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  • Writer's pictureKelsey

Exploring the Bill Williams River area and the Parker 400

Sometimes, you just need dirt under your feet. So, off we headed to find a new cabin and a quiet spot to spectate the Parker 400. We sped through Wickenburg and on to our dirt road turn off.

This area is beautiful. Eventually, after cruising along some seldom used roads we found our destination.

This cabin was lived in from the late 1800's until the late 1970's. Venice, lived here until her 80's, most of the time by herself. Her husband had died much earlier. An Arizona Game and Fish officer told a story of always checking on her in her old age, but learned to HONK when he came down the canyon each time, after he caught her on the roof fixing it, completely naked. As the info I've found goes, a Motorcycle Club (The outlaw kind) inhabited the cabin after the original woman left, they made some improvements, but tore down the outhouse never to rebuild it. They were later "run off" if the stories are true. It's really a nice place. It could use some love from visitors to get it back into a more usable shape, but here is how it sits today.

We come across a lot of cabins while exploring. It was interesting to see one that clearly had a woman's touch.

At some point they built a good size dam in the wash. Since no one has been around to clear it out the back side of it was filled to the top with sand. Impressive that it was still holding with all of that weight behind it.

Time to head over to see the Parker 400. This is the road leaving the cabin.

Some old road signs. Reminds me to bring some paper and chalk with me in the truck. I'm sure that the indentations would be legible via a "rubbing" of the sign.

We made it to the Bill Williams and crossed over the several wet sections of it.

After the first two we came across this. A 2WD, GMC Jimmy, stuck above the bumper in the water. Engine still running.

The guys had gotten it pretty stuck. Still, nothing a little tug from the winch wouldn't fix. I tried to get them to wade in and attach a strap that I carry, but they insisted on using their "Paracord." I let K know to sit in the truck and I popped the hood just in case anything went flying. I knew it wouldn't take much to rip that stuff. Sure enough, barely a blip from the winch and it snapped. Now they relented and we used my equipment. After pulling them out, we put all the gear away and watched as the truck got stuck trying to back up. We got the gear out and tugged them again. Then they got stuck while trying to turn around on the soft sand. So we tugged them again, but this time we kept an old tow strap tied to their truck. We pulled them through the water crossings and back to the other side of the river. I tried telling them to keep some tension, but they ran over the line several times. Thankfully this was an old strap that was already well abused. We wished them luck after the water drained from the interior and headed back across the river. We had a race to get to! The last water section looked deep and fairly muddy on the bottom. (The others were pretty sandy, which is better than mud!) K offered to walk it. This is fantastic. Once she walked across I was able to see where the deepest point was and keep a bit of momentum.

The terrain constantly changes in this area. Headed into an area full of red rock.

There are a lot of wild burro's in this area. I like to think of them as what's left of the miners who first came to this area. The miners are long gone, but the burro's keep watch. Waiting for them to come back.

One more stop on the way to the race! Swansea. Here is some more info on the old mining,_Arizona I like ghost towns, but this one get's so many visitors it somehow takes away a bit of the mystery.

All of the mine shafts, sink holes and other known danger spots are covered by metal grates. Immense amount of welding work done out here.

Tailings everywhere.

Miner housing.

We then headed towards the Parker 425 course. (I keep calling it the 400, because that's what it was called when I raced it)

We hit the course on a seldom used road in the middle of no where.

So, imagine our surprise when we see a car there. The driver and co-driver of 1047 had broken down in the morning race. (This year is a 2 race format with the slower classes in the morning and the faster ones at night.) This meant that they had been here since 8AM and had to stay put waiting for a tow until AFTER the final race which meant midnight! Wow. That's a long day without much food or water.

The car was in perfect condition except for the rod hanging out of the bottom end of the motor. Yikes.

What can you do, but offer them a beer and cook up some bacon for them? I'm not sure, so we did! They appreciated it and a while later a "care package" was thrown out the window of a Trophy Truck for these poor guys stuck at mile 99.5 of the race.

It's good to have friends.

We all settled in and started watching the race.

I'm partial to the 1600 class cars since it's what we used to race.

Since it was already late afternoon, this car must have broken down in the morning race, only to get going again later.

The winner of the race flying by. That's a lot of "Double Down" arrows ahead. The course, although smooth and following a road right here, had a down hill with a sharp right hander. A few race cars slid off of corners like this during the race and off into a dry creek bed or notch that swallowed up the race car.

Hence the "extreme danger ahead" sign.

They kept roaring by. The helicopters following the high dollar teams.

As darkness fell, you could really hear and see the difference in drivers. Some where fast and smooth, others were hard on the brakes and throttle inputs.

Bottoming out from the bump and hard braking.

These race lights really turn night into day.

You could see the light of a car coming. It looked a bit like a sunrise coming over the hill.

Every couple of minutes, they'd speed by and vanish.

A fire, food, beer and race cars. This is a good place to be.

In the middle of the night we heard a knock on the window. The 2 racers were getting their tow back to the start line, FINALLY. They said thanks and left a couple of beers they'd bummed from the tow truck as a thanks. Good people. We woke up to silence and an amazing sunrise.

When you are half asleep in the morning, watch out for Cholla. The most evil of all cactus, the Teddy Bear or "Jumping" Cholla have barbed spike that go in, but never really come back out of your skin.

Well, that's it. A quick overnight and then back home to install a new front door, change the oil on a motorcycle, do laundry and.... find out the head gasket is shot in the Land Cruiser. Yes, you read that correctly. Goose, is hurting. Time to pull it and see how bad it is. In true Land Cruiser form, the truck ran great once warm. It would shudder on start up and expel the coolant from it's cylinders without hydro-locking and causing more damage. Time to give Goose some surgery.


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