Sunday, March 16, 2014

Apache Junction and the Lost Dutchman's mine

March 10 - 13, 2014:

It was a beautiful morning to travel as we departed Picacho Peak at 10 AM taking route 10 east to route 587 to route 202 to route 60 to the VIP RV Park in Apache Junction, AZ.  I am starting to get used to the handling of the RV, it's bad, but only really bothers me when being passed by big semi rigs on the highway.  They really push the RV to the right and you need to steer to the left for an instant to compensate.  It seems to be common on class C rigs, especially Ford E450's, but there are several things that can be upgraded to improve the situation.
Apache Junction is pretty much wall to wall RV Campgrounds, they like to call them RV Resorts.  The area is surrounded by beautiful scenery, but the town itself is pretty dumpy on a first impression.  The campgrounds are still mostly full, but the snowbirds are starting to leave for home, lots of RV's on the road. After setting up, we rode to the Superstition Mountain / Lost Dutchman Museum and to the Goldfield Ghost Town.  These are both big "Must See" tourist attractions in the area.  The museum has great stuff on the Lost Dutchman Mine and the legend.  They also had a really interesting exhibit on artist Ted DeGrazia and his art work and explorations in the Superstition Mountains.  He actually had someone hide 18 of his paintings up in the mountains, worth millions now, which have never been found.  Goldfield is the site of the old Mommouth mine, once a very prosperous mine that eventually became a ghost town, then resurrected into todays tourist attraction.  It seems pretty authentic though, there is a real mine on site and much old wood and rusty old metal mechanical objects laying around.  

Indian Pottery chards

One of many Lost Dutchman treasure maps

Lost Dutchman souvenir items

DeGazia's Art

WE found Elvis !

A place for butts

Hanging on the porch with some dummy, I'm on left

Mommouth Saloon at Goldfield

Goldfield view

Afterwards we stopped for a beer at a local country bar, the "Hitching Post Saloon", with a nice outside patio.  In passing by a few times there even horses hitched up outside.  Twinkles was quite amused there eavesdropping on a conversation between a couple of middle aged guys about their sexual conquests.  

On Tuesday, it was a return to hiking, but a moderate one as Twinkles remains a bit sore from the recent Picacho Peak hike.  So we go to nearby Lost Dutchman State Park and do a very scenic 4 mile loop on the Treasure loop Trail.  It was a beautiful day, the hillside in front of Superstition Mountain was carpeted with bright yellow Brittlebush flowers.  There are many early wildflowers beginning to bloom along with the Cholla and Hedgehog cactus.  After a healthly fruit and granola bar lunch break we drive the                                                                                                                   Apache Trail, route 88, to the end of the pavement.  It is a beautiful scenic drive past Canyon Lake, through Tortilla Flat climbing higher and higher with huge canyons dropping off from the roads edge. We stopped at Tortilla Flat on the return, which was filled to capacity with tourists.  This has been a historic stop along the Apache Trail since the early days, but the old looking buildings are not original as the place burned to the ground in 1987.

View from the Treasure Loop Trail

Two powers in the Desert meet

Tortilla Flat view

What they do to shoplifters

Twinkles would not pose !

Superstition Saloon at Tortilla Flat

Canyon Lake on the Apache Trail

Wednesday, we leave the VIP RV Resort after two nights and move a few miles over to the Lost Dutchman State Park overflow dry camping area.  The plan was two nights there, then to move to Globe, AZ.  The Lost Dutchman State Park is a very popular park which has a reservation only section that is booked solid until April.  The overflow dry camping area is non reservable, on a first come, first served basis and fills up fast.  We came over at 10AM and had a choice of two spots that were open.  They are nice big sites with potable water, dump station and toilet/shower facilities available. This is an ideal camping spot as it sits on the edge of the wilderness with a great mountain vista, but it only a few miles to Apache Junction's shopping areas and 30 some miles to downtown Phoenix.

View from the campsite

View of the sunset
In the evening, I went down the road to "Filly's Roadhouse" to check out the action.  Picture a huge outside patio with rows of picnic tables covered with plastic tablecloths, a large stage, a dance floor with the heavenly aroma of greasy food and beer.  .  A great spot for eating, drinking or listening to the live music 6 nights a week.  The food is mostly burgers, fries, chicken and BBQ.  It is very country and there was a big crowd, very popular.  After that I stopped at the "Hitching Post", a mile away, which also had a good dinner crowd, similar food and a popular country performer, Ron E Cash.  He was pretty good and had quite a following there, one old girl even was wearing a Ron E Cash Roadie tee shirt.  It was a mostly senior sunbird crowd, silver hair and cowboy hats were in vogue.  At 8:30 the action was over and I was back at the campground a few minutes latter. 

I go on a solo hike Thursday morning on the Siphon Draw Trail.  It is considered a moderate hike climbing steadily about 2 miles uphill to an area called the Basin.  The Basin is a steep wide bare rock face that must turn into a river when it rains.  I then continued up above the Basin where the difficulty level increased till you reach a saddle.  The Saddle has a great panorama view of the Flatiron Peak and surrounding terrain and is a good spot to rest your jets. This is a decision point, the decision being whether to turn around or continue another hard, steep, rocky 1,000 feet higher to the trails end.  This last portion of the trail is considered difficult.  I didn't see anyone my age up there, nothing to prove, so I decided to head down to safety. 

Siphon Draw trail view

Wonderful flowers

Wonderful trail views

I'm heading for the mountain called the "Flatiron"

Trail view at lower elevation

I then went in the afternoon back to Superstition Mountain Museum to listen to a folk singer concert there.  It was very well attended, again no one under 55 years of age, mostly all snow birds from all over.  The performer, Mark Fogelson, is someone who makes the rounds there from time to time, singing songs that tell stories. He had a theme that revolved around telling your stories to keep the pump of life primed.  It was an interesting concept that I could identify with as I remember my father having lots of stories to tell.  I wish he had written them down as the details are now a bit blurred.

Mark Fogelson performing

Next stop is Globe, Arizona.

Still looking for the Dutchman's gold,
Twinkles and Slick

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