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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

-- Mark Twain

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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