Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Globe, AZ (2/23 - 2/26/2017)

From Tucson, I planned to return to the Apache Gold Casino RV Park (where I had spent time in January) about seven miles east of Globe.  The shortest route would be a highway I'd never driven, so it would provide new scenery.  Unfortunately, about half-way there I came upon a detour.  It seems there had been a rock slide up ahead, so ADOT was blasting the mountainside to prevent further slides.  The alternative route proved to be most interesting.  In addition to adding twenty-five miles to my trip, it was through mountainous country with numerous steep grades up and down.  Along the way, I passed several copper pit mines, but had no opportunity to photograph them as I was busy negotiating  the roller coaster called Highway 177.  As an added feature of the detour, ADOT was considerate enough to schedule shoulder repair this day, so traffic jams were quite long for a while.  The net effect of the detour was to delay my arrival by more than an hour.

Once settled in the RV park, I got an email from a friend, asking if the poppies on Peridot Mesa were in bloom.  I had no idea, but decided to check into it.  Using Google Maps, I found the mesa about ten miles away on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.  Once on the mesa, I encountered some interesting people.  First, a couple of Mormon missionaries, just starting an 18 month assignment on the reservation, walking with an Apache woman who was a member of their congregation.  Later, a Catholic priest showed up to view the poppies.  He told me he had been the priest at San Xavier Del Bac prior to his move to San Carlos.  Most of his adult life has been spent serving with various tribes.

The poppies were actually blooming, though probably not yet at peak.  The wind was blowing pretty hard, bringing in a storm system, so I took a few photos and left.  Otherwise, I might have found some peridot, the semi-precious gem stone for which the mesa is named.

The next day I drove into Tonto National Forest, primarily to visit Tonto National Monument.  Along the road, I had a good view of Roosevelt Lake, the largest entirely in Arizona. 

The National Monument was created in 1913 to preserve and showcase two sets of cliff dwellings built by the Salado Indians in 1300 AD.  Only one set of ruins is accessible routinely, the other on a reservation basis.  The trail to the ruins is nicely paved and about half a mile long, climbing three hundred feet in the process.  Most of the visitors that day stopped several times along the way to catch their breath, many of them being of the senior citizen persuasion.  However, the views from up high were good.  Like most of southern Arizona, the mountains were covered by saguaros and other cacti, including the "teddy bear" cholla with a bird's nest in its spines.
The ruins were much like those of other Indian tribes, possibly because of information sharing as they traveled around for trading.  The Forest Service follows a policy of "repair, not restore" for this site.

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