Sunday, December 7
Bridget sits by my hip on our bed, pierces me with an insistent stare, and barks. I look up from the Paperwhite I’m holding.
She bugs out her eyes and barks again.
“Okay, okay! You’re tired of hanging around here. You want to go somewhere. I get it.”
The dreary skies and chilly temperatures at our camp (outside Oak Flat Campground on Route 60 between Globe and Superior, Arizona) have kept us inside for the past few days.
“Let me take a look.”
I pull aside the curtain and peer up at the sky.
“Yeah, I think you’re right. This might turn out to be a very nice day. Let’s go!”
Soon we turn south onto “Copper Mine Scenic Road,” also known as Route 177. We’re heading toward the town of Kearny. We’ll check out the lake and campground there.
When the Imperfect Tow Vehicle is fitted with a new door . . . .
(Notice I say “when,” not “if.”) When that wondrous day arrives, I’ll need to make a decision about where Bridget and I will make our next camp.
We could move our camp south to Kearny and then make our way further south to explore the southeastern part of the state. Or we could turn westward and mosey over Casa Grande way, working our way to Yuma at the border with California. Or we could wing around Tucson, cross the rez, and end up in Ajo.
The 30-mile drive to Kearny will help me make a decision about the location of our next camp . . .
. . . besides being a Sunday excursion for the Bridge and me.
Route 177 gives an expansive view of the mountains. Yes, it’s scenic! We chug up and down several 10% grades in second gear. I stop at one of the summits to take a photo and to let Bridget out for her customary, roadside poop.
Clicking and pooping accomplished, we continue on our way.
We’re cresting a mountain when a very big mine comes into view.
I mean VERY BIG. The mine in the photo above is a gopher hole compared with this mine. I’ve never seen anything like this!
I don’t attempt a photo because no photo can encompass the height, length, breadth, and depth of this thing. It goes on for miles… terraced mountains, tailing piles of many colors, itty-bitty front-end loaders, gotta’ be a mile down in the earth. Gives me the willies looking at it.
A strange smell from the mine permeates the ITV as I navigate the winding road, eyes straight ahead.
“Come on, Kearny. Where ARE you?”
Legions of saguaros stand with arms raised as we pass, as if to say, “How the heck should we know? We never get to go anywhere.”
We do reach the town, I find Kearny Lake, and the campground next to it.
Few trees. Few plants between sites. Picnic tables, trash bins, grills, a water spigot and a toilet house. Looks like there isn’t any charge to camp here. As we cruise the campground I notice a fish-cleaning station at the back of the toilet house. (There’s been a problem at Kearny Lake with algae killing the fish. I don’t know if it has recovered from that yet.)
I park the ITV before Bridget manages to break a leg hopping around with excitement.
“All right, Bridge! Settle down. Let me get this suit on you and we’ll walk around the lake.”
Kearny’s elevation is 1,868 feet above sea level.
Autumn is lingering here, where in Superior it’s pretty much over. Palm trees have been planted around mobile home parks and in town. By “town” I’m referring to the street where Family Dollar, the IGA grocery, the police station and a few other government buildings are located.
Bridget prances on her leash in front of me as we circle the lake.
We walk until Bridget shows signs of tiring.
Before leaving the campground, I fill water jugs from the spigot. Then we go into town. I make a dash into IGA to pick up a container of pasta salad for my lunch (which I eat in the parking lot, classy dame that I am).
We journey home to Oak Flat. Bridget sleeps in her ratty dog bed beside me, all the way.
Later at camp . . . .
I’m back to reading my Paperwhite when I hear vehicles nearby. I go outside and see a row of trucks and cars, about eight of them, parked side-by-side. People are standing around talking.
Hmm . . . . I wonder what this is all about.
I go back inside the BLT. My curiosity gets the best of me. I go outside again and walk over to a small group, four men and a woman.
“Excuse me,” I begin. They turn and I recognize that they’re Native American — Apache, no doubt.
“What is this gathering all about?”
A man wearing a serape of Indian design (I learn his name is Tony) earnestly proceeds to give me an account of a struggle going on between mining interests and those who want to preserve Oak Flat Campground. The debate has gone on for fifteen years.
Hmm . . . That explains why the campground hasn’t been maintained well.
A tall man in the group interjects.
“This is sacred ground here! It’s supposed to be protected!”
I mention my experience, driving to Kearny, and explain, as a lifelong Easterner unfamiliar with the West, I hadn’t realized how huge mines can be.
The woman remarks severely, “My hometown used to be where that mine is now.”
Below is an excerpt from a brochure Tony gives me.
CC&RMC is currently working hard to prevent a proposed federal land exchange (S.E. AZ Conservation ACT & Jobs Bill), allowing Resolution Copper Mining (RCM), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto -London and BHP-Australia, to acquire the Oak Flat Campground for copper exploration, development, and production, prior to mandated environmental studies and evaluations regarding public land use, thereby circumventing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Tony gestures toward a fellow with a camera and microphone working his way around and through the clusters of protesters.
“That guy is making a documentary for us. He has made films of other situations like ours, like over in New Mexico.”
I ask if it’s okay for me to take a few photos for my blog.
“Some of my readers may be interested in what you are trying to accomplish,” I add.
Tony gives me an enthusiastic yes, elaborating that the local media tend to ignore the efforts of CC&RMC. (This is Tony’s opinion, not mine. I don’t know.)
“We need people to know about this!”
A small fire is lit and the people make a circle around it.
I thank Tony, excuse myself, and run to the BLT to get my camera. I take the two photos for this post before the people begin to pray for Oak Flat.
A note before closing . . . .
If you are familiar with my blog, you are aware of my policy against religious and political debate. I have bent that rule now and then, although I wish I weren’t put in the position of having to make those decisions.
This post is an account of my day, as are most of my posts.
I share with my readers what I encounter. This day I encountered people upset about public land that is treasured by Native Americans and others being acquired for the purpose of copper mining for profit.
Please feel free to comment on this issue. However, I ask that there be no anti-government, anti-mining, anti-foreign interest, anti-Native American tirades. That kind of ranting is readily available on the internet. It’s not welcome here. Rational discussion is preferred. Most of you know this already.
And yes, I benefit from copper mining, so no need to get mad at me for this post, okay? Like I said, I’m just telling you what I heard and witnessed this day.
All in all, it did turn out to be a nice day.
And the bungee kept the ITV’s back door closed as we went up and down the mountains!
I LOVE RVSUE SHOPPERS!
Thank you for shopping at Amazon from my blog!
Here is a sample of the items purchased recently:
Lasko MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater
LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table
Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments Harley Davidson
Actiontec My Wireless TV WiFi / HDMI Wireless HD Receiver
Royal & Langnickel 124-Piece Sketching and Drawing Easel Artist Set
TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Lucille Ball (The Long, Long Trailer / Forever Darling / Room Service / Du Barry Was a Lady)