizona to Apache Junction, AZ… November 10th

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Our planned destination is Globe, AZ, about 260 miles from Magdalena, NM, where we stayed last night.

Springerville, AZ

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When we reach Show Low, Route 60 dips south and we enter the White Mountain Apache Reservation. The spectacular drive south presents picture perfect postcard moments of photo ops.

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Meanwhile, we call all the RV Parks in Lake Elsinore, CA (our preferred winter destination) only to find out that our opportunities to stay there are not looking good. No place has room for us this year. Why this area in southern CA? It’s affordable, for one. As you look closer to the ocean or San Diego, the monthly rates skyrocket out of our comfort zone. And more remote places in the eastern desert offer great rates but no internet or cable, and very iffy cellphone reception. (We investigated the costs of Hughes Net, Exede, and Dish, but the additional cash outlay for a short term solution would offset the savings.) We keep heading toward Lake Elsinore anyway.


The only RV Park in Globe is closed for remodeling. So we keep driving. Route 60 turns west again and we head toward Phoenix.

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For the next 30 miles I search for a place to stay overnight. We don’t need a gated resort with spa amenities that cater to the annual snowbirds. Nightly rates are a lot more than we want to pay. I just know there has to be a reasonable place for us.

Then Eureka, I find a spot in Apache Junction…

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This would be a great place to snowbird, in my opinion, at least. It’s clean, affordable, no frills… And Phoenix is only about 35 miles away. We just aren’t quite ready for this part of Arizona yet. But check out the saguaro cactus up close and personal here in the Sonoran Desert. This species of cactus can grow up to 40 feet high.

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Before we retire for the evening, we find a place to stay in California that is about an hour east north east of Lake Elsinore and about an hour west south west of Palm Springs. Diamond Valley RV Resort is located in San Jacinto. ETA… Sunday, November 12th.

 

 

Mexican Hat, Utah

image And Monument Valley

We leave Goosenecks State Park and pick up Highway 163 again, traveling through the village of Mexican Hat.

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This tiny town of some 100 people is named after a unique rock formation consisting of a large flat rock 60 feet in diameter perched precariously on a much smaller base on top of a small hill. (americansouthwest.net)

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img_4918 3dparks.wr.usgs.gov


Mexican Hat was originally named Goodridge after the family who first settled here in the 1800s. This small community has a historical legacy for once being a hub for sheep and cattle farming, the oldest oil producing field in Utah, a popular trading destination, and a tent city to some 1200 miners hauling ore out of the mountains for processing.

In the 1880s gold seekers arrived here to sluice the San Juan River. Unfortunately not enough gold was ever found to make this a profitable expedition.

Hollywood brought John Wayne here to ford the San Juan River in his movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and several others. (hatrockinn.com)


We never see the “sombrero” rock, but “Oz” looms in the distance

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as we cross the bridge over the San Juan River

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and continue south on Highway 163.

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Monument Valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat landscape interrupted by reddish rock formations rising hundreds of feet in the air. These buttes, part of the Colorado Plateau (en.m.wikipedia.org), are the last vestiges of the sandstone layers that once covered this entire region. (americansouthwest.net)

Highway 163, linking Kayenta, AZ to Highway 191 in UT, is the only main road through Monument Valley which occupies most of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

The iconic view below is from the long, straight, empty stretch approaching the AZ/UT border from the north.

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You may recognize this scene from the movie, Forrest Gump. After running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours Forrest (Tom Hanks) stops, turns around and says, “I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now.”

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Although many spectacular views can be appreciated from Highway 163, even more picture opportunities present themselves from Valley Drive, a 17 mile dirt road within Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. (americansouthwest.net)


And so, we continue south on Highway 163 towards Kayenta. Jeff drives, the dogs sleep, and I take pictures from the passenger’s seat…

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NV, AZ, and UT

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Our route to Jernigan Land in Denver, CO takes us northeast from Las Vegas. We snip across the southeast portion of Nevada and cut through 29 miles of northwest Arizona.

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As we enter the tiny corner of Arizona the scenery becomes more dramatic as we travel through the town of Littlefield on Interstate 15 as the highway cuts through the Virgin River Gorge.

