Phoenix, Arizona – Part Two

We addressed the botanical garden and historical pioneer museum in Part One of our Phoenix, Arizona, post which you can see here. There were so many sightseeing opportunities we could not possibly take in all of them, but we did manage a few.

Cave Creek and Carefree are quaint communities about 35 miles north of Phoenix where visitors are treated to a western-style town and mid-twentieth-century architecture.

Cave Creek had a population of 5,015 in the 2010 census. Its motto is “Where the Wild West Lives.” When I learned Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, had a home in Cave Creek, I wondered if there was something in the surrounding area that inspired her to write about vampires.

We stopped in at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral for lunch. Harold’s is one of several historic buildings in the town. Enjoy Wild West Days activities, comedy shows, and live music at this western-style establishment. Or, drop in at Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse for dancing, suds, and a mini-rodeo. Bikers will be right at home at The Roadhouse, which serves typical pub food. They also have pool tables.

Heading east on Cave Creek Road we came to the town of Carefree, which had a population of 3,363 in the 2010 census. Conceived as a master-planned community in the 1950s, Carefree incorporated in 1984 to avoid annexation by Scottsdale.

The third-largest sundial in the western hemisphere is located in Carefree. Designed by architect Joe Wong and solar engineer John I. Yellott, the sundial was erected in Circle Plaza in 1959. The steel frame that points to the North Star is covered by anodized copper. It measures 90 feet (27 m) in diameter, stands 35 feet (11 m) above the plaza, and extends 72 feet (22 m).

The Carefree Sundial

Artists were busily setting up The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden display for Halloween. We had fun walking around snapping photos of the early birds who had already prepared for the event.

Hey, bartender. I’ll have another.

Carefree once was home to Southwestern Studios. The complex included three sound stages, edit bays, a 35-mm screening room, make-up, production facilities, western streets, and a backlot.

Various television programs (New Dick Van Dyke Show) and movies (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) were filmed there. Dick Van Dyke is believed to still own a home in Carefree.

Woo-hoo, it’s party time.

No one thought much of the historical value of the studio so developers razed it in 1999 and turned the once pristine desert into a retail space and residential development.

Even aliens get into the act at the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

Old Town Scottsdale was an interesting place to visit and have lunch. We selected The Mission for our meal and it was a great choice. I especially liked the Apollo A La Brasa tacos.

The Mission is aptly named since it is next door to the Old Adobe Mission. A group was preparing for a wedding so we only had a few minutes to snap a couple photos inside the church.

Old Adobe Mission
Inside Old Adobe Mission
Stain glass windows inside Old Adobe Mission

Baseball fans will recognize Scottsdale as spring training country for the fifteen teams that comprise the Cactus League. The Baltimore Orioles was the first team to train in Scottsdale during the 1950s.

Howdy, pardner.

The free Old Town Trolley was a great way to tour this section of Scottsdale as it makes its way around the 45-minute loop. Visitors will find shops of all kinds, sculptures, monuments, museums, and hotels in the district.

No, this wasn’t the trolley. These folks pedaled their way down the street on this BYOB bar.

In downtown Phoenix, we toured the Rosson House Museum, which is located in the Heritage and Science Park across the street from Arizona State University.

Historic Heritage Square
The old and the new. ASU is across the street from the Rosson House.
Concord style buggy

The Rosson House is the only remaining home of what once was the heart of the city. A docent tour of the 2,800 square foot Eastlake Victorian style home, built in 1895 by Dr. and Mrs. Roland Rosson, gives visitors a taste of what it was like to live in Phoenix in the late 1800s.

The Rosson House complex. The visitor center is located in the carriage house to the right.

After losing block after block to the demolition of the once-stately homes, volunteers saved this one on Block 14 and created the park.

Entry stairwell inside the Rosson House
I thought it clever that an architect incorporated landscaping into the design of this parking structure. It’s definitely more appealing than a concrete wall.
We thought this stove quite small for a large family in the Rosson House.
Our docent talks about the medical tools Dr. Rosson may have used while living in the house.
Fragile looking rocker and sewing basket.
A wedding circle quilt makes this bed look cozy and comfy.
This nook with two windows made a perfect spot for a sewing machine.
A built-in hutch and ornate mantelpiece decorate the dining room

Now that Jon could walk more than a few feet before having to stop, we followed the road a half-mile to Cornish Pasty Company where we had a good lunch.

Good eats at Cornish Pasty Company
Me eating lunch at Cornish Pasty Company
A clever person figured out how to make the letters embedded in concrete change colors.

On our way to and from lunch, a couple of buildings caught my eye.

Saint Mary’s Basilica
Reflections in the Chase Tower glass

We checked out Lake Pleasant Regional Park for future reference. We thought the campground would be a nice place to stay for a few days especially if we lucked out getting one of the sites that overlook the lake. Developed sites for camping include electric and water hook-ups, dump station access, restrooms, picnic tables, and grills.

