(this is a long post, so brainless zombies should skip to the pictures at the end)
Some years back, I heard a rumor from my buddies that there was an old shady road at the west end of Speedway. It was described to me as a dirt road (which Speedway turns into), where one travels for a few miles, and then approaches a one-lane bridge. One-lane as in one-way. If it’s blocked, then you’re stuck. Traveling down the road a bit more brings you to a second one-lane bridge. I wouldn’t want to be the guy stuck between those two bridges, should they both be blocked. There is a sign at the very end of Mile Wide Road (the dirt highway), past both bridges, which reads “No Trespassing: Government Property. Keep Out.”
I am about to reveal to you top secret information. Just kidding, actually I have no idea what I’m talking about, I just love a good conspiracy theory, and anytime I find a good local Tucson version, I jump on the chance to investigate. Here are the stories I heard, as well as my own investigation into the matter.
First. My buddies had gone out there a few times before, but here is what occured the last time. While driving on Kinney, the continuation of Speedway and the fastest way to Mile Wide, they spotted a black unmarked Suburban. It was clearly following. This was well before they hit that first bridge, so they decided to keep driving. However, once they hit Mile Wide Road and passed over the bridge, the lights of the Suburban in the rear view mirror vanished. Creepy, but they continued. As they began to approach the second bridge, a pair of headlights clicked on in front of them. The shape and brightness of these lights convinced them that it was a similar Surburban, though they couldn’t see color or markings. This vehicle was clearly sitting on the bridge, so the path was blocked, and they couldn’t go any further. This was a bit disturbing, so they did a quick 3-point turn and high-tailed it back east. I forgot to mention that on either side of this dirt road was a deep ditch, deep enough that a car couldn’t veer off into the desert if it needed. Likely, that was a safety feature of this rural highway, protecting free-range cattle from traffic. As they headed east and passed over the first bridge, they half-expected to see the first Suburban. But the only lights they saw were the stars and the wash from their own headlights. Was it a coincidence, a narrow escape, or the government trying to protect something?
(For the record, it is common knowledge that Federal law enforcement officials frequently travel in black unmarked Suburbans).
Second. We soon realized that Mile Wide Road was almost exactly half way between Ryan Airfield, a military training facility turned State-owned airport, and Avra Valley Airport, owned and operated by the town of Marana. Actually, I believe it is officially referred to as the “Marana Regional Aiport” these days. So this shady bit of rural desert with black unmarked Suburbans was in non-trivial proximity to two active airfields. It was during this time of high speculation that we discussed the numerous sightings of UFOs reported from the Gate’s Pass area, as well as rumors of pyramids and secret underground facilities which could be host to any number of government military operations. It is well known that many Air Force bases have extensive underground facilities.
I decided I needed to see for myself, so I convinced them to make one more trip (okay, more like they convinced me to quit freaking and just agree to come with). On this trip, we encountered no black unmarked Suburbans, and travelled safely to the sign. Of course, we did this with our headlights off. Take no chances, eh? There was indeed a sign, and it made clear that you better not pass the gate, and that government property was on the other side. We took a poll and passed the gate. Have you ever experienced a moment of pure fear? Adrenaline surges through your body, and you can feel every one of your veins with each heartbeat. I especially feel a strong pulsing in the neck. It was pitch black; of course we chose a night with no moon. You can see millions of stars out there, especially with no moon. There was a road that continued on the other side, so we walked, but not very far. We spotted yet another sign, but this one was much larger and on the side of the road. Flashlights burning, we read the words “Ironwood Hills National Forest”
Oh. How boring. So at least now we know what the acres and acres of government land was far west of Tucson. But we still never figured out explanations for the Surburbans or the one-lane bridges.
Google has helped me in my continuing search for truth. Google Earth contains amazing satellite imagery which only a few years ago was the exclusive privilege of fortunate billionaires, government technicians, and fictional Hollywood characters. With it, I was able to get a bigger picture of our mysterious Mile Wide Road and the “Ironwood Hills National Forest.” In the tour, I feature the two airfields so you can get a feel for their proximity, and then take you from Gate’s Pass on to the sign. From the sign, we travel up the road to the furthest known structure I could find with Google, the Cocoraque Ranch. Supposedly it is a guest ranch (ever seen “Hey, Dude!” and you get the idea). From Cocoraque there are three interesting items to view in the desert forest of Ironwood Hills. One is a small set of buildings to the south. I can’t distinguish any vehicles or clues as to the purpose of such a remote building. Then, perhaps because of a bit of luck, I spotted a plane out there! The image is fuzzy, so you can’t tell if the plane is flying or grounded. You can see what seems to be the heat signature of the plane misaligned with the actual image of the plane. An interesting effect. The final destination is another set of buildings, this one a bit larger than the first. What are these buildings doing in the middle of nowhere, and why does it appear that an airplane was headed directly for them? See for yourself with my virtual tour of the “Mile Wide Road Conspiracy.” You can download Google Earth and then: