Monday, February 8, 2016

The Old Plank Road

Although they may look like it, these photos were not taken in the Sahara Desert. We were skirting the Mexico/U.S. border on our way to Yuma, Arizona. This 40 mile stretch of paradise is called either the Imperial Sand Dunes, or Los Algodones Sand Dunes. As if that isn't harsh enough, they are sitting in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. I'm not complaining though. After all, we have nice roads to get us through here.

 Like this one...

Even with the wind blowing sand hard enough to take your paint off. I'm still not complaining. We could be driving on...


Oh yes, now that road would be some smooth driving... NOT! 

Although there was a crummy road going through the desert, until 1914 there wasn't any way to get through these dunes. That is the year a seven mile wooden plank road was laid out across the worst of the dunes. It was a constant battle to keep it from being buried by the shifting sands. The road was used until 1927, when it was replaced by a paved road. Imagine just you and your Model T Ford crawling your way across the desert. Oh yeah, it's about 112 degrees, and you don't have air conditioning.  Now that would be an adventure!   NOT! People really were made of tougher stuff back then. 

Unfortunately, this is the last surviving bit of the old plank road. 


Monday, February 1, 2016

Sears Point Archaeological District - Arizona

Sears Point is one of the major archaeological sites in the United States. There are thousands of petroglyphs, as well as geoglyphs, rock circles, grinding areas, ancient trails and rock alignments. This post doesn't come anywhere near doing the site justice. I hate to say that, but we had to make it a short visit because of the weather.

The site is located at the convergence of several washes and becomes almost impossible to get into, or out of. I had enough stuff in our Jeep that would allow us to be stranded there for a day or two, but our diabetic cat back at the RV, would be needing an injection that night. So we were also prepared to hike out (really didn't want to do that). So few people go this spot, that we weren't expecting any help to come along either. We hadn't been there very long when we saw storm clouds coming towards us. That was our cue to leave.

The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) advises visitors to not even try to get to Sears Point during of after periods of rain. It had already been raining on and off for two days and it was expected again on the day after we were there. As you can see in this photo, the forecast was correct (and we went anyway).

Off the highway and onto a maintained dirt road for about 12 miles. Looks like it's clearing up! 

Then we hit the "un-maintained" dirt road and had to battle this for the next several miles. Even with FWD it was very difficult and we almost got stuck several times. It's worse that it looks. The salt content of the dirt in this area is extreme and it makes the mud very slick and stick like glue. Unfortunately, there were very few spots (like this one) to go around the mud.

 You can see what I mean about that salty mud. It made our tires act is if they were totally bald.

Enlarge this photo please
One of MANY fantastic groupings of petroglyphs. This area has been a major "thoroughfare" and meeting place for thousands of years. If you enlarge the photo, you can clearly see where symbols have been made over older symbols.

What follow are a few of the images we saw.

My wife is standing on top of a lava mesa very much like the one in the background. The petroglyphs are along the base and sides them.

Please enlarge this photo!
Looking in this direction, there are a few items that are every bit as interesting and important as the petroglyphs. If you enlarge the photo you will see a rock circle just above center. Next to the circle is an ancient trail, areas cleared of rocks, and some rock alignments. The circle might be some type of a trail shrine (just a guess, based on how close it is to the trail).

 A cleared circle on top of a butte

 Another (of many) ancient trails

One of many rock circles in the area

We will return to this great site as soon as we can!

I would be remiss if I didn't advise you NOT go to this place, unless you have FWD, are prepared to be stuck there for a while, and the ability to hike out. Although it is a "public" site, it is rarely visited and therefore still fairly pristine.  The summer is brutally hot here, the winters can get very cold, and the other seasons can be very cold at night. If possible travel with another vehicle. If you do go, please leave everything as you found it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Black and White - group 9

 Kyoto, Japan

 Anza Borrego SP

Point Loma
San Diego, California

Las Vegas, Nevada 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chloride Arizona Ghost Town - Back Streets

In my last post, I was ranting against some of the "cheesy" things that are presented in some ghost towns. In truth, the places that hold staged "gun fights" are really not quite ghost towns yet. There are people still living and working in these places. I also said that my next article would be related to what I love about them. If you get off the main street, you will see that they are very much alive. Alive, with history, interesting people that are only found in the desert, and an amazing mix of creativity and art.  Chloride is one of these towns.

The Back Streets of Chloride Arizona

Bowling balls

Industrial whimsy


Not necessarily historical, but I love the old RV. 

Cowboy boots as yard art

Many of the homes on these streets have some kind of display, either along the road, or in their yard

At first glance, it may just look like a bunch of rocks and junk. Upon closer examination, there are some really cool items and displays in there. A cross between folk and yard art.

This house has some bottle trees. Some bottles were old and some were a bit newer. 

Certainly not art, but pretty odd that these two boats were just sitting there. This is pure high desert and there is no place in the area to use them.


Motorcycle parts

More stuff

New house and sculpture

Some folks might not like this stuff at all. To me, it is quirky, whimsical, and very creative. There is a lot more, but I wanted to keep this post reasonably short.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Chloride AZ Ghost Town

Chloride used to be a silver mining camp in the state of Arizona. It is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in the state. Valuable minerals were first discovered here in the early 1840's. The town was founded in 1863, but mining did not really take off until they found a way to cheat the local Hualapai Indians out of their land. The town then prospered and became the county seat. By the mid 1940's it was considered a ghost town (or close to it). Today, there are still a couple hundred people living in the area. 

Allegedly, some of these buildings date back to the early days of Chloride and some were moved here from somewhere else. To me, it looks like most were built on this site from old wood. 
Allow me to rant for a bit...
Don't get me wrong now, I love history and I certainly love ghost towns. However, I'm not terribly fond of mining camps and/or ghost towns that are created, or allowed to exist primarily for tourists. An example: This little western "cul-de-sac" is not here for historical significance, it's here for theater. During the tourist season, mock gun fights are staged every Saturday at noon. That is so darn cheesy! Most of the folks who are interested in this, don't even see the back streets of the town. Many of the buildings on the actual main street of town, although newer, are much more historical and real, than this "contrived" history side show. The best parts of Chloride are either outside of town, or on the back streets. 

 Can you imagine two gunslingers pacing towards each other ready to shoot it out? Yuck!

Below are two photos from the early 1900's (thanks to Wikipedia)

 Some of those same buildings today

 Another (there are plenty more)

The next few don't really have any historical significance, but the scenes really appealed to me and I snapped them.

The next post will be about the part of Chloride that I loved...