E SC A P E . EX P LOR E . EX P E R I ENCE
Why Babe Ruth’s Daughter
Is a Big Diamondbacks Fan
Psst: The Best Olive Oil Comes
From Queen Creek, AZ. Really!
If You’re at the Heritage Inn,
Order the German Pancakes
+Quartzsite: As Weird as It Gets
Our Favorite Goat Farm in Snowflake
Sands Ranch: Marlin Perkins Would Have Loved It
10EASY HIKES FOR
SEEING THE FLOWERS
F E A T U R I N G
our spring portfolio
PHOTOGRAPH BY JACK DYKINGA
2 j a n u a r y 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 1
2 EDITOR’S LETTER
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
5 THE JOURNAL
People, places and things from around
the state, including a visit with Babe
Ruth’s daughter, an olive mill in Queen
Creek that has celebrity chefs drooling,
and the Heritage Inn in Snowflake.
44 SCENIC DRIVE
Black Hills Byway: Prison laborers
and Geronimo once roamed this
area. It’s historic, in many ways, and
the scenery is pretty special, too.
46 HIKE OF THE MONTH
Sterling Pass Trail: There are a lot of
hikes to choose from in the Sedona
area. This is one of the best.
48 WHERE IS THIS?
◗ Sunset casts a luminous blush
over the rhyolite columns along
Echo Canyon Trail in Southeastern
Arizona’s Chiricahua National
Monument. PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE
BACK COVER On the San Carlos
Apache Nation, the brilliant blos-soms
of Mexican goldpoppies
make for a showy Sonoran Desert
spring. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT
• POINTS OF INTEREST IN THIS ISSUE
GET MORE ONLINE:
Get inside scoops, bonus coverage and other
great information from our new blog. This month,
read Jeff Kida’s blogs on how to shoot spring wild-flowers.
Look for the link in Online Extras.
For weekend getaways, hiking, lodging, dining
and so much more, visit our home page.
Get details on some of this month’s biggest
events, including Chandler’s Ostrich Festival, in
the Events Calendar.
FOR EVEN MORE, FRIEND US ON FACEBOOK
AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER:
14 Claret Cups Are Red,
Bluebells Are Blue ...
Springtime in Arizona is marked by two major events:
Cactus League baseball and the annual explosion of
radiant wildflowers. Although the boys of summer
draw bigger crowds, it’s the spectrum of color that
really stands out.
EDITED BY JEFF KIDA
24 Wild Kingdom
The Sands Ranch in Southeastern Arizona is 64,000
acres of biodiversity. It’s an ecological treasure — the
kind of place you would have found Marlin Perkins
prowling for pumas.
BY DOUGLAS KREUTZ
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACK DYKINGA
32 Whatever Floats Your Goat
David and Kathryn Heininger run what they call an
“accidental dairy.” It’s the last thing they expected,
but there they are, living on a ranch near Snowflake,
raising goats, and making artisan cheese for some
of the best restaurants in the country.
BY BARBARA YOST
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACK KURTZ
38 A Site to Behold
Nearly naked booksellers, camel junkies, rock
hounds, vagabonds, snowbirds and more than a mil-lion
other winter visitors shack up in Quartzsite every
year. They come for various reasons, but they stick
around for the sense of community.
BY TERRY GREENE STERLING
PHOTOGRAPHS BY EDWARD MCCAIN
2 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 3
When writer Maryal Miller heard
about the Queen Creek Olive
Mill (page 7), she admits she was
intrigued. “Sure, Arizona has vary-ing
landscapes and topographical
surprises around almost every
corner, but an olive mill?” she
says. “I was curious, to say the
least, about the excursion to the
outskirts of Queen Creek, but
definitely didn’t expect what came
my way.” Like many others looking
for the mill, Miller got lost. “A word
to the wise,” she says, “don’t take
the MapQuest, Garmin or Google
Maps routes on this trip. If you do,
there’s a good possibility you’ll end
up flying down an unmarked dirt
road in a cloud of dust, watching
power-line servicemen frantically wave their arms in an effort to point out that the road
is, in fact, not actually a road. Not that I did that. OK. I did, and it was slightly embarrass-ing,
but mostly hilarious.” Miller is a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways.
“ postcards, letters and e-mail.” Whenever I’m asked about the best part of being
editor of Arizona Highways, that’s usually the answer. There are other things —
traveling the state, meeting interesting people, communing with Mother Nature —
but it’s the feedback from readers that makes me smile. At last count, we had sub-scribers
in all 50 states and 120 countries around the world. Every morning, when I
turn on my iMac, I’m greeted by hundreds of e-mails from those people.
People like Maureen Grandmont of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Pete Dixon of
Queensland, Australia. They were commenting on stories they’d read in the maga-zine.
Ditto for Mike Abbott of London and Dianne Ferro of Washington, D.C. And
then there are the letters from readers like Patricia and Michael Tiffany of Phoenix,
who made a generous offer to help us in our effort
to send supplies to the 1st Platoon in Afghanistan.
I never know for sure what I’ll find when I open my
e-mail or sort through the snail mail. That’s why
the letter from Mark Jepperson didn’t surprise me.
Mark is a reader from Tucson, and he wrote to
tell us that 50 years ago this month, he and his sis-ter
were featured on the cover of our magazine —
their father, Dick Jepperson, had taken the photo.
“What I remember about that photo of Sabino
Canyon was the sand going though my toes and
sandals,” Mark says, “and how I wanted to jump
into the lake in the worst way.”
“I have so many pleasant memories of Sabino
Canyon,” he added. “My father discovered the
magic of this place and he showed it to me at a very young age. I’ve carried on the
same values he gave me — appreciating the beauty and the struggle that this pre-cious
ribbon of water in the desert presents.”
Normally in March, we put wildflowers on the cover, but back in 1960, we opted
for a couple of cute kids in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It was a great cover, but
this year, we’re back to the wildflowers. As you’ll
see, we dedicate 10 pages to the desert’s annual
explosion of color. It’s a portfolio of goldpoppies,
globemallows and more, all shot by some of the
best landscape photographers in the Southwest.
If you happen to live in one of the other 49
states or 119 countries, this issue might be as
close as you get to springtime in Arizona. Live
vicariously. If, however, you call Arizona home,
and you’d rather explore the color in person,
check out our wildflower hiking guide, which
features 10 of the state’s best trails for seeing the
flowers. The Sutherland Trail in Catalina State
Park is among them, and I’m sure the Jeppersons
have hiked it many times. A place they haven’t
been is the Sands Ranch.
That’s because until recently, it’s been private
land. Now, a piece of it belongs to Pima County,
which purchased more than 5,000 acres of the
64,000-acre ranch in 2008 — it’ll be used for
recreation and preservation. As Doug Kreutz
writes in Wild Kingdom, “The property is an eco-logical
treasure because it’s perched at elevations
between 4,800 and 5,800 feet, in a transition zone
between the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts.”
Best of all, the ranch is home to an abundance
of natural grasses, birds galore and 60 species
of mammals. But not goats. For that, you’ll have
to flip a few pages to our story about David and
Kathryn Heininger. They run what they call an
“accidental dairy” in Snowflake. It’s a goat farm
where they’re churning out a variety of cheeses
that are being used at some award-winning
restaurants around the state, including Pizzeria
Bianco in Phoenix. In Whatever Floats Your Goat,
Barbara Yost shares the unlikely story of the
Heiningers and their life in Snowflake, which, by
the way, is a charming little town that makes a
terrific weekend getaway.
When you go, you’ll want to stay at the
Heritage Inn (see page 8). This excellent B&B is
co-owned by the captivating JoAnne Guderian.
JoAnne is British, and she recently sent me an
e-mail asking for help with some gift subscrip-tions
for her friends and family in England. It
was another e-mail that generated a smile. Thank
you JoAnne, and thanks to everyone who sub-scribes
to Arizona Highways. All 50 states and 120
countries around the world ... we couldn’t do it
Phoenix-based photojournalist Jack Kurtz’s work explores the
changing West, human migration patterns and the global food
chain. So when it came to shooting Whatever Floats Your Goat
(page 32), Kurtz was a perfect fit. “Photographing on the Black
Mesa Ranch was a real treat,” he says. “But there was a chal-lenge
— staying ahead of the goats when they were walking
through the pastures. Every time I tried to photograph the herd,
the goats stampeded up and explored my pockets and camera
bag. Apparently, they haven’t met a photographer they haven’t
liked.” Kurtz’s work has also appeared in The Economist, Time,
The New York Times and the Washington Post, among others.
MA R C H 2 0 1 0 V O L . 8 6 , N O. 3
Arizona Highways® (ISSN 0004-1521) is published
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Letters to the Editor
2039 W. Lewis Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85009
JANICE K. BREWER
Director, Department of Transportation
JOHN S. HALIKOWSKI
Arizona Transportation Board
ROBERT M. MONTOYA
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BARBARA ANN LUNDSTROM
VICTOR M. FLORES
STEPHEN W. CHRISTY
ROBERT STIEVE, editor
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/azhighways
If you like what you see in this
magazine every month, check
out Arizona Highways Television,
an Emmy Award-winning pro-gram
hosted by former news
anchor Robin Sewell. For broad-cast
times, visit our Web site,
click the Arizona Highways Televi-sion
link on our home page.
Writer Douglas Kreutz was drawn to Sands
Ranch (Wild Kingdom, page 24) after hearing
of its grand, high-lonesome setting and lush
landscapes. In contrast to the craggy peaks
and snowy summits he’s explored in years of
mountaineering, the gently rolling grasslands
of the ranch seemed to “embrace rather than
challenge, to soothe rather than excite,” he says.
Kreutz, working with photographer Jack Dykinga,
trekked agave-spiked grasslands and oak-wooded
hillsides to get a boots-on-the-ground sense of
the place. “Camping under starry skies in remote
reaches of the ranch was a profound experience
of silence and solitude,” he says. Kreutz also
writes for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.
4 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 5
letters people > dining > lodging > photography > history > nature > things to do > > > > THE JOURNAL
MOREY K. MILBRADT
A DECEMBER TO REMEMBER
Being ardent nature fans, we’re
always looking forward to receiv-ing
your latest issue. We especially
enjoyed the December 2009 issue;
we just can’t stop leafing through
the pages full of powerful pictures!
We regularly receive your magazine
as a subscription from [a friend in]
Winchester, Virginia. She’s revealed a
whole new experience for us. Thank
you so much!
JOSEF GRUPP, STUTTGART, GERMANY
I think you’ve been
editor now for more
than a year. The
magazine continues to
get better with every
issue. What a great
job you’re doing. I’ve
just finished viewing
the December 2009
issue and I have to
admit it’s getting a
little dog-eared — the
images are so out-standing
I keep going
through the issue.
I’m an amateur pho-tographer
who wants to hang in the
Guggenheim. If George Stocking is
single, I’d like to marry him. What a
J.J. GERLITZ, SURPRISE
I’ve been a loyal reader for many
years, but I’m about to cancel my
subscription. The reason I started
reading Arizona Highways was for the
short stories. Sure, the pictures
are the best, but I need more.
The December issue is noth-ing
but great pictures. If this is
what I’ll be seeing in the future,
you’ve lost me. I know I’m only
one subscription, but maybe
others feel the same way. If I
cancel we both lose, and that’s
not what I want, and I don’t
think you do either.