One of two marinas at Lake Pleasant

Besides camping, the park offers boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, scuba diving, and swimming.  At the Discovery Center visitors can learn about the people who lived in the area as far back as 2000 years ago. During a study of the Lake Pleasant area, scientists found five archeological sites that included a defensive structure, a stone workshop, a farmhouse, and two small villages, which were occupied during A.D. 700 to 1450.

Dry camping is also available at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. I’m not sure I want to be that close to the lake with my RV.
Roadrunner Campground at Lake Pleasant Regional Park

While traveling Interstate 17 north of Black Canyon City,  we pulled into the Sunset Point Scenic Overlook for some amazing views and a look at the sundial memorial. This rest stop has plenty of room to stretch your legs with short trails to the overlooks. While here we saw our third sundial in the Phoenix area.

Tribute to ADOT employees “who died while serving the citizens of the State of Arizona.”
Travelers will find restrooms and vending machines at the buildings.
One of the overlooks at Sunset Scenic Overlook rest stop

That concludes our time in Phoenix, but I’m sure we will be back someday. There are plenty more museums to visit and trails to hike.

Stay tuned for our third visit to Tucson, Arizona, coming up next.

Safe travels

Phoenix, Arizona – Part One

Phoenix, Arizona – Part One

Temperatures cooled ten degrees in the Phoenix valley so we left Payson on Sunday, October 13, 2019, and headed into the metropolis. We had been avoiding the big city the past few years, so it was time to stop and visit family and meet new friends.

On our drive to Phoenix, we were impressed that a couple of Westys kept up with us. They’d pull away on the downhills and we’d catch them on the inclines. Climbing a particularly steep grade, we had to pass and leave them behind.

We also marveled at the amount of saguaros marching up the hills.

Ingrid from Live Laugh RV (livelaughrv.net) recommended Pioneer RV Park as a place to stay in the Phoenix area. We enjoyed our stay so much we extended a couple of days. The best part was sharing a couple of happy hours and dinners with Ingrid and Al. Thanks, guys. We had a great time talking with you two.

Our nephews on my side of the family, Scott and Jared, picked us up for dinner one night. It was fun catching up with them and meeting Scott’s better half Leslie and their daughter Alycia. I hope we can stop for another visit soon.

Our next family visit was with our niece, Kelly, and her family on Jon’s side. I promised myself on this trip I would take photos of people. Not quite in the habit, I left my camera at the trailer, so no photos of Kelly and her family. We had a delicious dinner at her house, though. I enjoyed talking with her granddaughter about all her toys (oh, so many toys) and meeting Kelly’s husband and mother-in-law. I even warmed up to the dogs, as long as they didn’t get too close. My fear of strange dogs has not abated, especially when they growl and bark; however, I can tolerate them once I get to know them.

Kelly and her husband are both in real estate. Who better to ask about all the new construction we had seen? We learned that 200 people a day moved into the greater Phoenix area from 2017 to 2018 and Maricopa County—home to Phoenix—was the fastest-growing county in the U.S. No wonder we saw so many housing developments pop up like mushrooms from the desert floor.

Sightseeing is always at the top of our “to do” list and Phoenix was no exception. Below are a few of the places we visited. The rest will come in Part Two.

Desert Botanical Garden

The behind-the-scene docent tour at the 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden was a treat. One of only twenty-four botanical gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the garden operates with 106 regular staff and approximately 730 volunteers donating 67,364 hours of their time. They have 55 acres under cultivation containing 4,482 species in the living collection and care for 39 rare and endangered species. The photos below are a small sample of what a visitor will see.

The three light-green tree-like structures are Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. The colorful prairie dogs—made from recyclable plastic—are part of the 1,000 animal sculpture exhibit by Wild Rising by Cracking Art. They will be on display through May 10, 2020.

The doors opened to the public in 1939, but World War II halted activity in 1942. A visitor center opened in 1961 and over the years, a library and butterfly exhibit were added. Multimillion-dollar expansions led to research facilities and a desert landscape school.

A group of frogs watched us while we ate lunch under the entry arbor.

The garden is open daily; however, check the website for early or all-day closings. Tours are offered from September through May, the best time to visit. June, July, and August are too hot to walk on the concrete and gravel paths.

The water feature and shade gave us a respite from the heat.
If we weren’t away from home so much, I’d love for my backyard to look like the Steele Herb Garden.
A sundial in the backyard would be cool too.

We enjoyed watching the butterflies in The Butterfly Pavilion. Some of them flitted around so fast we could barely see them, while others landed on flowers and spread their wings as if posing for a photo.

Soon to be butterflies.
Five little butterflies posing for a photo.
Desert scene with prickly pear, barrel cactus, agave, saguaro, and senita. Wait a minute. Where did those little green penguins come from?
Play nice.
Crested saguaro
Replica of an Apache household of old
Blooming barrel cactus
Desert oasis
I liked the fall colors on this plant. Anyone know what it’s called?
Outdoor desert landscaping lab
Reclaimed cement blocks turned to art in this wall feature.
The shade over the greenhouse roof combats the summer sun and protects the specimens.
Inside one of the many greenhouses with an array of specimens.
Cactus, cactus everywhere

We definitely recommend spending a morning or afternoon at the Desert Botanical Garden. Come for the cactus and stay for the art, music, and culinary activities.

