Tag Archive | Arizona

Arizona Getaway 2019: Endings

Day 3 & 4, Saturday & Sunday, March 16 & 17, 2019

After Mom and I left Chiracahua National Monument, we still had some hours in the day left, so why waste them in a hotel room?  I wanted to try some local wines, so we found the Arizona Wine Collective in Tucson.  It is a wine bar that features and serves an assortment of Arizona wines.

Arizona Wine Collective

I chose to taste through a flight of five and told my server what I typically like; crisp, dry whites and lighter, less oakey reds.  She explained what she would recommend based on my palate and I went with her recommendations.  I enjoyed four of the five wines she selected for me, so I feel like she did pretty well!  Sadly, I didn’t end up recording the wines I had, so I’ll just have to go back again!  I do wish they had bottles to take with you, but unfortunately, they did not.  I see an Arizona wine tour in my future.  It has been a while…

Arizona Wine Collective

The Arizona Wine Collective doesn’t serve food, but there are a couple of restaurants in the complex where they are located and you can get takeout delivered without charge.  Mom and I split a delicious order of nachos from the restaurant next door and it was more than enough for dinner for two.

The next morning it was time to head home…  We drove over to the Tucson airport and deposited our hamster car (Kia Soul) back at the rental place.  Then we sat outside for a while soaking up the Arizona sunshine before it was time to make our way through security.  I can never get enough of feeling the warm sun on my face!  Especially since as I am writing this I’m looking outside at an inch of snow, a temperature of 19 degrees and a windchill of 6, with a high temperature today of 26 degrees.  I need some warm sun!

Sculpture at the Tucson Airport

 

A Pegasus!

 

Until my next escape!

 

Arizona Getaway 2019: Chiracahua National Monument

Day 3, Saturday, March 16, 2019

The last day of our Arizona trip, Mom and I went to Chiracahua National Monument.  It is located in the Chiracahua Mountains of southeast Arizona.  We had been planning to visit the day before, because I really, really wanted to go, but it had been closed due to an unusual cold front and snow the day before.  When I found out it was scheduled to reopen the next day, I made sure we took the opportunity!  I was so excited!  However, when we got there, we learned that although the monument was technically open (The Visitor’s Center at least), the road was closed past the Visitor’s Center; basically, the scenic drive up the mountain.

Chiracahua National Monument

Chiracahua National monument is a rugged section of land, of which approximately 85% is designated as wilderness.  It protects the hoodoos and balancing rocks of a volcanic eruption 27 million years ago, when the Turkey Creek Caldera exploded and spewed white hot ash all over the area.  The ash has, over time, eroded away and created the hoodoos and rock formations that exist there today.  Chiracahua is high-elevation, ranging from 5,124 feet at the entrance station to 7,310 feet at the summit of its tallest mountain.  In addition to the volcanic eruptions, they get the effects of seasons, and a lot of erosion from the winter rain and winds.  The area was designated as a National Monument on April 18, 1924, by President Calvin Coolidge.

Chiracahua is known as the Wonderland of Rocks for its beautiful rock formations.  Apparently though, people in general are less impressed by rocks than I am, as it is one of the lesser visited monuments with annual visitation in 2018 of 60,577.

Faraway Ranch windmill

We checked out the Visitor’s Center, got my passport stamps, and did a bit of shopping.  There was a tour starting at the historic Faraway Ranch, so we headed over there to catch it.  The Faraway Ranch started as a cattle ranch in 1886, owned and operated by Neil and Emma Erickson, Swedish immigrants who met and married in the United States.  They ran the ranch as a cattle ranch from 1886 to 1917, when Neil accepted a job with the new National Park Service and had to relocate.  At that point, his oldest daughter Lillian took over the operation of the ranch and began renting it out to tourists as a guest ranch.

The house at the Faraway Ranch

The guest ranch was quite popular, and many people visited over the years; even though it was remote, you got all your meals provided, a chance to relax, and later on there was even a swimming pool!  After running the ranch for many years, Lillian died in 1977 and the family decided to sell it to the National Park Service to be added to the monument.  It was a fitting end of the ranch of the family who for so long had been a part of protecting and advocating for this beautiful area.

