Friday, April 10, 2009

Sundown at the Mining Camp Restaurant

I've got a lot of pictures to talk about tonight. But, first, I have an urgent question -- Does anybody know what this railroad building is (or used to be)? I've been driving by it for the last couple of years, and ever since I began taking sunset photos, I've been meaning to stop and shoot some pictures of this thing. I thought that it might be an interesting subject. But, you know how it goes -- when you are driving down the road, there is always somewhere more important that you need to be.

However, on this given night, when I was driving by, it was getting near sundown, so I finally forced myself to pullover and investigate. The more I looked at it, the more puzzled I became. I'd guess that it is about 25 to 30 feet in diameter, and about 30 or more feet tall. It has a doorway and a couple of windows. The windows have bars in them. Whatever used to installed in the middle of the floor is long gone.

There are apparently two chambers, one above the other. When I stood inside the lower chamber and looked at the roof, I could see that it is about at the halfway-up point. You can see a ring around the outside of the building where the division is located. What I found to be the strangest is that the roof of the lower chamber is domed. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to the upper chamber to see what it contained.

Ok, what is this thing?

This next shot shows the doorway, and to the right you can see one of the windows.

OK, enough of that. Now, on to the the Mining Camp Restaurant. This is a very famous destination here in the Phoenix area. It is nestled in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. Since I moved to the Phoenix valley in 1967, and heard about this restaurant ever since I arrived, I just figured that it had always existed! Ha! The restaurant opened in 1961.

The strange thing is that it's now 42 years later, and I still had never been there. I'd always heard great things about the food and atmosphere, and always wanted to go, but just never seemed to make it. It's kind of like living in New York City but never having seen the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty, or living in Arizona and never having seen the Grand Canyon. (Just kidding, of course I've seen the Grand Canyon. I've even hiked to the bottom of it a couple of times.)

My wife, Paula, and I decided that it was time to have dinner with Dave & Ann, friends of ours that we hadn't seen in a while. It just so happens that they were planning on spending a few nights in Apache Junction, which is located sort of at the mid-point between the places where be live. So, we thought we would eat in Apache Junction. But, where?? Well, of course, where else but the Mining Camp Restaurant. And, it's funny how dinner time happens somewhere near the time that the sun goes down.

After we had finished eating, and the girls continued talking about family, etc., Dave and I excused ourselves and escaped outside just before sunset. Dave has done a lot of professional photography and sold a lot of his pictures. Imagine this, though -- I was the only one to bring a camera. (I almost never go anywhere without my camera.) So, as Dave and I were talking, and he was giving me some very useful hints, I started taking pictures.

These first two shots show what meets you right outside the restaurant's entrance. Notice the Superstition Mountains in the immediate background?

And, here is to show you that we all observe the world around us differently. Dave asked if I would mind if he took a couple of shots with my camera. Here are a couple of the shot that he took. Notice that while I was looking at buildings, mountains, and eventually the setting sun, Dave focused in on something completely different -- something that I hadn't even seen!!

Take a look at the wagon wheels. There is something about wheels these that caught Dave's interest.

And here is probably the best shot of the whole night. There is some real artistic flare in this shot!! I just love it. Thanks, Dave!!

About this time, I looked up and saw the following. I usually keep track of the sun's and the moon's rise and set times. I knew that a near-full moon was going to be rising on this night, but in the excitement, had completely forgotten. So, I grabbed the camera and shot some moon shots. (Does that make sense?)

Yep, that's the moon rising right over the Superstition Mountains.

But, then of course, the sun was going down, and I was obligated to take some sunset pictures. Here is a view through a cactus.

And here is a view over the mountains to the west.

By the way, you can learn more about this famous restaurant at their web site at:

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