Have you ever wandered off the beaten path and driven down a lonely dirt road just to see where it ends?
Taking time to explore is always a top priority on our trips, and it is never time wasted. Sometimes what we find is an explorers pot of gold, and other times it’s a gate with a No Trespassing sign. But it’s always an adventure.
In 1996, while exploring the backcountry of the Chiricahua Mountains we came across to markers that said simply Unknown Arizona Pioneers. Later research on this site revealed quite a story about the Apache War legends surrounding these gravesites.
On another trip in 2003, we drove the old transcontinental railroad grade, abandoned in the 1940’s, across the western half of northern Utah, only to breakdown on the same spot as the historic 1869 photo of the last eastbound wagon train meeting the first westbound train. We had punctured our tire with a 134 year old rusty railroad spike. Three ghost towns and miles of history later, we came out in the town of Wendover, NV.
One that sticks in my mind was this old water trough, built of hand-hewn lumber, with the spring still bubbling at the far end. Lots of antelope that day, but the rancher and his cattle had left this lonely place long ago.
One place that we consider very special is a remote mesa at the end of a rough road in central Arizona. The density of rock art and petroglyphs on this mesa are quite impressive, and only in recent years have archeologists begun to study this area. This must be one of the least disturbed ancient-man sites in Arizona, and it was only our curious minds that led us there. No signs or maps exist for this historic and remote area.
On a recent trip through Nevada, we drove a dirt road that led through the old Osceola Mining District, where mining headframes seemed to reach for the sky, and the buildings appeared as if the the miners just up and left one day, and never came back.
Each of these adventures, and others too numerous to list here, were all the result of driving down an un-mapped dirt road, just to see where it led and what we might find. Oftentimes the drive was fruitless, but on others we found memories to last a lifetime. And we have camped in some remote and incredible locations. And there are many more dirt roads yet to follow.
Leaving time for the unexpected is important, and is the part of the journey I often anticipate most. Whether is it fixing a flat tire in the middle of no-where, or finding amazing displays of ancient rock art, the adventure never disappoints. Take the next dirt road you pass, drive along for awhile and see what’s around the next corner.
Hoping everyone has a great summer of camping adventures!