The home is very well preserved to its time as a guest ranch and had many artifacts belonging to the family and stretching back to the late 1880s.  It was fun seeing products and items that were used there over time.  An antique butter churn!  Vintage cleaning products!  One of the lamps in the living room was fascinating, with a beautiful hand painted shade painted by one of the women in the Erickson family.  Lillian went blind as she got older, and although she still managed the ranch with help from her staff, she did need accommodations.  One of the items on display are her Braille playing cards!

A quarter mile away, there is a rustic cabin that once belonged to a neighbor of the Erickson family.  Mom and I walked down there to check it out, despite the cold.  It would have been tough to live in such a remote area during a cold, Arizona winter.  And yes, in case you were wondering, parts of Arizona get very cold.

The cabin at the Faraway Ranch

 

Mom and me, in the cold

Interestingly, it was near here that Park Ranger Paul Fugate disappeared without a trace in 1980, so there’s a cold case for you amateur sleuths to research.  Hopefully one day they find out what happened to him, so his family can have closure.

After we visited the ranch, we ate lunch at a picnic table and got word from a park employee that the road up the mountain had reopened!  We got to drive up and see the beautiful scenery!  Chiracahua is known for its hoodoos, narrow canyons and rock formations.  Unfortunately, there was a thick layer of fog blanketing the higher elevations of the monument.  We drove to the top of the road, but our views were non-existent once we got very high.  We did get to see some gorgeous rock formations at the lower elevations though, which were still above 5,000 feet!

I still enjoyed visiting, but definitely want to return when it is warm enough to do some hiking and see the view.  I bet it is spectacular!

 

Arizona Getaway 2019: More of Tombstone

Day 2, Friday, March 15, 2019

After we checked out the OK Corral site, we still had plenty to see in Tombstone!  Mom and I had lunch at a BBQ place just off one of the main streets; Puny John’s BBQ – it was delicious!

After lunch we visited the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park to get some of the less sensationalized history of Tombstone. The Cochise County Courthouse was built in 1882, after Cochise County became its own county and needed a county seat.  The Courthouse is filled with some fantastic exhibits, a few on the Earps and the OK Corral, but mostly on the other parts of Tombstone history.

There is old mining equipment, and an antique bar from one of the local saloons from the Old West era.  There is furniture and other artifacts from late 19th century homes to show what life would have been like in Tombstone at the time.  You can see the historic courtroom too!  And then, there is the gallows.  Four men were hanged at the gallows behind the courthouse; this one is a reconstruction.  It is interesting to see it as it looked then though.

We checked out the newspaper printing office where the Tombstone Epitaph as published back in the 1880s.  It was free to visit and you could wander around and look at the old printing press that was used to run the paper.  We picked up our souvenir copy of the paper from the day in 1881 when the story of the OK Corral ran; it was complimentary with our ticket to the corral from earlier.

We also sampled some wine from the Silver Strike Winery, which sadly was a big disappointment and the service was incredibly slow.  Oh well, I guess not everything can be wonderful in life.  I did keep my souvenir tasting glass, and pull it out from time to time when I just want a small glass of wine or juice.

Silver Strike Winery

A short distance down the street we visited the Bird Cage Theatre.  The Bird Cage was opened in 1881 and was intended to be a theatre for the for the “respectable women” of Tombstone, featuring appropriate entertainment and free ladies’ nights.  Unfortunately for the respectable women of Tombstone, “appropriate” doesn’t sell so the owners soon began featuring more bawdy entertainment and gambling for the miners.

The Bird Cage was the home of the longest poker game in history.  It cost $1,000 to buy in, and then it ran for eight years, going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Players included Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, among other famous gamblers of the time.  It is estimated that $10 million dollars changed hands over those eight years, with the Bird Cage getting 10% of the winnings.  Not bad, considering that would have been on top of the drinks that the men bought!

We didn’t take the tour of the Bird Cage, but instead checked out the front room and exhibits.  Perhaps one day!

We enjoyed our day in Tombstone and were both tired by the time we wandered back to the car for the drive back to Tucson.  That evening we found a Pho restaurant for dinner and mom got to try this delicious noodle soup for the first time.  What a good day!

Pho!

