Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lost Dutchman, Mountain Men and a Sand Storm

On Wednesday morning we returned to the Peralta Trailhead and took the Lost Dutchman’s Trail to Miner’s Needle. It had been recommended to us by the hiking club leader here at the park as one of the prettiest trails around. It was a much easier hike than Weaver’s Needle, about seven miles round trip, but not nearly as steep.

Before the hike, in the parking lot, we met two mountain men from Michigan, Dave and Roy, who were looking for some information about the Weaver’s Needle Trail - the one we did last week. We ended up talking with them for a while, had a few good laughs and, as we parted company, as I often do with people we chat with, I gave them my business card.

Pictured below is the Miner’s Needle - I guess because it has a hole in it.

Later in the day we went for a dip in the pool where Janice met a woman whom was born and raised in Kamloops. She knew Janice’s boss, Bonnie, and she’s good friends with another acquaintance of ours from Kaledon, Anne Murray. No, not the famous one.

Two couples joined us for Happy Hour - one from Alberta and one from Saskatchewan. The woman from Alberta turned out to be fifty-nine years old, quite brash, and she could really knock them back. She had just retired, while her husband, who is twelve years her junior and a military guy, has another ten years to work. She ordered him to get her drinks, on command. He hopped to it too. Poor guy.

It was supposed to cool off on Thursday and, as we rode our bikes uptown for breakfast, it was fairly cool and cloudy, with the odd raindrop. By the time we got back home though, the clouds had cleared, so we decided to take a ride around the town and have a better look.

We managed to find a few of the seamier sides of Apache Junction. Nothing bad or anything - just what you might find in any town where you don’t stick to the main routes - you know, the tourist facade. There are no lawns here, because of water shortages, so a lot of properties tend to look unfinished. A typical house in some of these neighbourhoods can be purchased for sixty or seventy thousand dollars.

In the afternoon I gave the truck a much needed going over, inside and out, while Janice did her nails and stuff like that.

After dinner the phone rang and, surprisingly, it was our new friends, Dave and Roy, from Michigan. They stopped over and, when Janice offered them a beer the response was, “No, we don’t drink. Well, not when we’re driving anyway.” They are both about fifty years old, both have long hair and beards, and neither looks anything like what you’d expect of people who winter in Arizona. They do though, at the cheapest park in town, where they share a two-bedroom mobile. Dave is on permanent disability due to Scoliosis (sp?) while Roy works odd jobs now and then. They keep fifth wheels back in Michigan for the summer. They stayed for an hour or so and we had some more belly laughs. Wish I had taken a picture. It was reminiscent of the early days at East Barriere Lake.


When we want to watch movies we have to pull the TV down from it’s shelf near the ceiling, to hook it up to the computer. While I was out, Janice was standing on the dinette seat putting the TV back when she lost her balance and fell backwards onto the couch, hip first. She has a nasty bruise.

On Friday it had clouded over. Janice packed a lunch and we drove the Apache Trail again to Canyon Lake where we hiked the Boulder Canyon Trail. It’s a steady but fairly gradual uphill climb. As soon as we reached the first lookout I went to take a picture and my camera was drained again. Not only is that frustrating, but now I’d be packing it up the mountain for nothing. Luckily Janice had hers.

I’d have to say the Boulder Canyon Trail was my favourite yet, with 360 degree vistas at the top. Part of the view was Weaver’s Needle from the opposite side, and further away, then we’d seen it from before.

Pictured below are some shots from the Boulder Canyon trail. Also pictured is cowboy, Dave, from Arkansas. When we spotted the horses and riders traversing a mountain several miles from us, we noticed that one rider was way ahead of the rest of the pack. When he got to within a quarter mile or so away, I asked Janice to hustle back up the trail so she could get a picture of him passing the most scenic terrain, with Weaver’s Needle in the background. Man, does a walking horse ever cover ground faster than a human, even in that rock strewn trail. We only had to get a hundred or so yards back up the trail and we had a good head start but we could hear the horse clip-clopping on the rocks behind us, steadily gaining. By the end we were literally running, getting where we wanted just in time to get the photo. Now I know what it might feel like to be on the outdoor TV show, Man Tracker.

Saturday morning was cloudy and spitting rain here and there, so, rather than sitting around, we figured we’d take a short hike to the water tower at the end of Idaho Road, not far from here. There were curious looking rock formations right from the start but, within a half mile or so, the trail petered out, completely. We couldn’t pick it up again so we returned to the truck just as the wind picked up. The horizon was blurred almost immediately. By the time we got back to the park there was a full blown dust storm obliterating the view in all directions.

Pictured is the beginning of the dust/sand storm over Apache Junction.

We’d heard about a huge flea market not far from us so, with the wind and rain happening, we decided that, if we were going to see it all, this would be the time. The flea market was enormous. More like a gigantic tent covered mall. Disappointingly, almost all the merchandise was new, imported and cheap. A lot of hats, sunglasses, lawn ornaments, t-shirts and other dollar store kind of stuff. Just what the world needs - a whole bunch more dollar stores, all under one roof.

The flea market being a bust, we decided to head for Gold Field and the scheduled Chili Cook-off. As we pulled into the parking lot the dust and sand storm had picked up even more momentum. We got out of the truck to a scene of complete mayhem. All of the chili cook-off contestants were trying desperately to hang onto pieces of their tarps or tents, attempting to pack up before everything got blown to smithereens. We heard one contestant complain that he’d tied his tent down to the tables and, as a result, everything got blown over, including the chili.

We stopped at Filly’s bar and grill where LIVE MUSIC was advertised every Saturday from 1-4pm. As we entered the darkened bar, sure enough, there was a decent country band playing. Cowboys in big hats, with bigger buckles and even bigger moustaches idled around the bar, staring at us in our t-shirts and shorts as we entered. We could see more cowboy hats line dancing behind the boys at the bar while even more cowboys and cowgirls mingled around another twenty tables. We had a beer and soaked in the authentic Arizona vibe for half an hour before making our exit - backs to the door.

As I write this Janice is watching Spanish TV. It’s 4:30 and pouring rain outside.

In the evening we watched a couple of movies and then woke to drizzle again on Sunday morning.
We drove to the First Water Trailhead again, going further up the road to the opposite end of the Dutchman’s Trail that we were on the other day. We took the Second Water Trail at first but it got too soggy, so we turned around and took The Lost Dutchman’s Trail again. The trail goes for eighteen miles but we just did a couple before it started to rain again and sent us back to the truck.

Pictured are a couple of shots on the Dutchman Trail. Also Janice, just to prove that she doesn’t only have that one green top that she seems to be wearing every time I take a picture and, a brother and sister from Mesa who found a genuine arrow head, serrated edges and all.

The fact is that, although it seems like we’re always wearing the same thing, I have three pairs of Khaki and two pair of green shorts while Janice has several sets of brown Capri pants, different shades as well as a couple pairs of denim Capri’s so, even though we may be boring, we’re not wearing dirty laundry.

Tomorrow we’re moving closer to Phoenix so we can spend a little time with Rhelda and Jenny…

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Do we get to meet the cowboy?
    Get the sun dance happening.
    See you soon.