Friday, March 29
It’s 8:30 a.m. when the crew and I say goodbye to our campsite on BLM land, Congress, Arizona, in search of a new boondock, thus breaking the No Holiday Travel Rule of Sane Vagabonds.
We stop at a gas station in Wickenburg to have our empty propane tank filled. A damaged gas pump reminds me to be careful driving in tight places.
Uh-oh. Somebody’s Easter weekend got off to a bad start.
Taking Highway 60 southeast out of Wickenburg, we turn east onto Highway 74, a knife-straight two-lane road slicing through picturesque forests of saguaro and cholla. Drivers are pressured, taking risks to pass because I refuse to drive faster than 58 mph when towing. This is no time and place to park on the shoulder to snap photos.
The crew is restless, unable to settle down.
I drive onto some BLM land to allow them a break. Cholla and signs of OHVs are everywhere.
Back in the PTV, Bridget and Spike quickly doze off.
We pass the Hieroglyphic Mountains to the north and Saddleback Mountain (elev. 2372) to the south. A line of Easter week vacationers, pulling campers and boats, pours into the entrance road to Lake Pleasant. Located only 20 miles or so north of Peoria and the urban sprawl of Phoenix, it’s not a place I want to camp on a busy weekend!
So far I’m enjoying the drive.
I take New River Road northeast, a shortcut toward Interstate 17, the highway which lives in infamy on Arizona television news. Oh boy, there it is. This oughtta be fun.
Soon the PTV-BLT is overrun by the frantic exodus of vehicles, zipping past us at speeds upwards to 75 mph or more, and yet maintaining bumper-to-bumper positions. Eee-gaadds! Happy Easter everyone! Enjoy your relaxing holiday!
Somewhere along the way, as the highway pushes through Black Canyon and Black Canyon Mesa, the grade increases dramatically for a long distance and the traffic slows.
A sign suggests turning off the air conditioner.
Uh-oh. Time for second gear. We reach the summit with barely an increase on the temperature gauge. Relieved, I offer up a “Thank you, Jesus,” adding a well-deserved thank you to the victorious PTV. We pass three vehicles on the shoulder, their hoods raised in defeat under the hot Arizona sun.
Everybody resumes hell-bent-for-leather speed.
“I have got to get us off this blasted highway!”
The PTV jumps off at exit 259, scooting into Agua Fria National Monument on Bloody Basin Road. This is a place I discovered online as a possible place to boondock. I stop at a kiosk displaying a map and rules, one of which is a 14-day limit. Camping is free.
I drive pass five campsites, all except two are spaced far apart.
All five are occupied. Although not totally evident in the photo below, the road becomes increasingly difficult. (Online research had informed me the roads at Agua Fria are best driven with 4WD, high clearance vehicles.)
The crew is awake, pestering me to stop and let them out.
I park and the three of us walk up to the crest of a small hill. I realize I don’t want to drive this road any further. Darn! There’s the last campsite and it’s occupied. A man hurries down the hill to his campsite at the base. Well, I guess I might as well introduce myself, given that Spike is already snooping around his truck camper.
Jim is a slim, soft-spoken man with a gentle manner.
He tells me Colorado has been his home all his life until recently.
“How about that 17,” he remarks, referring to the Highway of Madness. We discuss the increase in campers on Easter weekend. He admires the BLT parked on the road below.
All the Bloody Basin Road campsites are filled.
“I could move and let you have my spot,” Jim suggests. I’m amazed by his offer.
“Oh, no, no,” I quickly respond. “You stay where you are, Jim. It’s first come, first camp.”
I walk over to Spike who is lying in the shade of Jim’s truck.
“I can’t call Spike because he’s deaf,” I explain. I tap Spike on the shoulder and motion that we’re going.
Jim and I say goodbye and wish each other well.
I regret that we can’t stay here. I sense that Jim and I are kindred spirits and we would quickly establish a long-lasting bond.
The noonday sun is hot as Bridget, Spike and I walk back to the PTV.
Well, I’m glad to know what this place is like. Maybe I’ll camp here another day. It’s pleasant, the location is handy, and there’s no cholla!
