Rose’s Visit in October of 2013

November 1st, 2013

Arizona

Casa Grande

October of 2013

I flew home for a fast visit with my family and to see my rheumatologist.  I enjoyed having my grandson Abel all to myself for a whole day.

Abel and Grandma K.C.

Abel and Grandma K.C.

When it was time to fly home, my good friend Rose joined me in the flight and came to visit for a couple of weeks.  We enjoyed our flight which had a stop in Salt Lake City.  We flew directly over the Great Salt Lake.

The Great Salt Lake

We had the Casita Travel Trailer set up on the site next to ours, so Rose had her own little home during her visit.  While she was here, we made a trip up to Mesa for pizza at the Organ Stop.  The Organ Stop is the home of the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.
The Wurlitzer organ that is now at Organ Stop was built for the Denver Theater and was installed there in 1927.  It was used regularly until the early 1930’s.  A fire in the auditorium caused extensive damage to the organ’s relay.

In the theater in Denver, the organ had 15 ranks, or sets of pipes. After its purchase in 1975, the instrument was totally rebuilt for use in the pizza parlor. The decision was made to enlarge the organ to 23 ranks for the opening of the new Mesa Organ Stop.

In 1984, the owner decided to retire.  He sold the Organ Stop to his manager and a longtime employee.  The new owners made improving the pipe organ a high priority.  Over time as more organs came on the market, the owners purchased rare pipework and percussions resulting in what is now the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. 

In 1995, a new and larger building was constructed specifically to accommodate the expanding scope and size of the Organ Stop Wurlitzer.  The ongoing goal is to continue efforts to make additions and improvements to the organ, endeavoring to fine tune the instrument closer and closer to perfection.

 

The Wurlitzer Pipe Organ at Organ Stop Pizza

The Wurlitzer Pipe Organ at Organ Stop Pizza

On another day during Rose’s visit, we made the trip out to the Casa Grande National Monument.

Casa Grande Ruins

Casa Grande Ruins

Since I have posted information on the Casa Grande Ruins several times, I’ll just remind our readers that the ruins were built by the ancient Hohokum People sometime around 1100 to 1200 A.D.  Casa Grande translates to “Big House.”

Rose and Bob at Casa Grande National Monument

Rose and Bob at Casa Grande National Monument

Rose at Casa Grande National Monument

Rose at Casa Grande National Monument

Another day, we took a drive up to North Mountain Park.

Admiring the cactus

Admiring the cactus

There are dozens of geocaches hidden in this park.  At one place, we stopped to show Rose a picturesque tree where, on several occasions, I have searched in vain to find a geocache.

The geocache tree

The geocache tree

Rose walked up to the tree and immediately found the cache.   For some reason she wasn’t amused when I said, “Watch out for scorpions!”

Easily found by Rose

North Mountain Park has lovely desert scenery. 

A lovely view

North Mountain Park

North Mountain Park

Rose, that’s not the kind of barrel that you want to sit on.

Rose at North Mountain Park

We also enjoyed dinner out at Tom’s BBQ.

Loading the scooter

Tom's BBQ

Tom’s BBQ

During Rose’s visit, Bob had to spend a couple of days in the hospital having pacemaker surgery.  Rose was kind enough to take care of Patty for us while we were away from the motorhome. Too soon, it was time for Rose to leave. 

Goodbye Rose.  See you next year!

Goodbye Rose. See you next year!

 We thoroughly enjoyed her visit and look forward to seeing her again next year.

 

 

Trip to Washington State Via Monument Valley

August 1st, 2013

Arizona

Casa Grande, Arizona to Lyle, Washington

July 2013

Casa Grande, Arizona to Lyle, Washington

We left Casa Grande on July 14, 2013 driving north to our Thousand Trails RV Resort in Verde Valley, Arizona.  We spent a few days there just relaxing and enjoying being on the road again.

 

Entering our Thousand Trails Park in Verde Valley, Arizona

Entering our Thousand Trails Park in Verde Valley, Arizona

 

Camping at Verde Valley

Camping at Verde Valley

 

Verde Valley Thousand Trails

Verde Valley Thousand Trails

 

On July 17, we drove north on I 17 through Flagstaff, Arizona.  We headed east on I 40 for a few miles, and then turned north onto Arizona Highway 89.  We took a right onto Arizona Highway 160 and stopped for the night in Tuba City.

Tuba City, Arizona

Tuba City, Arizona

The next day, we continue north on Highway 160 to Gouldings at Monument Valley where we camped for several days.

 

Our campsite at Gouldings

Our campsite at Gouldings

 

Camping at Gouldings

Camping at Gouldings

 

 The story of the Gouldings is quite interesting.

