Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Tomahawk - Mesa to Douglas Arizona Hitch hike
I woke up after a six hour nap on the floor of the mezzanine lounge of the Billings Logan international Airport in Montana.
After repacking my gear I headed for the Allegiant airlines check in counter , The young lady working there waved the fee for my back pack which was very nice of her. She handed me my boarding pass and I headed for gate B4 and my flight to Mesa, Arizona.
Once on the plane I noticed that all of the passengers seemed to be crowded into the front of the aircraft (MD80) so I got up and relocated myself and my Timbul2 bag to the back of the plane where there was plenty of elbow room. I managed to grab another 2 hour nap before the plane touched down in Mesa.
I kind of like the Mesa “Gate way” airport and will try to fly out of there next time I depart Arizona for Asia or elsewhere. I stopped off for a quick bathroom break on my way to baggage claim. Once I recovered my bag I headed out the door and found a spot to repack my bags.
The Jansport “Big Bear” pack I was carrying turned out to be just a bit small and I was forced to hand carry my coat but, I managed to get my Laptop, cell phone, extra clothes, food, water, tent, poncho, plastic sheet, therma rest pad, Wiggy’s brand poncho liner, Timbuk2 bag, and a 1 gallon bag of Folgers instant coffee into the pack.
After packing up my gear I went back into the terminal and filled my Nalgene bottle, MSR fuel Bottle and my travel mug with water. I stowed my bottles then grabbing my coat and travel mug I headed out the door, walked to the street, made a right turn and started walking up the road.
I cannot remember the name of the street but according to the map on the wall inside the terminal, it went straight north to Hwy 60 which is the road I wanted to take east to Hwy 191 in Safford then south to Douglas – easy peasy.
I must have been walking for about 10 minutes or so, sipping on my cup of water and enjoying the warm temps after being in Montana when a Toyota pick up pulls to a stop and the driver asked me if I needed a ride – cool!, turns out he was going east on Hwy 60 and would drop me off at a spot on the edge of town.
I cannot recall his name but He said he was working as a miner and was planning a trip to Thailand in February; I recommended a few places for him to stay and eat in Bangkok and a few tourist attractions as well.
Anyway he dropped me off at a good spot with a lot of traffic flow and it was about 5minutes before I caught my 2nd ride with a young man named Victor who had the cleanest pick up truck inside and out that I had ever seen. Victor dropped me off outside of a circle K convenience store in the town of superior, az . I went inside and bought a cup of coffee and 2 hotdogs.
Once I had scarffed down the hotdogs and coffee, I shouldered my pack and headed up the road to the edge of town. On the way up the road I saw an orange tree with the most beautiful fruit on it so I helped myself to a few oranges and stuffed them into the pockets of my 5.11 combat jacket.
My 3rd ride was with a quiet guy who didn’t offer to give his name but seemed to be an interesting person. He told me a little about the Bull Elk he shot in the white mountains during the Bow season last September, he even had the broken arrow shaft on the dash board of his old pick up truck.
We drove up the highway through Devils canyon(I think he called it that) for about a ½ and hour or so ‘ since it was about 4:30 PM and gets dark this time of year around 5:30 I asked the Elk Hunter to drop me off along the road so I could set up camp for the night. He was surprised to see that I planned to sleep out and expressed some concern about the weather. I assured Him that I would be fine.
I once again shouldered the Jansport pack and headed across the road and up the hill into the Tonto national forest (I made the mistake and called it the Apache national forest in my video update).
After a short scout around the area I spied a great place to set up my tent for the night. I had Manzanita and cat claw all around me and I was also protected by some rocks to the front. I was a camp to please even the most stalwart Apache raider.
Once my tent was pitched I dug around in my pack to see what I had to eat in there. I found my “Tomahawk brand gourmet trail mix”, some pretzels, and of course the oranges I pilfered in the town back down the road.
