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June 27, 2012


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Side note: two new replies on the health care expansion discussion (central Phoenix vs. the fringes, and why) in the Dog Days In Arizona thread, to Mr. Talton and to Phx Planner.

Speaking of deranged immigrants.

If you are a long term resident of these parts, you remember when Quartzsite consisted of ONE gas station at the northwest corner of nowhere and where-am-I.

Due to water issues, you could only use the restroom in the gas station if you purchased gas or other items.

If someone would have told me back then that thousands upon thousands of deranged midwesterners would make Quartzsite their permanent home I would have called you nuttier than a fruitcake.

As you've seen by the behavior of the Quartzsite-ites of late, they obviously chose a place where they were at risk of having their brains fried.

Makes no sense at all.

There are desert towns and then there are desert towns.

Quartzsite has a yacht club. It's a member of an international association of yacht clubs. My sister's partner is a member of it.

This old cowboy saying helps explain Quartzsite and it's yacht club.

"We all got pieces of crazy in us, some folks got bigger pieces than others"

During my years in Arizona, 1975-1985, I spent most of it working on the Central Arizona Project. I lived in some desert towns and just out in the desert, too.

These were a later generation of desert town than the railroad and mining towns Jon speaks of. I think many of them were just gas station towns that grew on the highways. (I'm not trying to get you started, Jon)

My first home outside Phoenix proper was below Cave Creek Dam. I was a late entry in a group of people planning to take home made covered wagons around the old wagon trails. I spent a winter living in a wagon body with no wheels and a canvas top. That was the (first) year that Cave Creek Dam almost topped out. I could see the dam from the wagon and I would have been among the first swept away had it failed.

To pay our board we did chores around the ranch. We hauled drinking water from a public tower to the farm in an old water truck. The truck had to be push started and it was much too big to really push, so we always parked it on a little hill. My job was to push enough to get it started downhill and then jump in before it got too far away.

My first job on the CAP saw me living in a rented cabin inside a trailer park in Bouse. You'll probably have to look it up. It's southeast of Parker. It had a wood stove for heat and one bare light bulb overhead for a lamp.

As soon as the company started multiple shifts, I was asked to move onto the job site and live in a 24 foot trailer for a year. Did I mention that I was the EMT for the job and my company car was an old AAA ambulance? That trailer also acted as my first aid station.

While my car was in the shop in Parker I rode my bicycle ten miles to Bouse to do laundry and shop for groceries.

After delivering a patient or two from the job, I started to volunteer in the hospital ER in Parker. It was a lazy Colorado River town most of the time but it would become the third largest city in the state on long weekends as the 19 year-old Arizona drinking age drew thousands from California colleges and military bases. We saw as much trauma as Phoenix did, but we handled it with far fewer staff.

There were only 36 beds in the whole hospital, two in the ER (until they expanded to six). Yet on one Memorial Day weekend we had 80 or 90 skull fractures alone. I remember calling Loma Linda to see if they could take one of our patients. They asked why we didn't call a closer hospital and we had already filled them up in Phoenix, Kingman, Las Vegas and were working our way out to LA and San Diego.

On another occasion a farmer brought his prize stallion to the ER. He had torn up a leg on barbed wire and was bleeding pretty bad. The vet was away from town. We sewed up the horse's leg in the parking lot. The horse was better behaved than many of our human patients, but he wasn't drunk or drugged out of his mind.

I kept coming back on long weekends for many years after the job was over. They let me sleep in an empty room, if there was one, and on a gurney in a back hallway when there wasn't. Of course sometimes there was no time for sleep. My name tag said Disorderly and I worked ER, X-ray, lab or anywhere else they needed me.

After a brief sting in California's Imperial Valley I lived in McCormack Ranch for a job near Fountain Hills. Not the same at all, but it was short lived. Much later we got a job on the Nevada Test Site and I lived in a Nevada desert town which was trying to change its name from Lathrop Wells to Amargosa, about 90 miles from Las Vegas.

Later I lived in Salome "Where she danced" as we got the adjoining contract connecting to the Bouse job.

