We set out early from Phoenix, heading due east for the Superstition Mountains. We hoped to find the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, see if we could discover the secrets behind the legend.


I’d seen movies about the legendary mine and the souls lost by their lust for gold.


It was a good day for our trip. Sunny and mild. The air was fresh, crisp, clean. For a moment, I thought I smelled honeysuckle on the breeze.

72-Sign to Dutchman-GAR-Superstition-011316_009


Along the way, the spans of cactus covered desert shadowed by mountains were constant but not deadly companions. They seemed more like nature’s patrol, riding point and drag, to make sure we wouldn’t lose our way. A pilgrim’s awe of God’s country can sometimes lead to disaster.


We made a stop in Tonto National Park. That’s right, Kemo Sabe. Things have changed. Guess the Great White Father in Washington knows change is blowin’ in the wind.


No sign of Tonto, the Masked Man, Dan Reed, Silver, Scout, or Victor. Maybe there were off chasing the Cavendish Gang again. Those guys never seem to really die.


Tonto’s land was beautiful, a fitting legacy to the faithful companion who did most of the work but received little respect or credit. Then, we were back on the trail again, heading higher and higher with majestic mountains all around us.

72-Gabby Johnson-GAR-Superstition-011316_092

Growling bellies were a sign for a stop. Turned out to be part of the vast Lost Dutchman’s Mine country. A town for Pilgrims.



Midday, and the dudes were everywhere. Shops, stores and remnants of the past loomed all around us. Fool’s gold? I’m sure the ghosts of some miners were smiling at all this stuff.


We pushed on to another picturesque stop as the road climbed higher and higher, seemingly to the sky.


A stage-coach way station beckoned. Could have been one of Jim Hardie’s drivers who worked for Wells Fargo. He seemed impatient to get moving. His horses needed water and cooling down but had to wait with all those damn Pilgrims getting in the way again.

72-Marilyn on donkey-GAR-Superstition-011316_149

Our attention was diverted by a familiar face. His voice and speech pattern gave him away. Unmistakable. Pure frontier gibberish filled the air. Yes, it was Gabby Johnson!! Late of Rock Ridge, Gabby was plying his trade now at this way station.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

Gabby was glad to see us. I think he was happy we didn’t mention anything about how he and Rock Ridge had initially treated their new sheriff. Past is past, we figured.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

Marilyn and I took turns on Gabby’s Donkey. Photo op time for Pilgrims who secretly think they’re not really dudes.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Clementiny – Photo by Ben Taylor

Clementiny, Gabby’s younger pal, looked on with bemusement. Probably a dawning awareness of what the future held with more Pilgrims looking for their fifteen minutes of cowboy fame.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

We were burning daylight as we pushed up the mountain road. Lunch still rested unsteadily with us. The chow had been good but our guts are not what they used to be.


We found Superstition Mountain and the land surrounding the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Nice scenery, certainly evocative of the movies of my youth. Nature provided a clean, pristine, multi-hued vista contrasted with the grainy black and white images of those old movies.


We sighed in the silent satisfaction you get from seeing those fabled images up close. In my sense memory, scenes from the movies played out in a seamless juxtaposition with all that our eyes now saw and recorded. If you love westerns, it doesn’t get any better than this!!


Daylight was draining as we rode back down the road, stopping here and there to savor the endless scenes of wonder.

72-Ben & Garry by MAR-Superstition-011316_144

One last sunset beckoned. We found our spot. Our host and old pal, Ben was off somewhere. I spied him lurking amid the tumbleweed and cactus. He had a strange look on his face. Too familiar and scary. Ben reminded me of Fred C. Dobbs in his last moments of sanity in the Sierra Madre mountains.


Maybe we had spent too much time around the ghost of the Lost Dutchman.


Maybe the sun had gotten to us. Maybe it figured to end this way, as sure as the turning of the earth.


Categories: #Photography, Composition, Garry Armstrong, Mountains, Supernatural

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Wonderful story with great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun! Any chance there were fossils in them thar mountains?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this — loved the photos and I love the Arizona desert in the winter. The light is beyond anything. I’m so glad you guys got to go!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for letting us join you on your journey through such beautiful country!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to have you along. It was (for us) a perfect time of year to be there. By our standards, the weather was perfect. By their standards, (hah) winter. There was snow on the mountaintops, but down below, it was just GREAT.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dral, it’s the season of repeats but this was truly a memorable visit through the land of my boyhood dreams.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful scenes painted with the photos, the Wild West will never leave us. At least in the states not, Our wild west is Geneva, because it is in the west of Switzerland. By the way I would love one of those t-shirts about the old guys ruling for Mr. Swiss although I am not quite sure that it would go down well wearing in Switzerland.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Garry got that as a gift. I’m pretty sure whoever got it for him bought it somewhere on the Internet, but I don’t know where. It is indeed on of Garry’s favorites. If you like westerns, the southwest is … well it’s like visiting all the movies you ever watched.


    • The “old guys rule” tee shirt was a gift from a long time friend and former co-worker who also loves our old west and cowboy legends.


  6. Absolutely loved it!
    If only I could figure out how to incorporate pictures on my site. What a neat way to tell a story.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m telling you. Post something. Make sure you have the pictures you want to use on that computer and that you know where they are (like, in a file? with a name?). Click “Add Media.” Find the file where your pictures are saved. Choose the picture.

      It will appear in your post. You have to try or you’ll never get it. It’s really EASY.


      • Thanks Marilyn. Just got my laptop back yesterday. I was trying to use my 2 in 1 which had no pictures on it. I promise I will try now that I have my laptop back.


    • Thanks. I still smile remembering our Arizona visit.

      Liked by 1 person

%d bloggers like this: