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Who are the Experience Arizona Adventurers?

Matt Marine

Matt Marine is an Arizona resident who loves exploring Arizona's wonderful outdoor adventures. To find out more about Matt, click the link below.

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Cat-Dog is my faithful trail companion. Her real name is Cammie. Why do I call her Cat-Dog?

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Sara Harelson

I’m Sara! I’m 21, a senior in college, and a journalism major.  I love to read, write, travel, and listen to music.  I’m always on to my next adventure.


See Intern Page for previous interns

It's a Jeep Thing
Jeep people are awesome, but we do have our idiosyncrasies. Join me as we look at the humorous side of owning and loving Jeeps.

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Arizona N2O - The Lighter Side of Experience Arizona

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Road Closures

Trails and roads listed within this site may be closed at any time by the Forest Service, private property owners or other governmental agencies. It is your responsibility to verify state of trail prior to attempting to run it.

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Ed Putney
Jude Johnson

Rich Klein

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Experience Arizona Interviews

In an attempt to help understand, promote and distribute news regarding outdoor activities in the state of Arizona, I will be conducting interviews with some important players in outdoor activities in Arizona.

A few notes on the interviews:
1. I am not a professional journalist and have never taken Interview 101, so I am learning as I go
2. Some of the questions are meant to be somewhat controversial and I will play the Devil's Advocate at times
3. This is not to imply that I agree with all the questions and answers given. I will post views I do not agree with
4. It is not my intent to be Politically Correct and be afraid to spark controversy, but comments that are deemed offensive or personally attack others will not be included as part of the interview (I am not another Jerry Springer either :-)

Ed Putney, Singer and Song Writer of The Earl Francis Mine - July, 2012

By Matt Marine

In July 2012, I received an email from a Mr. Ed Putney. He had found my Francis Mountain 4WD adventure on the Internet. As an Arizona native (now residing in a small town just north of Tucson), he had heard stories of a man who blew himself up in the mountains nearby. He became a song writer, singer and storyteller. Writing songs about cowboys and the southwest.

Ed asked if I wanted to hear a song he had written and recorded about Earl Frances, named the Earl Francis Mine. What an opportunity! I listened to the song and for me, the story of Earl Francis came alive. It reminded me of listening to an old Marty Robbins song.

I asked Ed if I could share this song with others and he agreed (see link to recording at the end of the interview). I also asked Ed if he would agree to an interview. It's this kind of personal history that I think we're losing and was extremely happy he agreed. Below is that interview.

I am also hoping to conduct a more personal interview with Ed and his friend who knew Earl Francis in the near future. Stay tuned.

A little bit about Ed:

Ed Putney is an Arizona native and his music reflects many aspects of the vanishing American west, with deep seeded roots in the southwest, he honed his ability of story telling through music, from experiences, legends and people of the southwest.

His music could probably be described as being geographical with story songs some written in a kind of transcendence to the past, while other songs tell of stories of a more modern west

1. Arizona natives are fairly rare. Can you please tell us about where you were born and grew up?

I was born in Tucson in 1957 and grew up near Salpoint high school until  I was about 10 or 11 then we moved to Catalina about 20 miles north of Tucson. Ever since I can remember I've always loved the outdoors and hearing stories of the way things used to be. I would sit for hours listening to my Grandfather telling stories about farming and how he came out west and fell in love with my Grandmother a ranchers daughter and the way life was in southern Arizona in the 20, 30, and 1940's  in Cochise county. My Grandmother actually remembered when Arizona was still a territory, and a time when the men in the town of Cochise grabbed their guns and gathered the women and children into an old adobe church and waited for Poncho Villa, he never came. When we moved to Catalina my whole world came alive, I would sit and listen to an old cowboy friend named Norm Clark. He’d tell me stories of the cowboy way of life. It wasn't long before I got my own horse named Skeeter and with Norm on his favorite horse Duece we would ride all over the  Catalina's even up to summer haven a few times, some rides were real rough and steep so steep my horse would slide down the mountain where the top of his rump almost rubbed my back. It was a great growing up around local legends like Buster Bailey, Billy Chester, Joe Fanning, Carlos Rivera, Bill Rafferty (our horse farrier who always had some good stories) Doc Sander's (our Vet.) Joe Goff and Joe Flieger. I loved to hunt and swim in the mountain pools and creeks and grow a garden every year, there wasn't much in Catalina back then, Red's bait and tackle, Catalina marina, The Hangman tree and The Lariat bar and a few scattered homes.

