Day 111 – Arizona’s Apache Trail, Saturday, February 19, 2011
Petey and I awoke this morning to sporadic sprinkles. We decided to hit the road early as the weather forecast called for rain all day near Phoenix and snow on Sunday on the Coronado Trail which was my next scenic drive. The Coronado Trail is sometimes closed from Alpine to Morenci, thus given the weather, I decided to speed my travels up a bit and visit at least half the trail today. We left Apache Lake and continued down the washboard, dirt road. While I was enjoying my free massage as we bounced along to Theodore Roosevelt Dam and Lake, Petey, who tended to get car sick as a puppy, looked a little grim this morning. It might have had something to do with the large quantities of dog food he got his nose into while I ate dinner last night. I guess all my people-food containers were dog-proofed properly so he resorted to his Iam’s lamb and rice.
Apache Trail turned back to pavement just before we reached the dam. We pulled in the parking lot and walked down the long, wheel chair accessible ramp to a covered observation deck. With pavement everywhere and no one around, I let Petey follow me off leash. Just as we reached the gazebo, the rain fell at a quickened pace. As I was reading a few of the signs about the construction of the dam, I heard a whimper behind me. I turned around to see Petey next to a bush, holding his right paw up with a thorny twig hanging from it. Poor, pitiful, Petey! I bent over his paw in the rain and in a fluid motion jerked the inch long thorn like from the heel of his paw as if I were ripping a band-aid off hairy skin. A yelp left his mouth as blood spurted out from behind his pad. I applied pressure to stop the flow, but it kept pouring over my hand and dripping onto the pavement. It was beginning to look like a crime scene (not really), but I was glad it was raining because the sidewalk needed a washing. As the rain kept coming, I coaxed my poor boy to VANilla 100 yards away. He limped along and stopped every so often to lick his wound. Luckily, we left most of the blood at the dam and used a little doggie towel to soak up the rest. Whew, it has been a rough morning for my mutt!
The Roosevelt Dam’s first stone was laid in place in 1906. Over the next five years, 350,000 cubic feet of block was cut and placed into the dam. The blocks of stone were carved out of the canyon walls, lifted by a block and tackle, and pulled along a cable. It was not uncommon for a buckle to break and the blocks to fall into the canyon. The final stone was placed in 1911. Several thousand men including stone and timber cutters, canal builders, and horse and mule tenders worked on the project. Common laborers were paid $2.50 a day while powdermen, blacksmiths, and masons earned $4-$5 per hour. The dam is the largest masonry dam in the world rising 280 feet high. Its width at the top is 16 feet and at the bottom 184 feet. From 1989-1996, the dam was modified as it was determined that the largest probable flood that could flow into the reservoir was far greater than the dam could hold. For several hundred million dollars, the dam was reinforced with concrete and steel. In addition, its height was raised 77 feet and its storage capacity was increased by 20%.
Before the modifications could begin on the dam, a $21 million bridge had to be constructed to relocate the traffic off the top of the dam. The Roosevelt Lake Bridge, spanning 1,080 feet, is the longest two-lane, single-span, steel-arch bridge in North America. It was quite beautiful.
After a visit to the bridge, we carried on to Tonto National Monument home to cliff dwellings occupied by the Salado Indians over 600 years ago. A half mile walk along a paved, cacti interpretive trail took us to the entrance. The pueblo walls were constructed of quartzite stones held in place by mortar of clay and caliche soil. A roof of pinyon pine or juniper along with reeds and grasses and capped with mud covered the six foot high walls. We made the visit brief because I wasn’t sure if dogs were allowed. I didn’t see any signs posted, but chose not to ask the ranger as it was clear Petey did not want to stay in VANilla despite his injured paw. In fact, just like a child, once he got distracted, he seemed to forget about the morning mayhem.
Petey and I continued on the Apache Trail southeast to Globe where we turned onto 60 headed toward Eager, the beginning of the next scenic drive. Route 60 afforded grand views as well, despite the rainy weather. We weaved around the turns and climbed up the cliffs when my brake light illuminated. CRAP! I have had my breaks checked every 5,000 miles and knew I would be replacing them with my next oil change in 1,500 miles. What an inconvenient place for this to happen. My day was turning out like Petey’s. I had 40 plus miles 6% grades and tight turns before I arrived at the closest town, Show Low. I drove below the speed limit and engine braked the whole way except for when I stopped to take a few scenic shots. Not knowing the population of the town, I hoped and prayed for a Firestone. With a car dealership on the right and auto parts store on the left of the main road, the town was bigger than I expected, 12,000 people or so. A few miles later, I found a Firestone…YES…but it closed at 1pm. I was an hour too late…bummer.
Show Low is big enough for a Wal-Mart Supercenter complete with a Tire & Lube so I called the listed number. “Nope,” the voice chimed on the other end of the phone, “we don’t work on brakes and most of the small auto shops that do are closed for the weekend.” “Yes, I know,” I responded, I’m parked at the Firestone. I was resigned to hang out in the Wal-Mart parking lot for the next two days when I found a Jiffy Lube…dang, another “no”. He gave me the number to Jay’s…not open.
Ok, so here I am at Wal-Mart in VANilla covered in a mixture of ice, rain and snow. I’ve decided I will probably get my oil changed and a new set of tires in the morning since I have to kill a day and Monday I’ll go back to Firestone for some brakes. I hope VANilla’s brakes are easily replaceable! Then I’ll have to see if I can drive the Coronado Trail or if the road is closed from the snow. ETB
websites: http://www.usbr.gov/projects/Facility.jsp?fac_Name=Theodore+Roosevelt+Dam, http://www.npca.org/parks/tonto-national-monument.html?adwords=1&gclid=CN2s3peY8boCFY5AMgodrXwAVQ