Saturday, December 31, 2011

A mine is a terrible thing to waste.

Twenty miles down the road from the Holtville Hot Springs we exited the highway and found our way to the BLM land down American Girl Mine Road.  Excited to be more physically close to the mountains than we had at our other locations we followed the road several miles in toward them before making camp not far from their base as the sunset.  


IMG_0404Another great location for Annie and for us.
Although we’ve been in the desert a while we didn’t recall having seen this type of cactus yet. 
It is an Ocotillo and it was beginning to bloom.
Another was blooming green all down it’s branches at each and every thorn.  Some of the ones that we saw were at least fifteen feet high.  The red flowers attract hummingbirds and we were buzzed by them quite often at our campsite.

A walk in the wash one day revealed several variety of plant life here were starting to or getting ready to take bloom.
This little guy (a Pink Fairy Duster) had reddish purple flowers all over it.
This plant (Candelilla) looked like it belonged in a swamp until we found this bean pod on it.
We were surprised to find these delicate violet flowers in this weedy bush that we though was dead.
Yet another dead-looking bush was giving way to bright green stems with fuzzy white flowers on the ends.
We were lucky to catch this one.  Most of these yellow blooms had already turned to white powder puffs.
We were surprised at the height of some of the trees / shrubs in this area.
It was nice to see more growth.
Desert Confirmation shot #1… Dry, dry, dry.
Desert Confirmation Shot #2: Lots of prickly fellows to be found in all shapes and sizes.
Tiny little ‘boat’ marooned high and dry in the wash.

Plants were not our only explorations of this area.  American Girl Mine was a booming area at one point.  We discovered three slabs (remnants of buildings from some time ago), a cemetery and several old mining structures. 
We even came across an abandoned mine shaft and explored it a bit.
Should we have started digging here?

There are markers all over the area that consist of piles of rocks with a stick of some kind in the center.  At first we thought they were campsite markers.  Then we thought they were road markers.  When we came across a tube at one that contained the paperwork for a Claim from 1981, we learned that the markers were required to outline your territory.
We discovered this fact after Nicole had disassembled one of the piles to create a second fire ring at our campsite.  Ooops!

Our daily explorations seemed to confirm for Roxi and Annie that American Girl Mine is not where they get all of those dolls from.


Though, we admit, finding this did make us wonder if maybe they weren’t onto something!
After finding out from Darlene’s daughter that there may be ‘Gold in Dem Der Hills’…

We looked high. Can you see Annie?
(hint: inside the curved road)
We looked low.
We cracked rocks open and found mini-geodes inside.
And pretty sparkly things that shined like diamonds.
Had some brief distractions with the first large boulders that we found.
Copied some other folks who were taking photos near this really cool rock.
At just the right angle, the hole in it framed the mountains in the distance.

But we are pretty sure, despite all of our efforts and the dream Nicole had in which she discovered a gold nugget worth $3000, that we did not find anything of great value this time around.  We did find a lot of really pretty rocks in colors and consistencies that we had not seen before.  There were blues, greens, bright whites, clear crystals and powdery silvers that covered your hands in glitter.  And then there was this.
We kept it just in case we were too skeptical to know the real thing when we saw it!

All total we spent about a week at American Girl Mine before we ran out of food and were forced back into society.  It is definite that we will come back to this area some day as we really enjoyed ourselves.  Our nearest neighbor was at least half a mile away, the weather was beautiful, we had mountains to hike, rocks to crack and new directions to walk and explore every day.  We experienced sunrise each morning over the Cargo Muchacho Mountains and our sunset was this time over the Imperial (Sand) Dunes.  On one of our last evenings the sunset was so brilliant that you could see rays shooting out from behind the sand dunes for miles into the sky.  It was reminiscent of the kind of picture that kids draw and almost seemed unreal. 

We’ve got some business to tend to in the city for a few days and then we’re off to explore more uncharted (for us anyway) territory.  There is no telling where we’ll go once we’ve restocked our two weeks of provisions but we’re pretty sure we’ll enjoy it wherever it is.