Getting our Groove Back: Apache Junction and Mesa, AZ
May 2, 2017
So, back to that hike. You know how they say timing is everything, well, it this case it was. Our friends Deb and Steve (aka extreme hikers) hiked to the top of Superstition Mountain –Flat Iron--the day before we arrived at Lost Dutchman State Park. So, we missed that extreme hike by a narrow margin and by looking at it, and how sore they--being seasoned hikers—were, it’s probably a good thing we were delayed. Our hike, was a little more manageable, heading up the mountain a couple of miles and back down. We made it to just shy of the “bowl”, but was a nice hike, a little over four miles up and back, with great views.
The wildflowers in bloom!!
This is Thumb rock. I see the resemblance!!
The perspective of Flat Iron is off a bit, just know that it is really really way up there!! It includes a vertical 12 ft climb and about another 1200+ farther in elevation climb than we did!
A great pre-hike shot!! We may not have looked so chipper on our way back down!!
Part of the climb...and great scenery!!
It was a little rocky, so found myself looking down a lot and paying really close attention to the terrain, because, well, I did a lot of damage to my ankle on a fairly flat surface, so now I try to pay a little more attention to where I’m going. Overall, a fantastic hike, but no way possible that I could have done Flat Iron….some day maybe!!
Our time in Apache Junction and Lost Dutchman's seemed to fly by, but often does when spending time with friends. We spent about four days with Deb and Steve and then the last three days during our time there, our friends Lee and Trace joined up with us after wrapping up a three month gate guarding gig. We got to enjoy some good meals, campfires and overall, was great just catching up.
We enjoyed several campfires....and how could you not with that view!!
Right outside our rig, was this ocotillo plant, and the hummingbirds would come by every day to entertain us....okay, maybe they were looking for a little nectar, but still fun to watch!!
Also, Deb and Steve re-introduced us to geocaching, so we did spend a little time doing some caching. Within the world of caching, and there is a whole world of it, Deb and Steve were attempting to find a cache a day for a year and were at around day 340 so one night after a visit to a local bar, uh, I mean restaurant, they were looking for a cache in the dark, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. They found it and their streak continued!! We were glad that they were able to find it safely in the dark (we were on standby in the car in case of an animal attack or snake bite...that's just the kind of friends we are!!) and also glad that we were not the demise of their caching streak!!
The nice thing was after our time at Lost Dutchman, it wasn’t goodbye. We are all moving to Usery County park, which was less than a 30 minute relocation, so the party continued!! We were also meeting up with Kat and Bert, some folks Lee and Trace had met at the RV-Dreams Rally in 2016. It’s always fun to meet some new people and make some friends and since they had the “Lee and Trace Stamp of Approval”, they had to be cool…and they were!!
If we look like we're in a food coma, we might be!!
Kat and Bert made a yummy dinner for us!!
While at Usery, we conquered a few of the local sightseeing attractions. First up—Superstition Mountain Museum. The museum was designed to collect and preserve the history, legends and lore of Superstition Mountains. It’s a collection of a few old buildings, including the Apacheland Barn and the Elvis Chapel, a huge 20-stamp gold mill, a mountain man camp, Western storefronts, and a very cool outdoor train exhibit. There was no fee to explore the museum, only donations, which we gladly made a contribution to. (Side note: On the weekends they actually run the model trains, so suggest if you want to see the trains in action, hit it on a weekend.)
Apache land Barn was a retired movie set that served as a filming location for Westerns
like Gunfight at the OK Corral and The Battle of Cable Hogue
(and yes, The Battle of Cable Hogue was a real show...it aired in 1970)
The Elvis Chapel....The chapel exterior appears in Charro!
And Charro was a 1969 western film, starring Elvis.....
not to be confused with Charo the dancer/actress/singer!!
They had several displays of model trains; all very well done!!
Greg having a very serious conversation with one of the Cowboys.
Me....a quick visit to the saloon. And Greg hit up the jail.....hmmmm!!
Next up was Goldfield Ghost Town, which is a cluster of shops and historic buildings, and an old gold mine, all of which were pretty touristy. This is a place you can pan for gold, take a train ride around the town, do a zip line and then watch a gunfight--none of which we did--but we did grab lunch at the saloon, walked around and hit the shops. The history was interesting though, seems back in the 1890’s, this area boasted three saloons, a boarding house, general store, blacksmith shop, brewery, meat market and a school house, but when the gold vein faulted, the grade of ore dropped and the town died a slow painful death.
Some of the cool buildings of Goldfield Ghost Town!
Arizona’s only narrow gauge train, which basically means that it operates on a railway with a track gauge narrower than the standard 1,435 mm.
They were a couple of fun activities to kill a day, nothing too riveting, but just fun. The highlight was finding a geocache at Goldfield. It was by far the most creative cache I’d ever found--out of the whopping twelve--so perspective may be a little skewed, but even our expert cachers rate it as one of their favorites!!
Lee and I finding the cache. It was this big canister inside a locked cylinder.
Lee was video'ing it-- sort of like it was "The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults"
Actually the cache was better than Al Capone's vault....
lots of trackables and just a very creative cache!!
The following day we all went to Boyce Thomson Arboretum State Park, which was really nice. It’s located in Queen Creek Canyon and was established in the mid-1920’s and was the first purely botanical institution in Arizona. In the mid-1960’s the Arboretum partnered with the University of Arizona and then expanded to include Arizona State Parks in 1976. There were different sections of unique gardens areas, including a Children's Garden, a Cactus & Succulent Garden, Herb Garden, and Australian Desert, but mainly for us, it was nice to leisurely stroll around the grounds, and opportunity to take some pics and chat.
These cacti remind me of Beaker from the Muppets!! Anyone else see it?
Just in case you didn't know who Beaker was..... You see it now, right?
Beautiful palm trees!!
This little guy stopped us on our hike; he was looking for 15 minutes of our time!!
After a hot and fun day at the Aboretum, we wrapped up our visit with a birthday dinner celebration for Debbie, who was having a birthday the following week. Hey, it was close enough to celebrate….and we’re not one to pass up a reason to have cake!!
Trace made the cake and it was delish!! But...as cool as these candles look, don't recommend them as after about five seconds of burning, you have no idea what it really says!!
The next day, we hit the road early--on to our next adventure—leaving our friends behind as they were hanging around for a few more days. After a crazy start to 2017, it was great first stop and glad that we connected with friends and got a little of our traveling mojo back!!
As big as this country is, one of the things that continues to amaze us is that somehow, someway, there always seems a way to connect with friends and make some new ones along the way. And one thing that is for certain, it’s never goodbye, it’s just, until next time!!