30-Dec-2004 -- The following is a tale of two fellows who dared to venture into the unknown… 31 degrees North x 112 degrees West.
To truly achieve victory, one must
1. have a goal and
2. have a plan detailing exactly how that goal will be achieved.
If you don’t believe me, just ask Don Rumsfeld… he seems to have a grasp on that theory.
Our plan “seemed” simple. Get up early, go to Mexico, snag two confluence points, eat some tacos and be home in time for some New Years Eve festivities. The plan started off GREAT. We were on the road early, traffic was light, we filled up A LOT of gas cans and the Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 019 was emitting some “Good Vibrations.” The engine of the confluence-mobile was purring like a kitten. From I-19, we drove west, near Baboquivari Peak, through the small hamlets of Arivaca and Sasabe and finally the Mexican border. This area of AZ is beautiful, quiet and remote. The sort of place you could move too, never see anyone and one day learn 25 years has passed you by.
My, how things change once one enters Mexico. We quickly drove through the small town of Sasabe, Sonora. Quickly being a figurative term as the roads were dirt, severely wash-boarded and washed out from recent rains. The Cordovas and Monarchs driven by the locals seemed to have a better handle on roads of these types as they ALL flew past us.
While traveling the Sasabe-Altar “Autobahn,” we noticed the high concentration of Ford vans carrying vanloads of people North from Altar to the border town of Sasabe. While the vans were packed going north, they were empty when heading south. I will let those without sin cast the first stone and make an attempt as to what was occurring.
While traveling this road, we noticed several roadside Memorial. In every instance, each Memorial had fresh flowers, fresh paint and was kept up very nicely. Respect of one’s elders runs very deep in the Mexican culture. Dad, if you are reading this, I will do the same for you… set up a roadside memorial in Mexico.
As we traveled further and further south into the unknown, we came to a fork in the road. We knew we needed to drive through the settlement of Los Molinos... just couldn’t find it. We saw a small home on the side of the road, asked in broken Spanish where Los Molinos was and were told to turn right. After traveling about 1 mile, finding 3 houses and determining that this was Los Molinos, we had a laugh realizing that was probably the first time a gringo had ever asked directions to Los Molinos. That’s me though, always striving to be No. 1.
After Los Molinos, the road got rougher and rougher. We soon got used to stopping the Confluence Mobile and running ahead to check out how bad the road was. On more than one occasion, we flipped a coin on whether or not we should proceed. As we looked around one corner, we saw a herd of 5 horses walking down the road we were on. As we approached, so did the horses. Eventually, we stopped and let them pass by us. As you can see from the pictures, they were not worked up by our presence in anyway. I have seen Beastmaster 8 times, maybe that had something to do with it.
Onward!!!! We continued down this road slowly and cautiously. As the road got worse, we continued to check our distance from the confluence point. “17 miles away, we have to go on, that’s too far to walk.” Eventually, the road just got too much for the Confluence Mobile. The GPS told us that we were still 12 miles from the point and because we are weak, we decided to retreat.
On our way back, we encountered a large herd of cattle in the middle of the road. Because they had no intention of moving and because they reminded us of Kirstie Alley… because they were so docile, we turned off the truck and waited them out. Eventually, they moved and we were on our way to the town of Altar. Roughly 1.5 hours later, we arrived at a toll (for a dirt road????), paid $3.00 and moved on. We traveled through Altar, then to Caborca and finally to the town to Puerto Penasco.
Although we were never more than 2-3 hours from the US Border, it felt like we were in a different country (HA-HA). We understood and respected the remoteness and quietness of an area practically undisturbed and unchanged in the past 200 years. In the end, I’d say we gained much more than we lost.
NOTE: The attached maps show our closest approach. The red path was the rough ranch road, while the green was on the main road between Sasabe and Altar. As the maps show, there are other approaches, which we suspect is the route previous visitor Michael Slezak may have used. we hope to get back soon for another stab at it.