Monument Valley is well-known to most U.S. residents primarily because of the efforts of Harry and Mike (his wife) Goulding.  The Gouldings arrived in Monument Valley in the 1920’s and set up a trading post (the original trading post is now a museum).  At the trading post, Harry and Mike traded with the Navajo Indians.  During the depression, the Gouldings and the Navajos were suffering greatly.  Harry and Mike came up with the idea of presenting Monument Valley as a picturesque place to film movies.  With their last few dollars, they traveled to Hollywood and met with Director John Ford showing him pictures of the Valley and convincing him to use Monument Valley as a backdrop in his western films.  John Ford gave the Gouldings a down payment so that they could go back to their trading post and arrange living facilities for his actors and crew.

The Goulding's house (upstairs) and trading post (downstairs)

The Goulding’s house (upstairs) and trading post (downstairs)

The Gouldings of Monument Valley

The Gouldings of Monument Valley

The first movie filmed in Monument Valley was “Stagecoach.”  Many of the Navajo had bit parts in the movies, and several of John Wayne’s movies were filmed there including “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” which actually used the trading post as the soldiers’ quarters.  Over time, the Gouldings expanded the services there.  Today there is the museum, an art gallery, a motel, a restaurant, a grocery store, a gas station and an RV resort. Every night, free John Wayne movies are shown in the Birdcage Theater.  Because of the Gouldings efforts, they and the Navajos survived the depression and Monument Valley became a tourist destination.

Not far from Gouldings is the Navajo Tribal Center which houses a motel, a gift shop, a museum honoring the Navajo talkers of the WWII, and is the starting point for tours of Monument Valley.

We stayed at Gouldings for three nights.  The first evening, I explored Gouldings.  The second day, Bob and I drove over to explore the Navajo Tribal Center. On the third day, I took a four-hour narrated tour of Monument Valley.  It was a fun few days.

Leaving on tour

 

Hill behind our campground and the moon

Hill behind our campground and the moon

 

Enjoying my tour of Monument Valley

Enjoying my tour of Monument Valley

 

A cowboy in Monument Valley

A cowboy in Monument Valley

 

An awesome view of Monument Valley

An awesome view of Monument Valley

 

A lovely tree in Monument Valley

A lovely tree in Monument Valley

 

We left Monument Valley on Saturday and drove through Mexican Hat on Highway 163. We then headed north on Highway 191 traveling through Monticello and Moab, Utah up to I 70.  We drove west a few miles on I 70 and stopped at a very nice KOA in Green River, Utah. 

On Sunday we left Green River and turned north on Utah Highway 6 headed for Salt Lake City.  After merging onto I15 south of Salt Lake City, we soon realized that it would be stop and go traffic for hours unless we could find a way around the city.  We turned west off of I 15 at Lehi, and took Utah Highway 73 west to Highway 36.  Then we headed north to I 80.  By going this way, we missed Salt Lake City, drove across scenic back country and drove right along the banks of the Great Salt Lake. 

After hitting I 80 and heading west, we drove smack through the middle of the Great Salt Plains and right past Bonneville Salt Flats.  So cool!

We stayed on I 80 to Wells, Nevada where we turned north on Nevada Highway 93 and drove to Jackpot, Nevada.  We parked at the RV Park at Cactus Petes and spent two nights.  Bob rested and I gambled.

We left Jackpot and drove north into Idaho on Idaho Highway 93 to Twin Falls.  There we connected up with I 84 and drove west to Farewell Bend State Park just on the Idaho/Oregon border.  The next day, we drove on into Lyle, Washington where we spent a few days at Horsethief Lake State Park before heading on up to Glenwood for our family reunion.

It was a fun trip home.

 

A Visit from our Sister

May 26th, 2013

Arizona

Verde Valley and Casa Grande

May 24 through May 26, 2013

Our sister, AnnaMarie, flew in for a whirlwind visit over Memorial Day Weekend.  She flew in on Friday on Allegiant Airways landing at Phoenix Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. This airport is much smaller and less busy than Phoenix International.   I picked her up at the airport at about 8 p.m., and we drove  to a motel located just north of the city.  After a dinner of food and laughter at Denny’s, we headed for bed knowing that we would be getting an early start the next morning.

On Saturday, we were up and on our way to tour Montezuma Castle in the Verde Valley of Arizona.

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Montezuma Castle was built by the Sinagua People who lived in the area from about 1100 to about 1450 AD.   It is located above Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley of Arizona.   The Sinagua built the Castle out of fieldstones that are held together with a mortar of mud and clay.  A fieldstone is a rock that has not been worked or that has been worked only to the extent that it is broken off from a larger piece.  The Sinagua also used logs as support beams and covered the entire structure with three or four inches or mud and clay. 

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The name “Montezuma Castle” was coined erroneously by early white settlers who mistakenly believed that the ruins were associated with the Aztec ruler, Montezuma.  Actually, the Castle was deserted before Montezuma was even born.  President Theodore Roosevelt declared Montezuma Castle a national monument in 1906. 

