2/15 Update

31 Jan/05 Feb 04, Sat-Thu: Goldfield Rec Area, Tonto Nat'l Forest, AZ

This park on Goldfield Road is one of several along the Lower Salt River in Tonto National Forest. It is accessed from Apache Junction via the Usery Pass Rd. or Bush Hwy., neither of which show on some road maps. It's eleven miles from Apache Jct. and all 'city' services so it has been very convenient to scoot back there for such projects as having oil changed in Kenzie's generator, picking up mail, visiting a barbershop and replenishing groceries. We loved returning to Goldfield with its great hiking trails, open spaces, and mountain vistas. We never saw the wild horses who've made tracks everywhere around us, but we did hear coyotes a couple of times.

6-9 Feb 04, Fri-Mon: Arizonia Travel Trailer Resort, Apache Jct., AZ

We discovered this park last week. It's southeast of Apache Jct., out in the country, and not at all busy so there are some open sites and a chance to view the Superstition Mts. to our north. The rate is as good as it gets in Apache Jct., but when we checked in for three nights and were told the fourth night would be free, it suddenly got even better.

Our reasons for leaving the Tonto Forest were to do laundry and to attend the Renaissance Festival nearby on Rt 60. “Arizona's annual festival is one of the largest in the nation, held on weekends in Feb. and Mar. in a European style village constructed on a 30-acre site just below the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.” Folks really get into the spirit of medieval theater, circus, and crafts. Merchants hawk their wares selling everything from clothing to custom ceramics. All participants are resplendent in costumes of the period, plus visitors can rent costumes which adds to the festive atmosphere.

We enjoyed the open stages where jugglers, musicians and comedians performed, but the special treat was a jousting tournament with mounted knights. It was a lovely, sunny day so fun and different for us.

10 Feb 04, Tue: Goldfield Rec. Area, Tonto Nat'l Forest again

We returned to our favorite natural setting today so we'd be nearer Scottsdale. Our mission is to purchase a catalytic heater at RV Solar. Our current propane furnace requires electricity, and with the dry camping we're doing, it's a drain on the batteries.

Immediately after the 78 mile trip to Scottsdale and the desired purchase, Cal connected the new heater to the propane line using a 6-foot hose so it's portable. We didn't have to wait very long for temperature to drop so we could try it out, and boy! is it nifty. It feels like a wood stove. We are able to tolerate a lower ambient and still feel warm due to the radiation.

Why do we require more heat in Arizona, you ask? Most mornings the temperature is 30 degrees or lower, and the minute the sun sets, it gets cool quickly. The sun shines every day, however, and warms to 50's or 60's (70's if we're in sun and out of wind.)

11-16 Feb 04, Wed-Mon: Tortilla Flat CG, Tonto Nat'l Forest, AZ

You'll note that Goldfield Rec Area on the Salt River is in Tonto Nat'l Forest, and we've moved to Tortilla Flat CG in Tonto Nat'l Forest. The shortest route we know of, however, is south from Goldfield to Apache Jct., then north on Rt 88, the Apache Trail, to Tortilla Flat.

We visited this CG recently when we came up to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat in the Honda and agreed we needed to return with Kenzie. A national park with water and sewer for $6 a night is unusual and terrific for openers. The CG is located in a bowl and mountains and rock monoliths surround us for 360 degrees. The desert cacti and other vegetation are more generous than we often see. No cell phone, no 2 meters, just peace and quiet and warm sun.

According to the “Tortilla Flat Telegraph”, this campground “is one of the prettiest places to spend the night in the whole state.” We give all campgrounds a rating and a few have received a '5' this season. This one gets an unprecedented '6'.

Thursday we took a see-it-for-ourselves ride from Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Dam and Lake. We'd heard a lot about the 22 miles of dirt road and that this thirty miles of Apache Trail is scary. The dirt road is in good condition and the scenic ride is one of the best we've ever taken.

Construction of the road, accomplished in the early 1900's, is an engineering marvel. On Fish Creek Hill hundreds of men labored in the Arizona sun to create a road bed 75 feet high in some places, and removed 70 feet of mountain in other areas to maintain a 10% grade. The road down Fish Creek Hill is narrow and steep, dropping 1500 feet in three miles. The scenery as we descended into the canyon is awesome and there's a bridge over Fish Creek and nearby is a large cave.

We took the access road leading down to Apache Lake, a blue jewel at the bottom of the mountains, where there's a full service marina with a restaurant, motel, campground, boat rentals and boat tours.

Back on the Apache Trail, eventually, the Roosevelt Dam loomed ahead; it's the reason the Apache Trail was built. It is still the largest masonry dam in the world—280 feet high. “The dam was constructed by Italian stone masons and Apache laborers. The granite was quarried from the side of the mountains between which it stands.”

The cliffs, plunging canyons, and awesome mountains ensured that every minute of the thirty miles of twisting, turning, and climbing was spectacular and breathtaking.

Pres. Theodore Roosevelt expresses its specialness perfectly: “The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the Glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have. To me, it is the most awesome, inspiring, and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever created.” We concur with Pres. Roosevelt's observation.

We plan to move on next Tuesday after a 6-day stay here at Tortilla Flat in the Superstition Mountains.