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img_4819 bestplaces.net

Ten miles northeast of Mesquite, Nevada, Littlefield sits west of the Virgin River and northwest of the Grand Canyon. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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Littlefield and nearby Beaver Dam are isolated by hundreds of miles from the rest of Arizona and are the only 2 towns off this stretch of I-15 in Arizona. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


We cross into Utah passing through St. George and the outskirts of Dixie National Forest and Zion National Park

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before arriving at an RV Park in Beaver, Utah where we spend the night.

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Seein’ Things That I May Never See Again

image We say goodbye to Yuma, AZ, but not before I find out a little something about this city that attracts over 85,000 retirees every winter. (en.m.wikipedia.org) I can attest to that as the streets are lined with RV parks and Passport America’s listing for discounted places to stay in Yuma is lengthy.

image passportamericaclub.blogspot.com

Yuma’s history revolves around the Colorado River which ran wild and unpredictable before the building of dams. Crossing the river was difficult at best but Mother Nature kindly provided 2 outcroppings of granite that squeezed the waters into a narrow enough channel to afford an easy and safe place to cross and settle. The early Spanish explorers found thriving tribal communities living here and named them Yumas, from the Spanish word for smoke, humo, as smoke from their cooking fires filled the river valley. (yumaaz.gov)

Interesting Info:

  • Cesar Chavez was born in Yuma in 1927. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
  • In 1929 Amelia Earhart ran off the end of the runway in Yuma.
  • The Coronado Motel in 1938 was the first modern-style motel to be built in Arizona.
  • The rooms in the Coronado were side-by-side in a single building as opposed to the auto court-style of separate buildings.
  • The Yuma Territorial Prison inspired the 1957 and 2007 versions of the movie, 3:10.
  • The plot of the movie is whether or not the notorious outlaw, Ben Wade, can be held to be transported to the prison on the train departing at 3:10. (visityuma.com)
The Coronado Motel (nostalgia.esmartkid.com)

The Coronado Motel
(nostalgia.esmartkid.com)

Yuma Territorial Prison (cronkitenewsonline.com)

Yuma Territorial Prison
(cronkitenewsonline.com)


MARCH 18, 2016

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Today was a long day on the road. (I think I have solved my problem with how to write being a day behind by dating my entries…) We transverse the Sonoran Desert, for the most part, hot and dry. About 10 miles east on I-8 we encounter the Border Patrol Checkpoint.

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If you look closely you can see the drug-sniffer dog. We are waved through and continue going east until we pick up I-10 which dips south for awhile. Below are some of the sights I captured from the bird pooped-stained passenger seat window. And no, I haven’t piloted the RV yet!

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I come across this sign for the Butterfield Trail and wonder if it is related to the stagecoach trail with the same name in Lake Elsinore’s history. At any rate, I’d like to think so.

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The different types of cacti intrigue me. Today we see tall thick stalks.

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Off in the distance I spot a mountain that I think looks like a cursive lower case letter “r.”  Since cursive is no longer a required skill taught in schools today, I thought I would preserve its memory.

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It’s almost been 7 months since we sold our home and left Cincinnati so the following picture reminds me of all our good friends, neighbors, and acquaintances “back home.”

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The real adventure, however, begins when we arrive at our overnight destination, Mountain View RV Park, which we discover belongs to a guy named Dwayne.  As we take the Bowie exit we don’t see much, just some empty buildings, trains, and a place with a few RVS.

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I walk into the office to register and pay and when I walk out I run into an older and well-weathered man wearing cowboy boots, hat, vest, and a holster with a six shooter tucked inside. Apparently Arizona does not have a conceal law. Oh, how I wish I could have gotten his picture! He was for real, not some suited up actor playing the part.

This place is strangely awesome!

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We are in the middle of nowhere and I am in love with this place!

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There is a store that sells…

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…from elk to python to mako shark. There’s a whole wall with nothing but jerky and trail mixes and dried fruits. Locally grown and spicy concoctions of walnuts, pecans, and pistachios, among other nuts are for sale too. Gourmet jellies and sauces and green olives stuffed with just about everything are colorfully displayed in jars. We buy some pistachios and elk jerky.