While I was in Salome I purchased a broken down 10x55 mobile home with intent of refurbishing it. I took the old refrigerator and water heater and made a solar water heater. Laying it sideways on the ground facing the sun I would open the refrigerator door to let the water tank, now inside, heat up during the day and close the door at night and had I hot, OK warm, shower every morning.

I helped my future father in law build a windmill to pump water from his well outside Bouse That was even before I met his daughter, the valedictorian of her Salome High School class.

On a trip back through that area in the early 2000's there were strong signs of decline. Salome was much devastated as more and more traffic moved onto I-10 and off of US 60 from Wickenburg to Quartzite.

Bouse was even worse off after the building of AZ 95 from Parker to Wickenburg all but stopped traffic along AZ 72 to Salome.

So I appreciate what Jon says about Arizona desert towns, having lived through several summers and winters in them, knowing the long term residents and supporting the local businesses.

Great post, Buford.

So Buford why did U move your trailer out of AZ?

Yes, great post Buford.

Another sign that AZ was headed in the wrong direction was when Nothing,AZ burned down and was not able to be rebuilt.

When you're down to nothing, then you lose that, you're in a hard way.

Reb did u mean Nowhere AZ?

Nothing, AZ

It's on Google maps.

Between Wikenburg and Wikiup


I didn't move the 10x55 trailer out of AZ. I sold it before I left. It was in Avondale at the time, stripped clean and ready for renovation.

My relationship with the construction company reached a natural ending (they fired me for doing my job) and I moved back to Seattle. My Arizona bride was already living my old home town near my mother's house, so we had been planning to make the change anyway.

Two other trailers did come with me though. A tiny fiberglass ball called a Scamp was my bedroom/bathroom and I had a mobile-office type 10x20 custom built in Phoenix to be a workshop.

I still have the 10x20 though I plan to sell it in the fall. The Scamp and the wife are both long gone. Mother too, for that matter.

Whenever I dream of long drives on a highway its always got some parts of US 60 in it.

Thanks Buford.

Today at 11:30 AM, my existential pal and great companion on americas highways and byways, Pepper (aka- Spot) expired.She was born a dog (god) philosopher of the highest level in July of 1990. The plan was for me to first but it didn't work out that way.

Hasta Luego Pepper

Am grateful that I spent my first year at the Republic in Kingman, as the western bureau. My coverage area included Bullhead City, Laughlin, Peach Springs, Valentine, etc. I didn't realize then that I was exploring parts of Arizona that a lot of people who live in Phoenix their whole lives never see.
Could have done without the guy threatening to beat me to death with a pool cue the first time I went to a bar, though.

I'm very sorry to hear this cal.

A couple of months ago, my high country buddies and I sat around a campfire and recalled all our canine buddies who were no longer with us.

It was a long list and rather than being sad it was a gathering of a whole bunch of happy and fond memories of high energy puppies who became part of the community. Those characters became members of families for a mile around.

Chewy, Tigre, Rocky, Beethoven, Lucky, Ruger, Ranger, Lady, Maggie, Riley.

You characters welcome Pepper into your pack. He and his pal cal are one of us.

And the "Dogs sat around the campfire and discussed if man really existed"

Sorry to hear about Pepper/Spot, Cal. A dog couldn't have asked for a better human.

I travel to Parker a few times every month and lament the monstrous Walmart that has been built there, but such is 'progress' in our monoculture building, monopolized economy. We've traded uniqueness and localism for 'efficiency' and 'convenience'. The priced paid is a dull, manufactured sameness which, in the end, is not sustainable. Thank God for that.

Cal, I'm sorry to hear about Pepper / Spot. My Arizona bride insisted we get a cat as soon as I returned to Seattle. My mother died the following winter and then she left me a few months later, leaving McGee with me. The cat was not Y2k compatible and died in Dec. of 1999.

On the eve of the new millennium I mixed my mother's ashes with Kahlua and poured them off a bridge into a river. The cat's ashes went too, mixed with the liquid from a can of tuna.

I have done without pets since then. They are just as hard to lose as family.

