Thursday, December 08, 2011


When I peered out this morning and saw a cloudy sunrise I knew I had better climb myself into some warm clothes.  It is the sun which brings warmth this time of year in these parts and with no sun I knew the air would be cold.
Crawled into my lined winter pants and threw a flannel shirt over my T-shirt.  Over my flannel shirt I put on another flannel shirt with a nylon lining and over top that I wore my lined nylon jacket.  Just because I am from Canada doesn’t mean I am an Eskimo and am used to the cold.
My layers of clothing served me well until old Sol spotted me out on our morning walk.  Ever so softly he parted a few clouds and deliberately threw down a few of his hottest rays of sunshine directly upon me.  I immediately began to heat up and by the time we made it back to the rig the bugger had me roasted up like a hot Tamale.  The sound I heard in the sky after that was not jet aircraft this morning, it was old Sol laughing his gas off.
Loaded up the Pheebs and we were on the road by 9 a.m.  First stop was just down the road from us where neighbor Rick had told us about a curious circle of cans laid out in the desert.  Didn’t take us long to find all the old rusted cans and I thought the circles looked familiar.  Had seen a similar configuration of stones at Hickiwan Trails RV Park and I remember the Indians had laid it out.  Can’t remember what they called it or what the significance was.  But, it did mean something.
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The Jeep was low on gas so we headed into Ajo for a fill up.  A quick stop at Olsens Food Mart for a couple breakfast Burritos and we were off to the Visitor’s Center.  Picked up some info and headed right back out of town to Darby Wells road, hung a right & headed out into the desert past the Indian Cemetery.  We were in search of the old Mica Mine.
Passed by our old campsite from late February of 08 heading southwest into yet another beautiful valley of Saguaros.  And, wouldn’t you know it….Hawkeye spotted another crested Saguaro Cactus in it’s early stages of Fasciation.  Fasciation??  RVing friend Ed explained this in a comment on our blog today.  Ed said, “Fasciation is rare overall, but has been observed in at least a hundred different plant specie. There are even a few that are cultivated especially for their dependably fasciated flower heads, for which they are called "cockscomb".”
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We were once again on another road in an area we had never been before.  Seems every time one turns a corner out here it is another new adventure and this morning was no exception.  Once again, Saguaro’s for as far as the eye could see as we twisted and turned among them on the winding up and down road.  I spotted a white section on a hillside about 4 or 5 miles in the distance and immediately suspected that could have something to do with the mine we were looking for.  It did.
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Minutes later we rolled up to a metal gate across the road.  From this point we would be on foot for the mile or so walk into the mine site.  Pheebs was in her glory as she barreled out the back of the Jeep and hit the trail a running with her nose to the ground just checking everything out.
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The closed road into MICA MINE is a fairly easy walk with no rock scrambling.   It leads through some of the finest roadside scenery around with lots of Organ Pipe and Saguaro Cactus plus Cholla and Ocotillo along both sides and hillsides.  Took us about 40 minutes of walking before Kelly spotted the house on our forward left.
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It wasn’t the type of house I had expected.  I could see right away it looked like a 1950’s suburban bungalow and not a stately mine owners two story Georgia mansion.  The closer we got to the house the more litter and garbage lay scattered about.  An old tire here, a piece of rusted machinery there.  And of course, the usual broken glass everywhere.  I bunch of old rusted cans dumped over a bank and a plastic bag caught in a tree.  The miners are long gone but there is still traffic through the area as evidenced by foot paths leading off in the direction of Mexico.
The deteriorating house is still basically intact and sure enough there was the television in the corner Rick had told us about.  The inside of the house was pretty much trashed but we have seen worse in other places.  Both Kelly and I find old abandoned buildings interesting and long time readers will remember our hikes and searches in the past for hard to find places like CHARLESTON Arizona.
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From the house we spotted an old Chevy truck which I suspect may go back to the early 60’s.
Not far from the truck sat an old weathered bulldozer which I’m sure spent it’s hard life in the service of the mine operation.  Probably used in one of it’s duties to keep the rough and rocky road open leading into the mine.
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From the old bulldozer it was only a short walk to the mine’s entrance.  The Mica Mine has been closed for a number of years and the entrance is sealed with a large slab of concrete.  Rusting machinery and weather beaten wood still leave a good idea as to how the Mica was brought out of the mine and trucked away for refining.  Like I said, we always find this kind of intriguing stuff very interesting.
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All around the area the ground literally sparkled as the reflective bits of aluminum colored Mica lay everywhere.  It seemed the hillside was alive with glitz and glitter.
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Around both sides of the hill were old roadways where trucks must have hauled loads of Mica down from the top where it was dug out maybe by the bulldozer below.  We hiked up and around the north side of the Mica hill to the west side where we had a view of a huge valley stretching to the mountains on the horizon.  More roads and trails could be seen weaving their way through the miles of open desert below.  Made our way around to the other side of the hill and back down to the mine entrance again.
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I am one of those people with an active and inquisitive imagination and it is these kinds of past places and events that really spark my interest.  Not hard for me to see the miners coming up the hill and entering the mine.  Trucks being loaded Mica from the conveyer chute inside the mine.  I can see the mine manager coming out of the house below while his wife is tending to the cactus garden beside the house.  The old green Chevy rolls up the road with some mining parts and groceries from Ajo.  The puffing yellow bulldozer is busily scraping away at a pile of rocks near the mine entrance as a few miners are having a smoke break near a cement abutment.  I can hear the clanking of the bulldozer’s tracks and did I just hear the laughter of children playing around the waterfall fountain in the yard.  Did I just hear the mine manager calling to his foreman something about the day’s deadline.  And, was that some cussing from a miner over there who had just accidentally backed himself into a Teddy Bear Cholla while trying to connect a couple water pipes.  Aw yes, imagination is a wonderful thing and how entertaining to imagine the events and times of days gone by.
Pheebs got her left hind paw into a deadly Cholla cactus near the old green Chevy truck so we had to be very careful in getting some hooked Cholla barbs out.  Pheebs is really good about letting us help her and only let out with one little yelp.  It’s a process of learning for her and she is doing very well.
We probably explored around the mine location for nearly an hour and then it was time to go.  We still had a 40 minute walk back out the gravely road to the Jeep.  I’m always a bit sad when I leave places like that because I know it is likely I will never return there again.  Some of us folks are just like that I guess.
Always good to get back to the Jeep and take the weight off our feet.  We have never been long distance hikers and this two or maybe three mile hike today was just about right for us.  I think Pheebs was pretty happy to get back to the Jeep as well because she looked pretty pooped stretched out in the back.
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We followed another road neighbor Rick told us about until it came to a gate as well.  A miles walk beyond that gate are the remains of a small town the Mica Mine’s miner’s lived in years ago.  But, that’s another exploration for another day.
We were back to the rig shortly after 3 making our little adventure today a pleasurable 6 hour outing.  Motormouse was stretched out on the front seat enjoying the soft ambient music her Dad loves so much.  With the unlocking turn of our side door key we were greeted with a happy little barking dog with a happy little wagging tail.  Awwww yes, another fine day in the life and times of the Bayfield Bunch:))
Again, I would just like to thank all the readers and commenters who have taken the time and interest to drop in and see what the Bayfield Bunch is up to each day.  It is you folks who make my day and my thanks goes out to all of you, whoever you are:))
GROANER’S CORNER:((  A Cowboy walks into a bar, and buys a huge beer. Then he sees someone he knows, and decides to go and say Howdy to them, but he does not want to take his beer mug with him. So he keeps it on a table, along with a note "I spit in this beer" thinking that no one will drink it.
Upon return, he sees another note saying "Me too!"

