Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mogollon Rim loop

The rogaine was located just west of Heber, at a wonderful elevation of somewhere around 7000 ft. I enjoyed the cool air for a couple days.

Scott and his camping cup in the piney woods:

After the race, we drove east along 260 through Show Low - a pleasant drive which we found out later took us through a large field of old volcano cones. Some of the cones on the horizon, as viewed from the town of Eagar:

Every once in a while we see this kind of setup and we just really can't believe it (there's even a dog tied to the boat, but I expect that hookup was only there when stationary):

From there we went south on the Coronado Trail (Rte 191), a beautiful drive through pine forests and eventually dropping off the Rim back to the desert. But before we got to that part, we stopped at a free campsite (with water and pit toilets - the best National Forest free site we have found to date) at Hannagan Meadow. Not only that, but we got lucky with some free entertainment at the lodge restaurant. We met Chaz who played guitar and sang some great songs. First we stayed for coffee and then went back for dinner - too enjoyable to pass up!

The next morning we continued south, stopping at the Blue Vista Lookout for breakfast. Ah, the views...

Tug at our breakfast spot:

Not far from the lookout we came across a huge dead tree with 200+ arrows shot into it ... and who knows how many more arrows landed much further into the drainage below. It was a steep, steep dropoff and as far as we could tell, not above any trails...

The Morenci copper mine - humongous and fascinating to watch from a roadside viewpoint. We even got to see an explosive blast (the dust cloud just left of center):

Big truck buckets, with a 40-ft dumpster in front to give some perspective (well, I'm sure it was there for other reasons too):

We swung around back west through Safford and Globe, with a short side trip up to Tonto National Monument for my first look at cliff dwellings:

The top of the path was closed due to aggressive bees, but it turned out that the flies and gnats were much worse than any bees we encountered (Roosevelt Lake in the background):

We stayed overnight at the Cholla campground, which gets its electricity solely from solar panels.

The next day we took the adventurous path back toward Phoenix on route 88. It started with a view of the Roosevelt Dam:

Wait for me!

Route 88 is unpaved for about 20 miles and includes a steep, narrow climb up the side of a cliff. Sometimes I'd rather be on foot than in a vehicle, but John's driving was spot-on and we made it up the hill just fine. The rest of the way kept us entertained with spectacular vistas and colorful rock formations:

Then suddenly we were back in civilization - like magic! We're in Phoenix until tomorrow morning when we start a smaller tour up to Prescott. Sunday we'll come back to get Howie and drive up to Flagstaff (yay!). Turns out there are a lot of scenic routes in Arizona that are better without pulling a trailer!
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