My state park trips have certainly taken me to every corner of California. From Del Norte Redwoods on the the northwest coast just ten minutes below the Oregon border, to this trip to Picacho State Recreation Area on the most southeastern point of the state, five miles from Yuma, Arizona.
Picacho, now a ghost town, was an early gold mining town on the Colorado River with a population of about 100. It was named Picacho (Spanish for "big peak") after a nearby mountain in Arizona of the same name. In fact I hiked Picacho Peak just outside of Tucson a few years back.
More than any of my other state park trips, Picacho was more about the journey than the destination. In fact, I must now confess, I never made it all the way to the park. The park's website advises carry-ing extra water and essential supplies when traveling to Picacho, and in the event of trouble, parking in the shade. Shade?
It also warns that the twenty-four mile road (each way) is mostly unpaved and heavily washboarded. Sure enough, the road was miserable. After traveling about five miles - at 5-10 miles per hour - I stopped to reconsider completing the trip. The only other vehicles I saw were either four-wheel drive or old beat-up pick up trucks. Me, Roxy, and most certainly my little Corolla with 350,000 miles on it, were not having a good time.
I flagged down an RVer who confirmed that the entire road was bad. And so I made the executive decision not to continue. I need my little car to last me for awhile longer. If anyone chooses to "ding" me for not really getting to all 70 parks because of this, well, so be it. I tried.
In the meantime, as anyone who enjoys taking pictures knows, there's always something to photograph. Roxy and I got out of the car and meandered about the desert for awhile.
I assumed the dramatic peaks in the distance were part of the Ice Cream Canyon trail. Descriptions made it sound like a strawberry and pistachio fairyland. It was intriguing, but I was willing to forego it this time around.
The first couple of miles of the drive went through agricul-tural land. An irrigation canal supported a few water fowl, the only birds I saw on this trip.
The water fed many acres of red and green winter vege-tables, their colors more prominent under the overcast January sky.
Sadly, much of the route I traveled was being used as land fill and/or a dump. A couple of eerie looking, mangled dolls mounted on posts marked a large area littered with trash.
These junk-yard dolls mostly made me chuckle. But, being in the desert - a place where I've had more "unexplained experiences" than other geo-graphic realms, I half expec-ted them to come to life at any moment. Adding to my sense of disorientation was my cell phone randomly flipping back and forth between California time and Arizona time, which is an hour later. I was never really certain of the hour.
Picacho SRA is popular with boaters, hikers, anglers and campers, although I certainly didn't see any vehicles towing a boat on this bumpy road. Supposedly there are wild burros, bighorn sheep and thousands of migratory waterfowl once you arrive at the official park.
But from where I was, even bird and insect life was virtually non-existent. The landscape was still beautiful in its barrenness though.
Perhaps one day I will return with a sturdier vehicle. Until then...
I hope to see you at the State Parks.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my Father, who loved reading maps, exploring alternate routes, and taking the road less traveled.
Alvin David Dick, April 28, 1926 - May 20, 2012