The crew and I leave Agua Fria National Monument, cross the raging interstate, and take a BLM road northwest toward the ghost town of Cordes.
We need to find a good camp for the night.
To be continued . . .
Note: The photos may seem washed out. Even with Picasa’s color saturation editing, the colors remain muted and the hues subtle, which is how this part of the desert looks in reality at noon on a spring day!
I didn’t realize Spike was deaf, we have a deaf boy as well, his name is Radar. We are just now trying off lead walks on trails and it is exciting for him and terrifying for me. 🙂 I’m looking forward to him exploring the desert with his family.
You are an adventurer, i don’t even go shopping on a long weekend.
Spike hasn’t always been deaf. He’s getting old. He can still hear when you talk directly in his ear.
I hope you find a spot soon Sue. 🙂
I did and I’ll be writing about it very soon.
Glad you are off the highway on this weekend. Chuck in NM
Heading towards a ghost town … I hope you find what you want!
Truth be told, I’d rather camp next to ghosts than people!
I am with you Sue. I’ve always said I love animals and only tolerate humans, Ghosts would be ok with me too as long as they didn’t drag chains at night.. I guess I am a semi-recluse.
One summer we drove down crown king road from Prescott….the washboard road took out the tranny close to Lake Pleasant (I have a photo w/my husband holding a bracket of some sort). Luckily another truck came along not long after we broke down and helped us put the tranny back up and we continued our journey. After traveling the dusty AZ road, we power wash the truck’s engine to take off dust and accumulated grime from off-paved-road-travel…saves parts, lines from plugging up. Lots of interesting sites (especially Camp Verde/Cottonwood) between Phoenix & Flagstaff…some hard to get to and others with nice roads. Enjoy your travels as virtually tag along. Can’t wait to see where you made camp 🙂
Ah, the memories made on the road… good and not so good. I’m hesitant to go to Camp Verde/Cottonwood as I don’t like popular and populated areas. I haven’t decided yet where we will go next.
Hi, Sue! Sheila and I are camped on BLM land 4 miles south of Cottonwood. It’s very quiet and beautiful, but the campers are likely a little too close for comfort for you, knowing your penchant for privacy. This is a great location for exploring the area of Sedona and the red rocks. It’s been a joy following your blog!
Yes, that’s a handy place and there’s plenty of level room for the big rigs. Glad you enjoy following my blog . . .
Coulda, woulda, shoulda, In hindsight I bet you think you might have been better off staying where you were camped till the Easter weekend was over, but who knows this next adventure might be the best yet. Be safe.
The time had come to leave, and not just because the 14 days had expired. I can’t explain the feeling I get of knowing it’s time to head up the road. It has something to do with leaving while I’m still loving a place.
Hello Sue, We were Thinking of heading in that direction come Monday, April fools day. I have been checking the weather for the next 2 weeks and down there looks good for the late winter storm that’s coming. We’ve looked at the area by driving down the “Black Canyon Back road #58”. It’s ruff from Cordes to the pavement thru Bumble Bee, We came thru Spring Valley from where we are now at road 680 near Drake, off Hwy 89. We’d rather be in sand than mud and be ’bout 45 miles from Prescott up Hwy 69. There’s a convince store in Spring Valley and the closest gas station is ether at the junction of Hwy’s of 17- 69 or north to Meyer, 10 or so miles. How’s the crew doing? Oh yah, Have A Happy Ester or Passover, He Has Risen , Amen and Thank You Lord for your Gift of Life. Timber sess hi……………………….
Hi Rusty and Timber,
How would you get to back road #58 from Prescott? Back road #57 takes you to #58 but it looks like high altitude and not easy travel. Of course, you probably know better than I do.
I’m going to email you with a suggestion.