BOB KRAFT, RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA
OUT OF THIS WORLD
The article on diners & drive-ins
[November 2009] was very well
done; however, you missed the great
one on West Route 66 in Flagstaff.
The Galaxy Diner is a very lively
place, old and with very, very good
food. They have the girls dressed in
poodle skirts, and back in the
’50s, they sang their melodies
several nights a week. You can’t
beat Galaxy for a great ham-burger,
a shake and onion rings.
NELLIE L. SORENSEN, FLAGSTAFF
FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE
It was interesting to read the
article Reeling in the Years in your
November 2009 issue. The
innovation and growth that the
Harkins family and company have
brought to the Arizona movie indus-try
is amazing. Then I looked over the
short list of “Arizona’s Blockbusters.”
What, no Leave Her to Heaven (1945)?
Granted, it’s a film about the dark
side of human nature, but it was
Fox’s highest-grossing film of the
1940s at $5 million. Gene Tierney
was nominated for an Oscar as “Best
Actress in a Leading Role” oppo-site
Cornel Wilde. It also starred
Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Darryl
Hickman and Chill Wills. Filmed in
part in Prescott, its movie set near
Granite Dells included a large swim-ming
pool (tank) that served many
years as a local recreation site. It’s
where I learned to swim as a child.
A view of the pool was in the film’s
background as Tierney typed under
a trellis. Like most Arizona Highways
enthusiasts, I typically enjoy the pic-ture
spreads that hallmark the natu-ral
beauty of the state. This article
piqued my interest for its people’s
contributions. Great stuff!
RAY BRAUN, TROY, MICHIGAN
THE RIGHT IS WRONG
I hope your readers noticed the pho-tograph
that includes Mission San
Xavier del Bac in the article about
the Arizona Rangers [Too Tough to Die,
October 2009]. The contrast between
the two bell towers is striking. That
on the west (left) has been fully
restored, while that on the east (right)
remains sorely in need of repair. The
east bell tower was left unfinished in
1797 because the Franciscans ran out
of money. It remains untouched today
because of a lack of funds. Those
interested in helping save one of
our nation’s great historical trea-sures
are invited to visit the Web
site of the nonsectarian and not-for-
profit Patronato San Xavier at
BERNARD FONTANA, TUCSON
CORRECTION: In Diners & Drive-Ins (Novem-ber
2009), the reference to Mr. D’z root beer
should have clarified that the recipe for the
root beer was created by Scott Dunton and
If you have
we’d love to hear
from you. We can
be reached at
by mail at 2039
W. Lewis Avenue,
85009. For more
You’re going to see a lot of
wildflowers in this issue, but
the ideal way to experience
the poppies and lupines et
al. is firsthand. For regular
updates on the best viewing
spots in the state, call the Ari-zona
State Parks Wildflower
Hotline at 602-542-4988 or
visit Desert Botanical Garden
6 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 7
Fascinating are things that seemingly make no sense, yet somehow manage to be both
strangely fantastic and surprisingly successful — Jamaican bobsledding, the Slinky and
The Governator, to name a few. Arizona’s only working olive mill and farm, the Queen
Creek Olive Mill, is among the conundrums.
The mill is the brainchild of Perry Rea, a Canadian-born former Detroit auto industry exec
with no formal gastronomic or agricultural pedigree, who moved his family to pastoral Queen
Creek 12 years ago. Recreationally, Perry planted a few olive trees on his “retirement” prop-erty,
and purchased a press to see if he could churn out some oil. He triumphed when Beau
MacMillan — Rea’s hockey buddy (Rea is a Canuck, after all) and Sanctuary Resort’s famous
“Iron Chef” — sampled his EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and bought it. The buzz was born
and before long, despite the dicey drive to the mill, olive-oil lovers came knocking on Rea’s
far-flung door. Literally. He supplied their demand for oil and the Queen Creek Olive Mill was
officially in business. As Kevin Costner can attest, if you build it, they just might come.
“People laugh when I tell them I went from motor oil to olive oil,“ Rea jokes. “This wasn’t
my plan, but this hobby of mine morphed so quickly, I couldn’t stop it from growing.”
Today, the completely sustainable farm harvests 16 different varieties of olives (the Span-ish
Mission is Rea’s gem) to produce markedly fresh, Tuscan-style oils that are particularly, as
Rea describes, “herbaceous.” Sure, a 2,000-tree olive grove in the middle of the arid desert on
the outer limits of Maricopa County might seem as outlandish as some Canadian car guy shil-ling
olive oil, but the olive tree is actually indigenous to
similar landscapes in the Mediterranean region. More-over,
in Arizona, the trees have no natural predators, so
Rea’s plants are pesticide free, leaving his oil unsullied.
It’s improbable, to say the least, but some of the
best food around is at del Piero, the trendy little eatery
at Queen Creek Olive Mill. Talk about fresh.
By MARYAL MILLER
Julia Ruth Stevens is excited about Spring Training, the Diamondbacks
and the upcoming baseball season. The sport is in her blood. After all, her
father was the Bronx Bomber.
By JAMES B. GOLDSMITH
“I have no problem saying that I have
the freshest oil in North America. No oil is
fresher than mine,” Rea boasts. “And it’s
In fact, his funky fresh EVOO became so
popular, customers beseeched Rea to open
an eatery at the mill to utilize it. And so, he
did just that, opening del Piero, which is
housed inside a 5,000-square-foot farmer’s
market, amid mill-made goodies
and heaps of local bounty. The
curious visit del Piero in droves
to taste the illustrious Kalamata sandwich,
stacked with salami, leafy greens and the
mill’s own sun-dried tomato and parmesan
tapenade. Other delights, like homemade
bruschetta and gourmet paninis on rose-mary
focaccia, use entirely in-house and
local ingredients, and shine alongside
natively fermented wine.
The mill’s carnivorous Queen Creek
neighbor, The Pork Shop, supplies the meats,
including the smoky pepper-encrusted
bacon used in del Piero’s fluffy egg and pro-volone
frittata. Rea’s personal favorite, the
EVOO waffles, are served all day, everyday.
No doubt, olive-oil waffles at a small eatery
in Queen Creek sounds preposterous, but
somewhere in the Greater Antilles, a Jamai-can
bobsledder just wept tears of joy.
Queen Creek Olive Mill is located at
25062 S. Meridian Road in Queen Creek.
For more information, call 480-888-9290
or visit www.queencreekolivemill.com.
THE JOURNAL > people THEJOURNAL > dining
When you’re not
busy being the win-ningest
coach in ASU
history, how do you
I love spending time
with my family. Dur-ing
my down time, I
enjoy watching my
kids play sports in
What’s your idea of
a perfect Arizona
If I had more time,
it would have to be
Resort in Sedona. I’ve
been there twice and
would love to go back.
What’s one of your
trip to Camp Tontozona
was very memorable.
Where’s the best
place to find a post-game
bite to eat?
After an early game,
my family and I
like to go to Sweet
the kids can be loud
What is your favorite
season — other than
I love all of the sea-sons
because, in Ari-zona,
we have some
of the best weather in
— Dave Pratt is the
author of Behind the
Mic: 30 Years in Radio
P R A T T ’ S Q&A
S U N C I T Y
Q U E E N
C R E E K
“I’m amazed by how Sun City has
changed,” she says. “Flying into Phoenix
over what used to be open fields and
farmland and what has been turned into
buildings and commercial development is
amazing. I say to myself, ‘What would the
cowboys think?’ ”
AT 93, JULIA RUTH Stevens has been around life’s bases a few
times, and as the last direct descendant of baseball icon George
Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr., she’s no stranger to baseball analogies.
Stevens has lived in her Conway, New Hamp-shire,
home for 45 years, but she and her late
husband, Brenton, became inveterate Sun City
snowbirds after their Florida getaway was wiped out by a hur-ricane
in 1992. This soft-spoken
lady loves baseball, the Diamond-backs
and Arizona — and her
reasons are simple.
“I’d say definitely the weather.
I love the difference between the
southern and northern parts, and
the scenery and the mountains,”
she says. “It’s just a beautiful
place to live. I’ve always loved the
West; as a girl, I read Western
novels. I have a lovely home and
backyard near a manmade lake.”
Although Stevens hasn’t trav-eled
much throughout the state,
she has been drawn like a magnet
to Chase Field, a far cry from the
old Yankee Stadium, where she
threw out the first pitch on Sep-tember
22, 2008, to open the last
game played there. “I like [Chase
Field],” she says. “That swimming
pool near center field ... it’s quite
the place.” And so are the walls of
her East Coast living room, which
are filled with candid photographs
of Babe Ruth and his many friends.
In addition, as the Great One’s
daughter and an avid baseball fan,
Stevens has attended inductions at
the National Baseball Hall of Fame
and museum in Cooperstown,
New York, since 1969.
Today, she keeps busy sign-ing
her own autograph at public
functions and by playing bridge.
She’s excited for the start of the
Diamondbacks’ season and for
Spring Training, and she’s floored
by the changes she’s seen in the
Valley of the Sun over the years.
8 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
AN UNEXPECTED DELIGHT. If you had to summarize the Heritage Inn in three words or less,
that combination works. There are a lot of other words you could use — charming, inviting,
accommodating, historic, pleasant, cozy — but unexpected needs to be in the mix. That’s
because the Heritage Inn is about the last thing you expect when you roll into Snowflake.
That is, if you expect anything at all. Sedona, Pinetop, Bisbee, Flagstaff ... those are tradi-tional
tourist towns, where the expectations for inns and B&B’s are usually pretty high, but
not Snowflake. Do you even know where Snowflake is?
If you don’t, grab a map. It’s the small town located halfway between Show Low and Holbrook.
You’ll recognize it by its main street, which is lined with trees and lampposts and mom-and-pop
shops. The main attraction on Main Street, however, is the Heritage Inn,
which operates like a B&B. Although the town itself leans toward New
England or Lake Wobegon, the inn conjures the South, especially when
you’re reading a book on the expansive front porch — if you have any Faulkner lying around at
home, toss one in the suitcase before you go. When you arrive, you’ll be tempted to stay outside
on the porch, but you need to go inside. It’s warm in there, literally and figuratively. Plus, that’s
where you’ll be greeted by JoAnne Guderian. She, too, is an unexpected delight.
Not because of her enthusiasm — a lot of inn owners are like that — but because of her
English accent and her genuine disposition. And that’s only part of JoAnne’s persona. She’s also
spirited, cute and playful. She’s like a kid whose parents went away for the weekend and left her
in charge. You won’t find a more perfect host. She’s hip but gracious, and your stay at the inn is
an extension of her. You’ll see.
JoAnne has owned the inn with her husband, Craig, since July 2009, and in that short time
Room at the Inn
Snowflake isn’t thought of as a tourism hot spot, but it has a lot to offer,
including history, hiking, festivals, fishing and the delightful Heritage Inn.
By ROBERT STIEVE
they’ve taken an already popular place and
made it even better. The historic building,
which was once the home of Osmer Flake,
the sixth child of William Flake (the co-founder
of Snowflake), now features a dozen
rooms with big comfortable beds, full baths
and the usual inn amenities. If it’s available,
ask for the Lucy Hanna Flake Room. It’s the
best, which is probably why Kirsten Dunst
stayed there when she was road-tripping
through the area last summer.