-Tourists see the world, travelers  experience it.
-Until one has loved an Animal, their  soul remains un-awakened.
The only thing better than right now  will someday be the memories of
right  now...AL.


  1. Superb post Al. Thanks so much for the adventure !

    Okanagan Al

  2. I think it might be a '66 Chevy "step-side". You could order a "curb-side" or "step-side", and my Dad preferred the "step-side", making it easier to get into the box. Long story.
    I predict someone will object to the term, "Eskimo". You watch. But leave it. I still use it.
    Keep warm!

  3. What a cool adventure and learning experience! Thanks Al..

  4. Great pics and great post, Al. And I was fascinated by that fasciation stuff. I've learned a lot today and it's only 5:30 AM.

  5. Al and Kelly, love reading your blog and today's adventure was simply awesome - thanks for sharing!
    Connie in PA

  6. Don't worry Buddy, I got those two Windmill's in my file now just as i do the ole you got me the other day..Thank you berry much! Yep, I'm still a windmill guy!!

    Be careful down in that area, I'm reading all kinds of not so good stuff happening down there....That jeep would be a choice ride for some of those "wets" down there that have been walking... Be aware! I suppose the Boorder guys warned you already, but just be extra cautious.....

  7. Thanks Al for another 'fasciating' post.
    I believe you will need to caption one of those photos "Rin Tin Pheebs" That's what it reminds me of. :)

  8. Great post, always informative and interesting.

    Bev in NS Canada

  9. Great post! We spent a lot of time in this area, but you are finding things we didn;t. Is it possible that you could give GPS coordinates of some of your finds?