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Then there are the trains that roar by often with no horn to blast their warning. This continues all day and all night and just adds to the rustic experience.

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Look closely, the blur in the background below is a train!

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This one is easier to see.

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This place is a place like no other and one like it, I may never see again.

On the Road Again… On to Yuma, Arizona

image We pass through Westmorland. By the number of roadside signs, the town is famous for its date milkshakes.

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So I did a little research and learned that in the 1890s date palm trees were planted in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. Ah, but not just any date palm. It’s true that the over 6,500 acres of date palms produce over 40 million pounds of dates annually, but this yield only accounts for less than 15% of the world’s production of dates. The difference is in the quality of dates produced. Among the 4 primary types of dates produced are the deliciously sweet Medjool variety.  The Spanish missionaries introduced dates to northern Mexico and Southern California in the 1700s. (seecalifornia.com)

According to its web site, cityofwestmorland.net, Westmorland is a small residential community that sits along State Highway 86. Located in the Imperial Valley, it is in one of the most scenic desert locations in the Southwest and is among one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world.

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We pass through Brawley on Highway 86 to catch Highway 111. According to brawley-ca.gov, the Imperial Land Company laid out the city in 1902 and tried to name it after the land-owner, J.H. Braly, who refused to lend his name. In 1908 Brawley incorporated as a “tent city” of approximately 100 people who lived there working for the railroad or farming the land. Today it looks like a city anywhere.

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And also reflects the wear and tear of surviving cities everywhere.

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We head south on Highway 111 towards Mexico and pick up I-8 East towards Yuma, Arizona. Riding along the border we encounter the Imperial Sand Dunes.

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And an RV park!

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The closest exit to Mexico…

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And the Colorado River separating California and Arizona, as captured from the passenger’s seat through the window screen. (You have to be quick when traveling in an RV!)

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Finally we arrive in Yuma, Arizona to spend the night at the Arizona Sands RV Park.

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We’ll catch up again tomorrow. I still have Car Trippin’ highlights to share too. But tonight is an end to another day in southern Arizona…

Two More Stops… Kingman, Arizona

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We spend our last 2 nights in Arizona at the Blake Ranch RV Park and Horse Motel near Kingman, AZ, one right turn directly off I-40 West and about 60 miles away from the border to eastern CA. And yes, you read correctly… a horse motel!

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Below is a picture of the horse motel.

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According to the website, the horse motel has twelve 12’x12′ covered stalls with fresh well water and clean shavings provided upon arrival. For self-contained horse trailers and RVs, 30’x70′ pull-through sites are available adjacent to the horse’s area. Two 50 feet round pens are available on the premises to exercise horses kept in trailers. Bunkhouse cabins that sleep up to 4 people can be rented.

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And of course, the RV sites and horse motel areas are separate!

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We stay in site 23 on Willow Way.

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I walk around the premises the day after we arrive and capture the following desert settings:

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The best pictures of all are the ones of the Arizona sunset on the eve of our departure.

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About Kingman

Sitting along the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, between a plateau and the lower Colorado River Valley, Kingman is spared the hot dry desert climate. Because of its higher elevation and its geographic location, summer temps rarely reach 100 degrees fahrenheit and winter temps may occassionally bring snowfall.

The city was founded in 1882 as part of the Arizona Territory. It was named after Lewis Kingman, a surveyor for the Atlantic-Pacific Railroad which ran through the area. Before receiving its name, however, Edward Beale left his mark on Kingman. An officer in the U.S. Navy and a topographical engineer, Beale’s orders were to build a federal wagon road along the 35th parallel. In 1857 he surveyed the area through Kingman and in 1859 he returned to supervise the construction of the road which is now part of Route 66 and I-40. An interesting footnote to this story is Beale’s secondary orders. While surveying for a future wagon road he was also to explore the feasability of using camels as pack animals in the desert. This so called Camel Corps never reached fruition due to the timing of the Civil War. (from en.m.wikipedia.org)