It’s not the bedrooms, though, that’ll
capture your attention. It’s the gardens and
the courtyards, the trees and fountains and
flowers, and the manicured lawns. Not co-
incidentally, you’ll be reminded of an English
garden. It’s what sets this inn apart. And so
do the German pancakes. Contrary to what
you might be thinking, they aren’t filled with
sausage, potatoes or sauerkraut. They’re
actually quite light and lemony. It’s the signa-ture
dish at breakfast,
and like everything
else at the Heritage
Inn, it’s an unexpected
Heritage Inn is located
at 161 N. Main Street
in Snowflake. For more
information, call 866-
486-5947 or visit www.
TIME TO SHINE
The tool kit for light-painting
is minimal. All
you need is a camera,
a tripod and a movable
light source, such as
an iPhone or a small
flashlight. Before you
sufficiently dark and
decide what you want
to photograph. Next,
attach your camera
to a tripod and set the
ISO to 100 or 200
(depending on the
camera). Working with
a small LED flashlight
and the camera set on
aperture priority, or “A”
mode, try shooting at
f-8. In manual, or “M”
mode, a 15-second ex-posure
at f-11 and the
same flashlight placed
just a few feet from
the subject should
provide good results. If
you don’t have a digital
SLR, you can use a
set on the “night
scene” mode. Keep in
mind that your results
will vary depending on
the camera, subject
and light source.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look for
Arizona Highways Pho-tography
at bookstores and www.
Shedding Some Light
Photographer Nancy Crase paints with light.
That is, she creates photographic images with the help of unique
light sources, including her iPhone. Here’s how she does it.
By JEFF KIDA, Photo Editor Nancy Crase first decided to paint with light
after reviewing forums on www.sports
shooter.com. Other than what she’d seen
there, she says she didn’t have a preconceived notion of
what she might produce. “Each time I paint with light,
I end up with a surprise image that may or may not be
what I thought I’d get, but it always adds to my under-standing
of how light works with an image,” Crase
says. “It ignites my imagination. I’ve tried a standard
flashlight, the cell phone light and a 2 million candle
flashlight for painting very large areas, but I can imag-ine
using all sorts of light sources.”
“In my first light-painting, in 2006, I used a flash-light
to photograph my car,” Crase adds. “On another
night that same year, I chose a night-blooming cereus,
but had to change light sources because the flashlight
overwhelmed the flower. Standing in my driveway at
1 a.m. didn’t leave me many options, so I pulled out my
cell phone and, again, the final images weren’t any-thing
I expected. The technique became a dramatic
demonstration of light in photography.”
After attending a June 2008 seminar with light-painting
photographer Dave Black, Crase was inspired
to return to the idea of painting with a cell phone, but
this time, she had a new tool with which to shoot the
night-blooming cereus — her iPhone.
“The use of the iPhone was a natural extension of my
first experiment, but the myLite application offered
so many more possibilities,” she says. “I could light the
flower (see below) with the white light, then change
colors and sweep behind the flower to produce the
THE JOURNAL > lodging THEJOURNAL > photography
O N L I N E
For more photography
tips and other informa-tion,
highways.com and click
S N O W F L A K E
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 9
10 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 11
IT WASN’T POKER OR blackjack. In saloons and gambling halls
around Arizona and the Old West, faro was the name of the game
for gritty gamblers.
A card game of French origin, faro became extremely popular
throughout Europe in the 18th century. It spread to America and
migrated west with betting prospectors during the
California Gold Rush. High-stakes gamblers in the
Arizona Territory favored the game for its easy odds,
while novices enjoyed the quick action. Money earned through faro
even provided the land for the University of Arizona. It also pro-vided
Yavapai County Sheriff William Owen O’Neill with a nick-name.
The law enforcement officer was known as “Bucky,” for his
winning ways at “bucking the tiger,” as the game was also called.
Gambling, cheating ... they went hand in hand in
the Old West, especially when it came to faro, a
card game that occasionally turned deadly.
By SALLY BENFORD
Another reason for faro’s popularity
was its simplicity. In other words, it was
easy to cheat. Players bet against the
house, placing their chips on or near playing cards that rested on
top of a green cloth-covered table. Only the face value of the cards,
not the suit, counted. As the dealer doled out two cards per turn
from a standard deck, the object was for players to predict which
cards would appear.
When the game was played honestly, a gambler could make
some serious money. The house didn’t have much of an edge, so
cheating by dealers became commonplace. Sleight of hand, trick
decks and modified dealing boxes were just a few of the tactics
used by the likes of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson,
who frequented Tombstone’s faro tables. In fact, cheating at faro
was so prevalent that 19th century editions of Hoyle’s Rules of Games
declared that a single honest faro bank could not be found in the
At Tombstone’s Oriental Saloon, an argument over a faro game
between Luke Short and Charlie Storms in February 1881 led to a
fatal gunfight, with Storms coming out on the short end. Tomb-stone
resident George Parsons witnessed Storms’ death and wrote
in his journal, “The faro games went right on as though nothing
had happened.” Chances are, it wasn’t the only gunfight that
erupted over claims of cheating at faro.
By 1900, the Arizona Territory was still home to nearly 1,000
gaming establishments, but, eventually, public pressure to end the
practice won out and faro was outlawed. A March 31, 1907, Prescott
Journal-Miner headline read: “The Tiger is Dying!” By midnight,
dealers had called their last faro turn.
Don’t forget to call her Honey. That’s
the first piece of advice for male
drones — in the hustle-and-bustle
world of a beehive, female honeybees domi-nate
the working males. The second piece of
advice: Enjoy it while you can. That’s because
drones are doomed to die after mating, while
the drones that don’t mate are denied food,
meaning they die as well. What’s worse,
there’s nothing they can do to fight back.
Among honeybees, it’s the females that sting;
males aren’t given any defense mechanisms.
Clearly, there’s no glass ceiling in a bee-hive.
The females run the show, and their
primary objective is to serve the queen and
protect her larvae. Of course, the males do
have a purpose. Their job is to mate with the
queen, and it’s a tall order: The queen is a
bee-producing machine, laying up to 2,000
eggs a day, according to researchers at Texas
As a result, honeybees are everywhere,
including Arizona. They first came to the
United States in the 1600s, and today they
swarm the globe, producing honey and polli-nating
more than 90 commercial crops in the
process. Honey, however, is their main line of
work, and they’re very good at what they do,
generating more than $150 billion worth of
honey annually. It doesn’t come easy, though.
In fact, a bee must pollinate 2 million flowers
just to make a single pound of honey. Even
with 50,000 bees in a colony, that’s a lot of
Sweet Somethings They’re not very big, but their impact
is enormous. In addition to producing $150 billion worth of honey annually,
honeybees also pollinate more than 90 commercial crops around the world.
That’s sweet. BY MARK CRUDUP
THEJOURNAL > nature
T O M B S T O N E
■ After a long cam-paign
Navajo Indians, in
March 1864, Colonel
Kit Carson led a
large group of sur-rendered
from Arizona to the
Reservation in New
Mexico on one of
now known as The
■ During its first
session in March
1912, the Arizona
decided that child
laborers under 14
years old could not
work during school
■ Tucson glowed
at night when the
street lights oper-ated
for the first
time on March 20,
1882. Lamps had to
be individually lit.
In our March 1960 issue, we traced the names
of the state’s canyons, mountains, rivers and cit-ies
back to their origins. The names ranged from
Native American words to the musings of Mor-mon
settlers. In addition, we featured the work
of John W. Hilton, whose paintings explored the
simple beauty of Arizona’s deserts.
50 years ago
I N A R I Z O N A H I G H W A Y S
THEJOURNAL > history
Parry’s penstemon is a favorite among
hummingbirds, and with good reason.
This wildflower boasts flashy fuchsia
blooms in the shape of an easily acces-sible
funnel. Vibrant between February
and May, the desert-friendly plant does
best in chalky or sandy, very dry soil,
and most commonly blooms in clusters
throughout the state’s lower elevations.
COURTESY BISBEE MINING & HISTORICAL MUSEUM
BRUCE D. TAUBERT
Oriental Saloon, Tombstone
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National Geographic Live
MA RCH 1 7 M E S A
Join Harvard-trained ecologist Mark Moffett for “Army Ants and
Flying Frogs,” a National Geographic Speaker Series event at Mesa
Arts Center. Moffett, a dynamic storyteller, will make you fall in love
with the unexpected: insects, frogs and other small wonders of nature.
Information: 480-644-6500 or www.mesaartscenter.org.
MA RCH 1 -2 8 A PACHE JUNC T ION
Step back in time to a European-style country
fair each Saturday and Sunday throughout
the month. Knights, rogues, royalty and
craftsmen roam a 30-acre village filled with
200 shops, 12 entertainment stages, a joust-ing
arena, pubs and cafés. Grab a turkey leg
and a mug of mead, then settle in for a jolly
good time. Information: 520-463-2700 or
This Phoenix Art Museum show features 120 prints and dozens of
supporting documents from master photographer Ansel Adams’
early career, along with material from his archival collection, including
camera equipment, personal letters, negatives and snapshot albums.
The exhibit also includes Adams’ photographs from the American
Southwest, his color work and prints of the national parks. Information:
602-257-1222 or www.phxart.org.
M A R C H 1 - 3 1
MS Round-Up Ride
MA RCH 2 7-2 8 F LOR ENCE
The weather should be beautiful this month,
so hit the pavement and support multiple
sclerosis research efforts. This two-day bike
ride, which begins
in Florence, is
the largest fully
event in Arizona,
and attracts nearly
1,000 cyclists from
across the country.
968-2488 or www.
A PR I L 24 -2 8 S LOT CAN YONS
Carved by wind and water through time, Arizona’s slot canyons are
on every photographer’s “must-see” list. In these mysterious places,
beams of light and whorls of colored sandstone help create striking
images. Join professional photographer Jerry Sieve for this workshop,
which also includes opportunities to photograph from Horseshoe
Bend Overlook, the Vermilion Cliffs and the Paria Bluffs. Information:
866-790-7042 or www.friendsofazhighways.com.
Plan a stopover at the
Blazin’ M Ranch dinner
theatre where “Happy Trails”
are just the beginning. The
rustic ambiance, chuckwagon-style,
and knee-slapping crooning
with tall-tales and tomfoolery
are guaranteed to tickle your
Chuckwagon Supper and
Live Western Stage Show
MEETS OLD WEST
THEJOURNAL > things to do
Gem & Mineral Show
MA RCH 1 4 - 1 6 COT TONWOOD
Need a little sparkle? Head to the
Verde Valley Fairgrounds for this
annual show. The event features
gems and minerals from around the
world, as well as jewelry, lapidary
tools, supplies and information. Free
gem and mineral identifications,
children’s activities, raffles and silent
auctions round out the event. Information:
928-634-7452 or www.mingusclub.org.
KIM MORRIS PHOTOGRAPHY
BLUEBELLS ARE BLUE ...