2. You've written and recorded a number of songs about cowboys and southwest. Please tell us a little bit about this.

I've actually have written a lot of songs on a lot of different subject material, but my true love is western ballads, Americana, that type of music. I about wore out Marty Robbins Gunfighter album and The Son's of the Pioneers. I’ve got a lot of new songs that I'm wanting to record and a few about some people that used to live around here.

3. You tell history through your song writing, how is this different than reading history from a book?

It depends on the book some times they are very accurate, sometimes Ill get an idea for a song from that source but I prefer hearing it first hand. The dynamics and emotion of performing the song are a more visual and aural experience than just reading a book on so many levels and there is nothing better than knowing you’ve made that connection with your audience. I usually write story songs/ ballads from a second person perspective but often it's fun to be the outlaw or whoever in the song.

4. How has the popularity of the Internet changed the way you view, research and share history?

It's so much easier to just look it up, it's really to easy to fall into the impersonal approach on the net, rather that talking to the person about the event but some times that's not possible they might have been  lying in boot hill for the past 100 years, so you have to rely on whatever resources you have at hand. To me I believe you owe it to the person in the song to get it right. Forced song writing has never worked for me, most of the time it will come naturally, those songs usually turn out the best especially the ones that go down quickly like the story or song is written by the person or event you are writing about. it's like someone else is holding the pen.

5. One of your songs is about a man named Earl Francis (which there's an Experience Arizona adventure to Earl Francis Mountain), can you share with us what you know about him and why you decided to write the song?

I didn't know Earl Francis but when I was growing up I had heard a about a man that blew himself up somewhere around oracle. Years later I was out hunting with a friend that I work with and later that day we drove up around High jinks, Buffalo Bill Cody's old place and he told me that he knew Earl and used to go up and see him every now and then. After hearing the story I couldn't wait to get to a pen and paper and not long after I got home I wrote the song. About everything in the song is what I know about him, except that he had a giant glass window that faced his favorite view and that the road to his place was steep for his old station wagon.

I felt like I didn't want what happened to Earl Francis to go untold and be forgotten.More and more the government intrudes into our lives even back then they did and where did they set the bar on greed that a person must acquire more than what they need in order to be eligible to have a mining claim? Earl was happy with what he had he didn't need anything more, to bad the Government didn't feel that way and let him live out the rest of his life there, what would it have mattered? He wasn't hurting anyone.

6. Experience Arizona is about outdoor adventures. Can you share with us one of your favorite outdoor places to visit or an exciting/amusing outdoor adventure you've had?

I've had hundreds of them all over Arizona, but one I had was a bit spooky, I'll tell you about that one. My friend Pete and I decided to camp out at a place way back in the Galliero Mountains, now I call that place the old haunted rock house. It was once an old Apache sheep herder’s camp until a cowboy in the 1920's built a rock house there, I think his name was Frank Logan but they called him "Chick" Logan? This place was built into a natural cave in the mountain and is a work of art, tongue and groove wood flooring with laminated wood archways into the dinning room and bedrooms. It also has a window from the kitchen on one side of a horseshoe courtyard and a window from the master bedroom on the other side facing the creek down below. I've been up there in the monsoon season where it was raining so hard that the water running off the mountain above made a curtain on the outside edge of the courtyard it's really beautiful there.

In the front door area there was a log book of visitor comments and we noticed quite a few on it, some entrees of it being spooky at night that they heard noises and thought they saw shadows etc. After grilling a couple of porterhouse steaks and a few shots of whiskey Pete decided to crash out for the night,  I stayed up awhile longer listening to the crackle of the fire and the creek down below, when I heard what sounded like an old woman crying or moaning in the basement. The sound went away after awhile and I fell asleep by the fireplace in the big room. At around midnight I was awaken by a windstorm about 40 miles per hour in the big room and as soon as I realized what was happening it stopped like the flick of a switch all I could see in the beam of my flashlight were the ashes from the fire floating down to the floor with all the coals of the fire still in place. Then after I finally got back to sleep I was awaken by the sound of footsteps coming down the hallway to the big room, I called out to Pete thinking maybe he was up and about but no answer the footsteps kept coming so I reached down and unholstered my .44 Blackhawk. I waited until the footsteps stopped by my bedroll then threw on the flashlight, no one was there?

