Gusting winds came in the night & early morning scattered outside lawn chairs, mats, some yard decorations along with a few empty plastic flower pots which are probably somewhere down in Maricopa County now. Kelly had trouble sleeping as the wind howled around corners through eaves & rattled old windows. I woke up several times thinking I had an Owl mournfully hooting somewhere in my room. It was just the wind.
Despite the wind’s best efforts to trounce me out of bed I did get a reasonably good night’s sleep & felt rested today. Good thing because I had work to do. I trimmed my 277 photos down to 235 on the first sweep this morning & further edited them down to a final 192. I will spread some of those photos out over the next few days. So on with my Friday post & the great Jeeping day we all had…………..
We had all agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Dollar Store in Congress at the highway intersections of # 89 & 71. We left the house at 9:15 driving the short mile to our rendezvous point. As we rolled up to the stop sign at # 89 three familiar looking in line Jeeps approached from the south, turned right off the highway & into the local gas bar. Yep, it was our Jeeping cohorts alright & we all ended up at the pumps gassing our Jeeps at the same time.
MIKE & JANA AT LEFT WITH JIM & SIMON AT THE FAR PUMPS
<<< JIM & MIKE DISCUSS SOME TRAVEL PLANS
Some quick cajoling back & forth between the pumps & we were on our way by 9:30. Jim & Bev were the lead Trail Boss’s for the day as they headed north on # 89 in their beefy modified black 2 dr Jeep Wrangler. Canadians from Ottawa Simon & Sandra followed in their stock 03 silver 2 dr Jeep. A Wrangler as well. Montana Ranchers JANNA & MIKE slid into the number 3 slot hustling along in their bright yellow 01 stock 2 dr Jeep making it the 3rd Wrangler. (Janna’s blog post for the Jeep trip is HERE) Kelly, Pheebs, & I brought up the rear tail gunner’s position in our own little 2 dr Wrangler. I wanted to be at the rear so I could grab a bunch of photos of the Jeeps ahead along the trail throughout the day.
Within minutes we were all climbing the Yarnell Hill where I took half a dozen photos with my Auto Focus mistakenly on manual. Scrap my half dozen Yarnell Hill photos!! Luckily I caught my mistake just after turning off the highway onto Wagoner Road. This is the road we would take pretty well all the way to our destination of an old once prosperous mining town called CROWN KING located somewhere high up in the Bradshaw Mountains.
Jim & Bev, outdoor adventurists in the lead Jeep have spent a lot of time in this area of Arizona’s Yavapai County. One of Jim’s hobbies is gold prospecting so he has been over many of these roads several time. But not all of them so he was relying not only on past memory but his GPS system as well. Jim had pre-planned the journey & the rest of us just trustingly followed. He did not lead us astray although I suspect there was a little head scratching now & again as we slowed up a few times when the dusty road forked in a few places.
We were so fortunate to have us an amazingly beautiful weather perfect day. The rolling landscape came alive under Arizona’s morning sun as we rolled easily along Wagoner Road sometimes on pavement at first & most times on good old hard packed Yavapai County dirt. The scenery passing our window was soothingly mellow giving one a fine sense of relaxation & contentedness.
We were surprised at the high end Ranches we were seeing. Elaborate gates & fencing. These were just not your usual run of the mill back road Ranches. The fencing alone probably cost more than all our Jeeps combined. And large ponds of water with fountains. The Revlon Cosmetics people have one of these places. It is always amazing what one finds on these back roads once one gets off the usual traveled thoroughfares.
Our first stop was at the historical Hassayampa Bridge. We knew we were getting close to a river when we could see the long line of lime green tall swaggering Cottonwood trees along a river bank ahead & off to our left. Into a copse of trees & around a bend in the road to the left we were onto an overhead steel bridge & across the green but mainly dry river below. Stopped & disembarked our Jeeps. Always feels good to get out for a leg stretch. Emmi & Pheebs were raring to rip too.
HEY, WHO’S GONNA CARRY ME ACROSS THIS CATTLE GUARD!!
I SAID, HEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYY WHO’S GONNA CARRY ME ACROSS THIS CATTLE GUARD!!!!!!!!!!!
A walk back onto the bridge as well as a small gravel road running down along the bank to the river. Several narrow streams of water made their way along the embankment. Always so nice to see water in Arizona’s dry dustiness.
Twenty minutes later we were all piled back onto/into our noble Steeds & off we went. Let me say at this point that all the roads we traveled today were in good shape. Well as good as one can expect for a trail winding it’s way through hard packed clay & sand as well as a few rocky stretches. We never did hit any dicey spots that required anything special out of either Jeep or driver. Any high clearance vehicle could do this drive. Our 03 Hyundai Santa Fe would have done just fine.
EVEN MIGHTY WATER HAZARDS WERE PASSABLE:))
KELLY FIELDS A DEER PARK LODGE RESERVATION QUESTION FROM A FAR AWAY CALLER
It sure was a good thing we had our sunglasses along. We even had to put a pair on Pheebs. Yes the sun was bright alright but following Janna & Mikes sparkling yellow Jeep all day sure had our eyes squinting overtime.
