May 2002

Several times, more than I care to think about, Larry and I have spent considerable time at the bottom of the Cargo Muchacho Mountains as a location central to many of the areas we were interested in.  As you may recall, Sidewinder Road started in Ogilby and went due east or started down at the Sidewinder off-ramp from I-8 and went north and west.

We had two camp sites northeast, which gave us a nice view.  It was December  of 1984. A few days from 1985.  We had left San Diego, California, at 10:20 A.M. with a high overcast and at 2:55 P.M. arrived at our Sidewinder campsite in the rain.  At least it wasn’t snowing on us.  We arranged our truck campers for shade and view as the rain thinned out and finally stopped.

We took advantage of this lull to release the tie-down straps holding the motorcycles to the trailer, and checking the fuel and oil while we could.  The sky looked bleak.  A good time to get  supper cooked, eaten, and out of the way.  We had a 1 and ˝  pound can of  Dinty Moore  stew over broken-up soft rolls, and a can of Del Monte’s seasoned green beans and dressing.  A little wine for the stomach’s sake.  We knew how to live!

7:15 P.M., the rain started up again and sounded cheery on Larry’s metal camper roof.  During another lull in the rain, I ran for my camper’s door, getting inside and moving  camera gear, warm clothes, spare parts and prepared my bunk for sleep.

Thursday arrived, wet with more rain.  During the night my hi-low thermometer recorded a low of 48 degrees.  We got up at 7:30 A.M.  The day was unremarkable. It started to clear by 1:50 P.M. And then the rain came down heavily by 7:30 P.M.. Bed time was 8:00P.M. The day’s high temperature was 56 degrees.

Friday  dawned with fog and rain and another day of low 48 degrees, hi 56.  We spent a few hours at the Yuma Historical Society’s  book store, our favorite port in any storm.  I parted with $15 for books and  $20 at a grocery store for forgotten supplies, then back to camp to enjoy them.  But, oh joy, the SUN came out long enough to let us get in 14 miles round trip  before it decided we’d had enough sun for the day and it was time to wash the mud off the machines with some fresh rain.

Many people would have given up and gone home after half the rain we had, but I have observed those that really love the desert (and you either love it or hate it), enjoy the desert in all it’s moods and can curl up with a good book or read a map or two or just enjoy the play of clouds, patches of sun or whatever.

Saturday arrived with a burst of sunshine on our camper doors facing it, along with 50 degrees of warmth (tho the low during the night was 44).  Looking around,  there was heavy fog east of us as well as south and west of us.  After breakfast, we wiped down our dual-purpose motorcycles, attached  the waterproof aluminum map tube to my fender rack, and capped it; filled and attached the cross-bar canteens of water to the handlebars. Cameras etc. rode in our day packs slung over our shoulders.

For this day, the front of the Cargo Muchachos were our target. Driving onto the handy utility corridor gave us the shortest  route.  Numerous roads left the utility corridor and angled northeast penetrating almost every nook and  cranny.  Names like Jackson Gulch,  Cargo Mine, Padre Madre, the Occidental, the American Girl, and more at the sites of Tumco and the site of Hedges.

There was lots to see and try and interpret from the outlines of concrete slabs.  It was time to return to our camp site for lunch and quick lookups in the “guide books” we carry with us.  We rolled into camp at 2:20 P.M. tired and thirsty.

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading about the mines we had seen or thought we had seen.  Most of the mining activity is along the west flank of the Cargo Muchacho Mountains.  Most of the mines are gold mines, although there are a number of mines dealing with a whole hodgepodge of minerals.

Bed time was 8:45 P.M. Clear sky, slightly windy, which picked up speed during the night.  Sunday, 2 A.M. in the morning, heavy wind gusts which continued

into the morning. I  got up for the day at 8:30 A.M., 58 degrees.  Because of  helmet problems (too tight in the jaw area), I wore a Balaclava, a knit cap the  present day terrorists like to wear.  It kept my ears and head warm. Other clothing I wore  that Sunday, were a tank top, T-shirt, warm-up jacket, and all-vinyl motorcycle jacket.

Of course the usual jeans and boots, and rabbit-lined gloves.  They were almost too warm except when I was riding. Thats when one creates one’s own wind-chill factor.

That day we continued with more exploration along the northern part of the mountain. While at the American Girl Mine gate, we were met by one of the group of owners.  We had a nice chat with him, once he realized we had some mining knowledge and were genuinely interested in what he had to say about the mine. From there, we returned to our camp, hungry and thirsty.

Monday was our last day here and a ˝  day at that. I got up at 8:00 A.M., 52 degrees; 60 degrees by 10:00 A.M. Larry off checking out the Two Wee Mine, a.k.a. The Tee Wee Mine.  This was a small gold mine on the northeast side of the mountain. A small producer; a mix of copper oxide and fine free gold.  I remained at camp resting and taking pictures.  I started to pack up my gear around 11:45 A.M.  Larry back at 12:20 P.M.  We both left at 1:00 P.M., and were back home in San Diego at 4:45 P.M.


I hope you enjoyed our little adventure.  

Jerome W. Anderson