"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Clifton, AZ - Who Knew?!

Safford, Arizona
Boondocking - BLM
Don't you just love it when you stumble upon a great campsite and fun location to explore?! 
Last year we stayed at nearby Roper Lake State Park and scoped out a couple boondocking areas.  Our favorite was Hackle Road.  It's off of Hwy 191 just east of Safford.  The road sign is called Haekle Rd.  Not sure where the discrepancy comes from but it's only a mile down the paved road then it turns to dirt.  Wide and good condition.  Tons of room all around and you can find a spot right where it turns to dirt.  If you drive further down, I heard it gets a bit narrower and bumpy.  Great Verizon.  You can get water and dump in town.
Our location: 32.79405N  109.59284W
We had a fantastic view of snowcapped Mt. Graham.  We only passed one other rig.
If you zoom way in, you'll see us in the center.  Lot's of privacy.
There we are!
Here's a satellite picture of our spot.  Very quiet and easy to get to.  Right off the paved road and barely down the dirt road.
Easy to get to and get out of.  No glass or nails that we saw.  We did pick up some trash though, but otherwise it was very clean.

Our reason for stopping here is so we could drive to the one county in Arizona that we have not found a geocache in.  The town of Clifton is about a 30 minute drive away on 191 which used to be Rt. 666, the Devils Highway.  Since there were so many thefts of the Hwy signs, it was later renamed to 191.  It is 150 miles north of Mexico and 15 miles from the New Mexico border. Clifton was founded in 1873 after Robert Metcalfe noticed copper outcroppings around the creek while trying to chase Apache Indians.  He later returned and miners soon were busy building smelters and businesses. The Arizona Copper Company became huge along with some others.  140 years later copper is still coming from these mines.  There is a lot of history here.  One of the more interesting things, and our main reason for coming, is the Old Clifton Jail.

In 1881 Clifton built a prison underground and into the side of a granite cliff. It was built by Margarito Varela. Seems after he finished it, he celebrated a bit too much and became drunk and dangerous and was jailed becoming the first prisoner.  It had 2 cells with one window high up for fresh air.  It was used until 1906 when a large flood filled the jail with water.  The prisoners were saved but there was so much debris and sediment that the jail was abandoned.  
We read after that if you asked the folks at the history museum, they might unlock the jail doors and you could go down and take pictures.  Next time.

Air shafts for ventilation.
The rocks show the many colorful types of minerals mined in this area.
Right next to the jail is the Porter Steam Locomotive, called the Copper Head, which hauled ore from the mines around Morenci and Metcalf in the mountains above to the smelter.  It was brought to Clifton in parts by wagon train and reassembled here.  It doesn't run anymore but there was a very handsome conductor here today. ;-)
The Excavator Shovel worked the Phelps Dodge Morenci Pit from 1958-1980.

Built in 1912, the Blue Door Sanctuary used to be a Presbyterian Church and later a Masonic Lodge.  Apparently, some ghost investigators spent some time here checking out ghost hauntings.
While driving through the other end of town we wondered what this gate was above that appears to be able to close off the highway.  A friend of mine said it was for flood control on the San Francisco River.  When I looked it up I found the 20 foot tall gates were built in the 1990s.  The locals call them the Jurassic Park gates.  With the tall levee and the gates the south part of Clifton is more protected.  In 1983 there was a catastrophic flooding resulting from a foot of rain in the mountains due to a tropical cyclone.  Over 700 storms were destroyed as well as most businesses and the town had to be evacuated.
Flood Gates
The courthouse sitting high up on the hill.
For such a small town I found it amusing that there was a Dollar Tree and Family Dollar right next to each other and across the street from the Dollar General.
The Sacred Heart Church.  I wish we could've gone in.  Just past the church is the Chase Creek Historic District.  It's a beautiful western looking mining town.  It could easily rank up there with Bisbee and Jerome but sadly most of the shops are closed and in disrepair.  Hopefully they can be saved.

Cute porch cover made from an old car fender.

191 crosses back and forth over the river and you can also see remnants of old mines and shafts.
If you had more time to spend here, 191 turns into the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway.  It traces the path that Coronado followed on his quest for the Seven Cities of Cibola.  The road is one of the twistiest having over 460 sharp turns as it travels 123 miles to Springerville.  I'm sure it would be great on a motorcycle.  It is not recommended to pull a trailer though.
Just small section of the mine pits.
Before too long we had to turn back so we could get to the trailer before dark.  We did not see any of the Big Horn Sheep along the canyon walls that we heard about.  We will definitely come back as I found out there are mine tours offered, hiking and some old cemeteries we need to explore.
Mt. Graham was lit up as the sun was setting.
Home. Sweet. Home.

Superior, Arizona
Box 8 Ranch
There are more mines visible driving through Globe on Hwy 70 to Superior.  It's another beautiful drive.
It was peaceful too until some guy in a large pickup truck flew past us before it turned into one lane and came partially into our lane smacking our side mirror.  Luckily it just pushed it back and did no damage.  He never even slowed down.  It sure scared us both when it made a loud bang.

