Caryl and Brian's World Bike Tour

Gila Hot Springs, NM to Palo Verde, CA

Back Home Up Next


Date: Sat, 13 Apr 96 23:53:00 UTC 0000

Copyright 1996 (c) by Caryl Johnson - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.

Chapter 19 - Mar. 29 to Apr. 11 Gila Hot Springs, NM to Palo Verde, CA - 7465 miles cumulative

Struggling up hill, my legs quivering from the exertion, I gasped trying to grab air with my teeth and force it down my lungs. Suddenly, the wind grabbed my handle bars turning them toward the cliff on the side of the road taking me, my bike, and bags with it. Yanking my feet out of the toe clips and firmly planting on the ground just as another bike toppling gust slammed into my side. I shuddered, looking down the hill at the side of the road. Just a few more inches and I would have been many hundreds of feet lower and probably not in one piece. This was dangerous, far too dangerous for riding.

For over an hour we'd been riding up the 5 mile, 1900 ft climb out of the valley where the Gila Cliff Dwellings were located. As our misfortune would have it, the day we needed to make the climb would also be the day the weekly cold front would come marching through. Wind advisories were posted for the entire state as building roofs were torn off, trees were toppled, and bike tourists were tossed about like mere feathers. At a 3.5 mph pace up hill, the bikes were completely uncontrolable. For the first time ever in all our bike touring years we had to swallow our pride, get off, and walk/push up the last mile. But it was the only way to stay on a reasonably straight path. Even still, I often had to lean my entire body weight against the wind to keep the bike from toppling.

Going down wasn't much better. We were were able to ride, but it still meant grabbing hard onto the handle bars and bar ends (extensions on the ends of the handle bars) and forcing the bike into a relatively straight path. After 2 hours of this tortue we decided, for better or worse, we would go back to the first USFS campground on Lake Roberts and make it just a short 17 mile day.

But first, FOOD. In Gila Hot Springs is the tiny Doc Campbells Trading Post where, if you're very lucky, you might be able to find a box of macaroni and cheese and a can of chili at an incredibly exhorbitant price. Not exactly gourmet or very filling. So when we came to the Sapillo Crossing motel and restaurant our thoughts immediatly turned to finding the most cholesterol, fat, and calorie laden lunch we could find, bratwurst with potatoes. Real food for real bike tourists.

While we greedily stuffed our faces we became acquainted with our waiter, Dan. Now here's a person who's had an interesting and and rough year. A tall man in his mid 50s, he had a real civilized cowboy appearance. Super thin from the hips down his jeans and boots looked like they were permenantly attached. Above the hips he had a bit of a pot belly making his measurements look a bit out of proportion. Top it off with gray hair, a handle bar moustache, and black cowboy hat and he looked ready for some serious C&W dancing.

But what a congenial man. About a year ago he was spending some time in one of the USFS campgrounds acting as an informal campground host for a couple months. He actually is a poet and was seeking inspiration among the pines. While here he met an old man in his late 70s who had the gnarled hands of severe arthritis and who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Given just 6 months to live, Sandy decided to try some ancient Indian remedies. Well, Dan had to return to Amarillo and couldn't stay to find out what happened to Sandy and his cure.

On the way back, Dan's VW van had mechanical trouble. Now Dan, even in his mid 50s, didn't have two dimes to rub together much less enough to pay for engine repairs. So he ended up at the Sapillo ranch helping build their new lodge building.

Now the story doesn't end there. Upon finally returning to Amarillo, Dan soon learned that he now had cancer. I forget what kind but he said it had spread to his lungs, stomach, and liver. He said his first reaction was quite fatalistic, "Might as well roll over and die." But after getting past that he decided to sell everything he owned, including that VW, hitchhike back to the Sapillo Ranch and look into his friend Sandy. Walking up to Sandy's house he half expected to find that the man had passed away during the year. Instead he found a much healthier and younger looking Sandy out chopping weeds down in his orchard. Sandy said that the doctors had given him a clean bill of health for the cancer and even the arthritis had cleared enough for him to once again play his banjo.

Naturally Dan had to learn the secret. Turns out to be creosote. Sandy was taking leaves from the creosote bush, drying them, grinding them into a powder, and then filling capsules. He'd take about 11 to 12 per day. Sounds strange, but I do recall on many a nature hike signs have said that the Indians used to make a medicinal tea from the creosote bush and berries. So he was just returning to a very ancient healing practice. Dan is now doing the same and claims he feels better than he has in many months. There are some side effects, but at least the pain is gone.

We wondered how much of this miracle is the creosote leaves or how much is simply the power of positive thinking. There's been a lot of evidence to suggest that one's mental attiitude can have a lot of effect on the body's ability to fight cancer naturally. So maybe the creosote is that magic placebo that gives a particular person the life vest he needs. But, on the other hand, who's to say there isn't something in the bush that does have tremendous healing properties. Perhaps it's a super, duper potent antioxident. Afterall, the Indians obviously believed in it and they would have gone through much trial and error with other natural plants and herbs before settling on creosote. Maybe someday the medical establishment will find reason to study all those ancient medicines in more detail and perhaps the results would be quite surprising. But then again. With all the hassle of FDA approval, law suits, and possibly limited profitable return from such a natural medicine, perhaps not.

Returning to Rt 152 and our west bound route we climbed the last hill before the town of Silver City and were greated and shocked by the huge cavity of the Chino-Douglas Co. copper mine. At 1800 ft deep and many miles across this is the nation's largest open pit copper mine. Simply enormous. At the overlook we could see the opposite side of this man-made bowl. Huge truck high terrases were plowed into side to prevent rock and dirt slides. You could see the layers of material ranging in color from deep brown topsoil at the top, red clay for a while, and then a white cement appearing bedrock. A road traversed the terrases and trucks that looked like they were all wheel and tire slowly creeped up and down the road. From our vantage point the whole area looked like a young Paul Bunyon's sand box with tonka trucks and toy bulldozers.

The descriptive sign told about the size of the pit, the age of the mine, and the amount of copper removed annually. But it said nothing about what is to happen to the pit once mining operations cease. Now that might not be anytime in the forseeable future. But I can't imagine that people would simply let this enormous, ugly pit sit without some sort of land reclamation. But, then again, I'm not sure how one would go about reclaiming the land. Obviously filling in the hole is not feasible and just putting plants on the terrases would look just as bad. Hmmmmm. How about a future landfill for our trash laden cities? Of course you'd have to make sure there would be no detrimental impact on the water sources. But, the hole is there, it could easily hold the future trash of a city like Los Angeles for a long, long time, and by that time New Mexico and whatever company has control could charge up the yazoo for dumping rights. Naaa. Somehow I think this plan would never get past local environmentalist's scrutiny.

A day off in Silver City gave us the opportunity to restock the supplies we had greatly diminished while up at the Gila Wilderness. Also, we finally met an RV park owner who seemed to really be on the ball when it comes to senior discounts. One thing we've noticed, and so has a lot of other folks, there are a lot of very, very wealthy senior citizens out there living in these incredibly expensive RVs and 5th wheels. And I mean vehicles that cost more than your average southern California house. They travel the southern highways in the winter and the northern highways in the summer. Which is fine. What bothers us is that these seniors get every discount in the book from every restaurant, hotel, RV park, national park, state park, campgrounds, movie theaters, and even the Wall-Mart in Del Rio gives seniors a discount when they shop on Wednesday. Yet, as this RV park owner said, "These people roll in here with RVs that cost upwards of $400K, more than this whole RV park cost. And then they have a whole sheet of various discounts for which they qualify. Yet young families who need the discounts much more get nothing." So to help the young families this man changed his price sheet to say that he gave a 10% senior citizen discount to everyone no matter what your age, but you had to ask for it. Finally, someone trying to help out the middle class working family get a little more out of their little 2 week long summer vacation. We had to applaud.

