Monday, May 7, 2018

Trails cross at Sofia's: Montreal to the Casbah, Painted Rocks to Picacho Mtns

 We return to I-8 to travel a little further east to Painted Rock National Monument. There we find petroglyphs easily accessible by a short trail.  It a small boulder pile, but the campground is  huge - and each site is generously well separated from its neighbors.
Gila River, I-8, railroad, and traditional trade route trail. Gila Bend is named for the river bend - nice logic.

Our next site is elusive, but on the way trying to find the Gatlin site, we discover a Gila Bend neighborhood diner called Sofia’s. There are plenty of cars outside to indicate good food inside. Happy full people can be seen leaving. It is Mexican food - something for which we have a taste.

As we are waiting in line for a table, Alex says “hi” to a trio of guys who are likely not-from-here. We discuss a few travel adventures and then discover that they are traveling for work.

“What kind of work do you do?” “We’re a band.” They are on their way to San Diego to play the Casbah. They are a Montreal band, Busty and the Bass. They offer us a CD and Alex graciously hands over $$. They say they will be playing in Ann Arbor again. They were recently there playing at the Blind Pig.

The Gaitln site is closed to visitors today so we travel on to find one that is large and easily accessed, Casa Grande.  This big house was still in use in the 1400s.  It was built by the ancestors of the O'odham, Hopi, and Zuni people.  In many of the sites we visit, the historical account labels the ancestors "Hohokam" but at Case Grande we learn that name is not in the language of any of the descendants.  The remaining walls are part of a much larger system of buildings and canals.

Our campsite destination is BLM land that is on both sides of the Link Road near Picacho Peak. Appearance evokes wild desert densely congregated with a tremendous variety of cacti and Palo Verde trees. Occasional road noise reminds us that we aren’t very far from civilization. This area too is part of the vast Gila River basin. It is an area that once grew the three sisters: beans, squash, and corn - with irrigation canals to carry water from then generous Gila River. The Gila once flowed from New Mexico mountains near the Gila Cliff Dwellings - west across Arizona, when Arizona was the land of the Hohokam.

Our quest here is another petroglyph site, one rarely seen because it means driving miles of sandy-bumpy dirt roads and stopping to open and close barbed wire fences. We enjoy the scramble to find the petroglyphs and then enjoy the desert view from the top of the boulder pile. 

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