Friday, we had the monsoon flash floods and waterfall.
Yesterday, we went on a driving tour of the Pinals. Very beautiful. The buzzards lurk at the trailheads for unsuspecting hikers who might come along and collapse at their feet.
Today. Today, Freckles got us up early, especially so we could go along Route 288. One of the returning Hot Shots (wildfire fire fighters) we met at the Pinal Ranger Station suggested we go to Young (after Brigham, I presume), north of here, on the east side of the Tonto Mountains. There is a turn-off to an excellent waterfall (which we did not see because… Well, turning off Route 288 is um, well, ah…), and the “best restaurant in the county” – which wasn’t open. (More on Young when we get that far.)
Do you recall hearing stories about roads in the mountains that are barely one lane, with no guardrail, but an amazing view of canyons and mountains in the distance? Well. I can get you there. The Sierra Anchas are something to behold. However, I thankfully note: none of the “Survivalist Rendezvous” folks were early risers. Otherwise, we may have needed to negotiate how their half-ton truck with camper and/or quads and trailer and I were going to pass on the barely-over-one-lane dirt windowsill labeled “Route 288”. We met along a wider part of the road a little farther along.
Very peculiar to note: The only woman I saw along the whole route was a shapely blond at one of the campgrounds. Otherwise, it was strictly men in all the trucks we passed. Who would want to survive if it were only men?
The scenery is amazingly beautiful. The higher we went the more familiar were the trees: pine, black locust, sumac, etc. There is a fragrant white bell-shaped flower, too, whose aroma blends nicely with the pine. Maybe okra? (Not okra. But thankfully, I did not pick it. It is poisonous to the touch. Ah, Arizona….)
We found a lovely pull-off at the entrance to two ranches. I was a little nervous when the pickup came up from below. We weren’t trespassing, just using their driveway as a parking space so all of us could have a walk-about. No worries. The man greeted us kindly, and wished us a good afternoon. Interesting face on that guy. Such blue eyes – steely blue.
Like I said. The scenery is amazingly beautiful.
I was very happy to be traveling among endless views of pine. I felt like we had found the Vermont/New Hampshire part of Arizona. Like maybe I’d be able to be at home here, and not have to go to Colorado for familiar trees and clear water brooks. Don’t worry, though. I am in no hurry to go hiking or camping alone. This is not New England, and there are warnings posted – bear, wild cats, etc. We’ll make new friends who like to go camping. I’ll bring the air horn.
Traveling at a top speed of 17 miles per hour, we finally rattled into Young. Grassland. A regular town, located in Pleasant Valley. It is very pleasant. This is true. However, at 10:47 a.m., with 81 degrees Fahrenheit, on a Sunday morning, the only people we saw were in trucks – and then we only saw two trucks. There were two horses corralled at one farm. And two horses corralled at another. In one yard there were three children playing quietly with something on the ground between them. No businesses were open. The EXXON sign was a ruse. Pleasant Valley was pleasant, but eerily void of visible life. Kind of creepy, actually.
We kept driving. At the intersection at the other end of town, we had to decide which dirt road to take. There was no scarecrow, no yellow brick road. We opted for straight ahead. Eventually, we came out on Route 260 – and a travel line miles long. I had heard about the exodus from “the Valley” up to the mountains, and the return from exile on Sunday. What a mad change from such bucolic wanderings we’d had this weekend. I was very happy to find our way back to our home. I’m even beginning to recognize cliffs and hilltops along the way. Made me feel like I live here. Now if I can only get used to javelinas….