Bill Goodykoontz-
Another guy that Jon and I worked with Mesa / Apache Junction ended up in Kingman for a while. I rode some memorable calls with him in that area. (I used to volunteer in hospitals and ambulances for fun- don't judge me)

I spent six days rafting down the Colorado starting from a dirt road out of Peach Springs and ending in Lake Mead. Makes the animated movie Cars somewhat nostalgic for me...

Parker was much changed my last time through, but I was able to find the hospital. Its sad that we can't learn about sustainability from the Pueblo and Hohokam's successes and failures. But we (as a whole) can't even seem to remember the lessons we learned in 1929, so I'm not terribly surprised.

Oh, I have a correction to my post. Bouse and Salome did have railroad sidings, but they had long been disused. Hiway 60 and 72 followed the tracks.

One of our truckers was hauling a load from Salome down the hill on a frosty morning and he hadn't cleaned his windows except for a small place directly in front. He was going downhill beside a train, about even with the lead engine. As he turned off the hiway onto the dirt road of the job site, he tried to cross the tracks but ran into the second car of the train instead. He was quite surprised, but not hurt much.

There was even a railroad siding at milepost 41 called McVay near my trailer clinic. It had a cattle ramp but there were no cattle operations at the time I was there. It was all cotton except for an experimental pomegranate farm someone trying to cultivate jojoba. There were old mining holes of various ages and sizes visible on every mountain side in that area.

I have a friend who's grandfather purchased five acres of land outside of Peach Springs. It has been in the family for about 80 years. First the grandfather paid taxes on the land. When he passed, the father paid taxes on the land. When he passed, my friend and siblings paid taxes on the land.

A couple of years ago they got it appraised in order to sell the land.

The appraisal said the land was worth $0, zip, nada.

That's a pretty high tax rate.

Sorry to hear about Pepper cal. Dogs are family too and are deeply missed when they go. But as long as we remember, they will still be beside us.

Sorry about Pepper too, cal. You were always very clear in your affection.

From the New Yorker, A Writing Life by John McPhee.

Writer John McPhee upon being introduced by his publisher Uncle to Jack OBrien author of the Silver Chiefs stories, stories about a sled dog in the frozen north, said to his uncle, but I thought Jack OBrien died. The uncle said, “He did die. He died. Actually we had three or four Jack OBriens. Let me tell you something John. Authors are a dime a dozen. The dog is immortal.”

Towns are not.

Petro's blog has a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding (most of) the health care law:


(My apoligies if Mr. Talton is in the act of creating a new blog thread about that.)

Incidentally, there was also a dog named Pepper in William Hope Hodgson's "The House on the Borderland". He died too. Chapter 23:


Thanks Emil Pepper will be riding in my passenger seat until we both pass into the "land of shadows" as dust.

Jon's got a post over here.

Jon, another spot-on installment of Phoenix 101.
Your description of these little towns makes my heart ache. I came to Casa Grande in the summer of 1969, and it had all the qualities you describe.
I went to the little high school (1200 students) across the street from the city park with grass and cool shade. The town was cooled on summer evenings by the cotton fields that surrounded it. Interstate 10 was still a relative novelty, and Phoenix was still a long drive.
Now I sit in my parents' home behind a gate in one of the tract developments, just a stone's throw from the gawd-awful Florence Boulevard and a mile or so from I-10.
As one travels closer to the 'center' of CG, it's a microcosm of the ring of decay we saw in Charlotte.
Thanks for reminding me of what once was.

For those of you who haven't checked out petro's blog, I would suggest that you do so.

There is some very interesting topics.

Just click on his name in this blog.

"Even with Uncle Sam's help, isolation was the dominant characteristic of the desert town."

This qualifies Phoenix, with its 5 million isolated, dispersed, disconnected, and desperate souls.


Coincidentally, I experienced a vivid dream of my own dog/god last night. She lives still in Tucson with a new family, since my departure from AZ. She too is a desert dog.

I miss her. Yet, they live in our hearts and dreams.

"That's a pretty high tax rate."

Somebody's gotta pay for the war machine.

"This qualifies Phoenix, with its 5 million isolated, dispersed, disconnected, and desperate souls."

Speak for yourself! When you have family and friends rooted here, for generations, you are never left alone...and never hungry either.

"When you have family and friends rooted here, for generations, you are never left alone...and never hungry either."

