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Thursday March 17th: Crowded Backroads & Exploding Beer Glasses

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<– Day 8 – Wednesday March 16th: More Earth Sciences | Beginning | Day 10 –  Friday March 18th: The Bullion Plaza Cultural Center & Museum –>

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Doesn’t everyone gather around their jeep after dinner and read a good book?? Thanks to Joe and Jan for taking us to dinner.

Today we drove from Globe to Mesa and back (See yesterday’s post here).

A few folks asked why we are staying in Globe through the weekend instead of Phoenix. The answer is that the Phoenix basin is plagued by astronomic hotel prices this week. One-star motels were priced at $150. Two star places were over $200. One four star was $1000 a night. The high prices might be the result of baseball’s spring training, crazy college spring breakers, or the planet Venus in retrograde. Whatever the cause, staying in Phoenix or the surrounding cities was far beyond our budget. To provide perspective, my goal on our trips is to secure two to three star hotels for under $60. Using Priceline, I often, but not always, achieve that goal. Since we couldn’t afford Phoenix, the three-star Apache Gold Casino was more than willing to take our money for only $58 a night for two days. The two-star Days Inn accepted $61 a night for Friday and Saturday nights (regularly almost $90). Since gas is cheap, this was the most viable solution for us.

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Wednesday’s trip from the casino, to Roosevelt, Goldfield, Mesa, and back to the casino.

Wednesday morning we left Globe and headed west on Highway 60 for Goldfield, Arizona, an olde time wild west town that now caters to tourists. We were maybe ten miles out of Globe when we discovered the highway was closed for construction and wouldn’t open for at least another hour. So, we turned around and took the backway, which also happens to be a scenic drive. We took this as a sign to enjoy said scenic drive, so off we went.

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We didn’t make it far on Highway 60 before we were forced to turn around.

The first half hour went by quickly, gaining elevation on Highway 188 until we reached the town of Roosevelt. There, we took a left, turning onto highway 80, better known as Apache Trail. The road was opened in the early 1900s to the support the building of a nearby damn, however the road’s steep inclines and descents has kept it from securing money for modernization. Thus, it’s a winding, half dirt, backroad drive that requires at least a couple hours. That sounded perfect for us. Little did we know others had the same idea ….

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Taking a photo of the longest 2-lane steel bridge span in the United States. That fact surprised us. This location is the eastern end of the Apache Trail.

Apache Trail quickly sheds its asphalt in favor of dirt. Any attempt to descrive the first few miles of the trail would be pure fiction, as the motorhome and the boat and trailer it towed left a trail of dust that made sightseeing a challenge. Eventually the motorhome took mercy on us and pulled over so we could pass. Chivalry appears alive and well in Arizona!

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The dust wasn’t too bad at this point.

For the next fifteen or so miles the oft washboard-lined dirt road was wide enough to accomodate two vehicles. We pulled off occasionally to take phots as the road wound along a reservoir, creating some beautiful scenery.

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It wasn’t all that bad to drive, but that might have been the result of the work done on Highway 60. We concluded that the road had been improved recently to accomodate an increase in traffic due to the closure of 60. However, road crews weren’t able to widen Apache Trai, so we spent a great deal of time dogding reckless drivers unaccustomed to narrow, winding, dirt roads.

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This was a good little overlook for taking photos.

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That’s the upper reservoir.

About the halfway point, the road narrows and drops into a ravine, then climbs along a steep ridge. It was extra tight. It was at this time, as we were climbing out of the ravine, that traffic began to increase. A few SUVs passed us, taking some care, but then some jerk off in a utilty truck came around a corner too fast. He took a wide turn, so we were forced to make an extra wide turn. Thankfully there was room to make that turn otherwise he would have hit us. We were not amused, but the jerkoff driver in the utility truck was laughing (according to Ann that is …. I was too busy making sure we didn’t go over the edge of the cliff).

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Driving up a narrow road along the canyon. It got even narrower, with tight turns.

