Mark D Stephens: Adventurer, writer, photographer, ambassador of the sonoran desert
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Tip Top Mine and Ghost Town
Jeep Trail in Arizona

Sunset on the new river mountains, arizonaThis trip marks my first outing since I broke down over 50 miles from help. Due to that experience being so very awakening - what with the 2-day hike, the cold rain, the pounding hail, walking in the mud, living on beef jerky and a liter of water, and poaching a night of sleep in an empty, dusty ranch house - I started to hang out at some online forums to find off roading buddies.

Breaking down in the middle of nowhere ain't fun.

Lucky for me, I met Aaron.

He drives an Isuzu Trooper. I'm no Jeep snob: I'll travel with anyone who is fun, interesting, and enjoys jokes. This is Aaron. Our first phone conversation went like this:

"Hey Aaron, this is Mark, the guy from Expedtion Portal."

"Hi Mark. Yeah, so my wife is afraid that you're an ax murderer who's going to chop us up into little bits and pieces and leave us in the desert."

"Small world. The thought did cross my mind. But I have the same fears about you, if that makes you feel better."

"Much better. You're just like me."

"Yeah. A potential internet psycho killer. Wanna hang out?"

Jeep Driving off highway to go to a cool ghost townSee? Two peas in a pod.

I met Aaron at a public place, a Chevron at Carefree Highway and I-17 where we could size each other up. He had a little girl with him, so I took my chances. Off we went to Table Mesa Road.

At this exit, we met another kind soul, Allen Russell. He and I also shared something in common: He was an English major. Even though he's over thirty years older than I am, I managed to come across as a "nice young man." He didn't embarrass me by quoting Milton or Shakespeare, either. I mean that in the sense that I can't quote much of those guys BACK without my books handy.

The guy spoke French, drove a nice Xterra, had a gentle demeanor, a good sense of humor, and oh by the way his son-in-law is Andy Grider. Allen talked about the film Dust To Glory with bursting pride, yet humble pride. Hard to describe, I suppose.

See, as usual a simple day run just wasn't about the road, but the people. Oh crap. How fitting. I'm now reminded of a Shakespeare quote: "What is the city but the people?" (from The Tragedy of Coriolanus). What is a day on the trail but the people?

Allen's nice Xterra wating to attemp a hill climb on the way to Tip Top Mine, ArizonaSomeone was trying to get my attention? My Jeep has broken down on me twice. Both times I was alone and far from help. Now, a solo trip is still fun. However, I enjoy a trail with people much more, and in a totally different way.

i know I titled this thing about Tip Top Mine, which we did go to. But this is what the trip was about. If you go to Tip Top mine (which has a neat little ghost town, too), you'll have your own experience.

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