Month: July 2017

The Wanderers and Future Tycooons

The Wanderers and Future Tycooons

The past couple of weeks have been challenging. No vacation time this time around, but we did do a drive into the mountains last week on my day off.

Yes, Arizona DOES have lakes. Several of them, in fact. Most, including Sauguaro Lake (shown here) are artificial, created through a series of flood control dams on the Salt River. This used to be a huge swim party on the weekends, with virtually everyone from Phoenix migrating to the lakes. Now, thanks to spiraling access fees, the crowds have thinned substantially.

Click on the smaller image to see a larger view. This is the back of the Superstition Mountains, the part you don’t see on postcards and their ilk. What’s tough to see from any photo is how rough the landscape is. Sitting all the way at the top it looks like there are skyscrapers in clusters. In fact, it’s clusters of vertical stone buttes atop larger almost-vertical stone buttes.
This cluster of buildings is Tortilla Flats, a tourist spot between the lakes. Please notice the hanging man over the front door. Out west, we take gallows humor literally.Nearly as I could tell, there are two restaurants and one general store. Along the front porch are such novelties as a real wooden Indian (oxymoron much?) and one of the old automaton carnival fortune tellers in a glass box.


This little, erm, lady is part of the decor in the Tortilla Flats ladies’ room. I imagine comparable artwork embellishes the facilities for gents, though since hubby didn’t visit I can’t swear to it. I tried to take a photo of the hallway just beyond the white door, where ceiling and walls are papered with real dollar bills. Sadly, that photo didn’t turn out well enough to post.

This blackened mesquite skeleton marks where one of dozens of wildfires ate through acres, before the rainy season kicked in. We were sort of lucky this year – there were no half-million-acre fires kicked off, though one of the fires took out several homes in the tiny town of Dudleyville.
Dirt Road
We went rockhounding up in the mountains near Payson and this well-maintained dirt road welcomed us. Despite recent rains, there were no muddy spots preventing access.Sadly, our trip passed a somber sight along the way: further down the hill, searchers still had the streambeds ribboned off. They were trying to recover the body of a man whose entire family was taken out in a flash flood. I believe he was the 10th known victim. They were bracing to potentially find more, as they estimated as many as 100 people were at the popular swimming spot when a flash flood washed through.


I know this isn’t the sharpest photo. It was blown up to show the ranger station at the top of Diamond Point. This is a fire lookout and these men and women have a tough job. It’s a long drive up dirt roads, into an area where bears, rattlesnakes, and mountain lions call home.

Okay, this one’s pure whimsy, because it gave me a huge smile to discover real, actual oak trees in this part of the world. Arizona has a native oak species called Live Oak. It’s more shrub than tree, has tiny compound leaves, and itty bitty acorns. I didn’t realize the real McCoy lived up in the higher elevations until we were up there last week.

My captions were being snarky. Hopefully they all convey when I push the publish button.

Our travels have focused largely on rockhounding lately, and we’ve found some intriguing goodies. We picked up a fairly large nodule of turquoise last week. With turquoise going for $$ per gram, it’s a pretty piece to discover. We also found several geodes and various other unidentified species, though pretty sure I know what some of them are. G found one ginormous chunk o’ rock with huge crystal formations. Haven’t yet figured out what kind of crystals they are, because I haven’t had a chance to examine them. I know we have quartz up the wazoo, particularly in that part of the world. But we also have a number of other native stones, including several which are known to exhibit crystalline properties. We’ve found garnet clusters, for example, and wulfenite, etc. I’d need to do more research on these – look at crystal behavior, hardness, fluorescence, etc.

G bought his metal detector a couple of weeks ago, then bought a second one at a yard sale for $3 last weekend. (Considering they cost around $100 and up new for a fairly decent one, he practically stole it.) Go figure. He also bought a rock tumbler, so a few of our discoveries are in the early stages of becoming polished beauties. It’ll be interesting to see how they turn out.

Meanwhile I’m looking at other business options. My work situation is at best volatile. You sure can’t count on anything. I was approached about teaching, which I’d love, but I’m not egging those chickens yet. I started looking at franchises, with a friend pegged if we need someone to answer the phones. So far all the “franchises” under $20,000 have been pyramid schemes. Umm… how about no?

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

Lotsa photos ahead.

We did the first leg of our photo-centric road trip Tuesday, heading south toward Tucson. Stopped short of the big city, hitting all the tiny outposts along and off the highway. I knew some of these towns existed, but hadn’t ever been there. Keep in mind we went hunting for old and crumbling edifices, and not all the homes we saw were as bad as the ones I’m posting. Many of these places nonetheless qualify as “ghost towns”, because  they grew to bursting around mines, then the mines ran out and so did the neighborhood.

Our road trip was in honor of G’s birthday, which is today. The featured cake picture is also from today.

Click on the smaller photos below to see them embiggened.