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The dwellers reached the Castle via a series of ladders that were placed from level to level.  Until the 1950’s, tourists were allowed to climb up to the Castle.  It was closed to visitation due to damage and vandalism, but the sight from down below is awesome in itself.

There were also dwellings built off to the side of the Castle, and below it in the valley floor.

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The remnants of a dwelling on the valley floor

The remnants of a dwelling on the valley floor

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek

After wandering through the visitor center, we headed on down the road to Montezuma’s Well which is located about eleven miles from Montezuma Castle.

Montezuma’s Well is a sinkhole caused by the collapse of an underground limestone cavern filled with water.  More than a million gallons of water a day flow continuously through the well which measures 368 feet across and 55 feet deep.  It is fed by underground springs.  The well empties into Beaver Creek. 

AnnaMarie on the trail to Montezuma's Well.

AnnaMarie on the trail to Montezuma’s Well.

Montezuma's Well

Montezuma’s Well

The Sinagua People built dwellings just under the lip of the well and all around its banks.  They diverted some of the water flowing from the well into miles of canals used to irrigate crops.  Some of these canals are still in use today.

Dwellings just under the lip of the Well.

Dwellings just under the lip of the Well.

We also enjoyed seeing the trees and shrubs alongside the trail.

A picturesque tree

A picturesque tree

AnnaMarie and K.C. at Montezuma's Well

AnnaMarie and K.C. at Montezuma’s Well

More dwellings on the other side of the Well

More dwellings on the other side of the Well

We decided to take the trail that leads down to the level of the water.

AnnaMarie heading down the trail

AnnaMarie heading down the trail

There were many rocks and boulders showing the artistry of nature.

Nature's artistic nature

Nature’s artistic nature

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The People also built dwellings down at the water level.

A dwelling at the level of the water

A dwelling at the level of the water

We appreciated the shade down by the Well.

Ahhhh, shade

Ahhhh, shade

Some ruins show that there were dwellings in the surrounding areas too.

Ruins

Ruins

We walked along the canyon wall to see the canal that the Sinagua had built to divert water from the well to their fields.

Part of the ancient canal

Part of the ancient canal

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As we left the area, we passed the ruins of a different kind of dwelling – called a pit house.  The holes you see are where the tree limbs were sunk into the mud to support the roof and walls.

Remains of a pit house

Remains of a pit house

This is a section of the old canal system that is no longer in use.

Ancient canal

Ancient canal

After seeing Montezuma Castle and Montezuma’s Well, it was only about noon.  We decided we had time to go to Tuzigoot.  Tuzigoot is an ancient pueblo or village that was built on a 120-foot-high ridge in about 1000 AD.   Built by the Sinagua People, Tuzigoot resembles a castle or fort.  It is topped with a two-story watchtower.  Tuzigoot had 77 ground floor rooms and very few doors.  Entry was by ladders through the roof. 

AnnaMarie at Tuzigoot

AnnaMarie at Tuzigoot

A pueblo of many stories and rooms

A pueblo of many stories and rooms

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AnnaMarie walked way down there….I didn’t.  I, of course, needed to stay above to take pictures.

Look for AnnaMarie waving from way down at the bottom.

Look for AnnaMarie waving from way down at the bottom.

Holy smokes.  She's way to hell and gone now (as our Dad would have said).

Holy smokes. She’s way to hell and gone now (as our Dad would have said).

It's a long walk back up.

It’s a long walk back up.

What?!  After making that climb, I have to grind corn too?

What?! After making that climb, I have to grind corn too?

We enjoyed our visit to Tuzigoot.  As we prepared to leave, we learned that the freeway home was blocked due to a truck accident.  We decided to take a drive north through Sedona which turned out to be a rather bad idea.  Given that it was Memorial Day Weekend, Sedona was wall-to-wall traffic.  It took us about an hour just to drive through town and there was no place to park within K.C.’s walking distances.  We drove on through and took the wrong road out of Sedona.  We ended up driving north along Oak Canyon and emerged onto I17 at Flagstaff.  From there, we hightailed it south on I17, arriving at home in Casa Grande at about 8:30 p.m.

Sunday morning, we were up and on our way to see the Casa Grande Ruins.  Since I have posted information on the Casa Grande Ruins several times, I’ll just remind our readers that the ruins were built by the ancient Hohokum People sometime around 1100 to 1200 A.D.  Casa Grande translates to “Big House.”

AnnaMarie at Casa Grande Ruins

AnnaMarie at Casa Grande Ruins

Bob was able to come along on this trip.

Bob was able to come along on this trip.

K.C. and AnnaMarie at Casa Grande Ruins

K.C. and AnnaMarie at Casa Grande Ruins

The Casa Grande Ruins

The Casa Grande Ruins with Bob in the picture

We saw the great horned owl up in the rafters again.

