Socializing With The Dead, The Living & The Old West – Congress, AZ
My, my it’s been an activity-filled couple of days. For those of you who read Bayfield Bunch & TinTeePee you already know where we are. In fact since both these folks do daily blogs (yes, I am in total awe) you’ve probably already read about us twice. Makes me feel almost passé to be writing about all this stuff several days later, but I’m going to blame our rather awful internet connection…or possibly the dead. You see we’re camped just outside of Congress, AZ within spitting distance of the site of historic Mill Town and not only one, but two cemeteries. This is a spot of ghosts, gold and stories past…and you just know all those spirits are messing with our signal.
Quirky Congress Downtown
Congress, AZ started as a gold mine back in 1884 and although the mill and the pioneers are long gone it’s kept alot of it’s quirky charm and history from that time. It’s a teeny spot of a place with only ~1700 people and a mish-mash of nice houses intermixed with run-down dumps. At first sight it really doesn’t look like somewhere you’d want to stop, but as with any place if you take the time to dig deeper you find some hidden gems. The 2-block downtown hides cute rummage shops and the Congress Depot Mercantile, a fabulous little shop with all kinds of superb knick-knacks and delicious Pizza (seriously). Around the corner is a stunner of a surprise -> 5-star restaurant Nichols West started by a couple who ran a place in New York, but decided to move west and bring that same cuisine to the the little no-where town of Congress (who would’ve thunk?)
The Spirits Of Congress Cemetary
And of course there’s the dead, the dead. Two excellent cemeteries sit right outside of town along Ghost Town Road. The new cemetery and, further down the road, the historic one with the ruins of the original Mill only ~1/4 mile away. I always love to knock around these spots and imagine the lives of the folks who migrated out west. Many lived short lives and survived incredible hardships, all for the lure of gold. Wonder how many struck it rich? It’s an fabulous spot to bring doggie, walk the dirt roads and imagine some history.
Western Love At Wickenberg, AZ
And that’s not all there is here. Just around 15 miles south is another Old West gem, Wickenberg, AZ. This was yet another gold town which sprung up around 1863 from the mine found at Vulture Peak. It’s now a cute spot which could easily call itself “the most western town in the west”. The town thrives on the history in old downtown which has all kinds of active western & livery shops (seriously, you want western gear this is the place for it!), the Desert Caballeros Western Museum (labelled as the best western art museum in the entire SW) and a slew of fabulous, life-like statues by artist J. Seward Johnson sprinkled around the streets (there are 6 large bronze and 16 linkage pieces -> not to be missed!). Outside of town there are even four Dude Ranches offering the authentic western experience.
Even Polly gave this place her paw-approval. The local Wickenberg Veterinary Clinic was a laid-back lovely guy who charged only $18 (total !!) for Polly’s annual heart-worm test, and the downtown coffee-shop (Nana’s) had a gorgeous flower-filled back porch which was completely paw-friendly. My kinda place.
Socializing With Friends
Outside of these little gems, part of the real reason we stopped here was to visit some RV buddies. Janna & The Cowboy have been hanging just south of us in North Ranch Escapees Park and we’d planned to see them ever since our last meet-up in Oregon last year. We invited them over for dinner at “the beast” and had a most excellent evening catching up. I even managed to “trick” the Cowboy into doing something he didn’t expect. You’ll have to read Janna’s account of the evening to find out exactly what I got up to 🙂
Closer to our boondocking spot Bayfield Bunch have established their winter home. They got a steal of a deal on a run-down house just around 2 years ago and have done an outstanding job of refurbishing it in gorgeous southwestern style. Bayfield Bunch was one of the very first RV blogs we ever read and were the folks that inspired us to try boondocking. Al’s down-to-earth style, good humor and excellent pictures have kept me coming back to his blog for years and it was an absolute pleasure to spend some quality time with them both. Polly was especially excited to meet their lovely doggie Pheebs, but the poor thing had gotten a bite on her nose and came bounding out of the door with a massive plastic cone on her head causing Polly to think she was being attacked by an alien creature. The two doggies eventually worked it out, but I’m sure Polly thought we were nuts. We had a wonderful afternoon with both Kelly & Al followed by an equally lovely morning walk around our boondocking spot the next morning. We even topped off the entire experience with a joint happy hour at Janna & Mike’s that evening. Told you we’ve been social!!
Was that really only four days of activities??? Phew!! We actually planned on staying here a little longer but yesterday afternoon I saw a 5-foot long Rattlesnake basking just south of our boondocking spot…eeeek!!! Can you say a sign to move on?? We’re heading north and if everything works out as planned my next post will be from Nevada. See ya there!
P.S. Speaking of socializing, if you haven’t seen the announcement for RV Village check out this post by Technomadia about it’s launch. This cool new site enables RVers of like interest to meet-up during their travels. By far the coolest feature is the interactive map which shows you where everyone is at anytime. You can plan social interactions on here, meet like-minded people and create special interest groups. We’ve been beta-testers of the site since before it was launched and have already engaged in two meetings as a result of the cool map. We totally love it! Check it out!!