CLARET CUPS ARE RED,
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 15
Springtime in Arizona is marked by
two major events: Cactus League
baseball and the annual explosion
of radiant wildflowers. Although
the boys of summer draw big-ger
crowds, it’s the spectrum of
color that really stands out. As
you’ll see, this is the big show in
this neck of the woods, and we
have the photos to prove it. Of
course, seeing flowers in a maga-zine
is nothing like experiencing
them in the wild. To that end, we
offer 10 scenic hikes for getting
to a place where you can stop
and actually smell the primroses.
Y edited by jeff kida
14 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
GEORGE RAYMOND THOMAS
Claret cup cactus bloom
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Y PRECEDING PANEL: Desert bluebells min-gle
with a Parry’s agave, creating a
striking spring scene. PHOTOGRAPH
BY TIM FITZHARRIS
Y Golden brittlebushes favor rocky
hillsides, such as those along the
Peralta Trail in the Superstition
Wilderness.PHOTOGRAPH BY MOREY
To order a print of this photograph,
call 866-962-1191 or visit www.
18 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 19
Y ABOVE: Purple owl clover grows
alongside a patch of Mexican gold-poppies,
painting the desert near
Stewart Mountain with bands of bril-liant
color. PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT
Y RIGHT: The blooms of desert lupines
range in color from pale blue to deep
violet. With their unusual color and
attractive fragrance, these wildflowers
are a favorite of bumblebees.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MOREY K. MILBRADT
20 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 21
Y LEFT: Below Four Peaks in the Tonto
National Forest, Mexican goldpoppies
seem to reach for the sky.
Photograph by Nick Berezenko
MOREY K. MILBRADT
To order a print of this photograph, call 866-962-1191
or visit www.arizonahighwaysprints.com.
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 23
Y Central Arizona
JACOB’S CROSSCUT TRAIL | Lost Dutch-man
State Park, Apache Junction
In nearly every famous photograph of the Super-stition
Mountains, it looks as if the craggy rocks
have risen directly from a pool of colorful wild-flowers.
It’s a beautiful scene, one you can eas-ily
wade into on the Jacob’s Crosscut Trail. This
easy 0.8-mile trail skirts the base of the range
and is thick with Mexican goldpoppies, lupines,
wild hyacinths and chuparosas. Keep your eyes
peeled for butterflies, too.
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, drive east on U.S.
Route 60 for approximately 25 miles to Exit 197,
Tomahawk Road, and turn left (north). Drive
north for 3 miles to State Route 88 (Apache Trail),
turn right (east), and drive approximately 4 miles
to Lost Dutchman State Park.
INFORMATION: 480-982-4485 or www.azparks.
MESQUITE CANYON TRAIL | White
Tank Mountain Regional Park, Waddell
This hike starts out with a moderately difficult
half-mile climb, but after that it’s easy going on
a flatter surface. The full Mesquite Canyon Trail
loop covers about 8.3 miles and offers a wider
variety of wildflowers than many other desert
trails. Hikers will see California poppies and
the surprising spiny red fairy duster. To catch a
glimpse of a beautiful spring, take the Willow Can-yon
Trail on the way back.
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, drive west on
Interstate 10 to Exit 124, Cotton Lane, turn right
(north) and continue as the road becomes Loop
303. At Olive Avenue, turn left (west) and follow
the signs to the park.
INFORMATION: 623-935-2505 or www.maricopa.
BARTLETT LAKE | Carefree
This is a less-structured wildflower hike. That’s
because seeing the flowers means simply wan-dering
into the wilderness surrounding the lake.
Although the lake and marina aren’t exactly out
in the wilderness, the nearby hillsides are still full
of blooming ocotillos, goldpoppies, white poppies
and lupines. It’s a free-for-all of flowers. Look for
the road that leads to Rattlesnake Cove for the
DIRECTIONS: From Scottsdale, drive north on Loop
101 toward Cave Creek to Exit 36, and merge
right (north) onto Pima Road. Drive 12 miles to
Cave Creek Road and turn right (east). Drive east
approximately 7 miles to Bartlett Dam Road, turn
right, and follow the signs to Bartlett Lake.
INFORMATION: 480-595-3300 or www.
BAJADA TRAIL | South Mountain
Seeing wildflowers doesn’t have to mean leaving
the city. South Mountain Park has always provided
a respite right in the heart of metropolitan Phoenix.
In the early spring, the park also provides a good,
but occasionally sparse, look at desert marigolds,
brittlebush, globemallows and Mexican goldpop-pies.
The best way to see the wildflowers is the
Bajada Trail, which is rated easy to moderate. The
2-mile hike has a slight elevation change.
DIRECTIONS: From downtown Phoenix, drive
south on Central Avenue for approximately 5
miles to the park entrance. Once inside the park,
take the main road from the Central Avenue
entrance to the right for 2 miles and turn right,
following the signs to San Juan Valley. At the 2.5-
mile marker, turn left into the gravel parking area.
Y southern Arizona
PALO VERDE TRAIL & AJO MOUNTAIN
DRIVE | Organ Pipe Cactus National
There are two good ways to enjoy the wildflowers
in this area, hiking or driving, and both offer great
opportunities to see wildflowers. On foot, the Palo
Verde Trail leads from the visitors center to the
nearby campground. By car, the Ajo Mountain
Drive loops around for several miles into the Dia-blo
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, drive west on
Interstate 10 for 42 miles to Exit 112, State Route
85, and turn left (south). Drive 35 miles to Gila
Bend, and continue on SR 85, driving south for
another 70 miles to Organ Pipe Cactus National
INFORMATION: 520-387-6849 or www.nps.gov/orpi
SUTHERLAND TRAIL | Catalina State
The surplus of saguaros is often the most notice-able
feature of the Santa Catalina Mountains,
but after a few good rains there just might be
marigolds, poppies and lupines poking up from
between the spiky figures. The best bet for finding
these brave flowery souls is along the 10.8-mile
Sutherland Trail. It’s a moderately difficult trail,
mostly because of the elevation change toward
the end. While the first few miles are flat, the
elevation eventually reaches 8,600 feet.
DIRECTIONS: In Tucson, drive north on Oracle Road
for approximately 20 miles to the park entrance.
INFORMATION: 520-628-5798 or www.azparks.
WILDFLOWER GARDEN | Tucson Botan-ical
Some years, Mother Nature can be a little fickle.
One extra rainy day between Thanksgiving and
March can make all the difference between wild-flowers
being abundant, sparsely patchy or simply
nonexistent. At Tucson Botanical Gardens’ Wild-flower
Garden, things are different. With some
careful tending, the flowers will bloom in spring
as they do in the rest of the state. Look for unique
flowers like the blackfoot daisy, tufted evening
primrose and wild Canterbury bells.
DIRECTIONS: Tucson Botanical Gardens is located
at 2150 N. Alvernon Way in Tucson.
INFORMATION: 520-326-9686 or www.
CABEZA PRIETA NATIONAL
WILDLIFE REFUGE | Ajo
Cabeza Prieta, a protected area, is one of the larg-est
wildlife refuges in the country. The only desig-nated
hiking trail in the refuge is a short interpretive
trail near the visitors center. However, those carry-ing
a permit, lots of water and a four-wheel-drive
vehicle can roam about finding wildflowers galore.
Mexican goldpoppies are especially plentiful in the
area. Just make sure to get a Refuge Entry Permit
and sign the Military Hold Harmless Agreement at
the refuge office beforehand.
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, take Interstate 10
west for 42 miles to Exit 112, State Route 85, and
turn left (south). Drive 35 miles to Gila Bend and
continue south on SR 85 for another 40 miles to
Ajo. The refuge office is on the west side of SR 85
at the north end of Ajo.
INFORMATION: 520-387-6483 or www.fws.gov/
Y western Arizona
PALM CANYON TRAIL | Kofa National
Wildlife Refuge, northeast of Yuma
Although the refuge is mostly roadway (which
means stopping the car to take photos of flowers),
there is a half-mile hike that leads to Palm Can-yon.
The canyon is best known for having some
of the only native palms in the state, but a variety
of unique wildflowers can be seen throughout the
refuge as well. Creosote, verbenas, tall desert lilies
and dune primroses all bloom in the refuge during
DIRECTIONS: From Quartzsite, drive south on U.S.
Route 95 for 18 miles to a small sign for Palm
Canyon. At the sign, turn onto the dirt road and
drive approximately 9 miles to the parking lot.
INFORMATION: 520-783-7861 or www.southwest.
LIGHTNING BOLT TRAIL | Buckskin
Mountain State Park, Parker
The next time you’re making a road trip to Califor-nia
in March, make a quick pit stop to enjoy some
of the last wildflowers growing on this side of the
state line. Buckskin Mountain State Park is part of
the Parker Strip along the Colorado River. Across
the Colorado sits California, but the state park on
the Arizona side offers a few short and easy trails
with picturesque flowers. Try the steep, winding
Lightning Bolt Trail, which runs a half-mile round-trip.
By connecting with the Buckskin Trail, it turns
into a 3- to 4-mile hike.
DIRECTIONS: From Phoenix, take Interstate 10
west, toward California, for 135 miles to Exit 19,
U.S. Route 95, and turn right (north) onto U.S.
95, driving 35 miles to Parker. At Parker, continue
north on U.S. 95 for another 15 miles to the park
INFORMATION: 928-667-3231 or www.
Y LEFT: Evening primroses and sand verbenas carpet the landscape of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. PHOTOGRAPH BY NICK BEREZENKO
22 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
WHERE TO HIT THE TRAIL | By Amanda Fruzynski
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 25
The Sands Ranch
Arizona is 64,000
acres of biodi-versity.
swath of the
More so for the
the ranch is
home to an
and 60 species
It’s an ecological
By Douglas Kreutz photographs by jack dykinga
Stands of agaves grow amid the dense
amber grasses of Sands Ranch.
24 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
26 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 27
Towering stalks of agave blossoms stand silhouetted against dawn’s plum-colored clouds.
To order a print of this photograph, call 866-962-1191 or visit www.arizonahighwaysprints.com.
t is right on the cusp of dusk, with the last red of sun-set
bleeding out of the western horizon, when I lose myself in the
landscape of the Sands Ranch. The sensation — of shrinking to
a mere human speck in a high-lonesome expanse of grassland and
sky — is as calming as deep meditation or a loved one’s touch.
That might sound a little dramatic, but the ranch near Sonoita in
Southeastern Arizona really is one of those reach-out-and-touch-you
places, and the acquisition of 5,040 acres of the sprawling
spread by Pima County means a portion of the land will be pro-tected
from overuse and development ...
28 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 29
he property, purchased in late 2008
for $21 million from the Sands family, is con-sidered
an ecological treasure because it’s
perched at elevations between about 4,800
and 5,800 feet in a transition zone between
the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. After
decades of conscientious ranching practices,
the land is rated Class A grassland by The
Nature Conservancy — meaning that native
grasses dominate over invasive species.
“We consider the acquisition of Sands
Ranch vitally important because of two
fundamental elements,” says Kerry Baldwin,
natural resources division manager for Pima
County Natural Resources, Parks and Recre-ation.
“First, it’s a high-quality grassland with
the plants and animals that thrive in such an
environment. Second, it lies right between
the Whetstone Mountains of the Coronado
National Forest and Las Cienegas National
Conservation Area. In that position, it cre-ates
a critical corridor for the movement of
There’s only one way to fully understand
big country such as the Sands Ranch. Go
there. Ride the terrain. Walk it. Camp on it.
