We have an ambitious plan this week. After such a great vacation, we’ve got a lot of stories to share, so we’re going to break them up into days, starting with Day 1!
After getting in late on a Saturday night, our first full day in Arizona was just the sort of grandiose introduction to the Copper State that we needed. We rose bright and early, tossed on a pair of sandals, stretched our legs and headed out to the Apache Trail, located just NorthEast of our lodgings in Mesa. On our way, however, we couldn’t help but request our generous tour guides (Aunt Debbie and Uncle Rod of course) to make a quick stop at the nearby Goldfield Ghost Town. This proved a very good move, as we became immediately immersed in Arizona’s 100-year past.
Arizona has deep roots in the mining industry, and it was neat to see re-creations (and restorations) of the inner workings of a real mining town. Complete with a local watering hole, a brothel, and jail for those who mixed the two, the town was indeed something to see. In fact, it’s at this place that we began to behold the very real struggle of the settlers who chose Arizona as their base of operations.
Having had our fill of knowledge, we headed through the winding switchbacks that make up the Apache Trail, gasping at the breathtaking diversity of the Arizona landscape. Having been there 3 times myself, I recognized much of the geologoy, and even had my memory jogged in Tortilla Flat, one of the many stops on my very first family vacation in 1988.
Still, it was with fresh perspective that we appreciated the beauty of the rolling hills, persistent vegetation, and stark buttes that decorated our drive. The thought of even attempting to build a road in these conditions is simply mind boggling, and there were many tales of death, starvation and sacrifice to support our suspicions.
We continued onwards, trading moderate twists and turns on comfortable pavement for 22 miles of an elaborate snake formation on pounding washboard. This, in our opinion, made the adventure that much more real, however Rod and his axle might differ on this one. We made our way past Apache Lake to Roosevelt Dam, and stopped once more for a quick but rewarding hike to a former cliff dwelling, captured in time and named the Tonto National Monument. Another set of intriguing stories, this time in the form of early Native American life, and we returned once more to the vehicle, opting to ride off into the sunset and reflect on our first day’s experiences. Coming up next: Zoo animals and old friends. – Tyler + Jessie