PHOTO OF EMMI OUT THE WINDOW WAS A TRICKY 300mm TELEPHOTO SHOT FROM A BOUNCING JEEP…NOTE: ABOUT 80% OF TODAY’S PHOTOS WERE TAKEN FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT
Think it might have been somewhere along about late morning when the Jeeps ahead all pulled off the road to the right into a flat spot with a large circled stone campfire ring. Another leg stretch or lunch?? Ahhhh, lunch:)) Well now here was a surprise for us. Kelly & I are just tailgate grubbers when it comes to stopping for a bite to eat. A sack of sandwiches gets tossed up in the Jeep’s hood with a bottle or two of water & juice. First thing I see coming out of Simon’s jeep is a table. What??
ARE THESE GUYS STILL TALKING TRAVEL PLANS
Then here came some chairs out of Bev & Jim’s Jeep, a table cloth along with some bottles of wine, Simon’s salad, Bev’s yummy cookies. Saw Jim juggling a peanut butter & jam sandwich. I fully expected to see a Maitre’de step out of the bushes.
HERE WE ARE IN THE CHEAP SEATS:))
Mike, Jim, & Simon quickly gathered up some nearby firewood slabs & made some chairs for those of us who didn’t have any chairs. That would be Kelly & I, Pheebs, Janna, Mike, & Emmi. Well of course these folks were just doing things up right & yes it would have been nice to have a real chair to sit in but with Pheebs in the back of our Jeep we have no room for those kinds of comfort. We did have our own lunch along though. Egg salad sandwiches:))
EITHER SIMON IS DESPERATELY NEEDING A WASHROOM BREAK OR HE’S TRYING TO OPEN A BOTTLE OF WINE:))
It was fun to watch the interactions of Emmi & Pheebs. They just simply ignored each other. Each one had their own sniffs to attend to & just pretended the other sniffer just didn’t exist. Only time they came together was while Mike was petting Emmi & Pheebs walked over wanting some of the same action as well. Emmi had a few quiet words with Pheebs about, ‘this is my Dad so bug off’.
Lunches eaten, beverages drank, pit stops attended too & we were all back on the dust covered sometimes bumpy trail following that big black Boss Hog Jeep out in front. Our topography continued to gradually change as we began gaining altitude into the Bradshaw Mountains. Desert scrub gave way to taller shrubbery & small Juniper trees. It seems Prickly Pear cactus is mostly always present everywhere one goes in the South-West. This is truly magnificent Cowboy country here in these parts. And to think the area we were traveling through was only a grain of sand in this vast complex of natural wonders here in the West. And an even smaller grain of sand if one compares it to the rest of Mother Natures wonderments on this Planet. I again remarked to Kelly how we are sooooo truly fortunate to be here in this land seeing & doing the things we so much enjoy seeing & doing. We know of friends at the moment stuck at home in Winter’s icy grip going through difficult medical times. And other friends nearby unable to have these kinds of great days anymore.
As we climbed higher & higher into the Bradshaw Mountains the trees became larger & larger. We were soon winding our way through forests of tall Ponderosa Pines.
This is one of the greatest things about the South-West we have so much enjoyed over the years. As one gains altitude from the desert floor it is truly amazing how plant life changes. In short order one can go from dusty dry desert scrub to magnificent towering green forests alive with animals, birds, & water. Early in the morning we were in short sleeves with windows down. By mid afternoon high in the mountains we had warm shirts, sweaters, & jackets, back on & windows up. No A/C or heater extremes today but we were close at both ends.
A FEW STOPS ALONG THE WAY FOR LEG STRETCHES & A BIT OF BAFFLEGAB
Just about the time we figured we would never ever see civilization again a few old wood buildings began to appear off to our left through the trees. Some distant, some close to the road. Could this at last be our elusive Crown King Shangri-la? We had been on the dusty trail for well over 6 hours. Although our trusty 4 wheel Steeds were not needing a break, we were. And so it was as we rolled across a small single lane bridge & plopped ourselves down into the heart of this gentle old mining town. Well not much of a town to speak of but no matter, it was a place to stretch our weary legs & have us a look around at the way life used to be in these kinds of places a century ago & in some ways still is.
Still actively going are the Crown King Saloon & General Store. Both original buildings were once the hub of this bustling silver & gold rough & tumble old west mining town. The railroad even reached here. They still have a school with an enrollment of 4. A prospector’s building stands near the rear of the Saloon. The main street is on a grade with water seeping up & running along down to a dry creek under the one vehicle bridge. Saw some locals coming & going as we sauntered ourselves around a bit.
