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Old 11-29-2010, 07:58 PM   #1
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Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins

My buddy Waymon wanted to get in an overnight outing to check the recent repairs to the Muskoka Foundations Adventure Trailer. I have been wanting to check out the Vulture Mine buildings for a possible Disabled Explorers destination and somewhere new to take my sonís Boy Scout Troop. These dual desires meant we could load up the rigs and dash out of town for a Saturday night in the desert.

Having worked the night before in the Intensive Care meant I didnít get rolling till 2 in the afternoon, but that was fine as our goal was the Hassyampa River outside of Wickenburg (small town an hour northwest of Phoenix). Waymon is a recent Texas transplant to Arizona from and he was looking for quick getaway spots.


These were our transports for the weekend, joining us was my dog Jack who is always happy to flush quail when camping. Leading the way is the Disabled Explorers Sportsmobile WAVE (wheelchair accessible van for expeditions). Based on a 2008 Ford E350 van with a 6.0L diesel engine, Atlas Transfer case, Dynatrac Pro-rock 60 front axle, ARB locker, Extreme Outback on board Air, National Luna fridge,Nitto Trail Grappler 35ís and Rigid LED lights to show us the way. It is packed with much more and you can learn about all of it at http://www.disabledexplorers.org. Following me was Waymon in his Lexus GX (Prado to you non-US folks) which he has kept nicely stock and puts his money toward outings. Behind Waymon is the Muskoka Foundation Adventure Trailer which is available to be used by those wishing to ďdo good as they goĒ, learn more at http://www.themuskokafoundation.org


A quick air down once we hit sand and it was full speed ahead, well almost full speed as this area is very popular with motos, atvís, 4x4ís and even horse riders. In other words when I am driving a rig 10ft tall and 11,000 lbs I donít blast around blind corners since anything in my way will end up as grill splatter.


The Hassyampa River is a novel desert destination as it varies from wide open sand and scrub to narrow rock canyon. The water is always present but depending on the season and the width of the canyon it will be anywhere from 6ft above the sand to 6ft below. Good thing is you have plenty of room to turn around and as always when in the desert know the weather all around you. A thunderstorm miles away can mean a flash flood coming at you.


The narrow section is fairly short but very scenic, it is a great place to let the kids scamper and is plenty wide for vehicles to pass.



Lucky for Waymon the water was shallow enough not to trouble his stock setup. And if it had been deeper there are places to exit the river bed and take dirt tracks around. The Sportsmobile has a fording depth of 39in I think (air intake is behind the headlight), and I have been well over bumper depth many times.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:58 PM   #2
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins


A nice place to camp was located that was sheltered and off the main track enough that any Saturday night desert rompers would not blast into our camp. The Fire Dancer propane fire pit provided plenty of warmth but no smoke in our eyes. This was a double treat as I brought my laptop to enjoy a 4wd Action Magazine DVD, these are a great treat to go along with my magazine subscription. Sure it is a long haul from Oz to get these to Arizona but worth the wait. Waymon had worked up ribeye steaks, amazing mashed potatoes and Texas style beans...thank goodness we were sleeping in separate rigs. Dessert was giant marshmellows melted onto dark chocolate and ginger crackers. Licking the plates clean made for a happy dog.


This being only the start of our desert winter I wasnít quite ready for how cold it got, but the Sportsmobile has an Espar diesel heater so all was well. However as we were having breakfast there was a small patch of clouds that dropped this bit of hail/snow. Not enough to be a problem, just enough to be fun.


Our next stop of the day was the Vulture Mine. This is a place on private property that has a wide range of buildings, equipment and history. The $10 admission is worth it to me as places like this have a tough enough time in a good economy and it would be a real shame to see it close and get trashed by vandals.


You could easily spend an hour in the office/entrance building looking over the minerals, bits, bolts and odd things like whatever this is. I admit to being a person that likes odd rusty old junk as the feeling of history just pours out. Shinny new things are nice but the style of days gone by will be evident in the pics to come.