It was about 1:00am and now I was ready to get out of there, I got up and tried to wake up Pete and had no luck, I actually checked his pulse that spooked me even more that he wouldn't wake up or couldn't? I went back to the coals and stoked up the fire and sat there and drank the rest of the whiskey hoping to just pass out. Next thing I knew it was morning a beautiful morning with birds singing in the sycamore trees down by the creek. Pete was already up and about fully rested and was amazed at my story and after seeing the empty whiskey bottle figured it was just the spirits from the bottle, I assured him it wasn't. The crazy thing about this place is that I've heard three different people tell me they have experienced the same things and some even more.

Like a guy I met that said he was sleeping in the kitchen on a full moonlit night and woke up to find a mountain lion sitting on the windowsill, he said about then the lion jumped into the moon and disappeared. Another person I heard about went up the canyon trying to find the rock house and couldn't but kept smelling smoke, they figured they would find some ones camp and ask them, instead the smoke led them to the rock house, when they got there the smoke was gone. I know it's a crazy story and some people look at you weird but it happened.

7. How do you feel Arizona has changed in the past 20-30 years?

There is definitely more people here now, they're not as friendly as they used to be, there's a lot more crime and border tension and the wide open places are disappearing. The encouraging thing is that people are ready and willing to change things for the better in Arizona and hopefully the rest of the country. Arizona is rich in beauty and history, I love it with all my heart, and it will always be my home.

8. Where can readers listen /buy more of your songs?

Click on  www.cdbaby.com/edputney or Just Google Ed Putney.

9. there anything else you would like to share with readers?

Get out there and enjoy Arizona and Matt's website and the books he's written and thanks Matt for the opportunity to share my music and stories with you and your readers.

The Earl Francis Mine, by Ed Putney

Click here to listen to The Earl Francis Mine by Ed Putney. The Earl Francis Mine, © words and music by Ed Putney. All rights reserved

Jude Johnson, Author of Cactus Cymry - February 24, 2012

By Matt Marine

Jude Johnson is the author of a new and fascinating book on a little known subject in Arizona history: the influence of Welsh immigrants in southern Arizona. Jude has been a history enthusiast since childhood and has lectured at the Sierra Vista Historical Society.

I enjoyed her book (click here for the review) and had the following questions for her:

1. What does Cactus Cymry mean and could you tell me a little about the book?

Cymry”—pronounced COME-ree— is the Welsh word for “Welshmen.”  This language is one of the oldest in Europe, traced back to Breton and the original Indo-European languages. Yes, it is still spoken on a daily basis in Cymru (pronounced the same as Cymry)., the nation of Wales. This book is a collection of biographies about Welsh immigrants or descendants who made their mark on Arizona before it became a state, told in a hopefully entertaining and compact way.

2. Are you Welsh and what got you interested in the Welsh culture?

Far as I know, not a bit of Welsh in my heritage. I became seriously fascinated with the language about ten years ago after hearing an interview with the actor who played Hornblower on A&E (back in the days when they really did Arts & Entertainment). I realized I’d heard snippets of it before—my mom never missed Tom Jones' show back in the Sixties— and I thought it would be fun to learn something truly different. Serendipity struck when I heard about a free class starting up in Tucson,; I’ve been hooked from then on.

3. How do you say “Nice to meet you” in Welsh? And what would be a friendly response?

Neis cwrdd i chi” (Nace chord ih chee is about as close as I can get the phonetics. “Ch” in Welsh is always a throaty sound, like “ach” in German.)  In response, you would say, “Diolch,  a  chi hefyd” (dee-OLCH, ah chee HEV-id”) which is “Thanks, and you , too.”

4. Why did you write this book?

My husband asks me that all the time… No, seriously, I had spent hours researching Welsh immigrants and their descendants at the Arizona Historical Society’s research library at the University of Arizona as well as archives in Bisbee, Tombstone, and online. Everything was scattered in different places, so I though I’d put at least some of what I’d found in one book for other people to at least get an idea of who some of these guys were.