Pioneer Living History Museum

While Jon watched football, I went to the Pioneer Living History Museum.  Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the 90-acre property depicts the Arizona territorial period between 1863 and 1912. Some of the buildings are authentic and others are historically accurate reproductions. The museum is a popular place for weddings, field trips for schoolchildren, and special events. Preparations for the All Hallows’ Eve event were in process during my visit.

Pioneer Living History Museum
On certain days, gun shows are presented.
The Merritt Farm complex lets visitors imagine living on a farm in the late 1800s. The house, water tower, granary, and carriage house are all original buildings preserved and restored to depict the early 1900s.
The three-room Meritt House with detached “summer” kitchen. Kitchens were in a separate building to keep the heat from invading the main house during hot summer days.
A glimpse of a bedroom and dining room inside the Merrit House.
An 1800s commercial building housing an exhibit hall and a dress shop.
So much equipment used for printing. Today printing isn’t needed, just open the laptop, type, and send.
Vehicles on display in the carriage house.
Children will like panning for gold.
I wanted to take a look inside this little cabin up on a hill. Then I saw the sign below.
When in Arizona, one must scan all paths in search of snakes. Luckily, we saw none.
Looks like a great place for children to play tag or other old fashioned games.
The church is used for weddings.
Plenty of seating inside.
William Gordon and his family used this original building before it became a school. The school operated from 1885 to 1930. The dunce cap must stir up lively conversations among school children.
Skeleton waiting for All Hallow’s Eve.
The Flying V cabin, with gun ports, is an original building built around 1880. The builder, John Tewksbury, is notable for his participation in the Pleasant Valley War.
Senator Henry Fountain Ashurst grew up in this original 1878 Ashurst Cabin. Ashurst earned the name “Silver-tongued Orator of Congress.” While I peeked inside to take a photo, the wind came up and wrapped the black cloth around me. Luckily, no one was around to hear my scream.
Modest accommodations with all the necessities and a leaky roof.
This house is a McMansion compared to some of the cabins.
Quiet down out there, I’m trying to sleep.
This guy’s been hanging around for way too long.

On some days, costumed interpreters dressed as cowboys, lawmen, miners, gunmen, and Victorian ladies roam the grounds, which must make the town come alive.

Stay tuned for more sightseeing in the greater Phoenix area, including visits to Cave Creek and Carefree, Old Town Scottsdale, Rosson House Museum, and Lake Pleasanton Regional Park.

Safe Travels

Payson, Arizona, Part Two

Payson, Arizona, Part Two

The Payson visitor center and Payson Ranger District office loaded us up with so many pamphlets and maps I knew we’d never see it all in the week we had allotted. The following are sights we managed to fit into our schedule from October 6 – 12, 2019.

Pine, Arizona

A 20-minute drive from Payson on scenic route 260 takes drivers along a road with wonderful views of the mountains and forest, past the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (more about the park later), and into Pine, Arizona. Four Mormon families established Pine in 1879. The 2010 census showed approximately 1,963 residents. This compares to Payson, which had a population of 15,301.

“Open house” signs enticed us to follow the arrows. We weren’t in the market to buy, just playing lookie-loos. A family of elk crossed the road in front of us so we stopped to wait for them to pass. Another car came up behind us. They didn’t have patience for the elk and drove around. We could almost hear the epithets they hurled our way as they zoomed by. Where we live, we stop for deer and wild turkeys on the road. It’s better than running into them and wrecking our vehicle.

The elk made it safely across the road

Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival

After touring the house, we found the main road lined with trucks and cars, and people walking around. “Oh, look. Kettle corn,” we said in unison. The popcorn vendor wasn’t sure what was going on, but the banner across the road advertised The Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival, so we walked down the street, peeked in a few antique and craft stores, and cruised the vendor booths. The limited storage space in the fifth wheel prevents us from buying stuff while traveling. I did splurge on a few bookmarks, though.

Judy Bottler had photo bookmarks for sale at the Strawberry/Pine Fall Festival

Three miles further north is Strawberry, which is even smaller than Pine. They claimed 961 residents in 2010. Many of the houses, cabins, and cottages in both Strawberry and Pine are vacation homes or rentals, which increases the population at times.

Strawberry, Arizona

In Strawberry we stumbled upon the oldest standing schoolhouse in Arizona. District #33 in Strawberry Valley was established in 1884 and still stands in the same place where it was built.

Strawberry School House

Besides a school, the building served as a meeting place, social center, and a church. Closed in June of 1916, by 1961 only the log frame remained.

School bell

On August 15, 1981, the Pine/Strawberry Archaeological and Historical Society dedicated the structure as a Historical Monument after they renovated the school. It is open to the public from May through mid-October on weekends and holidays. https://www.pinestrawhs.org/schoolhouse.html

Furnishings inside the schoolhouse

Driving through Strawberry, Pine, and even Payson, we noted homes hidden among shrubs and trees. This is what Paradise, California, must have looked like before fire wiped out the entire town in November 2018. Only a few residents in these communities had protected their homes from fire. Did most of the occupants not get the memo to create a defensible space zone around their home, or did they choose to ignore it? I could easily see how the entire communities of Strawberry and Pine could go up in smoke. I wish them well and pray it never happens.