Enter the landscape.
On a breezy, blue-sky spring day, I do just
that with photographer Jack Dykinga. Enter-ing
the area on Clyne Ranch Road, about 9
miles northeast of Sonoita, we more or less
give the pickup its head, and rumble at poke-along
speeds up and down dirt roads that
are sometimes pretty good and sometimes
not. Mountains — the towering Santa Rita
range to the west, the Whetstones to the east
and the Mustang Mountains
to the south — rise in tree-topped
ridges, but our imme-diate
world is one of grass, grass
and more grass. A 2008 report,
the “Biological Reconnaissance of
Sands Ranch,” prepared for the Arizona Land
and Water Trust, includes this description of
grasses growing wild on the ranch:
“An abundance of native grass species was
observed during the field review of October
22-23, 2008. They included three-awns, six-weeks
needle grama, side-oats grama, slender
grama, Rothrock grama, tanglehead, sprangle-top,
wolf-tail, bush muhly, tobosa, plains bris-tlegrass,
sacaton, cotton-top and the exotic
annual fingergrass. Another exotic, Lehmann
lovegrass, is also quite common in the area.”
In our first hours of exploring the vast
grasslands trimmed with agaves, a few native
trees and some shrubs, I can see the Sands
Ranch quite clearly but cannot really grasp
it. If you’ve watched old John Wayne West-erns,
one of which was filmed just south of
the Sands Ranch, you have a sense of the place.
But only a sense. This is cowboy country —
rolling away as far as the eye can see. It’s not
until we park the truck and put boots on the
ground that the “bones” of the landscape begin
to show through.
Jack has already mentally framed a half-dozen
must-have photos, and now he tramps
off with his cameras in a quest to make them
real. I go the other way, dropping into a shal-low
drainage, and imagine myself in the tawny
hide of a mountain lion.
Lions, Baldwin told me before our visit to
the ranch, are but one of some 60 mammal
species that roam the Sands ranges, along with
at least 97 species of birds that live, breed,
migrate through or occasionally show up in
these parts. Something he’d mentioned about
the ranch serving as a corridor for wildlife
seemed to me an even more important value
than the recreation opportunities available
to the public. In this very desirable section of
Arizona, where new housing developments
and roads are a fact of life, wild animals
will suffer if they cannot find travel routes
between stands of civilization. Now, as one
of the first members of the public to explore
the place since its acquisition by the county, I
want to figuratively slip out of my skin, men-tally
impersonate a puma, and check out the
So down the drainage I pad, far from the
cars on State Route 82 and free of the ranch-ettes
or subdivisions that could have begun
popping up in the area without public own-ership
of the land. I make my way stealthily,
speedily, encountering no fellow travelers
other than a soaring hawk and occasional
towhees flitting in the air. It’s wide-open
country now, a place where a lion is free to
roam en route from mountains to marshlands,
known as cienegas, and I’m beginning to work
my way into it.
Jack and I rendezvous with some friends
who will camp with us tonight. We remount
our motorized steeds and head deeper into
Real steeds, of course, are an ideal form of
transportation in this landscape, and visitors
might occasionally come across working cow-boys
on horseback. That’s because the acquisi-tion
agreement allows for cattle grazing to
continue on a carefully monitored basis.
“In the big picture, the Sands Ranch is a
part of the county’s whole conservation lands
system,” Baldwin said in an interview after
our days on the land. “Ranching is a historic
value out there, part of the cultural history,
and we need to honor that. These large land-scapes
are working landscapes. They’re not
being acquired and locked up.”
“The Sands family can continue to graze
cattle on the county’s 5,040 acres,” Baldwin
added, noting that the county’s acquisition
amounts to a fairly small portion of the
64,000-acre ranch. “But the land will also be
a place available to the public for recreation.”
Marilyn Harris, a co-owner of the ranch,
along with other descendants of ranch founder
Louis Sands, says the acquisition is “a win-win
situation for our family and the people of
“We can continue ranching on the land” as
the family has done since Sands bought the
property in 1919, Harris says. “We’ve worked
on a coordinated ranch management plan
with several government agencies and the
University of Arizona.”
Harris adds that her own rich experiences
on the ranch over many years make her certain
it can be a good place for “quiet, peaceful and
refreshing” public recreation.
Agaves emerge from a tangle of native grasses.
30 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 31
y the evening of our first
day on the ranch, Jack
and I have gained a sense
of what recreation means
in this kind of country. It is,
we’ve quickly discovered, an
entirely different experience
up snowy summits
rugged canyons —
trips we’ve done together
in the past. As I
pitch a tent not far from
the truck near a site known as Cottonwood
Spring and wait for the first stars to come
online in the night sky, I’m beginning, just
beginning, to get the idea. This is not so much
a place to ascend or endure or survive. Rather,
it is a place just to be.
Or maybe it’s a place for people mostly not
to be. We could be pleased that it’s here and
protected, but leave it largely to the grass and
Baldwin will tell me later that this isn’t too
far off the money. And he notes that the coun-ty’s
plans for the land aren’t aimed at anything
like full-service tourism.
“We plan to have an access point at Clyne
Ranch Road,” off State Route 82, he says. “But
we plan no road improvements, no restrooms
or ramadas. If you don’t have a four-wheel-drive
vehicle and the ability to read maps, this
may not be the place for you.”
I can practically hear my would-be puma
pals chanting: “Yeessss!”
The next morning, Jack, like all serious
landscape photographers, is up early, brewing
hair-on-your-chest coffee and quickly march-ing
off in search of the quintessential Sands
sunrise. He finds it, along with gorgeous aga-ves
and grasses in all their amber waves.
Later we head for what I think of as the
ranch’s highlands — an area of ridges and
deep-cut canyons along a steep, rutted rat-tle-
and-bang road leading toward a lush site
known as Bear Spring. We get wonderfully
lost at one point, finding ourselves unable to
make our maps jibe with reality.
We find splendid shade in a lovely little
draw, forget the map and take a nap. While Jack
enjoys an extended snooze, I walk far out across
grasslands growing out of stony soil. I scan the
rolling hills with binoculars for more than an
hour and fail to spot a single animal other than
birds. It could be a good sign, I decide. Perhaps
the mammals are finding plenty of good travel
corridors to detour around me.
By late afternoon, we’ve migrated across a
more wide-open expanse and have dropped
into a comely oak-lined watercourse. Jack
sets up a tripod. I walk and look and listen. I
hear something on the breeze and don’t know
what. I see a bird I can’t name. Those might be
cirrus clouds, but I’m not certain.
We set up camp on a broad ridge near a big,
bushy juniper tree. The view below is grass-land
ad infinitum. Above, a grand dome of sky
waits to play real-time planetarium when day
fades to night. Jack hoists his heavy pack full
of photo gear and heads off to stalk the sunset.
I wander aimlessly, looking for nothing.
That is when I find what I am seeking.
Somewhere out on that ridge, far from the
truck, far from Jack, far from the carefully
researched reports and helpful tutelage of
experts such as Baldwin, I simply fade into the
landscape. The last light burns out of the sky.
Dusk surrenders to darkness. I am merely here
in the shadows, a small part of it, and that’s
enough. So it is, far out in the big country of
ABOVE: Dawn casts
a golden swath of
light across the
RIGHT: A rainbow
cactus, with its
spines, is tucked
among the area’s
grasses and agaves.
WHEN YOU GO
DIRECTIONS: From Tucson, drive about 20 miles
southeast on Interstate 10 and exit onto State
Route 83. Follow SR 83 for 24 miles south to
Sonoita. Continue northeast from Sonoita on State
Route 82 for about 9 miles to the access point on
Clyne Ranch Road.
TRAVEL ADVISORY: Sands Ranch, unlike some other
public lands, is managed primarily for its plants,
animals, watershed and other ecological values,
rather than for recreation. No improvements have
been made to accommodate visitors. Many roads
on the property are unsigned and rough enough
to demand a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive
vehicle. No gas, water, food, lodging, developed
campgrounds or other services are available to the
public. Before planning a trip, contact Pima County
Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.
INFORMATION: Pima County Natural Resources,
Parks and Recreation: 520-877-6000.
32 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
Whatever Floats Your
David and Kathryn Heininger run what they call an
“accidental dairy.” It’s the last thing they expected
when they were racing through a speed-of-light
existence in urban Arizona. That said, there they
are, living on a ranch near Snowflake, raising goats,
and making artisan cheese for some of the best res-taurants
in the country. It’s not for everybody, but for
the Heiningers, it doesn’t get any better than this.
A herd of Nubian dairy goats
poses for our photographer
at the Black Mesa Ranch in
Snowflake. The goats’ milk is
handcrafted into artisan
cheese and distributed to
restaurants and natural-food
stores across Arizona.
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 33
34 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 35
IT RAINS, WE’RE STRANDED. When
normally dry washes flood in this
part of Arizona’s high desert, they
create currents only a fool attempts
to cross. Although there are enough
fools in the state that Arizona has
enacted a Stupid Motorist Law to
charge drivers requiring rescue
from flooding, photographer Jack Kurtz and
I don’t wish to be among them.
Under threatening black clouds and grim
forecasts, we’re hoping we can make it to
the Black Mesa Ranch, 9 miles east of Snow-flake,
and back to Phoenix without being
marooned between washes.
At the gate to the ranch, we slip off the
chain and enter, as we’ve been instructed
to do. Two Anatolian shepherds, large dogs
tasked with guarding the ranch’s goat herd,
bolt and in seconds are visible only as brown
specks among scrub cactus and juniper
trees in the distance. A minute later, David
Heininger, owner of the ranch and master
goat cheese-maker, arrives in a golf cart. We
point to the disappearing specks, and he
At the ranch house, which also serves
as the milking room and a cheese kitchen,
David’s wife, Kathryn, welcomes us and
assures us the dogs aren’t lost. David and the
prodigal shepherds make it back just in time
for the 7 a.m. milking. Thirty goats are lined
up on the wooden deck outside the milking
room, udders begging for relief.
Since 2003, Black Mesa Ranch has been
producing artisan goat cheese prized by
chefs across Arizona, and sold to consumers
over the Internet. The ranch also hosts an
agritourism business that brings in members
of the public who love goats, cheese or both.
For David, 50, and Kathryn, 49, life with
their goats and a small dairy operation
couldn’t be more of a dream come true. “I
never know if I want to have more hours in
the day or less,” David says.
MILKING IS THE FIRST STEP IN THE CHEESE-making
process. Twice a day, the dairy goats
are milked, six at a time. Each goat has a
name, and each comes when called — if she
has a mind to.
First through the door this morning are
Moon, Lutzi, Luna, Langley, Lela and Espe-eze.
Moon and Lutzi are Oberhaslis, goats
of Swiss origin. The Heiningers also keep a
few Saanen goats, which are all white and
have pointed ears. The rest are Nubians with
brown and black coats and long, floppy ears
that give them a rabbit-like appearance.
Nubian milk has the highest butterfat con-tent
and makes the richest cheese. The herd’s
average: 7 percent.
In the milking room, each goat knows its
designated station. Kathryn passes along the
row of goats and wipes each udder with an
antiseptic solution, then dries the teats and
squirts a test sample into a tin cup. David
covers each teat with an “inflation,” a clear
silicone tube attached to the vacuum hoses
of the milking machine.
