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Old 03-23-2015, 01:53 PM   #1
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The Ruby Road Trip

Since moving to the great Southwest my knowledge base about land has expanded. Not without pitfalls. There’s a 20th Century term for Easterners; Tenderfoot. A recent trip to Ruby, AZ confirmed me being one. The ghost town of Ruby was not on my go-to list but the nearby Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge was. I planned a solo photo weekend trip.

Cameras packed, trailer primed, I was off to the southern fringe of Arizona, hard up against dreaded Mexico. Down I-19 near Nogales I stopped at the Tubac Presidio Historical Park Museum for maps and a nice chat with the docent there. They were very helpful, most willing to tell me where the scenic areas worth seeing are. They alerted me to Ruby, an abandoned mining community on Ruby Road, which also goes west to the wildlife refuge, my goal. Ruby Road is not just dirt, but 30-plus miles of grey, dotted line dirt, twisting through the Coronado National Forest.

So I'm near the Mexican border on Ruby Road, driving my cool truck, towing my fancy 19 ft. Escape, half-way into a wilderness which is complete with ominous signs about smugglers. The only other vehicles I saw are two border patrolling SUV's.

Looking forward to seeing that old mining town. I get to Ruby, drive over a cattle guard at the entrance, then pull over for a picture. Wanted my trailer picture to include the sign for Ruby. This is open range country. Many cattle guards are crossing the road in the Coronado, like nearly every mile. Animals will not walk across a cattle guard. Tenderfoots are not that smart. Crossing the cattle guard at the entrance to Ruby I slipped off it and my right foot went down in between the rails. A vise gripped my ankle. I was in big trouble.

Fortunately my camera was not damaged. Got my picture, hobbled back to the truck, right leg hurting badly. No more walking for me. I could still drive. Had to get out but must go forward to find a clearing for turning around. This no place for towing. Got lucky and done it. Only interest now was leave this desolate area, fast as possible.

A few miles later I'm suddenly being followed by a strange blue pickup. He gets close, then falls back, then gets close again. This is rock and roll hill country. Getting real nervous, beginning to think of defensive strategies. They catch up to me, but they are other tourists, they wave.

I get to a fork in the road not marked, must decide which way is best. I go left. This isn't just a grey line on my map; it's a vanishing dotted gray line. It's 3 PM and home is some 375 miles away. After half a mile the road is disintegrating. I took the wrong tang. GPS is useless. Feel a pang of hopelessness. Find a clearing for turn-around, go back to the fork. Finally, on to a border patrol checkpoint, chat with the fellows a minute, then back to I-19. It turns out Ruby Road has a reputation as quite dangerous. I’ll vouch for that.


Passed up stopping at a hospital (just a bad sprain, right?) and drove into the night, finally over nighting at a WalMart in Show Low, AZ. Home by Sat afternoon, but by 5 PM we decided I should get some x-rays at Presbyterian. It’s a fractured fibula. Got crutches and a cast now and need to see a bone guy. But no surgery for me. The ER guys assured me I am lucky, that most crossing grade breaks they see are big time compound fractures.

Oh, the trailer did just fine. No troubles doing Ruby Road. Only issue was a container of oatmeal up in the cabinet spilled completely out.
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File Type: jpg RubyRd.jpg (137.2 KB, 62 views)
File Type: jpg RubyRd1.jpg (163.5 KB, 38 views)
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Old 03-23-2015, 02:02 PM   #2
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Oh man, I feel for ya Myron.

Thanks for the write up.
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Old 03-23-2015, 02:09 PM   #3
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Like the pix.
Take care.
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Old 03-23-2015, 02:35 PM   #4
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Wow, sorry about that Myron, I would have turned around at the cattle gate.........before crossing. No gps, no cell service, traveling solo on a dirt road, not my idea of adventure. Hope you heal quick and get back to camping.
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Old 03-23-2015, 02:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
Since moving to the great Southwest my knowledge base about land has expanded.]
And thanks to your write-ups, so has mine.

Sorry about the injury, that cattle guard looks brutal compared to some. Hope you're healed and back on the road soon.

You did get the Ruby sign in the photo so it wasn't a dead loss

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Old 03-23-2015, 02:57 PM   #6
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wSorry to hear about your ankle, Myron. That is a bummer, but at least a clean fracture should heal good for you.

That road looks in great shape where you took the photo, better than many we travel on. Is it worse elsewhere?

I get drawn in to adventuring in areas like that, checking things out that are not on the beaten path. Often some very interesting gems to see are turned up, but sometimes it is just more of the same you just passed.
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Old 03-23-2015, 03:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
No gps, no cell service, traveling solo...
Some ask me how I can go out on trails and in the woods without these modern conveniences (don't have either one), but sometimes one needs to push themselves to live deeply and not just safely (although Myron's experience in that part of the country was more than I would have liked). And that cattle guard?? Good grief...I have never seen one like that.
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Old 03-23-2015, 03:21 PM   #8
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Some ask me how I can go out on trails and in the woods without these modern conveniences (don't have either one), but sometimes one needs to push themselves to live deeply and not just safely (although Myron's experience in that part of the country was more than I would have liked). And that cattle guard?? Good grief...I have never seen one like that.
We go without those things all the time, Karen. Usually my wife is with me, and sometimes another trailer.

That cattle guard appears to be using old railway track. I have seen a few of those around here, but most use about 4" round pipe. I think the ones using the track might be harder on cattle too. We have a couple on our land which are made of pipe, and we put some expanded metal lath, about 12" wide, along the side with latch and lock, so you can more easily walk on/over it, without fear of slipping between the pipes, especially when wet.

Myron, a wee request. You seem to have changed the font on your post, and made it smaller. It is a lot harder for at least me to read. Any chance you could make it larger?
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Old 03-23-2015, 03:36 PM   #9
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Sorry to hear about the ankle. You need the kind of cattle guards that are painted on the road. Until I asked a ag inspector about them, I always wondered why they existed. According to him, the cattle are so used to the real ones that they won't cross the painted ones.

Get well soon!
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Old 03-23-2015, 03:39 PM   #10
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Whoa ....that is quite the adventure ...good to know it wasn't worse though ....Love the photos .
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