Silver City is one of the older mining towns in the region, but it takes a little searching to find the quaint, non strip mall part of town. The main road, Rt 70, has become home to the usual hotels, motels, gas stations, restaurants and other convenience stores. The older section is off the beaten track and is pretty small. But there are a few nice cafes, book shops, art boutiques, and other touristy type stores housed in buildings with the characteristic 1800s style fronts. In fact several of the building fronts came from a fronts factory in St. Louis, Mo. We wondered if they were some sort of kit.

It was in this older section that we came across the left wing contingent of the community. One of the owners of the Gila Hike and Bike shop is married to a far left winged environmentalist. Now just imagine the clashing between her and the far right winged rancher with the Hitler nazi sign in his font yard. Talking with the RV park owner, who also happens to be a real estate broker for many of the large ranches, we learned that most folks, including the ranchers, are pretty easy going and willing to make compromises. But two hot heads on complete opposite sides of the track are stirring up so much trouble they're creating two deeply entrenched camps. At issue are grazing rights in the Gila National Wilderness. Evidentally most ranchers recognize that they simply aren't making a profit from grazing in the wilderness and would be inclined to move if presented with a reasonable alternative. However, one brand new rancher in particular recently bought into a real bad deal. He can't make any profit without getting an increase in his grazing rights. His application was denied and he proceeded to herd his cattle onto land recently purchased for the wilderness. Actually he had been grazing that land before the purhase and simply refused to move his herd.

Well, this got the super enviromentalist in a huff and she proceeded to blame the Gila Wilderness Forest Service director for not enforcing the ban on this person's cattle. On the other hand, the subject rancher got all the other ranchers all fired up and they started holding meetings about grazing to which the Forest Service was not invited. In fact the one Forest Service employee that showed up was forcibly ejected. So the ranchers and environmentalists have all dug in their heels, refuse to compromise, blame the Forest Service for everything, and basically have created a stalemate that will probably have to be solved through a costly court procedure. It all seems so foolish and you would think by just bringing in an indepentent arbitrer the whole problem could be easily, painlessly resolved in far less time with far less money. But, that's often the problem with extreme thinking, there's no room for compromise.

We had just one more pass, Eye of the Needle, and then we dropped into the dry southwest desert. Within a short 3 miles the tall, cooling pine trees of the Apache National Forest were replaced by Mesquite bushes and prickly pear cactus. We'll be living in this desert essentially from now until we reach the mountains outside of San Diego. It's the beginning of April and the weather will start to get hot very, very soon. Also, the winds in this part of the desert generally are out of the west. It's dead calm in the morning. But, by 1PM it can really howl. So from now on we expect we'll need to rise with the sun, ride until mid afternoon, and try to pull in before the wind gets too rough. Meeting bikers coming the other way will be harder to take. They'll be smiling with their day-after-day tailwinds while we grind on. But, only 600 more miles and we'll have completed the southern portion of our perimeter goal.

With an early 6 AM rise and a 7 AM departure, we pushed long and hard from Safford to Globe. Of 75 miles the San Carlos Indian Reservation comprised about 50 miles of the route. Now, the Indians do run their own camping/recreation area along the edges of Coolidge lake. But, reports we received from riders coming the other direction quickly convinced us we did not want to stay. They said, "We stopped in to ask how much camping was. They told us $5 per person per day. Then, laughing at us they continued, and our day starts at midnight. That would have been $20. And the campground was a real dump. Just rock to pitch the tent, no picnic tables. Also one lady told us it'd be nice because they had just built brand new bathrooms. We checked it out. The urinals and comodes were all broken and human feces was all over the floor. No more than a month old and the Indians had already destroyed it."

