Monday, 7 January 2008

Gold Canyon to Devil's Canyon

There is perhaps just a touch of tedium in the web diary's recounting of Mark's journey through Phoenix yesterday ..."Still cycling through huge sprawling Phoenix - 44 miles of suburb so far and 15 miles still to go. Stop/start all the time with traffic lights make it slow going.By my reckoning it took Mark about 6 hours to negotiate this sprawling metropolis and even then there were still some outlying suburbs to get through. What he would not have been able to see (far less appreciate) are the wonderful street patterns which an aerial view permits. Here are a sample of a few random parts of Phoenix.....

It is probably worth mentioning that street patterns are something which tell you a great deal about the period during which an area was laid out. In the UK, because the centres of most of our cities date from the Medieval period (long before the idea of urban planning had even been born and when little consideration was given to aesthetics or transportation) the associated street patterns tend to be ones of irregular, short streets - often completely unsuited to the demands of modern city centre life. Later, as cities grew during the Industrial Revolution years, the regular grid iron pattern of straight streets intersecting at right angles became the norm. Only in the 20th century have we seen geometric and imaginative layouts such as those found all over Phoenix..... but then Phoenix didn't exist in the Middles Ages nor even in the 19th century!

Mark was clearly delighted to get clear of Phoenix and he doubtless had little time to spot this community on his left as he left the edge of the city. ....
This is 'Gold Canyon' - a community centred around a golf resort with several golf courses with their green manicured fairways standing out prominently in the surrounding desert. Click on the image below to link to the details of the golf resort .....
and here to read the community website or here for the 'golf retirement community' website which states "You will never meet a stranger at Gold Canyon. New friends are awaiting your arrival. Every Roberts Resort Community surrounds you with the feel of small-town living, along with inspiring activities and recreational facilities. All of the communities recreational activities are centrally located in a 20,000 sq foot club house. With the magnificent Superstition Mountains as your backdrop, you can play a round of golf, paint a masterpiece, enjoy a game of tennis, relax pool side or get involved in all the many clubs and crafts available at Gold Canyon. Isn’t it time you started enjoying the good life?"

What I'd like to know is how much water does it take to keep those green bits like that?! And in an area which receives less than 100mm of rainfall per annum, where does this water come from?
Once past the last 'outposts' of Phoenix at Apache Junction and Gold Canyon (this stretch of road is apparently called 'the Valley of the Sun'), Mark's route headed out into the desert again...
....climbing first through the featureless Gonzales pass at 2651ft and then down towards Superior. At some point on that stretch of US Highway 60, Mark will have had this view of the road and Picketpost mountain which lies just to the south. Just a few miles west of Superior and lying at the foot of Picketpost Mountain is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum which is maintained by the University of Arizona. The image comes from a selection in the Panoramio layer in Google Earth .
Moving on to Superior..... I loved this description . It is probably a little unkind but it does give a flavour of the place. You can read the whole article here.
Superior, AZ must be an original "don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it" place. They claim a population of around 3,000. That might be accurate if dogs and roosters (both of which are plentiful and allowed to roam free) are included. Superior looks to have been built during hard-times and it has been going downhill since. But visually, Superior is located in the middle of some of the best scenery in the southwest. Superior, actually started in 1882 as the town of Hastings, was located about three miles west of the town's present location. Hastings was basically a "tent town" supporting the Silver King Mine. When the mine "played out" in the 1890's, the town quite literally picked up and moved to its present location to support the Superior Copper Mine. The town was originally laid out with two streets. Main Street climbs up the hillside to Magma Street, the second street, which leads to a mine entrance. By 1902, a Post Office was established and the town was "on-the-map."
The image above, called 'Downtown Superior' says it all really and comes from this website which has many more images of this stretch of the US Highway 60.
East of Superior the road rises through Devil's Canyon which would have been a challenging conclusion to yesterday's stage.

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