A Daytrip through beautiful country
It had beckoned to me from the map: Lake Pleasant, just north of Phoenix.
So following Hwy 60 south out of Wickenburg, I soon turned onto Hwy74 towards the lake. But Hwy.74 is also a connection to I-17 Flagstaff-Phoenix, so there is a lot of truck traffic on that highway.
Reaching the lake was not as easy as I had thought. The creators or administrators have put a tollbooth across the access road. Now that is something I have a whole lot of sentiments against. It was not the size of the fee ($6.00) which I found offending, but the principle. This lake is man-made and I assume there is a power station which generates a lot of money. Taking money from the public to letting them use that lake and enjoying the view I find unfair. So consequently I turned around and went back to Hwy 74. The picture below of the lake has been taken by Justin Wright.
I had a good look at the map and decided to make the roundtrip North on I-17 until Hwy69 turns West to Prescott. From there I would be taking Hwy89 back to Wickenburg.
So I was soon part of the general big I-17 traffic North. The Interstate is also the border to the Agua Fria Nat’l Monument, a huge (70,400acres) natural area containing numerous remains of native habitation between 2150 and 4600ft elevation.
However, exploring that area would take more than my day, so I went on towards Prescott.
Before one gets to the city one has to cross Prescott Valley. And here, I saw what seemed almost unbelievable. And I must get in a word or two about current fuel prices. While the price for regular gas in Wickenburg is 4.09 the gas prices in Prescott Valley were between 3.77 and 3.93. That is still a wide gap, but also a far cry from 4.09 or even 4.23 as one station in Wickenburg charges. Prescott valley is not a pretty town, while Wickenburg is and attracts tourists who can be milked. I can’t think of any other reason why Wickenburg gas is so expensive.
Now on to the trip: Before I ever got into Prescott there was a stop-and-go. A road construction project was the reason, but I finally made it through. Prescott is sure enough a sprawling city, but let us forget the suburbs and the outskirts. When I got deeper into town it became much more cozy. The old center of town looks inviting, even though there is a whole lot of exhaust belching traffic. I wonder why there are so few pedestrian zones in North American Cities.
Once I was through Prescott and on Hwy89, the road climbed way up into the lush green Ponderosa Pine National Forest. In fact it reaches over 6000ft in elevation. A sign warns that vehicles over 40ft. are prohibited. With regards to the common traffic it is probably a good thing, though I have seen a lot worse roads which actually are traveled by 45ft. commercial buses on a daily basis. More than the curves I would be afraid of the long down-grades. It would take a lot of breaking, even with our retarder brakes, to keep the rig from running off the mountain. The appropriate thing would be to take the toad and explore the area. It would also be next to impossible to find places to park along the road with a long vehicle.
I stopped at a little turn-out and took Molly down an ATV-trail. Aah.. What a welcome change from the desert. Tall old trees showing up into the deep-blue sky. I wish I could relay the wonderful smell of pines, and the cool shady interludes in this forest. Just a few birds, no wind. A quiet forest and an experience we can only find in nature.
Peeples Valley, and the traveler is down from the first mountain range. Open pastures, well-groomed horse ranches with white fences, and the ranch buildings surrounded by tall trees, many of them oak trees. It is a landscape I would like to live in.
Leaving the gentleness of the valley, the road climbs again. The Weaver Mountains must be crossed. The two lanes of Hwy89 are following separate routes. There was simply not enough room along the cliffs to engineer the two lanes along the same route.
Next town is Congress. About here somewhere, did the Bayfield Bunch find a second home.
Back in Wickenburg, I stopped at the Safeway for 5gal. of drinking water. It seems that Molly and I are drinking a lot.
It sure felt good to get back to the rig. It was 3pm now and time for coffee.
Already, I have been here for a whole week and how fast did that go again.
So tomorrow I will be going south to the Ajo/Why area.
Hope to see you here again tomorrow!