Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Apache Trail

Set off Tuesday through Sun City, Glendale, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa to Apache Junction.  There, we drove up the Apache Trail to the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Long considered an eerie spot by the Pima Indians, their fears were dismissed by early white settlers as mere superstitions; thus the name.  Volcanic in origin, the odd-looking mountain is a National Preserve and no vehicles are allowed on it.  The museum contained many Indian artefacts and quite a bit of info/relics from the gold-mining days, including The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

Located in the Sonoran Desert, the museum grounds are decorated with plants such as the Cholla ( cho-ya) or “jumping” cactus whose barb-equipped thorns are triggered by hair-fine sensors and bury themselves in the skin of the unwary.  This drags the seed pods off the plant, making it seem as though they jumped onto the passerby.  Another good reason for the cowboys to wear chaps.  Also in evidence are signs warning about snakes and the need for tourists to stay on the paths.

The Sonoran Desert is considered one of the only “living” deserts.  Although it receives less than 7 inches of rain a year, it is green with living plants.  When it does rain, it apparently comes down in monsoon-like fashion though, and signs everywhere warn of the possibility of flash-floods on the next bit of road.

This was followed by lunch at the Dutchman’s Hideout and a visit to the nearby gold-mining Ghost Town.  Thronging with tourists, the ghost town once boasted 6 saloons and three bordellos for the 1500 or so gold miners camped around the area.

On up the road into increasingly mountainous terrain to the Canyon Lake Vista in the Tonto National Forrest.  We had thought to press on to Tortilla Flats but the desolation and a falling gas gauge persuaded us to retreat.

After gassing up, we enjoyed yet another 10-lane highway (complete with signs like “Right Three Lanes Must Exit”) back to Surprise where we treated ourselves to an expensive but quite good Sushi dinner.

Ghost Town

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