5. What about history interests you the most?

Gosh, that’s a good question…I’ve always been intrigued about those who walked the same path I was on, or what it was like to be the first person to see what I was seeing.  I’m captivated by all sorts of history, have been since I was a little kid. I loved walking the cobblestone streets in Philadelphia that have remained fairly unchanged for centuries. When I went to Wales, the ruins of Roman forts two thousand years old just amazed me. We don’t have many sites that old in this country.

6. What is your favorite way to Experience Arizona?

I love to hike. I’m not coordinated enough to stay on a mountain bike! I’d rather be out in it than in a vehicle, and I like to take the time to really look at what’s around me. I want to do the Cochise Stronghold and the Dragoons, and someday I’d like to have the time (and the stamina!) to hike Pima Canyon all the way up to Mount Lemmon, then return through Sabino Canyon.  Then I’d do rim to rim of the Grand Canyon.

7. Your book seems to shed not so fantastic light on the Hughes legacy. Have you had any contact with the Hughes family (or others) and what was their response?

Funny you should mention that. I was a little apprehensive when Sam & L.C.’s great-grand-nephew purchased Cactus Cymry from me at the Arizona Historical Society. We had chatted a little, and I knew some of the things he had mentioned were, uh, let’s say, distorted through the family’s prism.  His wife sat down with the book across the aisle from my table, and I could see her reading—and kind of scowling.  Imagine my surprise when she came over and told me how much she enjoyed the sections on the Hugheses, noting that her husband would probably learn a few facts. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to write this book and provide the documentation of what I’d found, so people could learn the truth. I haven’t received any hate mail yet, so I guess it’s worked out all right!

8. What did you find the most surprising/interesting while doing the research for this book?

I think it was the influence Ben and Lewis Williams, and their father, had not only of the Copper Queen mine of Bisbee, but on mining in the western United States. Between their father’s development of the water jacket furnace allowing smelters to be built more economically in remote locations, and the brothers’ partnership with James Douglas that truly established Phelps-Dodge as the mining conglomerate it became, you could say the Williams family was responsible for the wealth of the West.  And hardly anyone knew they were Welsh.

9. What is your favorite trail in Arizona?

Ooh… right now I’d have to say it’s Pima Canyon. It’s rugged and full of wildlife, and the silly people who have to have a paved path avoid it like the plague.

10. I know you’ve written other books, can you tell me about them and your other writing endeavors?

It all started with Dragon & Hawk, my first historical novel. I did four years of research into the Welsh in Arizona to write that story, and I have to say it’s still dear to my heart. The adventures of three Welsh brothers and the very different women who convince them to stay in the Arizona Territory of the 1880s was great fun to write, and I’m honored that it’s now ensconced in the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. I’ve since written two other novels in that series, continuing the Jones family saga: Book Two, Out of Forgotten Ashes, is scheduled to be released by Champagne Books in April 2012,  with Book Three, Dragon’s Legacy, scheduled for July 2012. I also have a few short stories out, one with Champagne called Within The Mists, and a couple in an anthology called Gecko Tales by Gecko Gals Ink, a group of fabulous Tucson authors who are “Differently Expertised.”

11. What are your future projects?

I’m currently working on something totally different, a Revolutionary Era tale based on the true story of a friend’s however-many-greats-grandfather, who had been pressed into the British Navy and jumped ship in Boston Harbor. It will be a tale of adventure and espionage involving historical figures people already know. I’m having a blast researching, though I really think a trip to Boston is needed, don’t you?

12. What do you find is our greatest challenge in preserving our rich history?

Convincing people it is worth the effort.  You have to appreciate where you’ve been to move ahead. You can talk all you want about having video of what houses were like in the 1770s, but you can’t truly appreciate how cramped and small the rooms felt until you walk through one.  Kids need to see and touch and experience how hard daily living was in the past to fully understand how easy they have it now.  And we need to document what life is like for us now, save those records for those who come after us. After all, who knows what your great-great-grandnephew may be told about you?

13. How do you say “goodbye” in Welsh?

Pob hwyl! (Pahb hoyle)  Roughly translates to “Smooth sailing”—farewell.

Thanks for the interview, Matt!

