Oct 26, ’06 Stanton, Az

Hi Everyone,

We are now in the hinterlands of Arizona. Stanton to be exact. You probably can’t find it on your map, so I will tell you where it is. Put your finger on Phoenix. Now find Hwy 60 at the northwest corner of the city. Follow it north and west to Wickenburg. Now follow Hwy 93 north out of town. When you get to Hwy 89, take it north to Congress. A mile or so north of Congress is a county road, appropriately named Stanton Road, that goes east across the desert to Stanton. Stanton Road has a warning on it that you drive it at your own risk. The road (?) is mostly sand with just enough gravel to distinguish it from the surrounding desert. The road is about 5 miles of washboard with intermittent spots of pavement where the road crosses dry washes. When we were driving the motorhome in, I thought it would rattle every nut and bolt loose, but we arrived with everything still intact.

Stanton is a ghost town on the eastern bank of Antelope Creek that was bought by the LDMA (Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association). The LDMA has put in a campground here. The campground is basically a mining camp for recreational prospectors. We are in the middle of a hugely awesome and awesomely huge desert. Nothing but cacti and rocks and sand. Then there are the surrounding mountains of rocks and sand and cacti. Even Antelope Creek is nothing but sand and rocks and cacti. They say it will have water in it sometime in November or December. I’ll believe it when I see it.

The land here is open range and there are actually cattle wandering around. In fact, I had to remove a cowpie from our campsite. I was raised on a farm, and I just can’t imagine what it is about this place that would make someone look at it and say to themselves, “This looks like a good place to raise cattle.” I think it looks like a good place to raise rattlesnakes and scorpions.

In addition to the creekbed here at Stanton, the LDMA has some claims nearby in the desert. We have processed some gravel from the streambed, and got a couple of teeny-tiny little flakes of gold. We’ll go check out the desert claims with the metal detector in a few days. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find some nuggets.

I’ll have to get my camera out and take some pictures for you.

The gals here have a Red Hat group. I joined them yesterday for lunch at a nearby restaurant. They drew for prizes and I won a red feather boa. They seem pretty nice, I hope I will fit in. I’ve never been much for hen-parties. Guess I’ll have to get myself a red hat and a purple shirt and polish up my social skills.

The cell phone and our cell-based internet are intermittent here. It is better than non-existent, but just barely. The few times I have been able to make a connection, it was late at night and only lasted a couple of minutes. I will go into town once a week or so and take my laptop to check the e-mail. So if you write to me but don’t hear back right away, I’m not ignoring you. I’m just out looking for gold.

Oct. 27

Today would have been brother John’s 52nd birthday. I sure do miss him.

Life in Stanton is a far cry from our life in Oklahoma. The camp has about 75 campers in it. Most of them are occupied by retired couples, a few by single guys. Being a ghost town, the few buildings are in pretty ragged shape. The stage office has become the camp manager’s office; the Opera House is where we have our Friday night pot-luck dinners; the Hotel is divided into several rooms: a kitchen, a card room (poker games there at 6pm I hear), a TV room, a billiard room and a library. Another building houses the small public restroom – 2 stalls and a shower on the Ladies side; with, I assume, similar accommodations on the Mens side. Around on the back of the restroom is a lean-to with two elderly washing machines. To pay your 50 cents a load, you push your money into a small slot cut into the wall. You can hear your change rattle into a can on the other side of the locked door. After your clothes are washed there are clothes lines located at various places around the campground where you can hang things out to dry in the desert air. If you prefer more modern laundry facilities, you have to drive into Congress – five miles down the washboard road.

Also in Congress is a Post Office, a café, a prospector shop, a miniscule grocery store, and a brand new Family Dollar store. In a couple of weeks Congress’ first gas station will open. Until then we have to go to up the mountain to Yarnell or down to Wickenburg for gas. Wickenburg is considerably larger than Congress. In addition to having gas stations, it has a Safeway grocery store, a hardware store, an Alco, and the usual collection of motels, and fast food joints. Yarnell, north of Congress on 89, is only slightly larger than Congress and has a dozen or so tourist-traps full of gew-gaws and a couple of restaurants. We take the Old Stage Road from the camp up to Yarnell. The Old Stage Road is in slightly better condition than the Stanton Road. But it is a twisty little road, not suited for RVs with its hairpin turns and extremely narrow passage up the mountain.

Yesterday we drove up to Prescott. The highway is a corkscrew up the mountains with signs prohibiting vehicles over 40 feet in length. Prescott has lots of Victorian buildings and a picturesque courthouse square in the middle of town.

mj