We saw the great horned owl up in the rafters again.

There were many other dwellins and a ball court located in this area also.

There were many other dwellins and a ball court located in this area also.

After spending the morning at the Casa Grande Ruins, AnnaMarie and I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in the pool.

On Monday, I drove AnnaMarie back to Mesa to the airport.  She enjoyed an uneventful flight home.  I really enjoyed her visit.  Saguaro cacti-asses will always remind me of AnnaMarie’s visit.

AnnaMarie tiptoes through the cactus

AnnaMarie tiptoes through the cactus

AnnaMarie tries to blend into the environment

AnnaMarie tries to blend into the environment

It was so fun to have my sister here.  I hope she’ll come back soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bloomin’ Desert

April 15th, 2013

Arizona

Casa Grande

April 15, 2013

First and foremost, happy birthday to my grandson, Abel who turns three today.

I just took a walk around our RV Resort to photograph plants in bloom.

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The colors are beautiful in the bloomin’ desert. 

 

 

 

A Road Trip Along a Historic Trail

April 3rd, 2013

Arizona

Casa Grande to Gila Bend and back

April 3, 2013

Today Bob and I decided to go for a scenic drive and “blow the cobwebs out,” as my mother used to say.  After loading Patty and plenty of water into the pickup, we drove west on Arizona Highway 238, also known as Cowtown Road.  We gassed up in Maricopa.  Following our map, we left Maricopa on old Highway 238.  It now deadends.  We retraced our route and found our way out of Maricopa on new Highway 238. We were then headed west towards Gila Bend through the Sonoran Desert National Monument and the Maricopa Mountains. 

Sonoran Desert Scenery

Sonoran Desert Scenery

 

Maricopa Mountains

Maricopa Mountains

One fun sight to see was an old saguaro cactus with a huge hole in it.  We could see that there was an owl roosting in the hole and watching us drive by.  Unfortunately, it was not a place where I could pull off and take a picture.

Sonoran Desert National Monument

Sonoran Desert National Monument

At about midway between Maricopa and Gila Bend, we crossed a historical trail that has been the route of many peoples. 

Trail Post

Trail Post

In ancient times, this trail was used by the Anasazi, Hohokum, Zuni and other native Americans to travel through the mountain passes between Albuquerque and the Colorado River crossing at Yuma.

 

The historic Trail

The historic Trail

 

Looking north along the old Trail.

Looking north along the old Trail.

In the years between 1830 and 1848, it was part of a pack trail known as the Old Spanish Trail. Later it was a section of the Gila Trail which was the route that General Stephen Watts Kearny and his Army of the West used between El Paso and Yuma Crossing – where they took possession of all the lands along their way. This same route was later used by pioneers traveling to California who were seeking the southern-most route.  The Mormon Battalion followed this trail on their long infantry march (see my previous post about Picacho Peak State Park for more information on the Mormon Battalion).

The Butterfield Stage Company used the route to carry mail and passengers from the east to southern California.  The Butterfield route was established in 1858 by John Butterfield and his partners (one of whom was William G. Fargo).  They determined the exact stage coach route, improved the pack trail into a stage coach road, and established way stations where a passenger could wash and buy a decent meal.

When fully operational, Butterfield had about eight hundred employees and used about a thousand horses, seven hundred mules, and over two hundred stagecoaches and spring wagons. A full size stagecoach could seat nine passengers inside and as many as could pile on top.  The stages bounced along at about five miles an hour.

Nowadays, the Union Pacific Railroad and Arizona State Highway 385 closely follow this historical route. The authenticated section of the route that is north of Highway 385 is closed to motorized traffic at this time.  Drivers of off-road vehicles have caused damage within the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The old Trail is closed as park officials try to restore the land to its original condition.

To see a really interesting, informative, and interactive map of these and other routes, go to http://southern-trails.org/trailmap.html .

K.C. at the old Trail.

K.C. at the old Trail.

Arizona Highway 385 meets I 8 at Gila Bend.  We jumped onto I 8 and headed back east toward Casa Grande. 

Looking east on I 8.

Looking east on I 8.

Looking towards the east on I 8 at Gila Bend.

Looking towards the east on I 8 at Gila Bend.

We exited the freeway and took a back road through Stanfield.  I thought Stanfield was an old ghost town that I had read about in a  book I purchased recently.  Whoops, it was Stanton, not Stanfield.  Stanfield is a small, but busy town with many bustling businesses.  Oh well, it was an interesting side trip and we noticed a small cafe in town.  We’ll be going back to try it out. 

We drove into Casa Grande and had a grand lunch at Sonic.  Then it was home in time for an afternoon nap. All-in-all, it has been a fun day. 

 

 

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