Two-thirds into the trip, pavement reappeared. We were thankful to leave the dust behind. Unfortunately, with the pavement came traffic. It only got worse as we descended into the historic town of Tortilla Flats. The town looked like a perfect place for photos, but the area was flush with vehicles, leaving no room for parking. We were shocked at how full it was on a Thursday afternoon and feared the worst for Goldfield, which was about ten miles further down the road.

We soldiered on in bumper to bumper traffic. Ann likened it to an amusement ride. Sure the scenery was beautiful, but the romance of traveling on a remote mountain road yielded to the reality that other people existed on the planet.

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Traffic. Yuck!

When we finally arrived at Goldfield, I am happy to report that it wasn’t as crowded as we feared. Busy, yes, crowded, not so much. We found a good parking spot and explored the old mining town. We first learned about it from an episode of Ghost Adventures. The town is free to walk around, but to tour the mine, ride the train, or visit the bordello cost money. We saw no ghosts, but did find plenty of vendors hawking novelties. Despite the obvious touristy feel to the place, we enjoyed our visit.

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They also have jeep tours out of Goldfield. I didn’t get a chance to photograph it, but one of their vehicles is a Scrambler.

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After our trip to Goldfield we headed for BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse for dinner with “Joe in Mesa” and his wife Jan. Joe’s been a long time reader and advocate, so he and I enjoy talking jeeps. He’s retired Army, but also worked with the Air Force, so he and Ann like talking planes and other Air Force stuff, some of which goes way over my head. It was good to have Jan there, since she too quickly became lost in the web of acronyms and references that were Greek to us.

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Left to Right, Joe, Jan, Ann, and David.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the day was when Jan ordered a Rasberry Ale of some type. The waitress brought the beer to the table. Jan reached for the beer and picked it up. Have you, dear readers, ever seen beer break a glass? None of us had. When Jan picked up her beer, the bottom of the glass stayed on the table, causing the beer to poor out the bottomless glass. Beer went everywhere! We were stunned, unable to comprehend what had jsut happened. Nearby diners were puzzled, not sure what had happened. The commotion caused staff to rush over to us. Everyone stared at the bottom of the glass, since it remained on the table. It was crazy! When our server showed up, she too was amazed, but then let something interesting slip. She said, “I haven’t seen that in a while!” Apparently, there is some flaw in that type of glass. Crazy I tell you! Fortunately (for the restaurant and us), no cameras or phones were damaged by beer.

Once the beer and our table were cleaned, we had a wonderful time with Joe and Jan. Thanks so much for dinner!

On Friday, since we are a long drive from Phoenix, we will be staying in Globe. On Saturday, we’ll be at the FC Roundup from dawn to dusk. We look forward to seeing everyone there! I’ll be wearing an eWillys cap, so I shouldn’t be hard to miss.

<– Day 8 – Wednesday March 16th: More Earth Sciences | Beginning | Day 10 –  Friday March 18th: The Bullion Plaza Cultural Center & Museum–>

 

4 Comments on “Thursday March 17th: Crowded Backroads & Exploding Beer Glasses

  1. Joe in Mesa

    Thanks Dave and Ann for a wonderful (and exciting) evening 😀
    You didn’t tell us you’d stopped at Goldfield Mine! We really like that quaint mining relic …a must see whenever we have company visit us here in AZ.

  2. Joe in Mesa

    …and I’m retired “Army”, Dave. I just spent most of my career working with the Air Force (nicer housing)!

  3. colin

    Glad you survived Fish Creek Hill on Hwy 88! Definitely a scenic, but also hair raising drive!! See you tomorrow, hopefully around 9 or so. I can only stay for a couple of hours as we have another event to attend in the afternoon. Jim Sullivan and I will drive our DJ3As. Have a fun day today. A drive up Hwy 77 towards Showlow will take you to the Salt River Canyon, another scenic drive, but paved!

  4. David Eilers Post author

    Joe: See, that’s what happens when you feed me a few beers for dinner and keep me out late :-). It’s not a recipe for accurate writing, but I’ve corrected that bit of info. I’m such a lightweight anymore. I was lucky to remember we even went to Goldfield.

    Colin: Our goal today is to do as little as possible. Our plans are to wash clothes, play guitar, and switch motels. I look forward to seeing those DJs tomorrow.

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