Labor Day 2004 - Eastern Arizona

In September of 2004, my friend Steve and I went for a drive through the mountains of Eastern Arizona for a weekend of cooler weather and great scenery. All pics below are shown in approximate chronological order as I took them. All are actual photos from the trips, and the thumbnails lead to "full" size (800 or so pixels max in one direction) versions.

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Saturday, September 4
Morenci, AZ

Open Pit Copper Mine

Coming up the hill from Clifton into Morenci was quite a sight - the immense size of the mine unfolding across the mountain above and in all directions was awe-inspiring. Tempted to stop and photograph to document the vast amount of destruction, we continued up the hill and eventually came to a "scenic" overlook of the mine area, where the sign at right was located. According to the sign, 830,000 tons of rock are mined out of the ground here every single day. It's quite clear that this is a huge mine - what you can see in the photos here is but a fraction of what the Morenci mine is all about. Imagine the same scale and vastness of destruction and mining in a 360 degree panorama, not just in one direction on one hillside. The road is marked "temporary highway" as it seems to be relocated whenever it gets in the way of the mine, and it's built, like all the trucking routes of the mine itself, on the piles of rock pulled out of the mountain.

In the photos below, the first row just show the operations of the mine, but it is the next row that is of real awe for me, because the photos show a bit of the scale of this mine. The first shot of the second row was taken with a 24mm wide angle lens. The second and third are crops taken at 200mm. Notice the heavy duty work truck that would dwarf any regular pickup truck, how miniscule it appears next to the dump trucks, and further, how miniscule they appear in the overall minescape.

24mm wide-angle view
The trucks are barely visible!

200mm closeup

crop of 200mm closeup

Saturday, September 4
Eagar/Springerville & Vicinity

Alpine is just Southeast of Eagar/Springerville and offered a quick 15-mile detour into New Mexico for a spot to eat lunch alongside the road. The on and off rain made for a beautiful, largely traffic-free drive from Morenci up to Alpine, through misty/foggy green forest landscape, silently gliding over the damp pavement. A beautiful drive, worth all the time it takes getting there (but definitely not a day trip from Phoenix).

Alpine in the rain

New Mexico

Eagar and Springerville aren't much in the way of big cities, but their location is great. Cool temperatures, rolling green mountains, and a wonderful sunset made for a nice destination after a 450+ mile day in the car. The sunset photos were taken West of town on the road to Hon-Dah and Pinetop. Even though it was Labor Day and every hotel was booked to capacity, we saw few other people. Everyone was on the lakes, boating, fishing, etc., while we stuck to the out-of-the-way places like the drive from Clifton / Morenci and Sunday's drive through the most empty, barren landscape up towards Holbrook and the Petrified Forest.

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