Whoops, I ment 59, that darn gummet magnifier glass is all scrach’d up, it’s plastic not glass….We came down 69 to Spring Valley, turned right at the closed Texico and remember’d how to get to the road to Cordes, from there on to Bumble Bee it’s washboarded road, so , we just took our time, lots of campers and dirt bikes n’ Atv’s, got to the pavement be low BB and on to hwy 17 at 248 exit/on ramp and went North to 69 then back up to where we’re at , the 2sd left on 680, tuck’d in Junerfers and buck brush, between Hwy 89 and Old 89, before the train tracks just south of Drake cement plant.
How you two find your way on dirt roads / washboards etc is amazing………meh…..I would be lost in the desert…knocking on someones door for some water.
Three clicks past the cactus with the bent arm…………….make a right turn just after the pile of cow puckies………:)
I know exactly where you are, Rusty, although I’ve never been at that exact spot. Boy, you did a lot of exploring.
WOW what a nice gesture from Jim. Is it against boondocking laws to share a site?
Rat race highway……….don’t you hate it? Good that you aren’t intimidated to drive faster than what is safe. Idiots on the weekend…in a hurry to………..don’t get me started.
Glad you found a spot. Happy Easter!
Ha! No, it isn’t against any law to share a site. I don’t like to camp up close to someone else, especially someone I met ten minutes prior.
Happy Easter to you, too!
Thanks so much for sharing your adventure. I’m retiring in June and have already bought a small TaDa camper just for me and one or two dogs. I’m also a bit of a recluse and I love to hear how well you get along without people. You’re inspiring to me. Thanks, again.
You’re welcome and congratulations on your upcoming retirement! Your TaDa camper is a cutie. I’m sure it will serve you well and be a cozy home on the road.
We recluses have an advantage over the rest of the human race. We can be comfortable and happy all by ourselves, and even more so with a pet or two. The secluded, quiet places that other people see as ordinary are to be enjoyed. Much beauty can be found. You can explore the wonders of this world and the wonderful world within. Best wishes, Peg, and thank you for reading my blog.
Hey,Peg, I have a T@B, baby sis to the T@DA. Would love to see yours. Do you belong to the Yahoo owners’ forum?
either learn to whistle, or with two fingers,or buy a shrill whistle, deaf dogs can hear shrill sounds, my daughter had a deaf Aussie who got lost in the woods across the street from her house. puppy puppy knew her whistle,and followed her scent trail home. Would work for Spike, if he knew he was supposed to respond.A treat reward, perhaps??
That’s a good plan, Carol. I need to remember to pick up a whistle.
Was looking forward to seeing your new campsite. I enjoyed your last slide show. Love when you show pics of the town also. I am writing some of these places down for when my travel time comes. As soon as my Aliner sells I am getting a small lightweight trailer 14 or 15″. Only thing is the tires ar 13 so not sure if some of those BLM roads would be too rough or not. Guess we’ll just wait and see. I won’t be full timing but will try to see lots of places each winter and come back here to the lake for summer. Read all your posts but don’t always comment even though I thoroughly enjoy them all….
Hi to Bridget & Spike
I’ll be showing you our new campsite soon. I’m not much of a townie, but I’ll try to remember to include more of that type of photo.
Your axle may be a bit low on those 13′ tires, but not all BLM roads are rough. There are plenty of places you’ll be able to discover and enjoy. Explore in the summer, the lake in the winter — sounds like a great plan!
I’m glad you enjoy my posts. Thank you for reading them all!
I read the history of Bloody Basin Road on your site. It is my understanding that no one really knows the meaning of the name Arizona or Arizonac. The Olde Spanish Maps had the name of Apacheria for almost all the area of the south west. Arizona probably ment land of little water. I read somewhere long ago that the name Apache was a Zuni word for enemy. The Spaniards asked the Zuni who these guys were that kept giving them a hard time. The Zuni told them in their own language that they were the Apache…or enemy of my people. Maybe a Zuni or Apache Indian will write in and tell us more?
Since I’ve been retired, I’d forgotten the hassle and hustle the ‘still working’ folks must do to attempt a weekend away. I was quickly reminded when I put my kayak into the Peace River on Saturday and within 20 minutes was swamped by the second airboat before I could get positioned to endure their wake. I gave in to them and re-launched in more shallow water upstream. Glad I wasn’t driving on the road like you were.