I was a little tired so I inflated my therma rest pad and pulled out my Wiggy’s poncho liner, I adjusted some of my clothing for a pillow then fell to sleep quickly but only slept for about 6 hours and woke up about midnight. The rest of the night I just laid there thinking about all manner of things. Around 8:30 AM I finally got up and repacked my gear.
I walked down to the road and after a short wait caught a ride with a dude named Corey who managed a string of muffler shops in Arizona, nice kid; he was going into Globe and dropped me off as requested at another circle K convenience store.
Again, I bought 2 hot dogs (for $1.00) and got a refill on coffee. The Clerk Lanny allowed me to fill my 2 water bottles also. That was mighty nice of him.
After consuming my delightful “brunch” I walked up the hill a little ways then stuck out my thumb; it was about an hour before I caught a ride with a guy named Tom who was driving a vintage 1954 car (cant remember the make), it was a cool looking ride and you can check out the picture here.
Tom was “Blowing the cobs” out of his old car so He drove me to the edge of town across, from the “Apache gold” resort and casino.
Ride number 6 was with a young guy named Ian who drove me all the way into Safford then dropped me off at a UHaul rental place on the south edge of town. I had to walk for a ways because the traffic was light and there was nowhere to camp in this particular area.
I didn’t want to be stuck in an area around houses where it would not be conducive to good safe camping, I must have walked with my pack for about 2 miles in the light rain before I was offered a ride with a fella named Daniel who drove me down to within a few miles of the interstate, Daniel forced some food on to me in the form of a can of refried beans and a can of condensed milk, I stuffed the cans into my pack and thanked him for his generosity.
I hopped the fence and walked back into the mesquite and cholla and found a great place to set up camp which was out of the view of the Highway.
The clouds had cleared off and the stars were shining very brightly and I was able to view the milky way, the temperature was dropping fast so I zipped myself into my tent, wrapped up in my poncho liner and fell to sleep.
When I woke up in the morning there was a heavy frost and the poncho I had draped over my tent in case it rained during the night was frozen stiff with hoar frost. It must have gotten pretty cold during the night but I still managed to sleep fairly comfortably.
Once again I packed up my gear and headed for the highway to thumb a ride. Ride #8 was with a guy named Dan who was heading to Tucson to look for a job as a heavy equipment operator. Dan took me down the Interstate and was nice enough to drop me off at the Hwy 191 exit heading towards Douglas.
I stood around there for about 2 hours before I caught my next ride which took me into Sunsites, I didn’t catch the gentleman’s name (Larry ? maybe?) But I do recall that he was serious about his relationship with Jesus.
Ride #10 was with a Forest ranger named Dennis and his dog “Harry” they took me down to the junction of 191/181 near Sunnyzona.
I must have stood around there for about 2 hours before catching my final ride with a Mexican Gentleman named Miguel. For $5.00 Miguel would take me to wherever I wanted to go in Douglas. I appreciated his enterprising attitude, I forked over the 5bucks and we were on our way – Andale pues!
It was fun to speak Spanish again after not speaking it for a while but Miguel was speaking too fast in the Rapid fire, slang infested Mexican border Spanish common to the area. I had to tell him several times to slow down so I could understand him.
Miguel dropped me off at my storage locker on Pan American Highway in Douglas about 4:30 this afternoon. I dropped off my pack and grabbed a few things then headed to the Jalisco café near the Ace hardware in Douglas where I had an Enchilada platter, 2glasses of lemon aid, and 2 plates of tortilla chips and salsa.
After dinner I ambled over to the Gadsden Hotel Bar and drank a tequila and a dos XX cerveza, I’m currently sitting in the mezzanine area of the Gadsden Hotel typing this and thoroughly enjoying being back in “La Frontera”, I look forward to selling all of my junk in storage then hitting the road for another adventure.
This time I’m considering heading to Baja California (La paz) then heading south of there to cross the tropic of cancer; who Knows tho? The world is my oyster.
Tomahawk – Scouts out! Quo Vadis?