It was a short 2 hour drive and before we knew it we were at the Box 8 Ranch in Superior.  We were going to boondock nearby but our friends, John & Tina, checked it out for us when they were here a couple weeks ago and didn't think it looked too good.  They suggested the Box 8.  The owners were very nice and didn't charge us to dry camp on their property.  They do offer hookups as well.  We were told to back up anywhere near the stables and pasture.  Bummer that the livestock were moved to a further away pen so it was very quiet during our stay.  They also own the local Porters Saloon & Grill.  We gladly had dinner at their place and it was delicious!  We recommend it if you're here.
The views from our spot at the Box 8.

Surprise, Arizona
Happy Trails RV Resort
Just an overnighter then we arrived in Surprise for a 2 week family visit.  
As it turned out we ended up near John & Tina after just missing each other since Quartzsite.  We had lunch at Andreoli's Italian Grocery.  It's hard for me to find a good place that makes authentic Italian food.  This place is it!  They had eaten here in the before and knew we'd like it.  We highly recommend it if you're in Scottsdale.
It's also a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives recommendation. 
CIAO for NOW!!

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Fort Bowie & Ghost Town Trail - Arizona

Wilcox, Arizona
Elks Lodge
Fort Bowie
Steve finished work early one day so off we went to hike the 3 mile trail to Ft. Bowie.  There were 25 years of conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the US Army.  The Army Fort was occupied from 1862 - 1894.
The trail itself is 3 miles but by time we hiked that and then around all of the ruins we were closer to 4 1/2 miles.
You come to the cemetery first.  This is where Geronimo's 2 year old son is buried.

Orisoba Spence was a Medal of Honor recipient.

The Apache Spring just had a trickle of water.
As you hike up to the fort you see a couple buildings.  Once you go up the hill some more it opens up to a very large area with many ruins and plaques explaining what used to be there.  We spent a lot of time walking around and reading all about the quarters, barracks, hospital, chow hall etc.

The foundation of the Commanding Officers Quarters is all that remains.
Looking out over the valley.
You can see where they are trying to restore some of the walls so what's left of the concrete doesn't just fall apart.  It's a great hike and very peaceful out here.  We've been before but it was nice to come out again.
Historic Wilcox
Some type of religious building.
There isn't too much to see in Wilcox but they do have some colorful parts to the downtown.  Most things were closed when we were there.

We heard they had great BBQ here but we didn't get to try it.
This is an old telephone booth next to the train station.  Scratched on the inside door was the 4 digit numbers to call nearby towns.

The Rex Allen Museum.  Rex was a real cowboy and one of the last singing cowboys of western movies.  General admission is $3 but it was closed also
Rex Allen

Our last stop was just outside of town at the Old City Cemetery.  Again, if not for geocaching, I'm not sure we'd have found out about this forgotten cemetery or the famous person buried here.
Warren Earp was the youngest of the Earp brothers.  He was involved in the Clanton and McLaury families trying to get payback for the killing of one of his brothers.  He was shot and killed by Johnny Boyette in Wilcox in 1900.  Some think that the shooting and death of Warren was retribution for what occurred at the OK Corral Shootout.  We have been to a few of the Earp brothers graves in the various states we've visited.  We plan to visit another when back in California.

Ghost Town Road
Pearce Jail
With a backdrop of the Dragoon Mountains, there is a 15 mile dirt road aptly called Ghost Town Rd. that will take you to through the ruins of the old mining towns of Pearce, Courtland and Gleeson.  Pearce is larger and has a population of 2000.  We started here early as the winds were supposed to pick up and a cold front would be moving in.

This was a pretty good sized cemetery.  
Some had a pretty fancy resting place and others...
More simple.
By chance we found that a pretty important person was buried here.  George Platt was Abraham Lincoln's bodyguard.  You'd think they'd make it easy to find his grave here.  No signs just a strange numbering system.  We looked for quite a bit but could not find it.  We figured it must be one of the few impressive plots.  
Nope, not this one.

Not this one either.  I did some research later and found that it's actually a simple headstone.  I'm sure we walked past it several times.  Too bad they don't make this more well known.
Old grocery and gas station.

Driving on to Courtland there isn't much out here.  Strangely, the sidewalk that sat in front of some of the buildings is about all that remains.
The old jail is mostly still intact.
One of the few windows that sits in the shower of the jail.
I'm not sure what this was.  Perhaps the mercantile?  It's well put together and the stone and wood are very interesting.

Entering Gleeson the Old Jail is about all that is standing.  It has a small museum inside that is open once a month.  There used to be a school and hospital.  The ruins of them are still here.

Rick and Angie behind bars.
The Good One was released.  The Bad One was put in handcuffs.
Who is that in the cool car?
Just a family outing.  Love the baby carseat!
Around the corner from the almost fallen down grocery store is the line of mailboxes.  On the way back home the wind was incredible.  Tumbleweeds were flying around like kamikazes.  When they weren't coming at us they were racing next to us.  I laughed that they looked like Tribbles.  At one point a wall of dirt/sand came at us and we had a brown out.  I couldn't even see so I slowly down and almost stopped.  After a few moments the worst was over and we continued back.  Yikes!

On Valentines Day we made a feast.  We had steak and shrimp, salad, broccoli, potatoes and a heart shaped chocolate cookie with lots of frosting!

Our final night we went to dinner in town at a Mexican place called La Unica.  The food was great and the margaritas were...
Safe travels back home!

Our two months of traveling with Rick and Angie have come to an end.  We sure had a great time.  They headed back home to Northern CA and we headed up towards Surprise.  Oh, that storm came through again with crazy winds and some rain that turned in to a little snow.  BRRR.