By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/19/2020
Occurred: 8/16/2013
Topics/Keywords: #VerdeHotSpring #FossilCreek #BartlettLake Page Views: 3687
My friend Keith and I encounter extremes of beauty and behavior.

I've been saying for some time now, that Earth's quantum frequency is increasing; and I've mentioned several markers the observant should keep an eye out for as signs that this is so. Among those are: an increase in interspecies animal friends; more government corruption being exposed than ever before; beautiful places seeming more beautiful than ever; and ugly people going out of their way to put their ugliness on parade.

This weekend, my friend Keith and I saw plenty of the last two.

It all started a few days ago, when Keith asked if I would like to go with him on a day trip to Bartlett Lake. Of course I said yes; I've never made it to Bartlett Lake, which I've heard was beautiful, so this would be something unusual for me: a visit to a place in Arizona I haven't yet been!

When Keith mentioned there was a campground there, I of course offered the use of my tent and camping gear, turning the day trip into an overnighter.

But over the next days I started having second thoughts. I didn't want to re-plan the trip Keith had in mind; on the other hand, it's been around 110F all week and Bartlett Lake is only slightly higher in elevation than Phoenix itself. So it would almost certainly be too hot to sleep at night.

During the day, soaking in the lake; no problem. During the night, soaking in our own sweat; a problem.

So I suggested that we head further north to camp, and then come back down to Bartlett the next day. Keith agreed, and asked where might be good to camp. So I ran through my list of usual suspects: Verde Hot Spring, Fossil Creek, —and Keith asked about Verde Hot Spring. So I told him what I knew: There could be a rowdy crowd there; would likely be nude bathers in the spring. On the plus side, it is beautiful and loaded with history, plus an ecological experiment.

So that's where we headed.

We went by way of Payson, only to find that the Old Fossil Creek Road no longer goes clear through from Strawberry to Camp Verde. We had to cut north to Pine, then take the new, paved, Fossil Creek Road (AZ 260) to where the Old Fossil Creek Road joins it.

There appeared to be heavy monsoon rains all around us, but only a few drops actually fell on our traveling locations.

Then there's 18 miles of rough, "primitive" road, around hairpin turns, steep cliff walls and abrupt drops. And Keith drove, the first time I have ever been this way that I wasn't the driver! He has professed a fear of heights yet managed the road like a champ.

Because it was getting late, there weren't many photos taken this trip. I did managed to catch the sunset, however.

Of course, we arrived after dark; and not being able to see the worst of the dangers may have helped. The last glimpse we had of the torturous landscape was a row of misty mountaintops nestled like reverse Russian dolls.

I hadn't been to Verde Hot Spring in about three years. There had clearly been a lot of spring flooding; trees I knew had come down; new greenery had taken their place. The ecological experiment is that Child's Power Plant, which used to funnel water from Fossil Creek into Verde River, had been decommissioned; so the ecological changes the power plant caused are now being rolled back as the original riparian environment is restored.

However, any hope I had of this being a quiet night were quickly dashed by two competing sound systems from opposite ends of the campground, one playing country; the other, hip-hop. Keith and I hurriedly set up camp (right next to the river) and ate our dinner (a shared sub sandwich), then headed in the dark to the spring.

I've described this hike many times before; suffice it to say that we got to the spring under dramatic, moonlit skies and found we had the place to ourselves!

So we soaked, and meditated, and I shared some of the history of the old Child's Power Plant and the Verde Spring Resort that resided on this spot until it burnt down in 1962.

Finally we decided to leave, hoping the rowdy kids in camp might have settled down for the night. On our return we passed two guys and a girl, heading to the spring. It was quiet when we got back to the tent; but mere minutes after we turned in the music started up again…and it was after 1:30 am!

"There's something about this place," I told Keith. "I've never seen its like anywhere else. It's as if this place somehow brings out everyone's passions. If they have a passion for beauty, they paint or take photos or meditate quietly. But people with erratic emotions see their worst tempers emerge."

As if on cue, a woman from the camp nearest ours started shrieking that someone better give her "the goddam Jack Daniels". Others shrieked back. A gunshot was heard from further upstream.

By the time morning came, we were both ready to go (with the intention that we return sometime on a weekday, which is less likely to be host to another Party Central).