A lucky few.

Ask the Hohokam

I've read a little about the Hohokam but still don't find convincing evidence suggesting what caused their disappearance. Some recent evidence suggests they were pushed out by Pima groups who moved into the Salt and Gila River Valleys during the end of Hohokam civilization.

As for the lucky few, I would expand that and say the lucky small majority; as in those that lived here before the 2000's. That cuts out hundreds of thousands of Sun Citiers, N. Scottsdalers, and fringe dwellers; the angry few.

My money is on drought. the Hohokam didn't have a nuclear power plant and the CAP to help them weather a drought.

We're 14 years into a 20 year drought. Let's see how we do at year 20 when the water fight starts.

According to most hydrological studies of the river valley (Salt), it was a series of massive flooding events after periods of drought(1300-1450) that occurred near the largest settlements: Central Phoenix (Pueblo Grande site and new archeological finds have been dug up at the construction site of the Sheriffs office), Tempe, and Mesa.

The Hohokam were canal builders; they developed these canals during times of sparse rainfall and expanded them further upstream (ultimately to over 300 miles) as flooding ruined infrastructure closest to their cities. During the time of the largest exodus, it is considered most likely that drought in northern settlements (where they lacked sufficient infrastructure, e.g. canals) forced people into the Salt River Valley, overwhelming the food supply and leading to a collapse in the civilization as it was known. This happened concurrently with flooding events that raised water levels to heights not seen in 450 years. Of course this occurred over generations and not in a single catastrophic event.


"My money is on drought. the Hohokam didn't have a nuclear power plant and the CAP to help them weather a drought."

How is it that a large evaporation machine helps to weather a drought?


I moved here in 1976 and even then it was a notable surprise when I ran into a person that was born here.

(I'm sure it looked different from the point of view of the native-born, for obvious reasons.)

Just think for a second how much knowledge is posted and shared on this blog, petro's blog and Rate's blog.

Now compare it to the "knowledge" that is passed out by CNN and FOX and MSNBC to the other 99.999% of the population.

Now that is a true desert town. A vast desert of the mind.

Is this the way forward?


It's not AZ but look at how the houses have been blasted away like little matchboxes.

If people continue building in the wilderness near overgrown forests that have become kindling from drought then yes, it will continue into the future. This will be true even if the drought ends soon because it will take time for the forests (that haven't burned) to recover.

Building a burnable house in a forest suggests a lack of education. Like didnt you read the little pig and wolf huff and puff story?

And what did the planet do before we invented the fire fighter?

I dont understand the words "over grown forest"?

Over-growth occurs when natural cycles of forest thinning haven't been allowed to take their course. This leaves forests at risk for disease, invasive species, and unnaturally large wildfires.

This article from the Payson Roundup helps explain over-growth:


My money is on a vengeful Mother Nature.

(sorry, looks like I've developed a gambling problem)

Sounds like the planet was doing OK before man arrived!

Dinosaurs would disagree. Humans need to live in accordance with natural cycles and not try to control them, changing the natural ecology to such an extent that devastating "resets" occur in the future. That's obviously too late for many ecosystems...

Now i agree!

Phxsunfan, speaking of small towns, fire and the environment and manunkind did you se the photograph of the 2010 Russian wildfires that destroyed a 100 small villages in the March/April issue of ADBUSTERS America. A great issue even for 1 percenters, just for the photos and art.

Emil Pulsifer said:
"Incidentally, there was also a dog named Pepper in William Hope Hodgson's "The House on the Borderland". He died too. Chapter 23:


LOL. That was one of my favorite stories at the time that I read it. I loved the description of time evolution in that story.

Never heard of Adbusters until now, but I have seen pictures of the Russian fires from 2010...and this year.

U can find Adbusters at Whole Foods or Changing Hands book store. A subscription might get u a visit from the feds. Did u know Ray Bradbury didnt drive?

I remember driving to LA via Wickenberg with a canvas water bag on the front bumper. Two lane road most of the way even in Cal. until the outskirts of LA.

Great footage of Eloy in the 1980s in this clip of the Gran Prix of Eloy. https://youtu.be/4nKpyILOes8

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