  10. Always fun waking up to your blog. I ran across several of those rock circles in the Sedona area 30+ years ago and I was told they were medicine circles. But who knows how true that is??? But with yours, it was an interesting way to recycle old cans! I have an off topic question to ask about blogger. I also use blogger, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to get the large header photo posted. Any help would be appreciated!
    Thanks for sharing your journey and the wonderful photographs!

  11. Those rocks are called a "labrynith"... You start walking into the labrynith at the opening, and you meditate as you walk it... it brings you peace! We walked one in southern California, and I carried my GPS and I walked 1 mile inside the labrynith!

  12. Yes the old truck is an early '60s model. It is in fact a 1960 Chevy like one that my parents bought 'brand new', I think it was the first NEW car that they ever had.

  13. Another great blog with excellent photos. I certainly enjoy "traveling" with you all even tho I am tied down by family obligations here in Okla. Hopefully someday I can join you all on the road but for now will enjoy your blog.
    As an aside, be aware of kicking up dust in old buildings because of the "hanta" virus from rat droppings.
    Best wishes for safe travels and good health.
    Don in Okla.

  14. It's a belief of the Tohono O'odham tribe (Hickiwan Trails is on their reservation.)
    We have a "man in the maze" sticker on a mirror in our camper. The labyrinth represents experiences and choices we make in our journey through life. In the middle of the "maze",are your dreams and goals. When you reach the center, you have one final chance (the last turn in the design) to look back upon your choices , before the Sun God greets you, blesses you and passes you into the next world.

  15. Love finding those old abandoned buildings and mines too! What a cool day you've had.


  16. excellent blog are quite the story your imagination...felt like we were all right there with you and Kelly and the Pheebes....keep em coming!!

  17. Hi, Just got this e-mail and do not know if this would be of interest to you guys, as you prefer the 'road less traveled' so to speak.
    Sheila :)

    Everyone’s invited to the first Good Sam Rally of 2012 at Phoenix International Raceway, March 22–25. Presented by DISH Network, the Arizona event combines all things RV, from scores of RV seminars to hundreds of RV accessories to row after row of brand new RVs on display, and, of course, thousands of happy campers. This is the place to brush up on your RV driving skills, talk shop with RV experts and even test-drive a new motorhome on the Phoenix racetrack.

    The Rally’s spectacular lineup of nighttime stage shows begins with a bang as John "Bowzer" Bauman, from ’50s nostalgia band Sha Na Na, gets the party started on opening night with toe-tappin’ golden oldies. On Friday, one of America’s most beloved comedians and all-time great performers, the iconic Bill Cosby, takes to the stage to share the wit, wisdom and humor of a lifetime. On Saturday, Grammy-nominated Platinum recording artist Martina McBride combines old-time honkytonk with progressive country folk in a feel-good performance that’s sure to make you smile. Closing night features the triumphant return of Ticket to Ride, the electrifying Beatles tribute band that had the 2007 Rally crowd on their feet singing along to favorite Fab Four tunes.

    For a tail-wagging good time, Rally-goers can have their RV pups strut their paws in our ninth annual dog show and parade, aptly named "Desert Dogs." Pets play musical chairs and vie for best biscuit balance and silliest pet trick. Don’t miss the hilarious swimsuit competition and the dog-and-owner look-alike contest—now that’s entertainment!

    And don’t miss out on the chance to ramp up your driving skills at the RV Safe Driver Training Program. This class not only trains RVers to be better drivers, in some cases it can even save money on RV insurance. The six-hour session increases driver awareness, identifies bad habits and helps with RV handling so graduates of the class can get behind the wheel with confidence and expertise.

    To get the latest Good Sam Rally information and register for the greatest event in RVing, visit or call 800-701-1399. All-inclusive prices for the four days start at only $189 per rig, entitling you to the entire Rally experience. It’s going to be a great time!

    We hope to see you in the pits in Phoenix!

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  19. There's a labyrinth in Julian. It's on Fletcher Island, the little peninsula in the middle of Lake Cuyamaca. There are at least 2 others in the San Diego area. Maybe more. The next time you're in Julian, you should consider visiting Fletcher Island and walking that labyrinth.

    Good post. Thanks.

  20. quite the adventure you all had today!!..Pheebes has adjusted well to the walks and cactus! are in a piece of paradise!

  21. Love your blog posts. You make things come alive with your descriptions.

  22. This looks like another great place to explore! When we were in South Dakota last summer I claimed to large chunks of mica from there! Kelly and I could compare treasures!

  23. Found you on Pinterest! These all sound amazing! I can't wait to try the benedict and burrito!
    English Bulldog Puppies