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Look at the faces of my people:
You will find expressions of love and despair, hope and joy, sadness and desire, and all the human feelings that live in the hearts of people of all colors. Yet, the heart never knows the color of the skin.

Chief Dan George

July 4th and more dirt roads to discover

Thursday, 6 July 2006

For the 4th of July celebrations I drove up to Mesa to visit some friends and spend the night after watching the fireworks from their rooftop. The route I choose would take me through the more scenic areas between Tucson and the Phoenix area.

I started by heading north through Oro Valley up Highway 77 then Highway 79. These are to the east of the I-10, and are much more scenic. The Sajuara is very thick along parts of the highway, with great views of the mountains. The drive is a little longer than the freeway but worth it.

That night, after spending quite a lot of time in the swimming pool, we watched the Apache Junction fireworks from the roof of my friends house. It was the following day that I took the route that was dirt roads, something like half of the distance from Mesa to Tucson. I could've driven even more, but a monsoon moved in and I didn't want to be out there on the soft dirt roads in a monsoon.

I left Mesa heading east on Highway 60, then south on Highway 79. At Florence I turned off and found the dirt roads that head south through the foothills of the Tortilla Mountains. These are wide, graded, smooth dirt roads that can be cruised through at a decent speed. There are others I will have to explore, that go up higher into the Tortillas. As it was, a monsoon moved in so I headed back to Highway 79.

A little ways down 79 I found a road that went west, I think it was Ranch Road. It was paved for a few miles, then I turned off it and headed south through the foothills of the Tortiillita Mountains. That is a great road, lots of fun driving through the thick stands of Sajuaro cactus. This road, Owl Head Ranch Rd, winds through the cactus, often a single track or so wide, with lots of corners and some surprise corners. I almost missed one - coming up out of a wash, then up a little more, over the top and right there was a hard left. I hit the brakes and slid straight ahead, off the trail a bit, but not hitting anything, as it was apparent others have done the same thing. After that I was just a little more careful of such blind corners, and there were more. There had been a monsoon some time before so there were puddles, including one huge puddle. I cruised through it, and got a bit wet, I'd forgotten to roll up my window. heheh, oh well, so it goes. I eventually found my out through a construction area near Marana.

The Tortollita and Tortilla Moutains have quite a few roads over them I'll have to explore some more.

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