Thoroughly exhausted, we dragged ourselves into the Gila County Campground in Globe at an astonishing 2 in the afternoon. A combination of long downhills, tailwind, and good road had allowed us to make incredible time. It was here that we had a long discussion with Dave Scott about the problems of the Apache Indians and learned some real eye opening facts. Dave was married to an Apache woman, named Ester. Consequently he has a lot of nieces, nephews, and a whole slew of in-laws that are all Apache. He's lived in the Globe area for a couple decades and has gotten to know the Apache council members (tribe elders) and a lot of other Indians living on the reservation. Naturally he has learned a lot about the inner working of the Apache tribe and clans. Dave, however, is of Celtic origin and was raised with that very, very strong work ethic and frugal behavior that all Celtics seem to posses. He has had the opportunity to view the Indians and their terrible prediciment from a unique point of view.

Dave's conclusion is that the continual dependency of the Apache on the U.S. government has totally destroyed their self respect and work ethic. He gave us an example of his sister-in-law's husband. One time Dave took this guy down to a construction site and got him a real good job. The great thing about this job was it was steady employment for some time to come and it was located within walking distance from their home. The government was having some new houses built on the reservation. This guy went to work for 2 weeks, collected his first pay check, and then worked for one more week. Then, with Dave sitting there right in the living room, this guy came home and told his wife to go right on down to AFDC the next day. He was 28, had worked for 3 weeks, and that was enough. So after that he became dependent on the government.

Dave told us that of the 10,000 Indians iving out on the reservation, he knows of only one who owns a business. As he explains it, though, due to the clan affiliation of each and every Indian all businesses are doomed to failure from the start. Suppose you wanted to open a grocery. On your very first day you'd open the door to find some snivelling 16 year old girl with 2 small kids hanging on to her skirts waiting for you to open. Naturally she's some long lost member of your clan and couldn't you give her some free diapers or something else, for the kids of course. Naturally you can't say "no" as the word would get around that you're some stingy meany and no one will shop. You give her some stuff and the next thing you know long lost clan relatives are coming out of the woodwork. And with cross clan relationships, you'll soon have the entire reservation banging at your door. Forget making a profit. You'd be giving everything away for free.

Most of the Indians have lived on the "dole" for all their lives and have absolutely no concept of where the money comes from or what the value of the goods they receive is. Dave's niece lost her grandmother and brother in a terrible fire that also took their house, She came to live with Dave for a couple years during which time he tried to give her a little education in economics. One day she came home and said: "Uncle Dave, they"re going to build us a new house."

Dave says, "And, just who are 'they'?" She thinks for a while and says, "The tribe, I guess." "And where do you think the tribe gets the money?" "From the government." Dave says emphatically, "And where do you think the government gets the money? From me. I'm paying for your new house. Me and all the other Uncle Daves in this country."

The girl was dumbfounded. It had never occurred to her that the money came from anyone other this anonomous entity called "the government."

Oh and the tribal run grocery store. What a complete disaster. A long time ago they started giving the Indians credit for their purchases. But, as Dave said, "These people aren't ready for credit on car purchases much less on groceries." They got the idea that they can just walk in, pick out all the groceries they want, and put it in their tab down pat. It's the paying the bill that stumps them. At one time the tribe had asked Dave to take over the store. He agreed on the conditions that (1) he'd have his own operating budget so he wouldn't have to apply to the tribe every time he wanted to make a purchase, (2) he could install better security to stop the rampant theft, (3) he'd have control to hire and fire, and most of all (4) he'd do away with all credit. Unbenounced to him at that time, one of the main council elders was using the store as his personal food bank. Relatives or friends come in from out of town and, "need a T-bone. Why sure. Have a few." The whole operation was a mess. Even the grocery suppliers would not give the store credit. Not one truck would stop unless the manager had cash in hand. Naturally, stock was limited, prices obscene, and no one really cared to do things differently.

