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Published: January 30th 2011
We had to walk almost a mile to find this rock 20 yards from where we parked
We were up and packed early as we needed to be at the Keys Ranch Tour parking area by 12:45. Normally this would not be a problem, but “King of the Road” made several tactical driving errors that wasted at least a half hour. We did a quick gasoline before entering the “no resource zone”. The plan was to stop and unhook the trailer at Cottonwood Springs and then drive the almost 40 miles to Keys Ranch. As you might image after the mistakes, tension rode high in Trusty Tundra. The Cottonwood campground did not provide an easy park and go option, so with trailer we traversed the desert to arrive at Jumbo Rocks once again with limited time to spare. We found a 3 camping space drive out that allowed a quick (little or no backing) unhook and go.
TT wanted a rest and cool down, but the time crunch was crunching us. TT rose to the task and delivered us to the parking area only 2 minutes late, but with ample time to unwind, walk KC, and snack before the tour began. The tour was led by a ranger who was auditioning for a TV role, however it
Keys Ranch House
About 70 years old and visited yearly by Bill Keys son
was better than many monotones who often lead tours. After a mile drive, we took a step back in time to the turn of the century (20th) when Bill Keys (cowboy) moved into the valley and began setting up a cattle ranch. He was able to secure 160 acres from the state as a homestead and began to flourish providing services for the families and businesses in the area. The most successful was a milling and stamping operation for the gold mines.
The ranch house and grounds were not like the Ponderosa on Bonanza, but rather displayed the ingenuity and resourcefulness of living in the desert. Everything was a possible resource so it was all saved: old vehicle parts were used as reinforcing steel in cement used to build dams and water diversion canals. The other feature of the ranch I was most impressed with was the view into the open valley. The house and grounds were surrounded by rock walls, but the southerly entrance was open and allowed a view of visitors long before they arrived at the ranch.
Almost 2 hours later, the tour was over and we were heading back to set up camp. The
Valley entrance to Keys Ranch
temperature was warmer than earlier in the week (66), but not the high 70's of the Salton sea. We ate dinner, reviewed the day, and planned tomorrows trip back to Cottonwood Springs.
Although a hectic tense morning, the tour added to our discussion of survival not just in the desert, but in life where we rely on the corporate provided conveniences and ignore the simple natural ways of living. Perhaps the greatest challenge we face on a daily basis is protecting these sustainable resources so they will be there for future generations. There is sadness we (Dynamic Duo) experience when visiting a National Park to know if it were not for the Federal government protecting these locations, they would not exist in a natural, pristine condition.
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