Pine View Loop Trail

The Pine View Loop trail wraps around a hill for 2.8 miles. Wandering through piñon and ponderosa pines, and alligator junipers, Jon made it without trekking poles along the up and down trail with occasional switchbacks. This was his longest hike yet after his sciatic pain had disappeared.

Jon ditched his trekking poles for this hike.
This is the bark of an alligator juniper

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

After thirty years on the State Parks Board priority list and a few approvals by the state legislature to purchase the land, lack of funding delayed natural bridge becoming a state park. The board finally purchased the 160 acres on October 1, 1990, and the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park held its grand opening celebration on June 29, 1991.

Tonto Natural Bridge

Believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, the 400-foot long tunnel contains turquoise pools fed by a natural spring. The park offers several short trails making this a perfect place to bring young children.

Watch for slippery rock

We managed steep hills and a scramble over huge boulders and rocks along the Anna Mae Trail. The trail ends at the cavern under the bridge.

The trekking poles came in handy on the boulders and slick rock

While working my way over the boulders to reach the opening, I passed a woman sketching on a pad. We spoke a few words and I found a spot to sit and take photos. A few minutes later, the woman, Kathy Mann from Canada, asked if she could use my camera to take a photo of me sitting on the boulder.

Photo taken by Kathy Mann with my camera

Without thinking, I handed over my Sony and turned my back. After several minutes, I turned around to see if she was still there. She said, “Just a few more.”

I’m used to taking photos, not modeling for them, but if I could help an artist in her work, I was glad to do it. I sent the photos to her a few days later and hope to one day see her creation. Her paintings emote a sense of calm and peace. If you are interested in seeing her work, go to kathymannfineart.com.

Waterfall Trail is about 300 feet long and ends at a waterfall wall. A walk down approximately 120 steps takes visitors to an extremely narrow and short space to view water flowing out of the side of the cliff. More than five people created a huge crowd, making it difficult to maneuver. Kids will most likely enjoy the cool spray from the falls on a hot day. For us, it was a disappointment.

“But, I want to stay here where it’s cool.”

The short trails to the third and fourth overlooks provided additional views of the bridge. At the fourth overlook, Jon pointed out the hole in the walkway where you can look through the grates to see the water from the bridge top. It wasn’t that spectacular, but at least it was something different.

The backside of the Tonto Bridge, or is it the front?
The Gowan Trail was closed to hikers
Through the grate at the top of the bridge

Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim (pronounced mōgə-yōn, mo-go-yawn, or muggy-on, depending on your source) is a 200-mile geological formation composed primarily of limestone and sandstone. It runs across Arizona from northern Yavapai County in the west to the New Mexico border in the east and forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona. Piñon pines, junipers, and ponderosa forests abound on the plateau.

Mogollon Rim

North of Strawberry is Arizona Forest Road (FR) 300, a dirt and gravel road that skirts the Rim for 43.3 miles from State Route 87 to State Route 260. FR 300 intersects with the General Crook Trail, a historic wagon route used in the 1870s and 1880s to provide logistical support for General George Crook in the U.S. Army’s war against the Apaches. Since we started our day too late to drive the entire route, we settled on checking out a few spots on the west end to get a feel for what the road had to offer.

A little bit of fall

Land south of the Mogollon has an elevation between 4,000 and 5,000 feet while the plateau rises to 8,000 feet.

We saw plenty of trees with their tops loped off

The forest is the last place I’d expect to see a typewriter. But there it was as if someone staged it just for me to come take a photo.

This typewriter has seen better days

Another day we drove out to the east end where parts of the rim are visible from the highway without driving on dirt roads. The visitor’s center had already closed for the season so we snapped a few pics and climbed back in the truck.

The valley below Mogollon Rim

We stopped in at The Tonto Creek State Fish Hatchery located 21 miles east of Payson off Route 260 on Tonto Creek Road. Although the visitor center had already closed for the season, the building was open.

Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Displays inside gave information about how the fish eggs are imported from other hatcheries and grown at this facility. The Work Projects Administration (WPA) originally built the hatchery in the early 1930s for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

I think they need a new life ring

The hatchery’s expertise is hatching and growing trout eggs to three-inch fingerlings and nine-inch catchable fish. Once matured, approximately 165,000 rainbow trout, 400,000 brook and cutthroat trout, and 150,000 Apache trout are stocked in Arizona waters.

Stream at the watershed

That wraps up our time in Payson, Arizona. For those who can’t take the Phoenix heat in the summer, Payson seems to be a good place to cool off and enjoy the Rim Country great outdoors.

As our time in Payson ended, we turned our focus on Phoenix and visits with family and friends.

Safe Travels

Payson, Arizona, Part One

We left the nearly 100-degree temperatures in Gila Bend for cooler weather in Payson, Arizona, on October 6, 2019. When our escort led us to the rear of Payson Campground and RV Resort, we cheered. Another week without freeway noise sounded good to us. The dusty roads and campsites surrounded by tall hedges and trees made us feel like we were in a National Forest campground.

