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February 25, 2008

Arizona 2008

It’s been cold this winter.   Yes, yes, I know it hasn’t been as cold as in Ontario, but we came south to stay warm.  In Silver City, it was below freezing most nights so we travelled south to within a 1/2 kilometer of the Mexican border to Naco, Arizona.  It was below freezing the first night we were there.   Oh well, at least I’m not shovelling snow!



Bisbee, AZ is about 15 miles north of Naco, and is the main reason that we came into this area.  We were here 2 years ago (see the journal February 2005) and enjoyed the town so much we decided to come back for another visit. 

This old copper mining town, originally founded in the last half of the 1800’s is now a haven for artists, sculptors and other artisans.  Old buildings have been lovingly and quite authentically restored. 

P1020276_editedThe Copper Queen Lode was the basis of the community but all the mines closed in the early 1970’s.  The town now runs tours of the mine, so we decided to don hats, slickers and lamps and head underground for the 1 1/2 hour tour.   The tours are given by miners who actually worked in the mines so you get a very personal and knowledgeable picture.  We travelled by tram into the mountain – about 1,500 feet and into various caverns that were formed by the removal of the ore.  At one point we all turned off our battery powered lamps – now that is dark!

During it’s 100 years of operation the mine produced more than eight BILLION pounds of copper as well as substantial amounts of silver, lead zinc and gold – one of Arizona’s richest mines.  Bisbee’s mines, including the Queen Mine, have more than 2,500 miles of tunnels.

Our next stop was Tucson where we set up camp for two weeks. My sister Joan, who lives in Fredericton, NB is there for a couple of months so we had great visits with her.  We also visited the casinos, played golf a couple of times, had great Mexican food, attended a “Canadian” pot luck at the park, visited the Tucson Museum of Art, attended the Gem and Mineral Show, got a haircut, had the trailer washed and in general relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.

IMG_6002_editedOne day we drove the 30 miles to Mount Lemmon, which is in the Santa Catalina Mountains to the north of the city.  At 9,157 ft., the highest mountain in the area offers both downhill and cross country skiing.  The day after we had arrived  in Tucson, there was a major snow storm and the road was closed until plows could finally clear it.  Even in the summer the temperature is 20 – 30 degrees F lower than in the valley.

The mountains are very rugged and barren until you get to the higher elevations, where first shrubs, then finally trees are present. 

Just before the ski area is the resort town of Summerhaven.  The village has been a haven from the high summer temperatures since the early 1900’s.  In 2003 it was devastated by the Aspen fire that burned 84,750 acres and destroyed 340 of the 450 homes and businesses.   It’s amazing how these huge fires can skip individual homes and trees and consume others.   No rhyme or reason.  The town is gradually rebuilding but there is still little permanent population, although we did see signs for new condominiums. 

We said goodbye to Joan and made for Apache Junction just east of Phoenix on Monday February 18th.  We like Phoenix, we like it’s people and we like it’s atmosphere.  We are very impressed by the landscaping along its roads and streets.  They don’t try to grow grass – it’s desert – but they do use the native cactus and shrubs effectively. 

IMG_6026_editedWe spent one day driving The Apache Trail which was created in 1905 to transport supplies to the construction site of Roosevelt Dam. The road follows the ancient route of the Apaches through the Salt River Canyons. It runs north east for 41 miles from Apache Junction to Roosevelt through rugged, beautiful steep sided canyons, rock outcroppings and mountain vistas.  You need to allow about 4 hours to do the drive.

It’s best to travel from west to east as the secure rock walls will then be beside you rather than the steep cliffs on the other side.  The road is paved for the first half, but the last part is gravel and very challenging with most of the road with a speed limit of 15 mph.   On one curve we were able to see the wrecks of 5 vehicles in the canyon below.

The road down into Fish Creek Canyon drops 1,500 feet in about 2 miles and hangs on the side of the canyon.  It is mostly one lane, with widened spots to allow cars to meet.  In the picture to the right, the road is in the foreground and also in the centre back. (It looks more like a river)

But the scenery is beautiful and we are glad we took the time to drive it.

We left the Phoenix area heading east and then south east.  We had been noticing how green the desert was this year.  What a difference rain makes!

Our next destination is Clifton, Arizon which is on the very eastern side of Arizon.  It’s there we find the huge Morenci copper mine which is where we are headed.

Bernie & Ross 

Posted by Bernice at February 25, 2008 10:35 PM


Ross and Bernice,

I signed on this morning thinking that I would need to bo back in my saved mail to find something with your address and here was a new one from you. Sounds like a little bit of white-knuckled driving.


Posted by: Rick Russell at March 14, 2008 08:01 AM

Those pictures are incredible - we really appreciate receiving them - keep 'em coming.

Best regards and hope to see you guys soon,
Jill & Alan

Posted by: Jill & Alan at March 14, 2008 10:29 AM

The Apache Trail looks like an extremely interesting road. I like to drive those type of roads providing you don't meet too many people or huge trucks. Strange how cold it has been all over the west this year! We are cold again with large amounts of snow falling in the cascades. Don't think winter will ever be over--much nicer where you are and will continue to be. I thought Tucson was a very pretty area--did not like Phoenix. Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at March 14, 2008 05:16 PM

Gee's your saving me so much money in trips. Love getting these from you.

Bob Hall

Posted by: Bob Hall at April 6, 2008 06:54 PM