Cleator Bar and Yacht Club

Pam and I headed out for a short trip to central Arizona this week for some work and pleasure. Our first stop was at the Orme School where we volunteer our time helping around the place.

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Spring is just starting to hit this part of Arizona, which sits at about 4000 feet in elevation. The weather was perfect, 70s in the day and 40s at night.

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We finished up our latest residence renovation and did a little touch-up rework on one that we completed with others a few years ago. It’s now vacant and the previous occupant’s choice in the dining room wall color was a little too dramatic for an old block ranch house. I really like the kitchen in that house, where we redid the countertops with green slate tiles and rebuilt the lower doors since they were missing most of the corners and even some larger claw holes from the various ranch dogs that lived there over the past 60 years.

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After our work was done we took off into the Bradshaw Mountains, an area rich in mining history with many ghost towns. Prescott is nestled in the northern foothills of the range, but we were more interested in the less populated areas. We exited the paved roads south of Cordes Junction at Bloody Basin Road and headed for the metropolis of Cleator, which in its mining heyday boasted a population of 60. Now it’s closer to a single digit.

We passed the Cordes Ranch along the road, where they have a corner store that used to be open from time to time. Unfortunately, it was closed when we passed by.

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We then hit Cleator, and the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club.

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We stopped in the general store and then made our way over to the bar. As you can see on the clock it was past 10 in the morning so were we good to go, and grabbed a cold one.

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The Yacht club is out back.

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There were only three of us when we arrived: Pam, myself and the next door neighbor that gave us a complete history of the place while we enjoyed the “marina”. However, by the time we left the place was pretty busy given all the 4-wheeler traffic, even for a week day. They have a local band, The White Trash Band, which plays on the weekend. They fire up the smoker, serve up some great smoked meat and according to our new friend it’s not unusual for several hundred folks to be in the marina at night. Parking along the dirt road is at a premium. You gotta love it.

We met two couples at the marina that were also traveling to Crown King, the next town along the road and higher up in the Bradshaw Mountains. The vistas along the dirt road were picturesque high desert.

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We hit Crown King and the Crown King Saloon. Crown King was named after a gold mine that yielded a few million in gold before it closed in the 1950s. Now it’s a weekend getaway for 4-wheelers with a population of just over 100 folks.

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We chatted with our new friends for some time and then headed out to find a good place to camp for the night. There were a lot of good spots, but we choose one that was tough to get into for normal 4-wheelers and far enough from the road to cut down on the dust from passing traffic.

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One of the main objectives of the trip was to test out our new Volcano 3 cooker, and to see whether it could replace both our Weber and Coleman for future trips. The 3 in its name stands for its ability to cook with wood, charcoal or propane. We used charcoal for the first trial, since that is my favorite, and had burgers.

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It did better than I expected, but we have yet to test the propane option. It will be tough putting the Weber aside, but change is inevitable. We got the attachment valve that will allow us to use the small green propane bottles and not a huge 20 lb bottle. We only use propane when fire restrictions do not allow open fires or charcoal. The ER has a nice diesel cook top and convection oven, but we prefer the grill if weather permits.

We had a great night under the moonlit skies and headed home on the Senator Highway towards Prescott. It’s a stretch to call it a highway and luckily there was very little traffic coming the other way. It was named after the Senator Mine and used to charge a toll back in the 1860s when it was built. I’m not sure it has been improved much since then.

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We did pull over at one point so a crew of Expedition Portal folks with SUVs and trailers could continue on to Crown King since the road is never really two cars wide, especially when one is an EarthRoamer. The rest of the traffic was ATVers.

For a good section of the road you are wrapping around the mountain slope with many turns. One ATV rider came whipping around a corner with a GO-PRO on his helmet. That should be an interesting video to see him come around the corner looking at the F-550 grill. Luckily there was enough room for him to stop and he let us know there were more ATVs on the way so we could wait for the traffic to die down.

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About half way to Prescott we hit an intersection in the woods with a shortcut to Mayer that we ended up taking. A Boy Scout leader was at the intersection and asked if we had any butter. Luckily we had a stick and gave it to him. He was in charge of dessert for the 30 boys camping there and forgot the butter for the blueberry cobbler. There’s nothing better than Dutch oven stew and cobbler when camping with a big group.

Back home again and planning for our upcoming New Mexico exploration.

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