Thursday, December 08, 2011
WE FOUND THE MICA MINE TODAY
When I peered out this morning and saw a cloudy sunrise I knew I had better climb myself into some warm clothes. It is the sun which brings warmth this time of year in these parts and with no sun I knew the air would be cold.
Crawled into my lined winter pants and threw a flannel shirt over my T-shirt. Over my flannel shirt I put on another flannel shirt with a nylon lining and over top that I wore my lined nylon jacket. Just because I am from Canada doesn’t mean I am an Eskimo and am used to the cold.
My layers of clothing served me well until old Sol spotted me out on our morning walk. Ever so softly he parted a few clouds and deliberately threw down a few of his hottest rays of sunshine directly upon me. I immediately began to heat up and by the time we made it back to the rig the bugger had me roasted up like a hot Tamale. The sound I heard in the sky after that was not jet aircraft this morning, it was old Sol laughing his gas off.
Loaded up the Pheebs and we were on the road by 9 a.m. First stop was just down the road from us where neighbor Rick had told us about a curious circle of cans laid out in the desert. Didn’t take us long to find all the old rusted cans and I thought the circles looked familiar. Had seen a similar configuration of stones at Hickiwan Trails RV Park and I remember the Indians had laid it out. Can’t remember what they called it or what the significance was. But, it did mean something.
KELLY IS RETURNING SOME OF THE WIND BLOWN CANS TO THE CIRCLE
The Jeep was low on gas so we headed into Ajo for a fill up. A quick stop at Olsens Food Mart for a couple breakfast Burritos and we were off to the Visitor’s Center. Picked up some info and headed right back out of town to Darby Wells road, hung a right & headed out into the desert past the Indian Cemetery. We were in search of the old Mica Mine.
Passed by our old campsite from late February of 08 heading southwest into yet another beautiful valley of Saguaros. And, wouldn’t you know it….Hawkeye spotted another crested Saguaro Cactus in it’s early stages of Fasciation. Fasciation?? RVing friend Ed explained this in a comment on our blog today. Ed said, “Fasciation is rare overall, but has been observed in at least a hundred different plant specie. There are even a few that are cultivated especially for their dependably fasciated flower heads, for which they are called "cockscomb".”
We were once again on another road in an area we had never been before. Seems every time one turns a corner out here it is another new adventure and this morning was no exception. Once again, Saguaro’s for as far as the eye could see as we twisted and turned among them on the winding up and down road. I spotted a white section on a hillside about 4 or 5 miles in the distance and immediately suspected that could have something to do with the mine we were looking for. It did.
I SUSPECTED THAT WHITE PATCH UPPER RIGHT OF BEING THE MINE SITE
Minutes later we rolled up to a metal gate across the road. From this point we would be on foot for the mile or so walk into the mine site. Pheebs was in her glory as she barreled out the back of the Jeep and hit the trail a running with her nose to the ground just checking everything out.
The closed road into MICA MINE is a fairly easy walk with no rock scrambling. It leads through some of the finest roadside scenery around with lots of Organ Pipe and Saguaro Cactus plus Cholla and Ocotillo along both sides and hillsides. Took us about 40 minutes of walking before Kelly spotted the house on our forward left.
It wasn’t the type of house I had expected. I could see right away it looked like a 1950’s suburban bungalow and not a stately mine owners two story Georgia mansion. The closer we got to the house the more litter and garbage lay scattered about. An old tire here, a piece of rusted machinery there. And of course, the usual broken glass everywhere. I bunch of old rusted cans dumped over a bank and a plastic bag caught in a tree. The miners are long gone but there is still traffic through the area as evidenced by foot paths leading off in the direction of Mexico.
The deteriorating house is still basically intact and sure enough there was the television in the corner Rick had told us about. The inside of the house was pretty much trashed but we have seen worse in other places. Both Kelly and I find old abandoned buildings interesting and long time readers will remember our hikes and searches in the past for hard to find places like CHARLESTON Arizona.
From the house we spotted an old Chevy truck which I suspect may go back to the early 60’s.
Not far from the truck sat an old weathered bulldozer which I’m sure spent it’s hard life in the service of the mine operation. Probably used in one of it’s duties to keep the rough and rocky road open leading into the mine.
