I tend to always be preoccupied with something or other when I’m outside, which is not the best possible mindset when camping in the Great Southwest. I had just returned from a hub test on the Aurora, followed by an impromptu exploratory ride further south along Vulture Mine Road to check out some recently closed campsites. I parked the bike and stowed my sun gear, then shuffled toward the trailer door, key in hand. No, I did not scream like a little girl. Not loudly, anyway. I was still about 5 feet away, and was surprised at the effectiveness of its camo. Once I moved further right, toward its rear, it Read more…
The trip up from broiling Quartzsite was uneventful and beautiful along Route 60, one of many decent rural two-lanes that criss-cross Arizona. The state has what is called State Trust land, which comprises a large percentage of Arizona’s total acreage. State Trust land is distinct from federal BLM land in that it is land leased to various businesses and industries in order to raise money for the state’s schools and other programs. Rather than being public land, it is essentially private. 14-day, $15 passes are available to camp and use very limited, specific areas.
I’m encamped on one of those areas now, just south of Wickenburg itself. Wickenburg has strong historical roots in cattle raising, and as you may know from my posts a year ago, the equestrian arts in regard to
This post could just as easily be titled “A Farewell to Wickenburg”, because it’s definitely getting toasty here, and higher altitudes beckon. So, today I hope to be packing up, hitching up, and reluctantly moving on.
I’ll miss this area not only for it’s beauty and equine orientation, but I’ll even miss that long climb from downtown up the four miles to camp. Kinda, anyway. Whatever day I’d bike on an errand to town, I’d see at least one cyclist on a road bike working their way uphill. They use this thing to keep in shape. Naturally, they weren’t Read more…
Caution: The post below contains a large heap of photographs. If your data plan is extremely limited and you usually use it all up each month, you may want to NOT click on the “More” icon to keep reading (or view the brief video) because all of the photos will begin to download with the rest of the article. There are some very nice snaps in it, if I do say so myself. The photos illustrate how things work and what often happens. Reduced to blog size, each photo is tiny space-wise, but there are about 100 of them, so they add up if you have no space at all to spare. If you already squander your monthly plan on occasional photo galleries, YouTube or Facebook, make a vow to watch one less video of a monkey picking its nose, and keep reading this instead.
Wickenburg, Arizona still wears its Old West heritage on its sleeve, and for good reason. It’s still a ranching and equestrian town. As a result, each winter from November to April, there are numerous team roping events in any of several arenas in town, public and private. Team roping is a rodeo event that contains one steer, two mounted riders, and a couple of ropes.
The historical goal is to quickly capture and immobilize a full-grown steer too large for one man to handle alone. To do this, the first rider tries to rope the steer’s horns, head or neck, while the second rider must rope both of the animal’s rear legs. Once the two pull far enough apart that the steer is judged as immobilized, the elapsed time is called. Team roping is about the only rodeo event where gender means nothing. It’s a straight-up race against time and other teams.
There’s a five-second penalty for roping only one rear leg, and same for either rider leaving the train station early. The equipment is not particularly specialized except for the two ropes. Once you see the photos below, you’ll know why. Each rope does a different job and must behave just so in order to succeed. You’ll notice that the steers are wearing protective horn wraps, which prevent rope burns and reduce stress on the horns. I’m very glad I took plenty of sequential photos, because that made it possible for me to see just how absurdly difficult team roping is to do well. It also helped me appreciate just how much training and experience the working horses must have in order to pull this thing off.
See, each rider’s hands are full of rope and reins, and maneuvering it with split-second timing is a pretty absorbing task. Naturally, there’s no time for the usual action/response delays once that gate opens, so the horse needs to be able to make a string of executive decisions on Read more…
Each year since 1947, an event called the Desert Caballeros Ride takes place. An invitation-only event, it provides a couple hundred riders the opportunity to ride and camp in the surrounding mountains for five days, and then it’s over too soon until next year. This year’s 180 riders will split into groups of forty and move between three camps over about 100 miles before returning. This now-historic ride has inspired several others in the area, including one exclusively for horsewomen (who showed their more civilized natures by chipping in for a portable shower).
So, what I’m presenting here is not a parade through town, per se. It’s simply the orderly departure of some 180 riders heading off for the desert. As Wickenburg is at the juncture of two state highways and lacks a suburban-style network of roads, these boys clog up this town quite effectively for fifteen minutes or so as they head right down the main drags. You’d think the town’s police would view it as an annual nuisance, but not so, not from what I saw and heard. The ride is a part of Wickenburg’s proud heritage, and the town now depends substantially on tourist and vacationer dollars. Although there are other equine events, any loss of interest in this ride would directly impact the town’s ability to promote itself. If anything, it’s in Wickenburg’s best interests to protect and promote it, and that attitude is apparent in the officers having to reroute through-traffic with minimal delay to everyone involved. I was impressed. Calm, confident and friendly, without a hint of grumpiness.
More than a few of these riders have been heading out for a couple of decades. Many are local, many are not. The age span runs wide. It’s apparently a good time, and once you’re hooked, there’s no way you’re not going next year. I was able to tour the Community Center’s parking lot among a half-dozen long, long horse trailers, and here is a little of what I saw.
I took these shots in the same area, over two different walks I took. I would say that these are just some snaps I took with the Pentax K slung over my shoulder, but the majesty of writing for and publishing on a blog compels me to relabel the effort as a “photo essay”. Yeah, that’s right, photo essay, sure!
The Yuma area was getting a bit toasty already, and although a cooler front was predicted to move in after a uncomfortably hot week, duty called – I’m hoping to intercept a good friend who doesn’t RV, but who travels out west more than I do! Time to head for Wickenburg Arizona, one of my all-time favorite towns.
At an elevation of 2,100′, it drops Yuma’s 90-degree sweatymans existence to nicer levels. Quartzsite would have been acceptable these days, but once I overnighted there yet again on the way here, I realized that the magnificent Imperial Dam LTVA had ruined me for anything else. In comparison, Quartzsite is simply a baked-out stopover for other places having considerably more charm.
Wickenburg is one of those places. Named as one of the top True West towns in the country, Wickenburg pumps its past pretty hard. It has to, because it depends quite a bit on tourism – which is a bit of a thin soup these days. But, it’s still a fact that the area is still peppered with Read more…