In a mere half hour Dave was able to rattle of one case after another of abuse, fraud, careless and oher goings on in the Indian reservation. And I'm sure he only touched the tip of the iceberg. His conclusion: "The wellfare system underwhich the Indian has been forced to live has completely destroyed the social fabric of these Indians. There are a bunch of very fine people living up there. But, they have no work ethic, no self dignity, no respect for value of the property they've been given. Most spend their days drinking, gambling, or finding new ways to beat the system."

Globe and Superior, AZ. Two small mining towns in the foothills just east of Phoenix. Both came into existance to support copper mining in the early 1900s, both have clean streets, new town parks, interesting old buildings, nice mountain views, and great access to the very busy route 60. Yet the economic status of the two are on opposite ends of the boom/bust cycle.

Globe is nestled between two difficult to ride mountain ranges. Rt 60 gracefully curves around the historic downtown where 1800s style buildings are clustered along the banks of the currently very dry creek. The railroad still passes through, albeit not very often. Stores and cafes along the main downtown street appear to still be quite alive and doing a brisk business. There's even one of the oldest Woolworths in the west still in operation. Even the very old Safeway that appears to have been squeezed onto a hillside lot that was two sizes too small was continually jammed with shoppers. Walking down the street, gazing in the shop windows, admiring the street side potted flowers and white painted wrought iron benches, we could tell that this town had a vibrant life and was proud of it.

Yet, Superior appeared to be a ghost town in the making. Just over the very first foothill east of Phoenix, it commands a spectacular view of the mountain range to the east. Businesses along the main Rt 60 are still doing a brisk business as they capture the passing traffic. But, a short stroll downtown reveals one boarded window after another. Entire buildings are completely gutted leaving only the shell exterior and empty windows staring onto the street. The only grocery store in town is much smaller than the Safeway in Globe and is owned by some local merchant. It does a brisk business only because it is the only real grocery business. There are some brand new, well cared for tiny corner parks and a recently renovated motel. But these cannot outweigh the feeling that the town is gradually being abandoned or moved over to Rt. 60.

We wondered what would cause one town to do so well and another so poorly. Globe still has a functioning mine and Superior's mine is silent. But one would think Superior could take advantage of its quaint architecture and stunning location to become a real tourist draw. This leads to the proverbial "chicken and egg" problem. To become a tourist draw you need to have several cafes, restaurants, shops, art studios, and hotels that all fit with the early mining town theme. But, to attract these businesses to town, you need to have the tourists already there. We're not sure just how a town makes that transition. But a lot do and are quite successful. Maybe the town council should go have a talk with the councils of these towns and learn hhow to make that change.

Globe also has one more feature, the Besh-Ba-Gowah Indian pueblo ruins. Occupied between the 1300 and 1400 by a people who came after the Hohokum left the area. Besh-Ba-Gowah literally translated from the Apache language means "metal its house" or more loosley "place of metal" referencing all the copper deposits in the area. The construction was quite different from what we've seen in other pueblos in that it was composed of large round rocks, probably from the creek bed, cemented together with clay found in the local area. Where ever we've gone we've always found the pueblo Indians were masters at finding ways to build from the locally available materials. They had an interesting combination of undisturbed, stabilized, and fully restored rooms. I particularly liked the restored rooms in that they filled them with reproduced mats, pottery jars, tools, ladders, and other equipment that would have been used for making jewelry and weaving. It truly gave you a feel for what living and working in one of these rooms would have looked like.

Besh-Ba-Gowah was fortunate to have one ceremonial room recently excavated. It had characteristics very similar to the Hopi Kiva including being built deep in the ground with a single entrance through the roof via ladder, a place for a small fire at one end, the depression called the pipapu, and benches around the outside edge for participants. But, unlike the Hopi Kiva, this room was square. I've only seen one or two square shaped kivas before, so this one is definitly unique. Oh, the pipapu is supposed to represent Mother Earth's naval. The Hopi have a belief that when they emerged from their 6th world into this, the 7th, they emerged through Mother Earth's naval, a large hole in the ground. So this naval is still represented in the Kivas by a small depression usually in the middle of the room.

