02 April 2011

Cleator Arizona

10 steps to get a girl from Ontario to Cleator, Arizona

1. Grow up in Ontario
2. Decide to attend a Bible College
3. Decide to attend a Bible College in Michigan
4. Fall in love with John at said Bible College
5. Get married
6. Move to Michigan with husband
7. Have my in-laws move to Arizona
8. Visit in-laws in Arizona
9. Take a day trip up a mountain to Crown King, Arizona
10. Stop in at a very small town bar on the way: Cleator, Arizona.

Hokey Pete. I once visited Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa and in thought that was remote. Turns out "remote" is a very relative term.

On Friday morning John and I get up early with my father-in-law and head out of Fountain Hills where my in-laws live. So far my first Arizona experience has been sipping sun tea and enjoying gorgeous mountain views.

If those mountains are this gorgeous from here, I could just imagine what they'd be like close up. So off we go. About an hour into the trip we meet up with John's Aunt Barb and Uncle Vern as well as my FIL's cousin Tom.

Barb, Vern, Tom and my FIL had all been on this trip before. Their eyes sparkled with sly anticipation as we journeyed on. Our final destination was Crown King, a small mining town in the Bradshaw Mountains (elevation 5,771 feet).

Driving through the mountains was incredible, gorgeous, breath-taking. Any cliche expression you can find to describe a mountain view: they were it.

There were more than a few times when our SUV got a little too close to the edge of the mountain road for my comfort. Guard rails were few and far between and it was a long.way.down to the bottom. *gulp*

So I clenched the seat and closed my eyes while my stomach dropped and before I knew it my FIL was pulling into a... well, "town" might not be the right word. A "place" that looked like this:

Welcome to Cleator, Arizona. Population: 11. And where 11 will gather, there also shall be a bar.

Now I can't decide what was more entertaining. The decor:

Or the locals, who apparently loved visitors like us and had an abundance of stories to tell. Like this guy behind John:
Who lived up there in the truck in the right of this photo for FOUR YEARS before moving into a tin cabin about 500 yards behind the bar:

At first I wondered who'd want to live way out here, so far from all our modern conveniences. But then you see these views:

and it makes sense. Well, almost. ;)

A few more photos of the old (no longer used) Cleator General Store:

Next post: we're going to Crown King!


  1. I loved this post, I wish so bad that I could have had a bud heavy with you guys & the big guy in overalls.

  2. Hey Paul, I was actually thinking on that trip: "Man, Paul would love this right now." Everything from Firerock Golf Course (amazing!) to the first saloon/brothel in Arizona which was in Crown King. I poured out part of Jill's Bud Light in your honor. --john bu