This boarded-up house sits in a place called Winkelman. Its downfall was a one-two punch: the mines ran out, and their tax dollars left with them. Unfortunately the little community had just voted in a huge school bond, saddling this type of home with thousands of dollars of property tax, far out of proportion for what it should have been.

Thia little row of cabins was too perfect not to  photograph. They’re situated in Oracle, Arizona, just a smidge north of Tucson.

Not everything in these little communities were in ruin. This barber shop was neat as a pin. Contrary to what you might think, the roads are paved, though they’re certainly nothing fancy.

This building collapsed, its roof unable to hold its weight any longer.

This is the inside of the abandoned service station. The outside  of the building is several photos down.

When we stopped at the Tom Mix monument, we were struck by the enormity of the crows Those birds are HUGE.

Stucco failed after decades of neglect

This used to be the local equivalent of DQ. Now it’s dry milk – and everything else.

The reverse of the Dairy Fresh sign.

Most of our trip was open desert like this – except power lines. At no point did we hit a point where there were no power lines in view.

This empty edifice was also in Winkelman.

Late as it is in the summer, we were surprised to see fruit still clinging to cactus. Usually some critter or another would have feasted on it by now.

Different type of cactus, but still more fruit. And yes, most cactus fruit is safe for human consumption. You can buy cactus jelly and cactus candy at several little stores statewide.

This old stone garage actually houses an equally dilapidated Toyota pickup. I simply couldn’t put all 200+ photos on the blog page!

We went from patches of all brown, to sections like this where greenery prevailed. There were a few plants still in bloom, after 120 degree weather a couple of weeks back.

As the sign says, this chopped-off trestle marks the entry to the town of Hayden. It was getting late enough in the day we didn’t have time to drive into  Hayden, unfortunately.  That’s an adventure for another day.

Desert wildlife? Well… not technically wild. G tried to pet this gorgeous creature, but the horse wasn’t having it.

An altogether different critter here. This  man-sized kachina sits outside an antiques and collectibles store in Oracle. He’s one of hundreds of amazing and kitschy outer ornaments on site.

There were several places in town where old mining equipment was on display. This little tractor was in front of a business.

This is a tiny part of the Ray copper mine. The tailings from this massive open-pit operation stretch miles.  The hillsides look like patchwork quilts, with sections of different colors throughout. This photo was taken at a visitor outlook, showing just one small section of the mine.

This monument commemorates Tom Mix. He died here in the 1940’s. His car was caught in a flash flood.

This is adjacent to the Ray mine. It shows the state of the landscape before mining stripped everything away.

Not far from the Tom Mix monument. I’d been all over the state before, but hadn’t ever driven this particular stretch of road until this week.

Another view of the mine. Hard to capture the scope. It’s gigantic.

This little cowboy teapot was inside the antiques place at Oracle. (Yes, I know the pictures are all disorganized. So sue me, lol.)

Not falling down, but definitely bright yellow with purple trim. You can’t ignore bright yellow with purple trim.

Not just the houses were abandoned to the elements.

This is the sign outside the abandoned gas station. This spot is near Florence, Arizona, at the earliest leg of our journey.

Inside the antiques and collectibles store. Anybody want a ginormous metal spider? Est. 36″ across, give or take.

These two smokestacks rise above the landscape. Can’t recall their exact location -maybe Mammoth, AZ?

And I’m finally getting around to showing you the gas station I’ve been talking about in other photos. The door was collapsed to one bay, leaving the building open to the elements.

And more outside the antiques and collectibles place in Oracle. Love the welded skeletons and other “people” statues scattered over the property. Big skeleton,  in this case!

Another view of the kachina man and his surroundings. I think he’s the sentry for his corner.

Not sure where we saw this old tractor. I think it may also have been in Oracle, but not sure it was at the antiques and collectibles site. There was an old mining vehicle nearly everywhere you looked in that little town!

One last shot from the exterior of the antiques and collectibles spot. Most of this stuff is for sale, if you’re in the market for kitschy antique-ish goodies.

I believe this brilliant orange tow truck still operates. It certainly brightens up its corner in Dudleyville!

Do you remember the abbreviated train trestle at the Hayden sign, above? This is its other half, across the street.

Love that the green paint on this wagon has survived the Arizona sun, for who knows how many years.

In other news, the job interview was kind of a bust. I drove the 30+ miles this morning, only to get a call saying the interview was rescheduled to 3:30. I started back, only to get ANOTHER call saying no, now it was 12:30. Then when I arrived and signed in with the security guard (who took my photo for a badge, one he put my name on). A few minutes later a woman came on to ask if I was there. The guard said no. Luckily I overheard and corrected him.

The interviewer had NONE of my information, had the personality of a cardboard donut, and about the same attention span. I won’t rule out a job altogether, but not holding my breath. This was someone clearly not prepared and who just as clearly didn’t want to be there. For this I’d been rescheduled not once but TWICE in the same day?? I emailed the temp agency recruiter and told him as much, for what it’s worth, and asked him if he had any other openings for me, because I felt like this company didn’t have it together at all.

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