Tag Archives: roadtrip

Wacky in Wickenberg

26 Jul

Last weekend, I went on a roadtrip to Wickenberg, Arizona – for reasons that even the locals weren’t really sure why I came. Sometimes I just like to explore places, and considering this small town’s downtown was decorated just like a Wild West town, made it pretty neat… and a little creepy.

Wickenberg is about an hour northwest of the outskirts of Phoenix, still within the same county (because that’s how the southwest works). and it’s just under 8,000 people. Personally, it kinda reminded me of the town where I grew up (without the Wild West kitsch). I chose to travel there because a) I’ve never been there, b) it was referenced in an MST3K short, and c) because I knew that a chapter of the club I belong to would be open.

The decoration was one thing – the statues were another. Apparently, they decided to a “Cows on Parade” thing, but instead of cows, they put up people statues in Wild West outfits. That was pretty creepy.

Not sure if it was because they were life-size or just really good or I simply wasn’t expecting it. However, when I checked out the local chapter, the people there were incredibly friendly, great to talk to, and it made it worth the trip.

Unfortunately, the trip getting there wasn’t that exciting – it was flat, it was desert, there was precious little between Phoenix and there. However, I did take a different way back, avoiding the 10 to get home (really crowded interstate).

However, it was a really nice place to visit, and would really like to go back sometime. Have you ever traveled to a place and discovered a hidden gem? Tell me about it in the comments below!

East of (the) Superstitions

17 Jul

If you’re driving one of the most lonely parts of scenery in Arizona, you might as well take some pictures. The road from Globe to Payson runs east of the Superstition Mountains and past a whole lotta nothing… except for a lake. And wildfires. And a thunderstorm.

I realized that I hadn’t finished my roadtrip story from last weekend, so I might as well finish it off. After being rather disappointed with… almost everything closed in Globe, I decided not to dwell on it and drive up to Payson, where I knew something would be open. Along the way was a whole lotta nothing. Beautiful nothing, but nothing none the less. 🙂

It took about an hour and a half to drive from the mining town to the Rim Country. I knew I would pass by Lake Roosevelt, without which, there would be no Phoenix today. But what I didn’t expect was the Tonto National Monument.

Quick history lesson: About seven to eight hundred years ago, there was a vibrant native civilization that existed in Arizona. The Hohokams occupied what today is Phoenix and about five other nations existed in relative harmony. Then about 1500, they left; climate change, exhausting natural resources (trees), no one really knows for sure. This was about the same time mound builders out east also disappeared. From these tribes came the modern native tribes that exist today.

Well, there are several cliff dwellings around Arizona, including as I learned, west of Lake Roosevelt. (Named after Teddy, who visited its dedication after he left being president.) So I pulled into Tonto National Monument, but didn’t feel like hiking up from the parking lot in 113 degree heat to see them first hand. That’s not why I was there… although the cute forest ranger in the mask did make it tempting.

So I took some pictures and left. Then I drove past lots of burned out scrub land. The wildfires this year really ripped through the part of the national forest (yes, the forest is cactus, but technically…). I even saw the fire–which is hard to make out from the pictures–but there was a whole lotta char.

After passing many signs thanking the firefighters, I got hit in a thunderstorm just south of Payson. Now this might not sound that exciting for anyone outside the Southwest, but it hasn’t rained in Phoenix since April. Let me repeat that… four months! So to suddenly have to slow down in pelting rain (that was hitting a brush fire, mind you) was pretty amazing.

Finally got into Payson, found the open bar I was looking for (this is a pic of their back parking lot), smoked my pipe (tobacco), and had a drink. I’m not going to mention which one because it’s technically illegal to be open due to the governor’s executive order… and it’s technically not, because it’s a restaurant and… other reasons. Being in a legal gray zone, which is where I love to be, I went in and enjoyed myself.

Then I drove back home down a really gorgeous highway which had more of purple’s mountain majesty that I didn’t bother to take a picture of (because it looked kinda the same as what I already showed you), because I’ve been on this particular stretch . The back of Four Peaks (the biggest mountain you can see from the Phoenix East Valley) was completely burned. It was great to get out of the house and enjoy seeing parts of the state I live in.

What kind of things have surprised you on a roadtrip? Tell me in the comments section below!

Rocky Road to Globe

14 Jul

With the missus and chillins out of the house, it was time to get out and explore Arizona. Except… there was no where to go and no one to see. So when in doubt, choose somewhere you’ve never been. So I got in the car and started driving east… right through God’s own Lego pile.

When you live in the Valley of the Sun, you tend to forget the most important thing… you’re in a valley. So to get out of it, you have to cross a mountain at some point. In this case, the Superstition Mountains bar the way east to Globe, Arizona, which is the mining capital of Eastern Arizona.

To those of you not from the great southwest, in Arizona History, they teach the Five C’s: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate. Guess what, this is where they strip mine copper, out in the middle of the mountains. In exchange, I got to drive through some of the most beautiful valleys I’ve seen in this desert!

So it takes an hour and a half, I managed to follow Route 60 all the way to Globe, which is part of the “Tri-Cities…” which is really just one big mining town after another. The strip mining I saw was one of five different mines I saw there. A lot of driving up and down along the way. The place I was hoping to visit was closed (no real surprise), but I was hungry, and I kept looking for a restaurant.

Now before I go on, let me explain. In Arizona, we’re still allowed to eat inside the restaurant, allowing for 50% capacity. However, each municipality gets to set its own restrictions. Apparently, Globe being a mining town is very… (ahem) union-majority. So no dining-in was available. Therefore I ate a very disappointing Taco Bell (is there any other kind?) meal followed by lots of peanuts.

However, there turned out to be hidden gems in Globe. For example, there was a city park which had an ancient village with a museum (both closed) called Besh Ba Gowah. From what I could see of it, it looked pretty sweet. Probably dates back five to seven hundred years, but I didn’t look it up.

Also, the city park (empty – because it was 113 degrees outside!) was really beautiful. You could see all the mountains I passed through to get there. Anyway, I had to make a choice at that point. Either go back the way I came, or take the road east of the Superstitions to Payson, where I knew I would find my goal. So I decided to go to Payson… but that will wait for another post.

Where have you gone on a whim? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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