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Random thoughts and pictures from our travels in a LazyDaze motorhome.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gila Box Riparian Corridor

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Since both of us grew up on farms, and our families still have working farms, these cows caught our attention. These animals are actually two hundred feet up the outside stair step of the Miami open pit copper mine. The mine is right across the street from Walmart as you come into Globe AZ from the west. You just don’t see that in Iowa.

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Gila Box National Riparian Conservation Area is just northeast of Safford AZ. This is essentially a small river with trees through the Chihuhuan Desert which consists of mostly ocotillo, various small cacti, and creosote bushes. I much prefer the Sonoran Desert. Driving from Globe to Safford was depressing since the landscape is pretty barren IMO. Of course, the US Government in its great thinking in the 1870s established the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in this area. With the sun blazing down and blowing dust, its bleak. The Gila looks to be a nice kayaking river though!

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To get to the designated camping area, you have to drive about 4 miles on the edge of the river basin on these narrow and steep roadways.

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Water was flowing pretty fast.

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I don’t think its over 4 feet deep, probably 2-3 feet on average.

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I don’t know if water smoothed this rock out or if was overlaid with the jumbled mess on top. The stuff on top looks like volcanic tuff. Closer inspection of rock nearby indicated tuff.

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Struggling for a drink. Flash floods are common as indicated by the trapped piece of log.

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Another shot of a steep and narrow roadway. The picture does not show the actual grade well. Some of the grades were 15%. Vehicles climbing have the right-of-way. Better if you disconnect your tow.

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We did not make it to the camping area, so we dry camped just off the road a bit. That’s what’s so nice in the west, you can camp nearly anywhere on government land and nobody will hassle you. Just so long as you camp in a location that has been used before. We did check out the camping area since it was another two miles down the road, not that impressed. It was much closer to the water, but no trees.

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An igneous rock among the sedimentary stones.

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It had been dusty and hazy all day, but toward the evening it cleared up. Nice.

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The following morning this mountain greeted us to the west of Safford, Dzil Nchaa Si An in Apache or Mount Graham to us Europeans. It is considered a scared place to all native peoples in the area at 10720 feet.

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If you look closely you will see the Mount Graham International Observatory.

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Surprisingly, farmers grow cotton along the bottomlands here. To an Iowan, this immediate transition from crappy desert to growing crops is hard to get used to.

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