19-Jan-2003 -- My faith in the GPS increases with each confluence that I visit. To have a map is a great blessing, but to have a GPS – wow! Diane and I had time on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. We were [in] Mesa, Arizona visiting friends. 33N113W hadn’t had a visit since December 1999. It was time for another.
We had no paper map with us, only the GPS. I had reviewed the prior visitor’s notes and the DeLorme Street Atlas 2003 map. We got ourselves onto Interstate Highway 10 (I-10) westbound. Soon there were construction signs advising “One lane only between 55th and 99th Streets.” Traffic slowed to a crawl. I ran out of patience with this at 59th street. I remembered that we needed to get farther south to I-8 and go through Buckeye and Gila Bend.
After leaving the freeway I turned south. The GPS said I would soon come to a road called the Buckeye Road. Perfect. We found it and turned west. The road eventually took us southwest through Buckeye and then to Gila Bend, which is on I-8. On the way we passed harvested cotton fields. Several of them had large bales of cotton at the edge. By large I mean 20 feet long by 10 feet wide by 10 feet high. Each was covered about halfway down with a tarp.
We left the freeway at exit 102 and followed the Painted Rock Dam Road. This was a paved, two-lane road at least to the point where it crossed 33N. We parked. The GPS said 0.83 Km to the confluence. It was an easy walk over gently rolling, rocky ground. The rocks were shiny. It made me think of the words “desert varnish,” a term used to describe the colored stripes on sandstone cliffs in the Colorado River Plateau and Grand Canyon Country. I wonder if it comes from hot rocks, as these rocks must get extremely hot in the summer time.
We passed several large saguaro cactus. These were fascinating to us. We had never been close to one. We took several photos.
After we found the DCP we took photos and built a small rock cairn. We returned to the car and enjoyed a drink of water. The sky was partly cloudy. The temperature was in the 70s. We drove back to the freeway and kept heading west, hoping to find a dashpoint, 19-ANAH. The GPS lead us to exit 87, named Sentinel. There was a gas station and a few buildings on the north side of the freeway. On the south side is the Southern Pacific railway. There were several cars parked near the crossing of the double tracks. There was also a large stake truck with the SP logo on the doors. It was moving slowly. As it came to a stop a dirt road leading south was revealed. We took this road and drove to within 40 meters of the dashpoint.
We walked to the point. There was a most interesting cactus. It appeared to be dead. It was all brown. We went closer. Its long vertical branches were brown with white stripes, one-inch long curved spines and a small green leaf next to each. Amazing! It was the only one we could see, but as we returned to the car we saw several other, larger ones on the other side of the road. We inspected those, too. There were many lava rocks lying around.
The sun was setting as we returned to I-8 and drove east. Soon the sky was orange and then pink. I decided to return by another way than we had come. We went to Arizona Highway 387 and headed north. Soon there was a long line of red taillights at the head of which were flashing red and blue lights. I lost patience after a few minutes and remembered the turnoff we just passed for Casa Grande. So, we went there, then headed north. This took us through Chandler and on into Mesa and our motel.
It was a great day!