Off to one side of the pueblo ruins, the administrators had created a garden showing some of the wild and cultivated plants used by the Indians of this period. Corn, squash, yucca, mesquite, and others were present and their use described. They also included a challenge. Under a small reed ramada was a table holding a metate (flat stone on which foods are ground) and mano (small round stone used to grind the food on the metate). You were given some corn and asked to try grinding it. Easy, right? Not really. Remember this is not our nice soft, mushy sweet corn that so often graces late summer picnic tables. It's hard and dry, like popping corn kernals. Since the metate is pretty smooth, the corn tends to slip and slide to one side as you try to crush and grind. You spend a fair bit of time just chasing the corn from one side of the metate to the other. I think I'll stick to flour ground by someone else. Better yet, bread and bakery goods baked by someone else.

Between Globe and Superior was the worst mountain pass of the entire Adventure Cycling Association's southern route. As passes go, it wasn't all that steep, at least from our side, long or difficult to ride. But the traffic. Pure murder. A continuous stream of cars, semis, and RVs cruised the road in both directions. On the climbing side the road engineers decided to give up the nice wide shoulder in favor of another car lane. As a result on more than one occasion we found ourselves on the outside edge of three vehicles all trying to pass each other at precisely our spot. Terrifying. Going down was better since we at least had speed on our side. But the wind was whipping a bit and keeping the bike headed straight took some effort. Also on the down side was a 1/8 mile tunnel with no shoulder and no sidewalk for walking the bikes. As we raced through trying to beat the next set of vehicles, I heard that familiar growl of a semi echoing through the tunnel. I screamed and hit the pedals as fast as my already tired legs could manage. Just breaking into the sun at the other end of the tunnel, I turned and breathed once more as the truck stormed on by. It was over and I was still alive.

West of Superior we dropped out of final foothills of Superstition Mountains onto the flat, dry Sonoran desert, land of the giant saguaro (sa-hwa-ro) cactus. We all know these cactii as the kind Snoopy's brother, Spike, of the Peanuts cartoon lives and talks with in Needles, CA. Somehow these cactii have become the symbol of the southwest deserts. Their rounded, spikey, two armed shape adornes jewelry, pottery, glassware, party lights, clothing, furniture, and just about any other household item you can name. Yet they only exist in a very limited area of the Sonoran desert around Phoenix and Tucson. And I hate to say this, but they aren't in Needles, CA either. Funny how something known to only a small region can become so well known world wide.

We took one last side trip off the ACA route to visit the Casa Grande (big house) Ruins National Monument. Built between 1200 and 1300 by the Hohokam, this incredible 4 story building is in remarkably good condition for what is essentially a mud house. Built only from the caliche (cul-lee-chi) clay it has withstood the environment for hundreds of years. The house was abandoned long before the Spaniards who named it appeared. After its discovery it was subjected to much vandalism from pot hunters. They took everything that wasn't tied down and even the logs used to support the original roofs. Protection under the National Parks Service and with the addition of a roof has prevented any further decay. It still makes quite an impressive structure.

Our last push to San Diego before the real hot weather of summer hits was on. Long hot days were filled with hours of riding as we made our way toward the Colorado River. This was familiar territory. We've driven these roads before. We know this desert environment. In fact little more than one year ago we'd been driving through here in our old friend, Casper the friendly van, on a 4 day car camping trip. We knew what to expect from the riding and the weather. And we knew we needed to get to San Diego soon.

Our last night in Arizona was spent in the parttime town of Quartzsite. This was one of the most bizarre towns we've ever seen. Located in a broad, dry desert valley just 18 miles east of the Colorado, it has a year round population of about 2000. But, in the winter this number swells to an astonishing 1,000,000 as the valley literally fills with RVers from the northern states. Miles and miles fill with RVs of all shapes and sizes neatly arranged in row after row making a temporary city on wheels. Now, with the temperatures climbing into the 100s, most of the snowbirds were long gone and the fields lay empty with the exception of rows of electric outlets and painted parking spaces. It was as if a farmer had gone through the fields planting his little circuit breaker seeds. Some fields were already sprouting their little electrical conduits as our farmer anxiously awaited next winter's bumper crop of huge RVs.

Even the "town" seemed to be just a temporary existance. The most permanant buildings were the brick covered Wendy's and stucco covered MacDonalds restaurants. The other businesses were either cheap corrugated metal warehouses, probably thrown together in a weekend, or easily disassembled tent structures. We were reminded of one long street wide swap meet, flea market for those with an east coast vocabulary. A lot of the tents were shut and the merchants gone for the season. But a few still hawked their wares of tourist trinkets and baubles from Mexico and various rocks from the desert. The majority of the town's economic existance depends on the winter RVers. The rest depends on the semis and cars that stop to make use of the truck stop facilities. Otherwise there is absolutely no economic reason for this town to exist at all.

I imagine in the months of February and March when the RVs are packing up to head to more northern climates, the streets must be jammed daily as hundreds of RVs wait to dump out, gas up, and get on the freeway. But now, in early April, the single main street was practically free of all RVs. Instead the semis ruled.

One last bumpy ride along I-10, yuk, fortunately headed downhill all the way to the Colorado river and we entered California. At long last the end of our southern leg was nearing. But, our first hour back in the state was met with a quick reminder of just how expensive and almost a rip-off much of California's tourist industry can be. We stopped in at the Riveria RV park with the idea of stopping for the day and maybe even taking a day off. We'd been riding hard and continuously for 7 days with distances ranging from 35 to 76 miles and we were pooped. There's a long mountain to climb before San Diego and we wanted to prepare.

The Riveria park was beautiful, a flat park like setting with green grass, palm trees, the river on one side and a very inviting swimming pool. The price, however, matched the setting. At $16 even for us Good Sam members it was one of the most expensive RV parks we'd seen. We were tired and had been riding a lot and it was a headwind day and the pool looked so tempting, and ... and ... we could come up with a dozen reasons to swallow hard and accept the cost. But as we tried to check in we were thrown a real zinger. Since it was only 11AM they wanted to charge us an additional $8 half day fee. She said something about their checkin/checkout time being 6PM. Our jaws dropped. This was totally outrageous. Just how many people coming to an RV park would check out at 6PM, Most leave early in the morning. So if we had planned to leave the next day we would end up paying 1 1/2 days for a period of less than 24 hours. For that price we could just as easily go into Blythe and rent a cheapo motel room. It's a clear case of ripping of the tourist. We said thank you, walked out, and ended camping at a perfectly acceptable county park right on the river some 25 miles down the road that cost nothing.

Welcome back to California.

Appendix A - Route

New Mexico

Rt 15 and 35 from Gila to San Lorenzo Rt 152 to Center Rt 180 to Silver City Rt 180 to Rt 78 to Arizona


Rt 78, 191, and 70 to Safford Rt 70 to Globe Rt 60 to Superior and Florence Jct. Rt 79 to Florence Rt 287 to Coolidge Rt 87 to Sun Lakes Back road to Komatke, Laveen, Avondale Baseline and Van Buren Rds to Goodyear Vanburen to Perryville I10 to exit 81 Desert road to Salome Rt 60 to I10 I10 and frontage roads to Blythe


Hobson Rd to Rt 78 Rt 78 to Palo Verde

Appendix B - Camp sites, motels

New Mexico

Silver City RV Park 2 nights ($)


Apache Nat'l forest campground Ivanhoe RV Park in Safford ($) Pioneer Motel in Thatcher ($) Gila County RV Park in Globe ($) Superior RV Park in Superior ($) Moonlight Motel in Coolidge ($) Goodyear KOA ($) Salome motel ($) Desert Gardens RV Park in Quartzsite ($) Palo Verde County Park

($) indicates fee camping


Copyright 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.



We'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.


Wendy Strutin Riedy for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site,

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