For more information on Jude and her books:
Website: http://www.jude-johnson.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JudeJohnsonAZ
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/#!/JudeJohnsonAZ
Blog: http://www.wordsthatremain.blogspot.com/
Books with Champagne Books: http://www.champagnebooks.com
Books on Amazon:
Cactus Cymry on Barnes & Noble:


Big Rich Klein, President, W.E. ROCK USA - January 10, 2012

By Matt Marine

My first interview was with Big Rich Klein, the President of W.E. ROCK USA. W.E. ROCK is heading up the Dirt Riot race coming to Tucson this Saturday. I was given a heads up on this upcoming race by a friend who is hoping to compete in the Ultra 4 Unlimited Class at the event. Due to my time constraints, I was not able to conduct a verbal interview with Big Rich. Therefore, I sent him the following 10 questions that I thought may be of interest to Experience Arizona readers. He was kind enough to reply quickly and his written responses are in blue below.

I would encourage everyone to attend this event, it looks like a great time! I hope to see some of the Experience Arizona members on Saturday!

1.  What is WeRock and why did you start it? 
W.E.ROCK Events is the parent company for W.E.ROCK National Rock Crawling Championship Series, and Dirt Riot Endurance Racing. W.E.ROCK Rock Crawling Championship Series is the only National Rock Crawling Series, we offer 4 events in the east and 4 events in the west and a Grand National Event that brings both series together for one Grand Championship. W.E.ROCK grew from our 1st rock crawling events company; CalROCS, which stood for California Rock Crawling Championship. I started CalROCS in November of 2000 with an event called “PUTUP or SHUT UP, this event lead to 4 years of CalROCS series and expansion events as moved east. In 2005 I decided to shelve CalROCS and start a national and inter-national organization which we named W.E.ROCK (World Extreme Rock Crawling Championships). W.E.ROCK is the Inter-National Sanctioning Body for the motor sport known as Rock Crawling.

Dirt Riot Endurance Racing was started in 2011 as a regionally based 4x4 endurance racing event series. Dirt Riot is actually 5 separate series (Pacific, Southwest, Mountain, Central and Great Lakes), with a national championship event called “National Rampage”. Each of the 5 series consists of 3 events all at different locations. We utilize private property for all of our events.

2. What does WeRock offer that others don’t (what’s different about your organization)?
W.E.ROCK and Dirt Riot offer sportsman classes at each events except the National Championships. We believe we need to do this to give anyone that wants to try a competitive event a place to go and just do it.

3. What or how did you get interested in four-wheeling? 
I watched the movie “on Any Sunday” by Bruce Brown, I think it was in about 1972-73. I caught the off road bug from the film. I did not start 4 wheeling until 1983 with a trip to Barrett Lake, in El Dorado Co., Cal.

4. What was your favorite 4WD trail? Also, if you’ve been four-wheeling in Arizona, what Arizona trail is your favorite? 
2 Trails stick out in my mind, with my all time favorite being the Rubicon, and next would be Pritchett Canyon. I really like the Rubicon for the extended wheeling trip experience, nothing better than wheeling mid week when no one is around.

5. What do you like most about four-wheeling?
Being in nature and the quiet it can afford. I also enjoy the friendships I’ve made with others who enjoy the same thing as I do. I also enjoy the challenge that some trail can throw at you.

6. What are the biggest obstacles to four-wheeling as recreational sport (and a sporting event)?
The lack of care by of government to allow us to continue something we’ve been doing since the late 1940’s. The extremist left Lawyer driven environmental groups have much deeper pockets and an eastern influence of supporters that know nothing of the west except what they see from these leftist groups. Overcoming that influence is the only way to save our public lands here in the west. The east does not know what public lands are all about over their history.

7. How do you answer (or resolve) critics of four-wheeling that say the sport ruins the environment? 
Everything effects the environment, but mother-nature has a way of fixing what it needs to. Past civilizations are almost lost because of mother-nature, the same will happen again.

8. What can be done to promote a better understanding / relationship with the Forest Service, BLM and environmental groups regarding four-wheeling on public lands? 
It’s not those groups that we have to influence, it’s the supporters of those groups that fund the environmental groups that put pressure on the government that needs influencing. 

9. Where do you see the sport / WeRock / Dirt Riot going in 10 years?
No real idea, but I’ll keep doing these events as long as there are teams that show up.

10. Any other comments / info you would like readers to be aware of?
The advances in 4x4 technology for the trail wheeler would not be here today without the hard work of those that have competed in rock crawling and racing events in the past.

For more information on W.E. ROCK and Dirt Riot, click here.

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