Mark D Stephens: Adventurer, writer, photographer, ambassador of the sonoran desert
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The Back Road to Crown King, Arizona
In search of a wild west saloon on cowgirl appreciation night

Jeep on the Crown King Trail Back RoadAh! Crown King. What a place. I've had several strange events on the back road to this funky little town. And they all revolve around guys in Jeeps.

Greg had his tow strap out and was backing into place to give a tug on Clay's Rover. Pretty routine. Then....

A fat, middle-aged man in a yellow Jeep - modified with phallic chrome wheels and 12.5" hideously wide tires - stopped at the hill above Clay's Rover after driving over Greg's tow strap, and proceeded to unwind his winch. We'll call him Murt. In turn, his buddy (who we'll call Aloysious) ran down the hill like a hero and clipped the winch cable to Clay's Rover.

Hmm" thought we...

Land Rover Discovery on the trail to Crown KingClay and I looked at one another as the winch cable came taut.

"Ok, Now I'm scared," said Clay "What are these guys doing?"

Aloysious nodded, gave a thumbs-up and said, "You got it." Murt didn't like his angle, so he tried to move the Jeep. The placement of Greg's vehicle surpassed Murt's wife's capacity for reasonable thought, because she waved her finger and shouted at Greg, "Whose is that? Why don't you get it out of the way?" She was waving her hand in a sweeping motion, I guess to help, in case he didn't know what she meant.

She did not, though, explain just what the hell they thought they were doing.

Hmm," replied Greg, "I put it there to tow him out."

It was just too surreal. Who has this kind of nerve?

Without killing anyone with his winching technique, Murt pulled Clay's Rover up the hill - with us sittting in it, wondering why. We weren't sure if we should say "Thanks" or not. We, especially Clay, did not ask for Murt's help, nor acknowledged Murt and Aloysious's sociability and friendliness. So, we drove on. Murt never said a word to any of us. Strange fella. Aloysious seemed nice, but needed to re-learn how to say, "Hi, ya'll need help?" Making fun of Murt's wife provided a great many jokes for the remainder of the day. I love picturing her in my head, waving her hand furiously as if it would help; yeah, lady, what the hell does Murt think he's doing anyway?
The Bradshaw band on Cowgirl Appreciation night at Crown King SaloonArriving at Crown King changed everything though. The barkeep, a lovely woman wearing a shady-brady, remarked, "Honey, whatcha up to? I think you need a drink, right?"

* * * * *

"Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, I need four margaritas. And don't go light on me either. Stiffen those things up a bit, if you know what I mean." Clay decided he was buying drinks tonight.

"And one more thing" he said to the cantinera, "keep my tab open with this; we're going to be here all night long."

"You got it, cowboy. You and your posse had a rough day?"

"In more ways than one, m'lady. We're glad to be here."

"Well, we've got a great blues band playing tonight, and I'm going to keep my eye on you. Have a good time. You come to me when your jars are dry, you hear me?"

"Yes'm. Thanks."

Most of the pictures here are from a trip I took up to Crown King for Cowgirl Appreciation Night. Enough said.

Driving the back way to crown king jeep trailIf you feel like singing along, here's a Roger Clyne tune that seems to work well for the 'vibe' at the Crown King Saloon. Go ahead, sing out loud - I know your're at work just surfing the net anyway.

Technical Trail Info
  • Trail Time? 3-5 hours to Crown King; however getting to the trail takes considerable time, as does getting back to "civilization." Expect a long day.
  • Trail Difficulty? Mostly easy to moderate, although several sections are heavily eroded, rocky, and steep. Be prepared to be somewhat daring as well as prepared for a long, bumpy ride.
  • Map? On the way...
  • Permit Required? None
  • Mark's Recommended Route? Waste no time getting a cabin for about $80 per night, and make no hesitation to spend most of your evening in the Saloon. Weekends offer live music, and dancing, if you're there late enough. The roads up the hill from Crown King have more exploring opportunites to mines, and other strange backcountry stuff. The back road to Crown king requires so much time that I like to spend the night in town and make a several day excursion to the other trails nearby.

Barkeep, another Mekong please
Yes of course you can keep the change
A new glass here for this new friend of mine
Forgive me I forgot your name
Flip a coin, what shall we talk about
Heads I'll tell the truth and tails I lie
I came all the way from Taipei today
Now Bangkok's pourin' rain and I'm going back again
and I haven't seen my girl, for fifteen thousand miles

Well is it true it's always happy hour here?
And if it is, I'd like to stay awhile
As cliche'd as it may sound, I'd like to raise another round
And if your bottles empty help yourself to mine
Thank you for your time, and here's to life

--- Roger Clyne

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Mark D. Stephens: Adventurer, Writer, Photgrapher and Ambassador of the Sonoran Desert