Campsite at Payson Campground and RV Resort

Green Valley Park and Lakes

One of the highlights of Payson is the Green Valley Park and Lakes. The 45-acre property is home to the Rim Country Museum, the reproduction of the Zane Grey Cabin, and the Haught Family Cabin. Anglers are welcome to fish the well-stocked lake, sailors with non-gas powered vessels are invited to glide across the calm waters, and bird lovers will enjoy the waterfowl that live in the area or visit during their migration.

Green Valley Park Lake

Walkers, runners, and parents with children in strollers find the 1-mile concrete trail around the large lake and the amphitheater a great place to enjoy a bit of exercise. Children even have access to a playground.

Green Valley Park

The amphitheater is used for the 4th of July and Memorial Day events, summer concerts, and as we found out during our visit, the Annual Beeline Cruise-In Car Show.

Green Valley Park amphitheater

When we heard about the car show, we didn’t expect much. Cars had arrived from Phoenix and other Arizona locations as well as from neighboring states. Someone made an announcement over the PA system that this year’s event was the largest ever. They had slots for 225 cars but ended up with over 240. Fortunately, the group was able to accommodate everyone who arrived. Jon and I spent about two hours gawking at the classic cars and snapping photos.

If you’re not interested in photos of classic cars, just roll on down the page.

The Halloween Roadster
Ah, there’s the boy that made the music play, skulls rattle, and dog bark.
Delivery sedan
Mad Max car
Chevy Apache stepside pickup
Family picnic time
1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Country Club Convertible
At the Carhop
My first car was a white two-door 1970 Datsun 510 with a black vinyl top. I wanted the butterscotch color, but it wasn’t in stock. Fifteen years later when I could afford the aftermarket paint job it was time for a new car.
1980s icon Bob’s Big Boy
Jon owned a blue 1963 Volkswagen bug with a ragtop moon roof.
Payson’s first firetruck. The museum is taking donations for a restoration project.
Jon also owned a Metro after he crashed his 1955 Chevy
I don’t think this Jeep spends much time 4-wheeling

Taking photos with someone proves that photographers put their own personal spin on their photos. Jon took pics of the cars with their hoods up, showing off the power plant and/or the wheels and tires, while I took pics of quirky autos like the Mad Max, the Halloween Roadster, and Carhop.

Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin Tours

 The Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin are only viewed through a docent-led tour. Sadly, no photos are allowed inside the museum or cabin, and the museum’s website does not contain any photos. Only people lucky enough to travel to Payson and take the tours get to see the wonderful displays and artifacts inside. It is a small space, and I understand they need to limit how many people enter the museum. However, it would be nice if they shared their images so more people can enjoy the exhibits. Perhaps someday they can record a tour or take photos to post on their website.

The first National Forest Ranger building. Through the door and window are displays of objects used years ago.

The displays included artifacts and stories about ancient civilizations that populated the Rim Country, continued with early settlers, the June 1990 Dude Fire that took the lives of six firefighters and destroyed the original Zane Grey cabin, and a feud deadlier than the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The Pleasant Valley War (also known as Tonto Basin Feud, Tonto Basin War, or Tewksbury-Graham Feud) racked up an estimated death toll of 35 – 50 from 1882-1892, while 13 people died during the Hatfield-McCoy feud. For those interested in learning more, Wikipedia has detailed information on the conflict, and Zane Grey based his novel entitled To The Last Man: A Story of the Pleasant Valley War on the war.

Reproduction of Zane Grey’s Cabin

Through architectural plans, the historical society was able to recreate the Zane Grey hunting cabin. The structure contained one large room that served more like a meeting room than a place to sleep and cook. In fact, there were no facilities for cooking and sleeping. The hunters must have cooked and slept outside in tents.

Zane Grey Cabin replica

The docent-led tour of the Zane Grey Cabin included historical background of the author ‘s life, his time in Rim Country, and his career as an author. Grey’s books line the shelves and his typewriter sits prominently on the desk. Apparently, years after Grey’s death, his wife was cleaning out and giving away belongings. She gifted the typewriter to a young man who worked for her. He kept the typewriter safe for many years until one day he arrived and donated it to the museum.

The Haught Cabin

The Haught cabin is also on the premises at Green Valley Park and Lakes. Imagine living in a 10’ by 18’ dirt-floor cabin without windows with five children and a mother-in-law. That is what Sarah Haught did after she and her husband Henry arrived in the Arizona Territory from Oklahoma in 1897. Territorial settlers sure were hardy folk.

Haught Cabin
The cabin is staged inside as if only one person lived there, not eight. Did hammocks hang from the walls?

When the nearby spring dried up, they took apart their little cabin and moved it to Little Green Valley where they settled next. Years later, Henry and Sarah’s daughter continued the family tradition by living in the log cabin with her husband Henry Garrels and their 5 sons. When Larry Hammon acquired the property in 1999, he contacted the Rim Country Museum to see if they were interested in relocating the structure. Again, the cabin was dismantled and then rebuilt where it now stands next to the museum.

