Cacti, cowboys and indians

When we left Las Vegas we drove south to Hoover Dam. Here we chose to just look at the dam from a view point so we would not spend time looking for a more permanent parking space as we had quite a distance to go that day. From the dam we continued south to Kingman, Arizona. Here Route 66 near Peach Springs, Azwe ate a light meal at a local restaurant and got a re-supply of water for our cooler, and then we drove along famous U.S. Route 66 to Seligman, Arizona. When Dorte and I drove the same stretch in 2006, we saw rain clouds in the distance, but not any actual rain. Exactly the same thing happened this time. Rain clouds in the distance, but no rain, where we drove. We stopped a few times to take pictures, including the Grand Canyon Caverns with its Historic Route 66 sign, where we took pictures of the sign and our car.

From Kingman Route 66 leads in an arc north and then south again. In the northernt part you drive into the Hualapai Indian Reservation, where the road goes through the reservation capital, Peach Springs, before it goes south. The tribe is relatively small with only about 1,300 members, but our "visit" here was the beginning of a series of visits or at least passing through Indian reservations in Arizona and the neighboring states.

When we got to Seligman four years earlier, we drove directly onto the
freeway and continued to Williams, but this time we made a wrong turn, so we ended up in  Seligman, which is one of the towns along Route 66, that has best preserved the style of 50s. So our mistake proved to be an advantage. Eventually we had to enter the I-40, which we were to follow a few miles east. Here history repeated itself one again. When Dorte and I drove here in 2006, the rain that we had seen in the distance hit us and we had to use the wipers once, then the rain was over. This time however it rained so little that although we got rain drops on the windshield, it was not necessary to wipe. Strange is that I have now been six times in the U.S., and on five of the visits, I've driven on I-40. And we got to drive it a few more times later on the tour.

When we reached the U.S. 89, we turned south. Route 89 goes through Prescott National Forest and is all the way to Phoenix classified as "scenic route", and it is indeed. We followed the road which in places is fairly narrow down to the town of Prescott. From there we took Arizona Route 69, which is an even smaller road, east to Interstate Highway 17, which we would follow to Phoenix. We could have stayed at Route 89, but it would have required us to drive through the city center.

Saguaro Cactus in southern ArizonaOur initial plan was to stay overnight in the town of Black Canyon City, but when we arrived there, it was still relatively early in the afternoon, so we decided to continue south. In Phoenix I-17 ends and we switched to I-10, which continued south towards Tucson. As we approached the town, we began to look for a hotel. We had traveled far and was getting a little bit tired. We would however like to take this opportunity to see the western part of Saguaro National Park, known for its large cacti. Already on the way down the highway we had seen some cacti along the road, but they were not big enough for us! On our map it looked like we had to leave the highway at the town of Red Rock, so we did. This led us into a very exciting area of cattle farms and other agricultural landscapes, and we came very close to the Tohono O'Odham reservation, home to an Indian tribe of the same name, but no National Park. We therefore returned to the freeway and continued south to the town of Cortaro, where we finally found a sign pointing to the national park. It turned out that the park was about 15 miles from the highway, and many parts of the road there was very narrow. When we reached the park's Visitor Center, it had closed at 5 PM, and it was 6 PM, when we got there. We decided to drive around the park roads anyway and look at the cacti. There were many different kinds of cacti, not least the large Saguaro, which has given the park it's name. We took a lot of pictures of cacti, which will also appear on Pictures from Arizona some day when I get to the new pictures from that state.

After our visit to the park we found a hotel on the east side of Tucson, after 525 miles of driving and a lot of impressions.

Tim outside the O.K CorralAfter our overnight stay , we drove back to the freeway (I-10) an took it to Benson, about 40 miles to the southeast. From there we drove south to Tombstone, where we were already at 10 AM. We found an empty parking lot on Fremont Street just opposite the OK Corral - one of the reasons that we had come to town. Next to the OK Corral was Camillus Fly's photo studio, just as on the 26th of October 1881, when the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday met the Clanton and McLaury brothers and Billy Claiborne in the West's most famous gunfight.

Actually the duel did not take place in the OK Corral but in an empty lot, right next to the photo studio. The actual OK Corral was a bit further down the street. The duel ended with the two McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton getting killed while Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne escaped unharmed. To tell the whole story that led up to the duel would fill several pages, enough is to say that the famous duel lasted only about 30 seconds. The three killed are buried in the city's old cemetery, which we later visited.

We walked from Fremont Street to Allen Street, the city's old main street, which is still kept in the old style with wooden sidewalks and false facades. Here we looked at the many shops etc. We didn't visit the site of the shootout, as the first re-enactment performance would taker place at 2PM, and we didn't want to wait that long. Since there really was no more to look at, we headed for Boot Hill, the city's ancient cemetery. Here we saw the many graves, and not least their inscriptions. Some are fairly laconic: "John Martin, killed 1882", "Dan Down Hanged 1884 or" Van Houten, 1879, Murdered "and so on. A marker on the duelist's tomb reads "Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury. Murdured on the streets of Tombstone, 1881. "(Note: The spelling error actually occurs on the tombstone). There are also more poetic writings such as the famous, that are often shown in pictures from the cemetery: "Here lies Lester Moore. Four Slugs from a 44. No Les, no more" or my own favorite: "Here lies George Johnson, hanged by mistake in 1882. He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up, and now he's gone."

After visiting the cemetery, we continued further south to Bisbee. Here we saw the very large open copper mine. Then we continued further south to Douglas at the Mexican border. We did not go into Mexico but simply took some pictures of the crossing before we drove north again to I-10. This was the southernmost we got on this trip. As we drove north again, we passed a Border Patrol control station about 15 to 20 miles north of Douglas. Here we had to show our passports so they could see we were not illegal immigrants from Mexico. They did not look quite convinced though, when we claimed to come from Roosevelt Dam on the Tonto RiverDenmark, not Mexico, but we were allowed to go on. We continued north through small towns with names like McNeal and Elfrida. The last town before we reached the highway was called Sunsite, and here there was an exit to Cochise Stronghold. We considered a visit, but since we still had quite away to go before calling it a day, we decided not to. After a few miles on the interstate, we turned north to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. The reservation is the home of remnants of several Apache groups. Among the groups that live in the reservation is the Arivaipa, the Pinal and the San Carlos Apaches. Around 9,000 Native Americans live on the reservation, and they are some of the poorest Native Americans in the U.S. of A. Nearly 60% of the population live below the official poverty line in the U.S. and an average household is earning less than $ 14,000 per year. However, there is opened a casino on his reservation, which provides some income from  tourists. It is the tenth largest reservation in the U.S., but most of it is desert, mountains and pine forests.

At the town of Globe, we left the reservation again and then we started looking for a place to stay. However, there was nothing that appealed to us in  Globe, so we continued on northwest and later north east along another scenic route through the mountains, The Sierra Ancha. We passed an artificial lake, Lake Roosevelt, and here we thought that we might find a hotel, but no. We passed several campsites and cabins, but no hotels. In stead we enjoyed the drive along the lake and later along Tonto River. It was on this stretch that our board computer started telling us that it was time change the oil on the car. As we could not really do anything, we contiued to Payson, where we found a hotel and got a room. When we arrived, the lady at the reception desk asked us what on earth we were doing in Payson, Arizona? The city, located 4,000 feet  above sea level is know to be situated almost exactly in the center of the state of Arizona. And I could tell her, that we were just passing through.

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