Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares
The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #17
Wednesday, February 24, 2010: Still in Tortilla Campground in the Tonto National Forest. Dewey and I were up early and took a walk around the facility. We came across this little fellow busily building her nest amongst the spines of a Saguaro Cactus.
She must be used to folks stopping and gawking as she paid us no mind as she went busily about her task at hand. Why a she…..Kit says it had to be the mom as the other wren was sitting on the ground sipping the remaining drops out of a discarded beer can.
Tortilla campground is in Tortilla Flat, Arizona. An unincorporated community with a population of six full time residents. It is Arizona’s smallest community and has its own post office and voter precinct. Originally a mining camp in the late 1800’s Tortilla Flat developed into one of many stagecoach stops along the Apache Trail that were set up to support the workers building the Roosevelt Dam. As tourists discovered the area in the 1930’s Tortilla Flat became an overnight stop on the long 38 mile trek from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake.
Dewey and I took the short walk into “town” to poke around and pay for our use of the camp sites. The place is a bit run down but has a weird and quirky vibe to it.
Registering at the post office for our campground stay we were surprised that our National Park Golden Age pass was accepted and we only had to pay three dollars a night! What a deal…..and for full hook-up’s! Disregarding the 14 day limit one could live in this incredible place for less than a hundred bucks a month!
The small store, post office, saloon and restaurant are housed in a structure that was authentically rebuilt following a fire in 1988. A unique tradition that began in the 1950’s was for every visitor to sign a dollar bill and then tack it to the wall. According to the proprietor there are approximately 130,000 dollar bills on the wall…..and that is just since the 1988 fire. The estimates on how many dollar bills were stuck to the walls before the fire was 300,000! Yep…..all up in smoke. Wonder how you insure a 10,000 dollar building with over a quarter million dollar bills used as wallpaper? Anyway, being traditionalist Dewey and I followed suit and added our autographed dollar bill’s to the collection.
Kit was a bit under the weather with a cold so she “strongly encouraged” Dewey and I to go off and “play” to give her some rest. Without the trailer attached to my truck we decided to tackle the rest of The Apache Trail. A short distance past Tortilla Flat and after crossing the Salt River…..literally……
…..the Apache Trail turned into a narrow, steep and winding dirt path.
The road was fun to drive but did take some concentration. Apparently some folks were too distracted by the beautiful scenery and paid the price.
We stopped frequently to “safely” enjoy the surrounding views. That white line you may notice in the photo is the Apache Trail…..which we will be driving on very soon.
After an interesting drive we arrived at Theodore Roosevelt Dam which was built in 1904 to provide water to the new town of Phoenix. However the engineers misjudged the capacity of the impounded lake and the original masonry dam was frequently breeched by the annual monsoon rains. So in the 1980’s the dam was refaced with concrete and raised an additional 80 feet adding hydro power capability. In addition a new bridge to carry the traffic formerly crossing the dam was built.
Retracing our path we drove back down The Apache Trail to see the sights from the opposite direction. Arriving back at camp a bit tired we enjoyed dinner and cocktails and restful sleep.
Thursday, February 25, 2010: Today brought clear skies, puffy clouds, warm weather and mild winds…..the birds were out in force letting their presence known…..a beautiful morning!
Kit is feeling better but didn’t want to push it. A relaxing day in the lawn chair was in her plans so she insisted Dewey and I find somewhere else to play.
We decided to drive down canyon paralleling the river and drop by Canyon Lake. The water was calm and surprisingly sparse of other folks so out came the kayak.
The lake meanders into a number of side canyons which we explored. At one point my paddle touched both walls of a narrow canyon…..pretty weird; I had to back paddle a ways to get back out into the lake.
Paddling up the main canyon I came to some quick water so I beached the boat and hopped the rocks up river. After rounding a bend in the canyon I caught this sight out of the corner of my eye.
Yep, a group of young folks doing what young folks do…..daring each other to take chances and documenting it all on film. Not sure how those kids got so far up the canyon; hiked I guess. I snapped the picture and quickly retreated not wanting to witness a Darwin Moment.
Returning to the take-out I noticed Dewey had hiked to the highest surrounding point and took the following picture.
Returning to camp we built a fire, mixed some cocktails, put on some steaks and sat around swapping stories while the coyotes howled in the distance. Fortunately, Kit was feeling much better and was able to join in the merriment.
Kit’s Corner: Spent most of this time napping, which was very nice, for a change. Sent the guys off to do whatever it is “old geezers” do when given their “kitchen passes”. They both seemed to enjoy their time and did lots of fun things.
Life in Retireeville is indeed good!
Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit