After a couple of snowy and cool days up in the Sedona area, it was certainly time to seek out some warmer climes. Therefore we drove off the edge of the Mogollon rim, and followed the Interstate right down into central Phoenix, then turned left, and drove till we were back out in the country east of Apache junction, and in some beautiful scenery. Like Al of the Bayfield Bunch, I was also not a fan of Starbucks, or their prices. But I let myself get talked into having coffee and a breakfast snack there for two out of three days, and have to admit I had no complaints. Will I go back? Maybe.
The next decision that had to be made was how far to drag the fifth wheel out on the Apache Trail. Although the State Park is very scenic and popular, I find it way too crowded and busy for my liking. Likewise a small sliver of BLM land I camped on last year is not that inviting – though it has an awesome view of Superstition mountain. Since no decision was made the trailer followed us all the way to Tortilla Flat. The campground was closed (as we were already aware), but the restaurant/saloon was packed in spite of being a weekday. Parking was very tight as well, but a spot in the driveway fit the requirements while we dined a late lunch.
The rig finally got ditched near the end of the pavement on a side road with a super, high-elevation view all around. It even had cell service and 47 off-air TV channels!
It was a large, spacious pull-off, but it turned out to be fortunate that a far corner was selected. Then the rig got dumped and we investigated the drive further down the Willow creek hill towards Apache Lake. An alarm was set for 0600 (that is well before 0930, for any of you retired folks) because of a planned meeting in the morning (at Starbucks!) in Apache Junction. It turned out to be redundant however, as several large trucks arrived and began to unload equipment a bit north of 5AM. Departure was not late as a result!
Boondocking web sites mentioned some possibilities south east of Apache Junction off Queen mine (?) and Hewitt Station road. There were a couple rigs parked near the start but there did not appear to be much room, so kept moving. Most areas along the road were small, garbage strewn, impromptu gun ranges (as is unfortunately common when near major urban centers), but a spot at the far end of the road where it joins the highway 3 miles from Superior filled the bill for a couple of days. Aimless drifting after that took us south west to Florence. Pretty sure there must be more people in jail in Florence than free! I counted at least 3 major prisons, and it looked like a new one under construction. Coolidge nearby is vying for the title as well, but I only counted one prison there.
After a brief time on the Interstate headed southbound, Tucson was avoided by following a secondary route to the west leading past one portion of Saguaro National Park.
Even shots from the road shows that the saguaros really feel welcome here. There are lots of them.
After some more south and west driving, it was obvious that we were nearing the border when the Border Patrol vehicles started to outnumber others on the road.
I felt like I was in a National Geographic ‘Border Wars’ episode for the next few days.