They’ve dubbed the machine “Chupacabra”
after the legendary goat-sucking monster of
Mexico and Puerto Rico. David flips a switch
and hoses begin to make the squish-shush,
squish-shush sound of milk being pumped.
After milking, David sprays the does’ teats
with a chilly aerosol antiseptic to contract
the opening and prevent bacteria from enter-ing.
The goats pass through the exit door
to the left of the milking room and receive
a tasty animal cracker. The next six come
through the entrance on the right and take
their place on the platform.
Milking and cheese-making go hand-in-hand
at Black Mesa Ranch. Both are sea-sonal.
Pregnant goats begin to give birth
around March 1, stimulating lactation. Goat
kids are bottle-fed mother’s milk, leaving the
surplus for cheese.
During hot summer months, milk produc-tion
decreases. As winter approaches, milk
becomes richer with a higher butterfat con-tent
to fatten up the kids for cold weather.
The Heiningers allow their goats to dry
up in December, after the does have been
impregnated by the five bucks on the ranch.
Cheese production stops.
The ranch also has six cows, raised for
beef, four dogs, three Hampshire-Duroc
pigs and about 30 fowl, including egg-lay-ing
chickens, guinea fowl, a peahen and a
resplendent peacock. The pigs are useful for
slurping up the whey left over from cheese-making.
Eventually the pigs become bacon,
but the goats are seldom eaten. Kathryn says
she’s not fond of goat meat. And, says David,
“They’re just so darned cute.”
Three Anatolian shepherds and a black
lab constantly patrol the property. The shep-herds
are fawn-colored with black markings
and massive heads. Their job is to watch for
intruders such as coyotes, bobcats, mountain
lions, bears, rogue domestic and feral dogs,
NOW IN ITS SIXTH YEAR OF PRODUCTION,
Black Mesa Ranch was something of an
accidental dairy. It’s also a love story —
about a man, a woman and their goats.
David grew up in Connecticut and wanted
to be a chef. After attending the culinary
program at Johnson & Wales University in
Providence, Rhode Island, he began working
in restaurants and eventually found himself
cooking at a Holiday Inn in Tucson.
Kathryn was an Air Force brat, born in
Kansas and raised in Michigan and Minne-sota.
She attended the University of Arizona
and Brigham Young University. She met
David while working as a server at the Holi-day
Inn. They married in 1982.
For several years, the Heiningers worked
in restaurants and renovated houses and
apartment buildings in Connecticut and Ari-zona.
By 2000, they had saved enough and
made enough through investments to retire.
The couple determined they wanted
to stay in the United States. Next, they
checked off climate deal-breakers: too hot,
too cold, too humid, any place prone to natu-ral
“We knew we both wanted to be rural,”
David says. “Our backgrounds are country.
We didn’t want to be city people.”
When they spotted an online real estate
ad for acreage in Eastern Arizona, they were
intrigued, and traveled five hours to check
out a property that had been on the market
for a decade.
Once a cattle ranch that had been parti-tioned
into plots that included a commune,
the place had fallen into disrepair. Windows
were broken. The well wasn’t working. Toi-lets
had been stolen. Two-story buildings
had no decks or stairs; access was by ladders.
Their real estate agent was embarrassed.
“She hated the property,” David says with
“Our backgrounds are country.
We didn’t want to be city people.”
David and Kathryn Heininger (above) walk a group of goats across the high-desert pasture of Black Mesa Ranch. David (opposite page) shares a moment with one of his kids.
36 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 w w w . a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 37
But the two renovators were giddy. They
knew they’d found their home.
Kathryn loved the expansive desert, dot-ted
with prickly pear cactuses, juniper and
cedar trees, saltbush and barberry. She liked
the backdrop of Black Mesa, a ring of flat-topped
hills darkened by veins of coal. The
air there is so clear and still, the only sounds
are crickets chirping, flies buzzing and the
faint cheep of a faraway bird.
They bought it for a song — $160,000 for
the first 240 acres and $15,000 for another
40 — and moved in in October 2000 with
the four dogs.
“We started to work right away,” David
says of their transition to the ranch.
First they dropped a new well. They
began to finish the buildings and make them
habitable. David planted a garden. Because
the isolated ranch is off the electrical grid,
they installed solar panels and a windmill to
make their own power. Today they use a die-sel
generator only to power
the milking and pasteuriza-tion
On a whim, they decided
to buy a goat, knowing
nothing about livestock
and thinking of them only
as pets. “We didn’t come out
here to do a dairy,” David
They bought two goats,
both pregnant. David was
eager to try making cheese.
Too impatient to wait for
spring kidding, he bought cow’s milk at the
store and experimented.
He calls that first batch “OK.”
Kathryn calls it “boring.”
With the first supply of goat’s milk,
though, magic happened. When the economy
began to falter, they decided to supplement
their income by selling goat cheese. Soon
they had a whole herd of goats and became
a licensed dairy.
The Heiningers fell in love with their flop-eared,
four-legged kids. For the first few days
of goat-ranching, they sat by the window,
captivated by the animals gamboling around
the yard. “They were so friendly, so loving,”
IN 2003, THE HEININGERS PRODUCED THEIR
first commercial cheese. David took a sam-ple
to a natural-food store in Snowflake.
The owner tasted it and ordered more. Then
David got a call from chef Chris Bianco, a
Phoenix restaurant owner and winner of the
2003 James Beard Foundation Award for Best
“Send me your goat cheese,” he told David.
New York native Bianco, who owns Piz-zeria
Bianco and Pane Bianco, had been
searching for local artisan cheese. He now
uses the Heiningers’ fresh chevre on his
roasted pepper and arugula sandwiches and
on crostini at his wine bar. Several years ago,
Bianco scored a block of Black Mesa Ranch
aged cheese for a Beard House dinner he was
cooking in New York.
“You can taste how herbaceous the cheese
is by what the animals eat,” Bianco says.
“Kathryn and David are so dedicated to the
product and the animals. They are doing
something world class.”
After Bianco’s endorsement, word spread.
The Heiningers now have a client list that
includes Kevin Binkley of the eponymous
high-end restaurant in Cave Creek, Todd
Sawyer of Atlas Bistro in Scottsdale, Amanda
Stine of Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge in
Sedona, and Chrysa Robertson, chef/owner
of Rancho Pinot in Scottsdale.
“It’s worked out for us,” Kathryn says.
“David is a really good cheese-maker.”
WHEN IT’S TIME FOR THE NEXT SIX DOES TO
be milked, the agile goats clamber up the
stairs to the milking room, taking their turn
at Chupacabra. Kathryn notices a small trail
of mucus on the floor.
“Somebody’s in heat,” she says, wiping up
the spot. “It looks like Pepper.”
Sure enough, Pepper is acting frisky, toss-ing
her head, eager for her animal cracker
treat or perhaps for a buck to come courting.
Milking is over in less than a half-hour.
This morning, the ladies have produced 129
pounds of milk, or 15 gallons. As David shoos
the last of the does out the back door, Kath-ryn
begins scrubbing the milking room. It’s
time to make the cheese.
David goes into the kitchen and dumps
the 15 gallons of snow-white milk into a
$10,000 pasteurization machine. It’s essen-tially
a large double boiler. A water jacket
heats the milk in one of two ways: to 145
degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or to 161
degrees for not less than 16 seconds — “flash”
“We heat to 145 because it’s the gentlest
form of pasteurization that’s legal,” David says.
If he could, he would eliminate pasteuri-zation.
The heating process kills off benefi-cial
“From my point of view it’s a waste,” he
says. “We have healthy goats and a clean
environment. It’s silly to pasteurize.”
BLACK MESA RANCH IS NOT ORGANIC BUT IS
certified for humanely raised and handled
animals. Antibiotics are not routine. All of
the livestock is free range.
Today, David is making feta, a brine-cured
cheese. Black Mesa Ranch produces only
fresh cheese. Let others brag about aging,
David says. “We say our cheese was grass a
His product line consists of three kinds
of cheese: a creamy goat cheese — plain,
herbed, jalapeño and chipotle (smoked jala-peño);
an original mozzarella boule; and
three varieties of feta — plain, hot pepper
and garlic, and sun-dried garlic with basil.
We sample a log of Black Mesa Ranch goat
cheese on crackers. It’s as creamy as cream
cheese with a mild but distinctive flavor.
Heaven. The chipotle and jalapeño varieties
have a nice kick.
David brings out a boule of goat mozza-rella.
It has the rubberiness of cow’s moz-zarella
and is good for cooking, he says. Then
he cuts a slab of feta made earlier. With none
of the strong tang of Greek feta, it has a rich
milk flavor with a pleasant salty finish. It’s
When the milk warming in the pot has
reached 145 degrees, David turns down the
heat and cools it to 90 degrees. To replace
the bacteria that have been killed off, and to
increase acidity, he’ll add two teaspoons of
commercial freeze-dried culture and one tea-spoon
of liquid rennet. Rennet is an enzyme
that causes the proteins in milk to bind and
After a half-hour, the surface of the milk
is firm, and trickles of whey have begun to
leach out. With a long stainless steel tool
called a cheese harp, David cuts through the
surface and stirs. The whey separates even
more quickly. He takes a stainless steel pot
and begins to scoop out the whey.
The curds left behind resemble soft cot-tage
cheese and taste only of milk. They go
into a rectangular mold lined with cheese-cloth.
After 24 hours at room temperature,
the curds will have formed a solid brick. The
brick is cut into one-pound pieces, dry salted
and left for another 24 hours. Finally, the
cheese is submerged in brine and refrigerated
for a few days or a week and becomes feta.
Then a big brown UPS truck will arrive to
ferry it down to Phoenix. Feta made on Satur-day
will be in Phoenix restaurants by Friday.
DAVID MAKES 250 POUNDS OF CHEESE PER
week. Though the Heiningers’ cheese opera-tion
is turning a profit, they’ve added an
agritourism element, not for promotion but
for education. On the third Saturday every
other month, they invite the public to tour
the facility and meet the goats.
During the season, they also hold six to
nine three-day workshops on goat-ranching
and cheese-making. About half of the par-ticipants
are starting their own businesses.
Hotels send their food and beverage direc-tors;
chefs come to trace the source of the
cheese they serve.
Workshops cost $1,000 per person, which
includes accommodations in the bunkhouse
and gourmet meals prepared by Chef David.
Guests do everything from milking goats to
“By the time it’s over, we’re exhausted,”
Kathryn says. Participants “go away so happy.”
In truth, the cheese is secondary. Black
Mesa Ranch is still about the animals. “We’re
here to support our goat habit,” David says.
As we begin to leave the ranch and head
back to Phoenix, the sky has turned bright
blue and the clouds are as white as goat’s
milk. We won’t be spending the night in the
bunkhouse after all.
The Heiningers miss little about city life.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere. We’ve
got a great bunch of animals, and we’re mak-ing
a living at it,” David says. “Who could ask
for anything more?”
Information: 928-536-7759 or www.blackmesa
A pair of precocious goats attempt a joyride in one of the ranch’s working vehicles.
“You can taste how
cheese is by what
the animals eat.”
The Heiningers draw a crowd while tending to goats in the barn (above). David processes goats’ milk
for artisan cheese (below).
