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Posts Tagged ‘Midland-Rice Road’

It has dawned on us that maybe this wasn’t the best place to camp, since we explored so much here two years ago. The places we haven’t seen are quite some drive away…so what do we do? We need to stay in the Blythe area because at the end of the week our granddaughter’s mother will be bringing her back to us so we can take her to her dad.

My first idea was to try to get to McCoy spring, not very far north of I-10 if our road is open past the rest stop. (more…)

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The clock is ticking. We are about to leave this lovely place so it is time for at least one more adventure. But where? No more washed out roads, please. No more rocks…we don’t know enough to appreciate what we are seeing. And then there are the necessities…gotta go to Blythe again.

In Blythe we drop off some prescriptions and stop at a 60s-era-Denny’s that hasn’t been a Denny’s in a long time. There’s a taco salad special for lunch. Oh, what a yummy surprise. It seems they serve prime rib on the weekends and had more than usual left over this time. (Super Bowl might have had something to do with that!) So they seasoned up some prime rib for the taco salad and this was one happy Gringo. (Gringa??)

We had all noticed the big railroad crossing in town with the signals still in place, but no tracks. I’d seen the California and Arizona RR markings on the signals and wondered about it. There’s another thing to look up online sometime.

There are two main roads in Blythe and we took one of them north out of town. We kept expecting the pavement to end at any time and were surprised when it continued, even after all of town had been left behind. Even past the landfill the road is paved. Waaay out into the boondocks that road is paved. The Railroad That Isn’t Anymore runs right along with it. Then suddenly the pavement ends. So does the road. “Private Property” signs appear along with the usual “thou shalt nots”.

What is this? The map says it is Midland, as if it were a town. It even shows some cross streets. There are a few mobile homes, well-weathered, mostly unoccupied, several slabs that used to have houses on them, a few piles of rubble, some signs of mining, but nothing to clarify why a paved road runs all the way out there and then stops at nothing.

We backtrack to the “hat tree”…a skeletal desert tree with a wild assortment of hats and caps attached all over it and discover one of those ever-so-helpful BLM road signs indicating that we are free to enjoy our public lands. There is also a warning that the road we are about to embark upon is a sandy desert road (DUH!) and that we should have plenty of water, oil, food, etc.  We have no oil, a couple of bottles of water, no food. Nice weather, mid-70s, and we know where this one ends. Or at least where it is supposed to end. The BLM sign says it is the Midland-Rice Road. We’ve been to what’s left of Rice, several times, and even remember when there was something there. It’s been a long time. Do we really want to go there now? We’ll see.

We take some pictures of the railroad that is now a road, complete with old crossing signs and try to figure out where it goes. We know where the map says but reality doesn’t seem to agree with the map. So on we go, up the hill. And suddenly we are at the top. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much desert in one place in my life. The remarkable thing is that we know where we are and what we are seeing. It’s old familiar territory from a new perspective.

But what happened to the railroad? We get sidetracked again, finally find a road up to a cut that “has” to be the old railroad grade and hike up there. Yep, that’s the old road bed. There is debris down the hill from where the track was. Was there a small building there at one time? We spent close to an hour hiking around the end of the cut to see where the track went down to the desert and trying to figure out what all the debris was that we saw. We didn’t come to any real conclusions about what might have been there. Yet another research project!

We decided to head down to Rice and then decide which way to go. We have driven a lot of desert roads in the past month but I can’t remember enjoying one any more than this one. There was nothing in particular to see but the sheer joy of being in a beautiful place on a gorgeous day.

It is sad to see nothing but ruins at Rice. We decided not to go west. We knew that would take us to two or three of Patton’s Desert Training Camps, but it would be too late to go exploring and we’d already done a thorough job of exploring one of them many years ago. So we went east, checked out the desert training camp at Rice, then down to Blythe, picked up the prescriptions, some groceries, and hit the Burger King for dessert and wifi.

One thing we did manage to research was Midland. It was a company town for a large gypsum mine from the 1920s until 1966. Ghost towns are supposed to be from back in the olden days. How can a ghost town have been a going concern when I was in college???

All of my other questions will have to wait for that magical day when I have nothing to do but wander around Google all day!

 

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