Restaurants

While in Payson, one must eat, so we tried out a few local restaurants. We stopped in for lunch at Miss Fitz 260 Café. I had a cheeseburger with potato salad (with bacon, yum), and Jon chose chicken fried steak. We both enjoyed our meals with Arnold Palmers.

We felt privileged that Duza’s Kitchen had room for us at lunch. The comments about Mensur Duzic, the owner and executive chef, and her restaurant in Phoenix were glowing, and previous customers promised a drive to Payson for her food. The turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich on Asiago bread was delicious.

Duza’s Kitchen
Mensur Duzic is the woman on the left

Fargo’s Steakhouse was the perfect setting for celebrating the one-year anniversary of my surgery and Jon’s pain-free back and recovery from Bell’s Palsy. The menu offered so many choices that they are sure to please everyone’s palate. We enjoyed good food, great service, and best of all, spending our special day together.

Fargo’s Steakhouse has much more than steak

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for next week’s post when we venture outside the city limits.

Safe Travels

Respite in Gila Bend, Arizona

Peace and quiet and wide-open spaces are what we needed after the big city sights and sounds of San Diego. Although temperatures approached 100 degrees, Gila Bend KOA seemed like the perfect spot to get away from the ants that invaded our coach and the roar of the freeway outside our bedroom window.

The Ranch House at Gila Bend KOA

We checked in at Gila Bend KOA on October 3, 2019, for a three-night stay. This RV park has been our go-to campground whenever we pass through the Sonoran Desert. Each year we arrive anxious to see what improvements the owner Scott Swanson has made since the previous year. A major street resurfacing project was underway when we arrived, closing off the main road. Our escort led the way along an alternate route to our site. This was the best site we have ever had at this campground.

Our campsite at Gila Bend KOA

A new gate at the entrance prevents people from entering that do not belong. Unless I missed it during our last visit, the Solitary Confinement shelter was a great addition for folks who want to enjoy a little solitude.

Step right in for your solitary confinement

Chairs have been placed inside the two cubicle-like spaces with a view of the usually dry creek lined with palo verde trees. Don’t even think about talking while cocooned in solitary,  it’s not allowed. And pets and loved ones must stay at home.

View from the Solitary Confinement

Patio and fireplace behind the Ranch House

Although Gila Bend boasts a Dollar General, Family Dollar, and a Carniceria, for shopping we prefer to drive to Buckeye for our groceries. The Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace had everything we needed under one roof.

The Butcher & The Farmer Marketplace in Buckeye has everything you need

We took Old US 80 to Buckeye, a scenic route that winds through farmland, around lava flows, and past The Co-op Grill.

They went thataway

Operating farms and dairies and smaller ranchettes also lined the road. Dotted here and there were a few properties that appeared abandoned.

Acres of cotton fields
A cotton blossom

The highlight of the drive is the Historic Gillespie Dam Bridge and Interpretive Plaza. Unfortunately, someone had removed the interpretive part of the plaza leaving only the sign supports. Never fear, Wikipedia to the rescue to fill in the details of the artifact’s history.

The interpretive Plaza lacked information signs

The concrete gravity dam on the Gila River was constructed during the 1920s for irrigation purposes. In 1927, the steel truss bridge opened to traffic and incorporated into the highway system as Route 80.

View of Gillespie Bridge

It carried US 80 traffic until 1956 when the bridge was decommissioned. On May 5, 1981, the bridge earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge across waters

It carried US 80 traffic until 1956 when the bridge was decommissioned. On May 5, 1981, the bridge earned its spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The ramp to the overlook

Following extreme rainfall in 1993, a portion of the dam failed, remnants of which can be seen from the road.

Gillespie Dam

Driving through Buckeye we noticed the school looked like it had been recently renovated. Across the street stood a two- and three-story brick building that housed the city offices and chamber of commerce. It all seemed too fancy for such a small town until I learned the population approached 69,000 people, about 10 times what I thought, and was the fastest-growing town in the US during 2017.

Buckeye city offices
An homage to the cotton industry
Garden behind the city offices

Before we left Gila Bend for cooler climes in Payson, Arizona, we drove east on Interstate 8 to see if any progress had been made at Big Horn Station since our visit in February 2018. Our post, dated March 3, 2018, titled Gila Bend and Ajo, Arizona,  here provides more detail of the historic property.

Not much improvement happening at Big Horn Station

Refreshed from our respite in Gila Bend, it was time to move on. Payson, here we come. But before we go, here is a sunset photo.

Can there ever be too many sunsets?

Safe Travels

Late Spring 2019 Tour

Week One – Kickoff

Aah! It feels good to be back on the road exploring these great United States. Between heart surgery and recovery for me, and sciatic nerve pain for Jon, we were ready to roll.

We pointed at the landscape that zoomed by as we left the Bay Area. “Look over there,” I said. “The hills were still green in the Tri-Valley. At the Altamont Pass they turned the color of a teddy bear.” Further on, the fruit and nut trees along Interstate 5 had already leafed out, and newly planted crops painted the San Joaquin Valley floor in patchwork fashion.