38 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
Nearly naked booksellers, camel junkies, rock hounds, vagabonds,
snowbirds and more than a million other winter visitors shack up in
Quartzsite every year. They come for various reasons, but they stick
around for the sense of community.
A SITE TO
BY TERRY G REENE S TERLING
PHOTOGRAPHS B Y E DWARD M cCAIN
www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 39
40 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 41
aul Winer is a 65-year-old poet,
cartoonist, civil-rights activist,
community leader, musician
and merchant. He owns
a used bookstore called
Reader’s Oasis, situated
on the east end of Main
Street in Quartzsite. The
of a series
of stalls filled with thou-sands
of used reads — vin-tage
books, pulp fiction, bestsellers,
Western literature, historic novels,
self-help volumes, cookbooks, travel
guides. Other stalls offer records, CDs, tapes,
posters, toys and tchotchkes.
Winer is a small, wiry man with a gray beard. A Massachusetts
native, he came to Quartzsite in 1991 and stayed, in part, because the
town tolerated his counterintuitive idea of “business casual,” which he
interprets as wearing little more than a thong. On the day I visited, he
was decked out in a wide-brimmed hat, a turquoise necklace, a thong
and sandals. He signed autographs, posed for photos with tourists,
rang up sales and boogie-woogied on the store’s upright piano.
(His stage name is Sweet Pie and he sounds a lot like Jerry Lee
Lewis, by whom he was influenced.) Most of his customers are
elderly snowbirds who would probably not patronize a nearly naked book-seller
in their hometowns in the Midwest. Yet the customers I observed
seemed perfectly comfortable patronizing Reader’s Oasis in Quartzsite.
This is because Quartzsite is a live-and-let-live town unlike any other
You get the feeling this offbeat community in the Western Arizona
outback is a place where anything goes as long as it doesn’t bother anyone
else. Quartzsite has a way of mellowing its 1.5 million-plus winter visitors,
many of whom camp in RVs, either in town or on nearby desert campsites
operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Locals boast that in January and February, at the height of the tourist
season, Quartzsite grows from a town of 3,497 (the latest U.S. Census Bureau
tally) to one of Arizona’s largest cities. The season’s high point is a rock,
mineral and gem show called the Pow Wow, which draws tens of thousands
of “rockaholics” (Quartzsite lingo for rock hounds) who swap, sell, buy and
gawk at millions of rocks harvested all over the world. During the winter
months, Quartzsite hosts car shows, hobby shows, RV shows, a chili cook-off
and a bluegrass festival. There’s even a parade in honor of Hi Jolly, the
town’s most famous historic character, a camel driver who took part in a 19th
century U.S. Army experiment to use camels for desert transport.
Unless you’re a camel freak, rockaholic or RVer, though, you’ve probably
never heard of Quartzsite. Or maybe you’ve stopped for gas in the little com-munity
sprawled around the intersection of Interstate 10 and U.S. Route 95,
and then raced west to Los Angeles or east to Phoenix.
Quartzsite sits in a valley ringed by peaks that tint mauve and blue
and gray as the sun travels across the sky. The Sonoran Desert is rich with
ironwood trees and saguaros, and after a good rainy season, buttery yellow
poppies dance on the hills and the air smells like honey.
Q-town doesn’t exactly blend in with the ecosystem.
The first time I drove down Main Street, I saw an auction tent, RV
parks, gas stations, a tire shop, a vet clinic, a few restaurants, some
rock shops, RV sales lots and swap meets. The swap merchants vied
for attention by decorating their booths with flags that read sale or
open or flea market, as well as American flags, Arizona flags, skull-and-crossbones
flags, red flags, orange flags, blue flags. When the wind
slapped at the flags, the cacophony drowned out the rumbling rigs
racing down the freeway.
I vowed to stay in Quartzsite long enough to understand the place.
Paul Winer’s bookstore gave me immediate insights. It’s a hidden cul-tural
refuge that told me two things about Quartzsite. First, it is a com-munity
of readers. Second, the town tolerates booksellers in thongs.
The book merchant conducts business nearly au natural partly
because he likes it and partly because he is a self-described civil-rights
activist who believes “individual freedoms can be compromised if they
Spend a few minutes with Winer, though, and you’ll sense a generos-ity
of spirit that has not been compromised by personal tragedy. Thir-teen
years ago, he and his wife, Joanne, lost their only child, 8-year-old
Celia, who died unexpectedly of a virus. The Winers chose to stay in
Quartzsite, where they grieved mightily and deeply. The town grieved
with them. Joanne (she’s not a nudist) started a memorial garden called
Celia’s Rainbow Gardens. Community volunteers have helped Joanne
develop the garden and add improvements. It sits on the edge of town,
a contemplative desert place with paths winding past colorful, whimsi-cal
memorials to deceased relatives, veterans, renegades, prospectors
and nomads. Among the dozens of memorials: a lively shrine to a cow-girl
and one to a guitar player. The dead are honored, no matter who
they were or how they lived.
The garden is Quartzsite’s true, warm egalitarian heart.
i Jolly’s memorial — a pyramid topped with a camel
— is located on the west end of town, far away from
Celia’s Rainbow Gardens. The Hi Jolly gravesite rests
in the town cemetery, which is just north of the Main
Event Swap Meet. One morning quite early, I visited
the memorial and ran into Melissa Cannon and her
black mutt, Yahweh. Melissa is 27, a former hairdresser from Salt Lake
City. She wore a thin cotton skirt and blouse, and a tattoo of a beehive
was etched on her chest, a reminder, she said, of her Mormon heritage.
Six months before, Melissa had joined her boyfriend on a serendipi-tous
trip to see the USA in a 1972 Volkswagen bus.
“I realized everyone dies and I don’t know when I’m going to die, so
I’d better enjoy it,” she said.
Melissa claims to subsist on about $200 monthly. To make money,
she cuts hair occasionally, and also sells scarves, her boyfriend’s home-made
jewelry and other crafts from a stall in the Main Event Swap
Meet. The Main Event is one of several swap meets in town, and, like
every other big swap meet, it has dozens of stalls. Each stall is its own
secret world. While Melissa’s stall is a vibrant throwback to the 1960s,
the Silvarado stall across from hers hints of human struggle in the Old
and New American West. At least 50 tables are covered with tools,
cutlery, kitchen equipment, old irons, records, dark glasses, rickety
mining equipment, clothes, hats and other items. An antique baby
stroller, saddles and chairs clog the aisles.
The Silvarado drew a lot more customers than Melissa’s stall, but
this didn’t seem to worry her. She’s a prototypical swap merchant —
she lives and lets live.
“No one is more liberal than a swap-meet person — you’ve gotta
accept everybody,” said Jim Kirk, the owner of nearby Hi Ali Swap P H
PRECEDING PANEL: A
travel trailer takes
up residence in the
desert just south of
sweeps the side-walk
in front of his
Main Street store.
OPPOSITE PAGE: For
three months of the
and his wife, Terry,
enjoy campfires and
desert sunsets at
42 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 43
Meet. Blue-eyed and bearded, he’s a former Utah advertising executive
who moved to Quartzsite 32 years ago to escape what he viewed as an
unhealthy, rushed lifestyle.
“I’ve never looked back, never regretted anything,” Kirk said. He
and his wife, Rena, have survived by buying and selling real estate,
although Rena does sell rocks and minerals from time to time. The
Kirks are both in their 60s and live in a charming house constructed
of salvaged redwood. A giant saguaro named David dominates their
playful garden, which is decorated with bottle collections, antique
road signs and funky furniture. For fun, Kirk restores cars and grows
hothouse tomatoes. For fun, Rena studies rocks. In a way, Quartzsite
healed Rena, a tall woman with soft brown eyes. She immigrated to
Quartzsite in 1974 with her family because her mother was a rock
hound. At the time, Rena had recently received a teaching degree from
the University of Kentucky, where she learned that she didn’t really
enjoy teaching. But she loved Quartzsite. It gave her a sense of freedom
she never had in Kentucky. She became a passionate and lifelong stu-dent
of the rocks, animals and plants of the Sonoran Desert.
Healing is a theme that surfaces again and again in Quartzsite.
One evening, I visited Jeanne and Allen McCloud and their dog,
Kundun, at their BLM campsite. The spot where they’d chosen to park
their RV was carpeted with green grass and protected by a large iron-wood
tree, which Jeanne had decorated with hearts. The McClouds
are unabashed rockaholics. Rocks sat on their outside dining table.
Rocks soaked in buckets nearby. Rocks lined the workshop. The only
place I didn’t see rocks was the interior of the couple’s meticulously
restored purple 1947 Chevy coupe. Jeanne, 58, and Allen, 61, first came
to Quartzsite in 2000, and began camping at this spot in 2002. Both
suffered irreversible injuries from their jobs — she was a professional
housekeeper and he installed offices for a technology company — and
found that the warmth and peace of the Sonoran Desert reduced their
pain and increased their mobility.
“This is a healing place,” Jeanne said.
“I can think out here,” Allen said.
uartzsite’s Kuehn Street area is a rock hound’s para-dise.
In one warehouse-like building I visited, shelves
were lined with hundreds of purple geodes split in
half like ripe fruit. Lynn Porter, a 58-year-old veteran
from California who works at a nearby fossil shop,
looked at the geodes and confessed: “I want to swal-low
A few doors down, Doug True showed me an intricate 350-pound
Brazilian geode called “Celestial Gardens.” The giant geode was born
of a rare geologic event, True said, and he used words like “anhydrite
crystals” and “quartz pseudomorph” to describe it. He hoped to sell
Celestial Gardens for $80,000. Although I wasn’t in the market for the
geode, True helped me understand that tens of thousands of Americans
are dedicated rock hounds who live out their lives crossing the nation
to gather and swap rocks and attend shows.
Quartzsite is one of their premier destinations. Even the town’s his-tory
is rocky. In 1856, Charles Tyson built a fort in the Quartzsite area to
ensure the safety of a precious well, and the place became a stagecoach
stop. But not much happened until the late 18th century, when the area
began to be mined for gold, lead and mercury. In the 1960s, Quartzsite
became a rockaholic hangout, in part because rock devotees enjoyed
foraging for rocks around the mine sites.
At the Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club, people are absolutely
adrenalized by rocks. The club has more than 800 members, and spon-sors
field trips to the nearby desert, where rock hounds prospect for
rocks, haul them back to the club’s well-equipped workshops and
fashion them into artwork. Some people make intricate bracelets, rings
and necklaces. Others carve arrowheads. Still others fashion memorials
for Celia’s Rainbow Gardens.
In the club’s silver shop, I watched retired welder John Shackelford
painstakingly create a delicate silver chain. He is 65, a tall, slender guy.
He grew to appreciate rocks in his golden years, after he and his wife,
Terry, 62, retired and moved from California to Montana. The Montana
property came with a treasure trove of agate, and the Shackelfords
became rockaholics. Now they come to Quartzsite every win-ter
and park their trailer on BLM desert. This season, they
paid $180 for a three-month camping permit, about half the
cost of one night at a high-end resort in Scottsdale. To the
Shackelfords, the BLM campsite is preferable. Armadas of RVs
surround them during high season, but the Shackelfords find
their neighbors interesting, quiet and friendly. What’s more,
they can forage for rocks in the desert, not far from camp.
