Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sometimes You Just Have to Drive...

The Bradshaw Mountains of Arizona
Castle Creek - with water!
Happy Easter everyone - today has been a lazy day - and made lazier by the Shelter in Place order that Arizona is under.  So after an amazing Easter dinner of ham, green beans, sweet potatoes and home made dinner rolls, I decided to take a little cruise up to Castle Hot Springs and do the entire loop through to Morristown in an effort to get out and clear my head.  It's a graded dirt road, although the signs say primitive - it isn't.  I could have taken a sports car through most of it. So me, George Strait, Joe Stampley, Brooks & Dunn and my FJ headed off for an afternoon drive.  

American Flag on top of Salvation Peak
The day was perfect - slightly overcast - we had rain yesterday, so the dust was down, and Castle Creek was flowing!  It's been a long time since I've seen it flowing at all.

My first picture was a picture of the flag atop Salvation Peak - this flag is maintained by the Boy Scouts of America, and has special dispensation to be flown 24/7 without a spotlight at night (if you don't know your flag rules - look 'em up folks!).  The special dispensation was given because during World War II, Castle Hot Springs Resort housed recuperating pilots, specifically, John F. Kennedy.  I've always loved this little tidbit of history!
Grand Vistas of the Great Bradshaws

I did not attempt to take any pictures of the resort itself, although it looks absolutely beautiful.  There was a County Sheriff sitting down in the river bed by the barn who was clearly there to keep people moving through.  I've heard through the grapevine that the owners of the resort aren't happy with all of the traffic through the area - so I imagine this helps keep the lolly-gaggers and looky-loos under control.  I've always wanted to stay here - and hopefully someday I will!  But I drove straight through, and stopped to take a few pictures after I had passed Castle Hot Springs Resort.  

Old Barn at the JL Bar Ranch
I drove up and around to the JL Bar Ranch - where the old barn and paddock are - I love all the palm trees that line the area.  I guess this is where I should say that I love the Bradshaw Mountains.  They are my go to place in Arizona - the place I know the history of the best, the place I know the roads, and my off-road backyard.  I've met some absolutely amazing people up in them 'thar hills, and I've made some wonderful discoveries.  I've got fabulous memories of many times up in the Bradshaws - and there is still SO MUCH more for me to discover there!  A large chunk of my blog has been from the Bradshaw Mountains - and today is no different.  But we are in the foothills of the Bradshaws - maybe even the foothills of the foothills.

The weather was holding out - and the clouds were making for some amazing photos - and I was finally starting to feel as though I was where I needed to be this afternoon.  With me and Brooks & Dunn singing along to the good tunes, I was in my element.  

More gorgeous Bradshaw Mountain views!
As I left the old resort road and turned out on to the Castle Hot Springs Road that heads to Morristown - I started the 20 mile trek through the Bradshaw Mountain foothills and some gorgeous country!  Lots of side by sides out, and quite a few jeep groups.  I was the only FJ I saw, and the only truck going the direction I was headed - East to West.    I stopped to chat - at a distance - to a couple of folks on ATVs who were wondering how far it was to the resort.  They were very excited to see the resort, so we discussed a bit of the history and we talked about the flag on Salvation Peak - they promised me they would keep an eye out!

My ninja cow buddy

As I continued on - the vehicles were fewer and fewer.  But there were TONS of Ninja Cows!  Now - I probably need to explain what Ninja Cows are.  When Bailey was little - in fact - one of the times we went to Castle Hot Springs - one of the yellow cow signs was up on the side of the road.  You know, with the all black cow?  Bailey and I decided there must be Ninja Cows that jump out from the side of the road to scare you.  Since then, all cows on the side of the road are Ninja Cows.  Every single one.  I made friends with this steer - sort of.  I stopped to get a picture of him square on - and he started snorting and walking towards me, so I drove up a bit.  I looked back, and his head was down, so I hollered at him, and he looked up at me for the picture.  What a nice steer!  Look out for those horns - they looked pointy.  And my FJ doesn't need any holes.  

Big Reef Mill - from a distance
As I cruised around to the 3rd quarter of the drive, I noticed on my GAIA app that the Big Reef Mill was coming up.  I desperately wanted to go up and see it, but because it was wet out, and I knew already that I had to cross a wash to get to it (or drive up the wash), I elected to just look from a distance this time.  I'm not 100% confident of my off-roading skills - particularly in an area I'm not familiar with.  I had no idea if there was water in the wash (I discovered there was) and I had no idea how steep the drop into the wash was from the road I took the picture from.  But you can bet I'll be headed up there again soon!  I can't wait to see it!

After the Big Reef Mill, the rest of the drive was fairly uneventful - a few big mining operations, lots of long flat driving once I got out of the Bradshaws.  But I was a happy girl - headed back to civilization after getting my Bradshaw Mountain fix.  

JL Bar Ranch - Paddock

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