Wickenberg thinks it is a cowboy town but it has grown into a snowbird haven with new homes and amenities to the west of town. The downtown keeps the look of a western cowtown with saloons aplenty, but also nifty antique shops and a nice museum of the cowboy way of life. There is a lively arts scene here as well.
Our drive continues through the downtown and on west on Hwy. 60 with another gentle climb over low mountains and onto a flat plain. There is evidence of ranching with irrigated hayfields just west of Wickenberg.
Our friend Leonard Cook has lived in this area all his 89 years. He told me that the desert between Wickenberg and Salome was irrigated early in the 20th century with shallow wells until the wells dried up. A moratorium was put on drilling deeper wells and the fields were left to return to desert. Then "some big outfit" needed water for making electricity and the moratorium was lifted. The desert has fertile soil as evidenced by plowed fields and truck gardening on both sides of the highway. Canals alongside the fields provide water. I didn't see any center pivot irrigation here.
Salome is a very small town bisected by Highway 60. It supports two bar/cafes, two motels and a few businesses. South of the town is an RV park with a golf course. The Lions Club hosts our fiddle event.
Dave and I aren't the first campers here. Our friends the Pangles, the Carlsons, the Bergs, new friends the Bonns and Jim Dixon had their rigs pulled into a big arc. They had left a space that Luci could be backed into, completing the circle. Everyone was outside sitting in the sun and after we got set up, the instruments came out.
It happens that Katie Bonn and Dave play in similar style so twin fiddling ensued and sounded so good that they started working on their twin fiddle tunes for the Ajo fiddle contest.
Charley, the Pangle's Poodle-Bischon cross dog, is a friend to all. He can hardly wait to get outside in the morning and greet everyone, often peeking into our rigs to see about treats. He is immortalized in Dave's tune "Dog on the Dobro." Charley will sit in Susy's lap while she is playing and doze with his head on her arm.
Leonard and Laura Cook also camped nearby. As he was setting up camp he noticed this seed pod.
He brought it over calling it a Devil's Claw. An article in Desert USA on the web gives the Latin name as Proboscidea altheafolia or Proboscidea parvifolia and the seed pod is called devil's claw among other names. Leonard says that this pod will attach itself around the hooves of horses or cattle. The spines are sharp. The pod can be split in two with seeds in each half. The seeds are good to eat, Leonard says. The Desert USA article reports that the indigenous people of the southwest, probably the women,cultivated these viney plants selecting and replanting those seeds that produced the largest seed pods with the most protein rich seeds. I looked around the camp but found no other devil's claw pods. A horse camp was set up near us in the desert with riders from Arizona and California who did trail rides out into the scrub. I wonder if any came back with this desert hitchhiker attached.
Music events were held on Friday and Saturday nights. Anyone who wanted to perform would sign up for a slot on the program playing three tunes. Here are some of the performers.
Katie Bonn and Laura Berry twin fiddle
Three weeks until we meet up again in Ajo.