One evening, after the high season had ended and most of
the campers had left Quartzsite, I visited the Shackelfords
at their desert campsite. They lit a bonfire, which popped
and sparked and infused the air with smoky perfume. The
Shackelfords sat in their chairs, and the orange fire highlighted their
contented faces. In the western sky, the setting sun turned a wispy
airplane contrail as pink as a summer zinnia. The hum of cars on the
freeway reminded us that most people seem always to be in a hurry or
in search of something.
Not the Shackelfords. They were perfectly happy to sit by the fire
and let the rest of the world whiz by. They’d found all they needed in
Reluctantly, I left their campsite and headed back to Phoenix. I’d
found all I needed to find in Quartzsite, too. I’d learned that the little
town that seemed at first glance to be dull and uninspired is actually
a magnet for a diverse, vibrant group of people who are passionate
I pulled onto the interstate, remembering what Rena Kirk had told
me shortly after I’d arrived in town: “Some of the most fascinating
people I’ve met in my life, I’ve met in Quartzsite.”
WHEN YOU GO
Quartzsite is located near Interstate 10, about 125 miles west of Phoenix and
20 miles east of Blythe, California. Although Quartzsite has plenty of
accommodations for campers, it has only a few motels. Reservations are
suggested. If motels are full, you can always grab a room at nearby Blythe.
Regardless of the season, visitors to Quartzsite should not forget their hats,
sunscreen and water.
Q ABOVE: Quartzsite
Gem and Mineral
inspects an opal
that he polished.
LEFT: Lynn Porter
and Doug True
check out loads
of geodes at
Surrounded by their quirky collection, Jim and Rena Kirk have made Quartzsite their home for more than 30 years.
44 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 45
cruising among the Black
Hills near Safford, it’s easy
to get carried away in an imagi-nary
game of cowboys and
Indians. Patches of prickly pear
cactuses and fields of native
grasses cover the talus slopes,
which were crafted by volcanic
activity more than 20 million
years ago. The foliage would
make for some seriously great
cover should a battle break out
or, better yet, a pretty prickly
corner into which the enemy
could be backed. Either way,
it’s easy to see why Geronimo
wandered these hills during
raids into Mexico and back.
The 21-mile drive begins at
its southern point off of U.S.
Route 191, approximately 20
miles east of Safford. You’ll turn
left onto the Black Hills Back
Country Byway, a gravel road
that’s maintained by the Bureau
of Land Management. Although
a four-wheel-drive vehicle isn’t
necessary — unless you plan
to explore one of the numerous
side roads along the way — a
high-clearance vehicle is rec-ommended.
Prison laborers built the
byway between 1914 and 1920,
during which a few managed
to escape. Most, however,
behaved. Just as the hillsides
are great for a Wild West game
of hide-and-seek, they’re also
foreboding. If you venture out-side
the car for a closer look, be
sure to keep your eyes peeled
for rattlesnakes and other des-ert
Several interpretive areas
pepper the route, and there are
other potential stops along the
way. The first comes approxi-mately
3 miles into the drive,
where the road crests above
the Twin C Ranch. There,
you can take a side trip to the
Black Hills Rockhound Area in
search of fire agate or continue
past an abandoned mine shaft.
Just down the road, a cinder pit
looms red and dusty against the
onyx hills. In the 1950s, miners
pulled pumice from the pit and
trucked it to Safford, where
it was converted into cinder
This is a good spot to look
up. On a crisp, clear day, a
swath of mountain-studded
desert paints the horizon, and
the Dos Cabezas Mountains
rise a scant 50 miles away.
From there, the road climbs
steadily into the hills as cholla
and bursts of yucca punctuate
the abundant prickly pear. The
road reaches its highest point
near the 12-mile mark, and then
descends in a series of twists
The remnants of the labor
camp, where the prisoners
rested each evening, are a
quick walk from the roadside
between Mileposts 16 and 17.
The old structures are noth-ing
special — just block and
rebar — but they do speak to
the ruggedness of the terrain.
Life in the Black Hills at the
beginning of the 20th cen-tury
couldn’t have been easy.
Nor is the sight of the Phelps
Dodge open-pit copper mine at
Morenci easy on the eyes. Min-ing
is big in Eastern Arizona,
just as it was during Arizona’s
boom days, when cotton and
copper were king in this neck
of the woods.
The road winds back to U.S.
191 after traversing the Old
Safford Bridge, which crosses
the Gila River. The bridge, con-structed
in 1918, doesn’t look
a day over 39 — its concrete
is wrinkle-free. You’ll have to
use your imagination, though.
Unless you’re passing through
after a good rain, the Gila River
usually runs dry.
LEFT: The Old
spans the Gila
River along the
Black Hills Back
pear cactuses and
dot the Black Hills
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more scenic drives, pick
up a copy of our book, The Back Roads. Now
in its fifth edition, the book ($19.95) fea-tures
40 of the state’s most scenic drives.
To order a copy, call 800-543-5432 or visit
roamed this area.
It’s historic, in
many ways, and
the scenery is
pretty special, too.
BY KELLY KRAMER
Note: Mileages are approximate.
LENGTH: 21 miles one way
DIRECTIONS: From Safford, drive east on U.S. Route 70
(concurrently, you’ll be on U.S. Route 191) for approximately 10
miles until the two routes split. Turn left onto U.S. 191 and drive
north on 191 for 10 miles to the junction with Black Hills Back
Country Byway and turn left. Continue 21 miles to the byway’s
northern junction with U.S. 191. To return to Safford, turn right.
Turn left for Clifton, approximately 4 miles away.
VEHICLE REQUIREMENTS: A high-clearance vehicle is
recommended. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required to travel
the roads that branch from the byway.
WARNING: Back-road travel can be hazardous, so be aware of
weather and road conditions. Carry plenty of water. Don’t travel
alone, and let someone know where you are going and when you
plan to return.
INFORMATION: Bureau of Land Management, 928-348-4450 or
Travelers in Arizona can visit www.az511.gov or dial 511 to
on road closures, construction,
p/u from Jan. 2003 page 53A
S T A R T H E R E
B l a c k H i l l s
G I L A B O X R I P A R I A N
N A T I O N A L C O N S E R V A T I O N A R E A
Twin C Ranch
Old Safford Bridge
Back Country Byway
O N L I N E For more drives in Arizona, visit our “Scenic Drive Guide” at www.arizonahighways.com.
46 m a r c h 2 0 1 0 www. a r i z o n a h i g h w a y s . c o m 47
month OF THE
you’re either going up or you’re going down on the
Sterling Pass Trail. There’s no in-between. No middle
ground, no plateaus, no real respites. No matter, it’s still
one of the best hikes in Oak Creek Canyon. And that’s
saying something, because the canyon, which
includes the world-famous Red Rock/Secret
Mountain Wilderness, of which this trail is
a part, is loaded with great hikes. A.B. Young,
West Fork, Loy Canyon ... there aren’t any
bad options in this vicinity, but Sterling Pass
ranks near the top because it’s easy to find,
moderate to climb and extreme in the way of
Named for a local settler — as so many
hikes in Arizona are — the Sterling Pass
Trail is located about 10 feet from the side
of the highway, and you need to be care-ful.
Although State Route 89A through Oak
Creek Canyon is one of the most spectacular
drives in the world, there are still people
who feel a need to race down the road as if
they were Tony Stewart. Again, be careful.
Once you’re on the trail, the engine noises
will quickly disappear and be replaced by
the idyllic sounds of the birds and the breeze.
The trail kicks off with a series of short switchbacks,
nothing too strenuous, that lead to an unnamed drain-age.
At this point, the trail is a little hard to see, but if you
cross the wash, you’ll see a cairn marking the route. The
trail is easy to follow the rest of the way, which allows you
to focus on Mother Nature, in particular, the vermilion-and
buff-colored cliffs, mesas and spires that make Sedona
one of the state’s scenic wonders — it’s second only to the
Grand Canyon in terms of recognition around the globe.
Among the rock formations is the trail’s namesake,
Sterling Pass, which is a short saddle that sits between
Wilson Mountain and the Mogollon Rim. It also sepa-rates
Oak Creek Canyon and Sterling Canyon. The saddle
is easy to see, but to get there, you’ll first have to climb
1,100 feet through a mixed conifer forest dominated by
ponderosas, junipers and manzanitas. About 10 minutes
into the hike you’ll come to some dead trees, too. They’re
the victims of a fire, and because the trail cuts right
through the burn area, you’ll get an up-close look at what
happens to the Earth when fire restrictions are ignored.
Even with the burnouts, the trail is gorgeous, and after
about 20 minutes you’ll begin the switchbacks up to
Sterling Pass. The climb offers a good workout, like Cam-elback
Mountain in Phoenix, and the switches get tighter
near the top. Enjoy the views from above, because you’re
about to start switching again. Immediately. This time,
zigzagging downhill into Sterling Canyon. The terrain
is similar to what you saw coming up, but the views are
more open, more panoramic.
Eventually, after 2.4 miles, you’ll come to the end,
where the trail meets the Vultee Arch Trail, which is yet
another one of the area’s great hikes. In fact, if you were
to hike every trail in the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wil-derness,
you’d realize that it’s impossible to make a wrong
turn. Every hike is worth taking. Sterling Pass just hap-pens
to be the one we chose for this month’s issue.
LENGTH: 4.8 miles round-trip
ELEVATION: 4,850 to 5,950 feet
DIRECTIONS: From Sedona, drive north on
State Route 89A for 6 miles to the trailhead
on the west side of the road, about a
half-mile north of Milepost 380. Park in
one of the roadside pullouts across from
USGS MAP: Munds Park, Wilson Mountain
INFORMATION: 928-282-4119 or www.
• Plan ahead and be prepared.
• Travel and camp on durable
• Dispose of waste properly and pack
out your trash.
• Leave what you find.
• Respect wildlife and minimize impact.
• Be considerate of others.
enjoy the view
from Vultee Arch,
Sterling Pass Trail.
OPPOSITE PAGE: The
sun bursts through
a grove of lush
trees along the
STERLING PASS TRAIL There
are a lot of hikes to choose from
in the Sedona area. This is one
of the best.
BY ROBERT STIEVE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LARRY LINDAHL
O N L I N E For more hikes in Arizona, visit our “Hiking Guide” at www.arizonahighways.com.
O A K C R E E K C A N Y O N
R E D R O C K /
S E C R E T M O U N T A I N
W I L D E R N E S S
C O C O N I N O
N A T I O N A L F O R E S T
T R A I L H E A D
48 m a r c h 2 0 1 0
Win a collection of our most popular books! To enter, correctly identify the location featured above and e-mail your answer to
email@example.com — type “Where Is This?” in the subject line. Entries can also be sent to 2039 W. Lewis Avenue, Phoenix,
AZ 85009. Please include your name, address and phone number. One winner will be chosen in a random drawing of qualified
entries. Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2010. Only the winner will be notified. The correct answer will be posted in our
May issue and online at www.arizonahighways.com beginning April 15.
BY KELLY KRAMER
been a model of
a fusion of ecol-ogy
— kind of like a
Prius, only big-ger.
It’s a place for
day, it could
be home to as
many as 5,000
people, which is
far more than a
Prius can hold.
January 2010 Answer:
Congratulations to our
Rhodes of Ash Fork,
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