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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?


  1. Dangerspouse Dangerspouse July 28, 2017

    Wow, you go budding rock head! That is too cool. I’ve gotta say, I absolutely love my metal detector. I can see why the hubby is enthused.

    I love the pictures. The “little, erm, lady” of course, but also the nature ones. For some reason I especially like the Superstition Mountain posterior shot. That’s very dramatic.

    Thanks for the education! And I certainly hope a real, stable, and enjoyable job pans out for you. Sheesh. Like life isn’t hard enough….

    • leilani leilani Post author | August 2, 2017

      I don’t hate my current job, though making more money is pretty high on my priorities. The primary issue is not working a 9-to-5 (even if it’s actually 4-to-12:30) for the rest of my life. I can’t count on Social Security and my 401K is laughable. (All those years in small town radio, with small-town radio pay, don’t let you sock away much. And what I make now is pretty comparable to what small-town radio pays.)

      I’ve been a rockhound since I was old enough to drag rocks into my house as a kid. But not just rocks; I’ve got a thing for geology in general. When I was in college I took a geology course which, after the fact, I learned was “one of the hardest courses you can take in any department.” I personally thought it was awesome, but not hard. Then again, from the time I was in first grade or so, I started devouring geology books like some kids scouted comic books (or in your case, Dangerspouse, Playboy and Hustler.)

      Hubby’s looking to get a DSLR camera soon. I have an actual camera – a little Nikon point and shoot – but to be honest, I take substantially better shots with my phone. Plus my phone has a lot of fancy settings I’m still learning to use.

      • Dangerspouse Dangerspouse August 2, 2017

        Playboy and Hustler aren’t geology books?? What about all those natural features? The dramatic topography? The sparkly mineral adornments? ALL THAT SILICONE!
        Lol….Big Town Radio pay isn’t much better than Small Town Radio pay these days, alas. Thanks, deregulation. If we ever meet we can cry over a couple of beers about that….

        • leilani leilani Post author | August 2, 2017

          Well look at it this way. The equity for your house on the eastern side of the world would sell for enough to buy half the state of Michigan. Then you’d own… half the state of Michigan. For what it’s worth.

          I’m trying to to find out how to break into cannabis oil (no, really. Talking to someone about it now.) It’s a hot property, it’s (maybe) legal all fifty states, and I think I have enough cash to get going. Not sinking any cash into it until I find out more, though. One of the CbO places I talked with was a pyramid scheme. Floored me somebody already went there, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There’s a sucker born every minute.

          There are also, as I’m discovering, several versions of CbD. Some legal everywhere, some more restricted. Still checking to see how much validity there is, and still looking at other business options.

  2. Joyce Joyce July 28, 2017

    Love the pics. For some reason the police cars at the tourist town made me giggle. No horses and water trough just a few cop cars while the hanging victim hangs around. I can ship you tons of acorns to start your own little oak forest – looks like you discovered some red oak and I can supply both red and white oak acorns. Good luck in the job/enterprise pursuit

    • leilani leilani Post author | August 2, 2017

      I’d love the acorns! I don’t know if they’d grow here in the desert, no matter how much water they got. The heat burns most temperate trees up and turns them to stumps before they ever have a shot. It might survive in the shade of something native, though, who knows?

      Now that we have reliable transportation, hubby and I are planning to do more photo-taking excursions, but I think it’ll have to wait until this fall/winter, after the temperatures come down. The car’s awesome, but it’s still miserable stepping out into 110º.

  3. Terri Tinkel Terri Tinkel July 29, 2017

    Loved the bathroom decor. And congratulations on the rock finds…Hope things start to come together for the two of you very soon.

    • leilani leilani Post author | August 2, 2017

      Thanks, Terri. We’re having fun with the rock finds, and once it cools down enough I hope to scope the region with the metal detectors, too. It’s a lot of fun and virtually a “free” hobby.

      Things are gradually coming together. Hubby has an idea we might try. I’ll post here depending on how it turns out.

  4. Hil Hil August 2, 2017

    So cool to see where you are. We are living nearly under water with the daily deluges and the steamy air, so it is refreshing to glimpse into the desert. Work…ugh. You will figure it out, though, probably to be be even better than the current situation. I am not as good at comments as you are! But I’m here. 🙂

    • leilani leilani Post author | August 2, 2017

      All comments are welcome, Hil. I’m a writer so I’m always yapping, LOL.

      This is our miserable time of year. I’m hoping next spring to capture some shots where the hills are covered with wildflowers, probably around February-ish or so. That’s when you really appreciate this part of the world.

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