We stopped for the night at our favorite way station in Bakersfield, the Orange Grove RV Park. Dove calls, the chip-chip-chip of quail, and the trilling and singing of other birds welcomed us to the grove. Sure, we have birds in the Bay Area, but the abundance of birds nestled in the orange trees was like a chorus.

Orange Grove RV Park in Bakersfield, California

Guests are allowed to pick the fruit when in season so long as they don’t use ladders or climb in the trees.

It seems like we are seeing more and more solar panels in use where ever we go.

Solar Panels at Orange Grove RV Park

The next day, we continued oohing and aahing over the landscape. The sage, bristlebush, creosote, Joshua trees, and grasses colored the desert terrain green. Even yellow mustard still bloomed in the higher elevations.

A train of black tankers with double engines at the head, mid-train, and rear worked its way through Tehachapi pass. We wanted to know what the tankers held, where they were going, and where they began their journey. Our curiosity and taste for adventure returned quickly after the nine-month absence.

Lake Havasu City (LHC) came next so we could say hey to my sister Merri. Unfortunately, she had to work so we didn’t get to spend much time together during our three nights there. A breakfast meet-up at The Red Onion downtown and a quick goodbye at her place of business would have to suffice. We’ll have to make sure our next visit coincides with her days off.

A mural in downtown Lake Havasu City

One day while in LHC, Jon and I walked along the channel south of the London Bridge.

Lake Havasu City is home to replica famous lighthouses from across the United States. This one is of Currituck Beach Lighthouse constructed along the channel walkway.
The channel is a great place to boat and people watch
These little blackbirds are a common sight
JT taking a rest with the London Bridge in the background

We stopped in at Kokomo. A refreshing Mai Tai and a slice or two of pizza was the perfect snack.

Kokomo is not only a place to get drinks. You can play corn hole, drop a basketball in a trash barrel or jump in the pool for a game of volleyball.

Then we wandered about before making our way back to Rotary Park. It was a good thing the walkway included plenty of benches to sit and take a break in the shade. After almost a week of very little sciatica, Jon had trouble walking without pain for more than a few yards. We discussed turning back home, but he would not hear of it so we pressed on.

Love locks at the top of London Bridge
Trees are a welcome sight in 100-degree weather in Lake Havasu City
Closer view of the London Bridge

The weather forecast for May 19 predicted a high wind advisory for the state of Arizona and rain the next day in Cortez, Colorado, where we had reservations. We decided to skedaddle and called Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA for early arrival.

But before we left LHC, we stopped in to say goodbye to my Merri.

Bye, Merri. It was great to see you. Miss you already.

We made an overnight stay in Tuba City, Arizona, at the Quality Inn and RV park, and a quick stop at Four Corners Monument the next day.

Four Corners Monument
Photo op at Four Corners Monument

Then we arrived safe and sound at the KOA.

Site 46 at Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA
A bit of yard art at the KOA
View from the Cortez high school parking lot

Our decision to arrive early turned out perfect. Snuggled in our fifth wheel on Monday, May 20, we gazed out at RVers arriving, not in the rain as forecast, but in the snow. The freak storm surprised the park operators as much as it did us. Accuweather.com sure got it wrong. It wasn’t until late in the day the app actually acknowledged that snow had fallen.

Three little cabins sitting in the snow
A bit of green among all the white

The snow stopped after about four hours. I zipped up my jacket, pulled on my knit cap, and slung my new Sony A6500 around my neck. I needed some quality time with my new camera. The smaller form factor and weight was my goal for purchasing new gear. A bonus was the 5-axis in camera stabilization. I wasn’t sure I’d like going mirrorless. But so far I’m quite pleased with the lighter weight and stabilization. I rarely use a tripod and have noticed an improvement in the sharpness of my photos. Editing the raw images also seems easier and quicker.

Canon Rebel T3i with Tamron 16 to 300 zoom lens versus the Sony A6500 with 18 to 135 lens. Which would you rather carry around?
Ice on a branch
The snow melted fast once it quit falling
Little yellow wagon in the snow
Playground at Denny Park
Denny Lake with campsites in background
From 90 degrees in Lake Havasu to 30 degrees in Cortez, Colorado

For the past few days, we’ve stayed close to camp because of the weather, but also because of the return of Jon’s sciatica. The week before we left on this trip, Jon’s pain had eased considerably with physical therapy and exercises. After being on the road for a few days, the beast struck again. His walks of a 1/2 mile to a mile have reduced to a few steps. Will acupuncture give him some relief? “I’m ready to try anything at this point,” Jon answered.

Stay tuned for the results and a little bit about Mesa Verde National Park, if we’re lucky.

Safe Travels

From Tucson, Arizona, to Anaheim, California

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, we left New Mexico behind and began our trek back to California to meet up with family at Disneyland. First, the fifth wheel and truck needed a good bath after 52 days on the road, so we stopped in at Rincon West RV Resort in Tucson for four nights. Mid to late March seems to be a great time to travel in southern Arizona. The weather was great and the resort had plenty of sites available, unlike what we found in February the previous year.