Keith made breakfast, sausage and Spam and potato burritos. Delicious! Then we struck camp and headed back to Old Fossil Creek Road, stopping just once so that Keith could take a photo of the valley in which we'd spent the night..

Verde River Valley

Verde River Valley

However, it was still early and we were so close to Fossil Creek Bridge it would have been silly to not check it out. It was early enough that it wasn't yet too crowded, and we were able to park in my "usual" spot, about 1/8 mile from the bridge.

There were, I would guess, five or six families and groups already there. It's a beautiful spot with wonderful swimming water, and kids were laughing and enjoying themselves while I swam and Keith sat on a rock in the water and soaked in the beauty.

Suddenly a truck came barreling across the bridge. It caught my attention with the Confederate flag one of its passengers was holding upright in the truck bed. The flag was enormous, and I wondered, why in the world would someone in Arizona—which never participated in the Civil War—even have a Confederate flag, much less go to all that effort to cart it around?

The answer came soon, when the truck parked just past the bridge and about five individuals came climbing down into the swimming area. One looked around in surprise and yelled, "Where's all the white people at?" And it was true, most of the people around us were Hispanic, except for me (Keith is Navajo).

Keith had intentionally chosen a spot somewhat downstream from the bridge, so as to have some privacy; a young woman in the Confederate group led her boyfriends directly to him. "I want to soak here," she announced, so loud that I could hear her from the other side of the creek. "But this creeper is already here."

To his credit, Keith attempted to ignore her rudeness, as did everyone else. Studiously, backs turned to these embarrassments to their parents. And the group didn't say anything else. But I wanted to make sure Keith knew that we didn't have to stay any longer than he wanted; and he agreed it was about time to leave, anyway—we still wanted to visit Bartlett Lake.

Afterwards, Keith admitted to wanting to throw something at the rude girl. I pointed out that these racists had chosen to be rude while surrounded by the very people they were being racist to. "I'll bet this issue resolved itself," I pointed out. "Do you really think not one person there will think to let the air out of a couple of their tires?" If it hadn't occurred to me too late—miles away—I'd have done it myself.

Anyway, our drive back south to Bartlett Lake was uneventful; we were still surrounded by storms and dramatic clouds but, again, except for a few splatterings on the windshield, we didn't actually hit any real rain. And, by the time we approached Bartlett Lake, the sky had pretty much cleared.

As mentioned, I had never been to Bartlett Lake before. It's bigger than I expected, bigger than Canyon Lake, I think, and much prettier than Lake Pleasant. Keith asked for directions to the nearest swimming beach, and soon we were soaking in the delightful water—not too warm, not too cold.

This was a new personal record for me: Immersed in three remote bodies of water within 24 hours!

The clouds again began moving in, and the wind to pick up; so Keith and I returned to his SUV and we returned to his apartment, where we transferred the camping gear to the Jesusmobile so I could get it home. I kept expecting it to finally rain; it was raining all around me. Yet I stayed dry.

It's easy to confuse the threat of rain, with actual rain. Especially here in the central Arizona desert, where all summer long, we are surrounded by monsoon clouds but seldom actually get rain on ourselves. (In fact, after I left, Keith's apartment got dumped on.)

And I can draw a parallel to the racism we experienced at Fossil Creek Bridge. If we spend time watching much TV, it's easy to imagine that bigotry is everywhere, all around us. And it is! Prisons are still disproportionately filled with minorities; homophobic New Yorkers are still gay-bashing innocents for no reason but to assuage their own ignorant fears.

The Fossil Creek racists might have thought I was one of them…until I told them I am gay. I don't expect they would have found that an endearing quality. It would make me, in their eyes, one their growing numbers of "enemies"…people whose only fault is being different than what the bigots want to believe is the norm…them.

But each of us has the choice of focusing on incidents of bigotry, like this, or directing our attention elsewhere: for example, the natural beauty or the happy, non-bigoted families enjoying the day with us.

And it was also clear that this is the bigots' last hurrah. They are no longer the majority. Few bigots even dare to admit to their bigotry anymore. Increasingly, as Earth's quantum frequency continues to quicken, the few remaining bigots are either dying off, or actually realizing how preposterous they sound. In any case, their irrelevancy is palpable; we need give them nothing but kind pity as the happily endangered species they are.