From the old bulldozer it was only a short walk to the mine’s entrance. The Mica Mine has been closed for a number of years and the entrance is sealed with a large slab of concrete. Rusting machinery and weather beaten wood still leave a good idea as to how the Mica was brought out of the mine and trucked away for refining. Like I said, we always find this kind of intriguing stuff very interesting.
A CONCRETE SLAB BLOCKS THE MINE ENTRANCE
All around the area the ground literally sparkled as the reflective bits of aluminum colored Mica lay everywhere. It seemed the hillside was alive with glitz and glitter.
Around both sides of the hill were old roadways where trucks must have hauled loads of Mica down from the top where it was dug out maybe by the bulldozer below. We hiked up and around the north side of the Mica hill to the west side where we had a view of a huge valley stretching to the mountains on the horizon. More roads and trails could be seen weaving their way through the miles of open desert below. Made our way around to the other side of the hill and back down to the mine entrance again.
I am one of those people with an active and inquisitive imagination and it is these kinds of past places and events that really spark my interest. Not hard for me to see the miners coming up the hill and entering the mine. Trucks being loaded Mica from the conveyer chute inside the mine. I can see the mine manager coming out of the house below while his wife is tending to the cactus garden beside the house. The old green Chevy rolls up the road with some mining parts and groceries from Ajo. The puffing yellow bulldozer is busily scraping away at a pile of rocks near the mine entrance as a few miners are having a smoke break near a cement abutment. I can hear the clanking of the bulldozer’s tracks and did I just hear the laughter of children playing around the waterfall fountain in the yard. Did I just hear the mine manager calling to his foreman something about the day’s deadline. And, was that some cussing from a miner over there who had just accidentally backed himself into a Teddy Bear Cholla while trying to connect a couple water pipes. Aw yes, imagination is a wonderful thing and how entertaining to imagine the events and times of days gone by.
OVERLOOKING THE MINE SHAFT BELOW
Pheebs got her left hind paw into a deadly Cholla cactus near the old green Chevy truck so we had to be very careful in getting some hooked Cholla barbs out. Pheebs is really good about letting us help her and only let out with one little yelp. It’s a process of learning for her and she is doing very well.
KELLY HURRIES OVER TO HELP PHEEBS WHO HAS JUST TANGLED WITH THAT PRICKLY CHOLLA PLANT BEHIND HER
We probably explored around the mine location for nearly an hour and then it was time to go. We still had a 40 minute walk back out the gravely road to the Jeep. I’m always a bit sad when I leave places like that because I know it is likely I will never return there again. Some of us folks are just like that I guess.
Always good to get back to the Jeep and take the weight off our feet. We have never been long distance hikers and this two or maybe three mile hike today was just about right for us. I think Pheebs was pretty happy to get back to the Jeep as well because she looked pretty pooped stretched out in the back.
GLAD TO GET BACK TO THE JEEP
We followed another road neighbor Rick told us about until it came to a gate as well. A miles walk beyond that gate are the remains of a small town the Mica Mine’s miner’s lived in years ago. But, that’s another exploration for another day.
We were back to the rig shortly after 3 making our little adventure today a pleasurable 6 hour outing. Motormouse was stretched out on the front seat enjoying the soft ambient music her Dad loves so much. With the unlocking turn of our side door key we were greeted with a happy little barking dog with a happy little wagging tail. Awwww yes, another fine day in the life and times of the Bayfield Bunch:))
Again, I would just like to thank all the readers and commenters who have taken the time and interest to drop in and see what the Bayfield Bunch is up to each day. It is you folks who make my day and my thanks goes out to all of you, whoever you are:))
GROANER’S CORNER:(( A Cowboy walks into a bar, and buys a huge beer. Then he sees someone he knows, and decides to go and say Howdy to them, but he does not want to take his beer mug with him. So he keeps it on a table, along with a note "I spit in this beer" thinking that no one will drink it.
Upon return, he sees another note saying "Me too!"
-Tourists see the world, travelers experience it.
-Until one has loved an Animal, their soul remains un-awakened.
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