The collection of large and serious tools told me we would get to see major bits of metal on this outing. You just donít carry around a wrench like these in your back pocket, well not if plan to ever sit that is.
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:59 PM   #3
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins


One thing I like about the place is the collection of hand made signs that explain the equiptment, the mine and the history of the area. This makes it a fun outing for kids as the signs bring the rusty bits to life.


Now I am not one to say that Waymon was a slacker on the hike around the property, but it didnít take him long to find a nap spot. I got him jumping out of that tub when we learned that the building falling down behind him had about $600,000 worth of gold in itís walls. Thatís right, they used ore from the mine to build the place. Imagine the insurance writeup on that.




There are a surprising number of buildings on the site. Normal mine ruins might have a headframe, ore processor or storage building. This has much more to offer, like a brothel, homes and other buildings we couldnít find info on.


Some piles of wood and metal were beyond our ability to decipher which only makes it more fun to invent stories about it all.


And of course other bits were easy to understand and while I was jeoulous of Waymons nap spot earily this bed didnít quiet look as inviting as it might once have been.


Going inside the buildings brought us more mysteries, and the mental musings never stopped. However some things like the barrels inside a very solid concrete building with bars on the windows made me a curious from a distance. Hey as a cigar smoker I know when I should walk away ember in hand!
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Old 11-29-2010, 07:59 PM   #4
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins


My favorite building was the Machine Shop/Power Plant. This structure is very much intact and once again reminded me how in days long gone there was an asthetic to design that I miss. The swirl of wheel spokes, the shape of handles, the fliigree of footpost all add a quality that evokes craftsmanship. Almost all the equipment was belt driven and sparked a conversation about what would still function in a post-apocalyptic world and how even a tech-geek like me needs to understand the simple basic tools.



Even the door hinges seem to have more style than anything I see around my house. I canít believe that it really cost more to make something with this detail, but maybe it does or maybe our society has moved on. Still I like it and this is my writeup.



We were also greeted by the site of this beast. A 6 cylinder diesel engine driving a generator setup to power the mine equipment. Open rocker arms, massive valve springs, and glow plugs still wired up. It seriously looked like a bit of grease and work would see it fire up and rubble. The catwalk around the upper cylinder heads gives you an idea of the engine size.


From the catwalk I could spy a control panel that would give any kids hours of fun spinning knobs and pulling levers. All that we needed was some flashed of lightening and a white lab coat to complete the mad scientist vibe.




One of the other building held a kitchen setup that would be a bit tough to transport on a trail. But I bet the waffles wear worth the effort. And coffee from a jar was something I had never seen before.


Of course finding this box in the next room made me wonder if it was digestive aid or mining aid....then again a read of the fine print (High Explosives) gave me the answer. Just imagine breaking this up for tinder and learning very quickly how TNT would sweat nitroglycerin.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:00 PM   #5
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins



On the way out I spoke with the property owner about bringing some disabled participants or Boy Scouts, she was kind enough to direct us to the large camping area around back and the two old school houses nearby. The outhouse was a little too ďrusticĒ to make use of but I am sure a camp toilet could be arranged.

All in all I would recommend the area to any disabled traveler who is smart enough to know their limits. A power chair could get around most of the grounds and the inclines are not too tough for a manual chair user. Of course the building entrances vary from super scary to easy to pass through, just use your common sense. For those who use a cane or crutches it will be all about placement and watching where you grab for support.

For anyone with kids it is a terrific place to teach and encourage play, but please keep a close eye as there are plenty of places for small hands and feet to get trapped. And hey that is your job as a parent anyway. It would be a shame for this place to close because someone was too lazy to mind their children and an injury resulted (donít get me started on the people who sue others to cover their idiocy).
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:04 AM   #6
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins

Great report and amazing place, thanks.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:07 AM   #7
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins

That just made my short list of things I gotta do. Thanks for the write up!
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:15 AM   #8
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins

Great report w lots of great pics.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:56 PM   #9
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins

It is great to see that it is being restored and taken care .
Who was responsible for the 10.00 entrance fee , it use to be free has the State taken it over ?
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Old 12-03-2010, 09:38 PM   #10
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Re: Water in the desert and Rust on the ruins

Nice trip...what a great canyon drive.
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