The Old West
~Saturday, January 22, 2022~
A very gusty night, so much so that it kept us up most of the night. Hopefully the winds in California aren’t as bad as forecasted; 80 mph winds in some of the desert areas, including one of our favorite areas of Joshua Tree.
Since it’s our last day in Apache Junction, we decided to get in some sightseeing before moving on to our next location tomorrow. So east we go on the historic Highway 88, otherwise known as the Apache Trail. This 47-mile steep, winding and mostly unpaved road twists and turns through an impressive landscape of the Tonto National Forest with multi-colored mountain views, and dense Saguaro forests. As President Theodore Roosevelt said of the area,
“The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and an indefinable something that none of the others have. To me, it is most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful.”
President Roosevelt, a naturalist, historian, and conservationist played a significant role in the development and preservation of many of our national parks, lakes and roads, including the Apache Trail. Of course, the nearby lake and dam were named in his honor. Roosevelt Lake/Roosevelt Dam is about another 2 hours past the town of Tortilla Flat, and unpaved. Evidently, if you’re going to make the trek, they say the best time to see it is at night with the multitude of lights illuminating the dam.
A lake we did make it to was the Canyon Lake Recreation Area, and
must say it seemed a bit strange to see such a large body of water in the desert. But, Sadie enjoyed it all the same, FINALLY having an overdue swim while we watched the many boats launch from the marina. For the Arizona diehards who survive the 100+ degree summers, this lake must be their salvation!
Originally a migration route used by the Apache Indians, the trail eventually became a stagecoach route for many people on their way to Roosevelt Dam. The town of Tortilla Flat was the perfect spot for many an overnight guest. This old settlement
was exactly as we imagined…..one of the last remnants of the Old West. In its heyday, it was home to about 150 people, with a school, church, stage livery stable, general store, saloon/restaurant, cabins/hotel and a U.S. Post Office. Being a Saturday, it was expectedly packed; lots of motorcycle groups too. I imagine it would be a blast touring this area by chopper. Though crowded, we decided having lunch at the Superstition Saloon with its live music, great food, and funky
ambiance, was worth the wait. Their speciality is their killer chili, burgers and prickly pear lemonade. Jeff had a chili burger and I had the Cobb Salad. After lunch, we toured the general store and a few other shops before moving on. Just as we exited the town of Tortilla Flat, there was quite a bit of water crossing the highway and just beyond that a few small waterfalls. Again, so strange to see in this landscape. Back in 2019, there was a human-caused fire (the Woodbury Fire), that consumed almost 124,000-acres of the Tonto National Forest. Because of the fire, severe flooding is always a concern with continuous erosion, unstable rocks and soil. We can only imagine what this section of highway looks like after a monsoon because of it.
We decided to continue east, at least until the paved section of highway ended which was about 9 miles further. We took a little bit of the unpaved section but decided the road was a bit too rough for Hank for a 90-mile distance. We still had some time for the Goldfield Ghost Town back
in Apache Junction, so west we went. Goldfield is a Wild West town located near the Superstition Mountains. Though a bit too touristy for our liking, we thought it would still be fun to check out the gunfight reenactments, the underground mine, the train, saloon, and of course the creamery. The ice-cream was delicious (especially their ever popular Goldfield Crunch) and well worth waiting 30 minutes for.
At least we made it back in time to watch the football playoffs…… the Cincinnati Bengals against the Tennessee Titans. A great game with the Bengals winning. And the S.F. 49er’s narrowly beat the Green Bay Packers 13 to 10. Whew! All great, but nerve racking games! It seems every game in these playoffs has been a nail biter. We can’t believe the 49er’s are 1 game away from possibly going to the Super Bowl!!! 🤞🏈