Tucson, Arizona

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Tucson always feels like home. We need to spend more time there.
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Can’t beat the Tucson sunsets.

After our cleaning day, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to an RV show at the convention center and an early dinner downtown. At the RV show, we took a good look at motorhomes to compare to our rig. We didn’t see anything that would make us switch at this time. The thought of having to deal with maintenance on a motorhome plus a vehicle towed behind put the kibosh on a new rig. On the other hand, the walk around town and an early dinner was a hit.

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The chili pepper design is appropriate for a bus stop in Tucson.
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The Rialto Theater, named after Ponte de Rialto in Venice. I grew up in Rialto, California, where the town’s logo includes an image of the bridge.

Obon Sushi Bar Ramen served up a Salmon Poke and Tonkotsu Ramen that matched our taste and left us wanting more even though we were full. In between lunch and dinner is our favorite time to grab a meal at a restaurant because they usually are not too busy. With only a few customers, our server checked on us frequently to make sure our food tasted good and we had everything we needed. We topped off our meal with a scoop of the most flavorful green tea ice cream I ever tasted.

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Obon Sushi Bar Ramen

The next day’s forecast called for 80-degree weather and high winds in the afternoon, so we got up early for a hike on the Douglas Spring Trail that leads into the Saguaro Wilderness Area. Parking is limited so it’s a good idea to arrive early.

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As we walked up to the trailhead, we heard a coyote howl behind us. Then another coyote responded. I love it when nature comes out and lets us experience their lives. Several hikes ranging from .2 to 12.4 miles are accessible from the trailhead.

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Carillo Trail

We opted for the 1.5-mile Carrillo Trail cut-off and then returned thinking the strong winds would begin roaring through the canyons by early afternoon. We found a well maintained, easy to moderate trail with no signs of litter, which was remarkable given the number of hikers we met along the way.

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The trail starts out as a botanical garden of sorts with several specimens of the cactus such as this blooming ocotillo and saguaro.

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Blooming Ocotillo and Saguaro Against the Sky.
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Teddy-Bear Cholla
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View from Carrillo Trail
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Barrel Cactus
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The damaged saguaro lives on.

The trailhead is at the end of a road near the entrance to the Tanque Verde Ranch. Our curiosity about the ranch led us down the road to see what there was to see. Turns out Tanque Verde is a dude ranch/spa type place that goes for an all-inclusive $409 per night. At this price three meals per day and access to all of the activities are included. Only want to stay the night and eat breakfast in the morning? The price is $149.

Since finding a site in Tucson was easy peasy, we risked fast-forwarding the rest of our way to Anaheim without reservations. After a quick stop in Yuma at Carefree RV Resort, a night at Banning KOA, and a night in the Inland Empire on the street in front of Jon’s brother’s house, we arrived in Anaheim on Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

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Yuma also puts on a good sunset show.

Anaheim, California, and Disneyland

Anaheim RV Park was the perfect place to stay while exploring Disneyland. Not only are the sites spacious with concrete patios, the hibiscus, dwarf citrus, and cell towers disguised as palm trees were a pleasant change of pace from the desert scenery of City of Rocks, Tucson, and Yuma. Best of all a shuttle bus ran between Disneyland and the RV Park every 20 minutes for a small fee.

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Anaheim RV Park has wide sites and plenty of greenery.

When grandchildren have special moments in their lives, Papa and Nana must do what they can to be there. So it was when our granddaughter Maya’s middle school band and honor guard was invited to parade down Disney’s Main Street.

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My lovely family from the left: Jon, Laura, Jackson, and Chris. Maya was with her school group. We’ll get a glimpse of her later.

Jon thinks The Happiest Place on Earth is the most Frustrating Place on Earth because of the long lines and overcrowded conditions, so spending two days there wasn’t his idea of a good time.

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The Tiki Room is always fun.

During this trip, however, our daughter Laura served as our personal Disney guide, scheduling the rides to avoid the long lines and planning where to go for our meals.

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Disney is hard at work on the Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opening in 2019.

With the Disneyland App in hand, she had all the information she needed to make our visit as painless as possible.

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The Swiss Family Treehouse is now Tarzan’s home.
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Tarzan Treehouse
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Submarine ride and Matterhorn
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Tom Sawyer’s Island is still the best place for kids to get their wiggles out.
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This was the first time I saw this ship moving in the water.
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We paid extra for a spot on the concrete to see the Fantasmic Show. It was worth it.
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The Silvey’s waiting for the Peter Pan ride.

And here comes the band and color guard.

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Wells Middle School on Parade Route
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Maya in the middle.
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Wells Middle School parents and fans cheer the kids on.
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Jon’s favorite attraction at Disneyland is Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, no line and a quiet cool place to rest. The fire truck looks like a fun ride, too.
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Stop in at the Emporium for gifts.
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Jon attended the flag retreat, which honors current and veteran military personnel.

We all had a great two days at Disneyland. Even though Jon said he had a good time, I’m sure he’ll say no the next time the opportunity arises.

Four more days in Anaheim. Hmm, what will we do?

Safe Travels