NO BARGAINS ON THE GAS IN CROWN KING
The ladies had themselves some shopping going on in the General Store. Mike stayed outside with Emmi. He wasn’t about to get any of that shopping stuff on him. I went in to grab a few photos. Lady behind the counter noticed I was admiring the fine display of Fudge they had. Asked me if I would like a sample but I quickly declined. Declining free Fudge….What!! I knew if I accepted a free piece of fudge I would be too cheap to buy any & of course knowing me as well as I do I knew I would walk out of that store feeling guilty about that for the next 10 years. After making up some flimsy excuse why I couldn’t eat fudge I quickly removed myself from the store.
A LITTLE BROWSING GOING ON HERE IN THE CROWN KING GENERAL STORE
I REMEMBER OLD MAIL BOXES LIKE THAT IN MY HOME TOWN OF TAVISTOCK ONTARIO
EMMI & MIKE WAIT OUTSIDE AS JANNA HAS A LOOK AROUND INSIDE
The day was quickly wearing on & we knew we still had an hour & a half’s drive to reach Prescott to the north. Some of the gang were feeling a little hungry while others mentioned doing a little shopping in Prescott. Kelly & I weren’t really hungry because we had been munching snacks along the trail. A few eating places in Prescott were mentioned but by the time we all climbed back into our Jeeps nothing had been decided. Texas Road House, Chile’s, Five Guys Burgers?? We just agreed to continue our convoy back to Prescott & see where things went from there.
WHO SAID WE WERE LOST
HEADING FOR THE JEEPS & DECIDING WHERE IN PRESCOTT TO EAT
The road leading North-East out of Crown King down the side of the Bradshaw Mountains was gravel & in pretty good shape. It descended through hills & valleys in a series of switch backs & hair pin curves. No problem though as Jim had set a relaxing leisurely pace right from the beginning.
HEADING OUT OF CROWN KIND & DOWN THE MOUNTAIN TO THE PRESCOTT VALLEY FAR BELOW
Great sweeping views out over the Prescott Valley as the sun inched ever closer to the horizon. By this point we knew it was probably going to be dark by the time we arrived back in Congress. We passed through a couple little ramshackle settlements along the way that I am sure were prominent players back in their day. In fact by the looks of them I’m betting they still may play a boisterous role some Saturday nights with the locals in the area. Aw yes, the good old wild West is still very much alive ……& I like to that.
We knew we were somewhere south of Prescott but it wasn’t until we finally rolled out of the desert & climbed onto the smooth newly paved 4 lane # 69 highway that we kinda figured out for sure where we were. We were still following our friends in the Black, the Silver, & Yellow Jeeps just as we had since earlier in the morning.
Traffic began thickening up as Prescott loomed closer. We recognized a few more things along the way then for sure knew where we were. And because of our recent Sedona trip we knew we were close to the bi-pass that swings north around Prescott & links up with Iron Springs road & home. Now the questions for us were, are we hungry, do we want to get ourselves tangled up further with Prescott’s late Friday afternoon traffic or do we just want to head ourselves on home?? Well it was 2 ‘no’s’ & a ‘yes’. Jim & Bev were up ahead in the left lane with Janna & Mike behind them a few cars back in the same lane. No idea where Simon & Sandra were. Last we saw they were ahead of us somewhere a ways back. A red traffic light slowed both lanes ahead as Kelly & I swung into the right hand turning lane rolling right up beside Janna & Mike. A last wave as I heaved the steering wheel right & we headed off onto the bi-pass. We were out of the rush:))
Problem we had now was not that bright yellow Jeep in front of us it was the setting sun itself as it slowly made it’s way to the horizon & irritatingly sat itself right on the Pioneer Parkway in front of us. I have a broken sun visor so it was drive with one hand on the wheel while extending the other hand in defense of the piercing sun.
I was so thankful traffic was light. Almost non-existent on the bi-pass which totally surprised me. By the time we reached the western end of the Parkway & swung onto Iron Springs road old Sol was mercifully slipping himself down behind the Date Creek Mountains ahead.
With visibility much improved we enjoyed the last hour of our scenic winding road drive through Skull Valley, Peeples Valley & Yarnell. The glowing red sunset finally gave way to evenings darkness & what a treat to see the lights of Yarnell as we slowly cruised through the sleepy little Villa. And another treat as we made our way down the Yarnell Hill all the while carefully gazing out at the lights of Wickenburg on the horizon & twinkling little Congress below. Hard to imagine we actually had us a wee house down there somewhere in those sparse lights stretching along the desert floor at the foot of the Weaver Mountains.
It was 7:15 when we rolled in through our gates & boy were we glad to be home. It had been a 167 mile trip. (got that mileage off Janna’s post) We wondered where the others were. Prescott shopping still, maybe just finishing up supper somewhere?? We were just glad we were home & it wasn’t until we were in & settled for a bit till we both realized how truly tired we were. There was no way I could begin to write a post about our day or edit a bunch of photos. A little ‘Family Guy’ on television & it was off to bed. The end of another mighty fine day here in the land we love so much. We again saw things we had never seen, travelled roads we had never travelled & deepened memories with friends we had once never knew. We are oh soooooooo fortunate…………………….
GROANER’S CORNER:(( If blind people wear dark glasses, why don't deaf people wear earmuffs?