Arizona Getaway 2019: Tombstone and The O.K. Corral

Day 2, Friday, March 15, 2019

Tombstone, Arizona

Our second day, we went to Tombstone.  I had long ago heard about it, had never been there and thought it would be interesting. I wanted to spend the day there!  Mom was game, as it had been a long time since she visited as well.

For those of you who are light on your Tombstone history, Tombstone is a mining town in Southern Arizona, and it is the infamous site of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  The “good” guys, the Earp brothers and their buddy Doc Holliday, got into a gunfight with the bad guys, the Clantons and McLaurys.  That’s the sanitized version anyway.  The truth is a bit tougher to pin down.  The truth is that Tombstone was a lawless place, with violence and murders occurring regularly.  It wasn’t that difficult to get appointed as a lawman there; you just had to know the right somebody.  And once you were a lawman, you could deputize your friends and family!  And that’s what Wyatt Earp did.

The Earps didn’t have spotless records.  They had some honest dealings and some shady ones, including being pimps, card dealers and horse thieves.  Several of them also either solicited prostitutes or lived with them.  Doc Holliday made his living as a gambler and sometime dentist and his girlfriend was a prostitute too.  The Clantons and McLaurys didn’t have their noses clean either.  They were suspected of stealing horses, and according to the historical record, they were probably guilty.  But their offense that day in Tombstone?  Not checking in their weapons when they came into town. Which most other men probably didn’t do either.

There had been a lot of threats back and forth for months before the shootout.  After a lot of lead up and posturing, things were ripe for a confrontation, and it happened on October 26, 1881 at the O.K. Corral.  Except it wasn’t actually at the corral; it was more a small vacant lot between two buildings, one of which was C.S. Fly’s Photography Studio.  But that doesn’t sound as good.  The shootout at the Photography Studio?

In the end, after 30 seconds of shooting among nine men, three men were dead and three were wounded.  The three dead men were Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton.  Virgil and Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday were wounded in varying degrees of severity.  The ensuing attempts at revenge continued into the next year; Morgan Earp was shot and killed in March 1882.  Did anything really get settled?

Mom and I stopped first at the historic Boothill Cemetery, where the three men who died at the O.K. Corral are buried, but there are many others there as well.  Tombstone was a rough place, and many of the markers explained that the grave’s inhabitant died at the hands of another.  Of course, others died in the usual fashion – like getting trampled by horses!  Or being pulled out of the jail and lynched.  Or opium overdoses.  Hardly anybody, it seems, lived a long life in Tombstone.

Mom and I ventured next to the O.K. Corral, where we enjoyed watching the shootout reenactment.  Admittedly, it is a bit cheesy, with the actors encouraging spectators to boo and cheer for the bad guys and the good guys.  It does help you realize that even with all the lead up, when you know it is coming and are actively trying to watch so you can see exactly what happens, 30 shots fired by six potential participants within the span of 30 seconds, with smoke and people moving, makes it difficult to figure out what truly happened.  No wonder they were never really able to figure out what went down.

We checked out the exhibits on Tombstone’s history, both before and after the O.K. Corral.  We toured C.S. Fly’s Boarding House and Photography Studio, where Doc Holliday’s girlfriend Big Nose Kate watched the gunfight unfold (gotta love history; I wonder what my nickname would be?).  Several cowboys who fled the gunfight did so through the door of Fly’s Boarding House, including Ike Clanton.

A hearse display

Be sure to check out the Historama presentation while you are at the O.K. Corral; it is dated, but still fascinating, and not just for its historical value.  How often do you see a revolving model of Tombstone, complete with a train, animals, mine shafts and other attributes of the town?  Did I mention it was narrated by Vincent Price?  Down the street you can tour the museum of Tombstone’s oldest newspaper, the Epitaph.  Your admission ticket to the O.K. Corral even gets you a free copy of a historic edition of the newspaper.

It was good to see the reenactment, but we did more on our visit that day!

 

 

Arizona Getaway, March 2019

Day 1, Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tucson, Arizona

I had few weeks in March between when I got my job offer and when I would start working.  Mom and I were still pretty shell-shocked after dad’s death and I casually mentioned that maybe it would be good to get out of town for a few days.  I found a relatively inexpensive direct flight to Tucson, and to my surprise, Mom agreed.

Mom had a few places she wanted to see, and I had a few places I wanted to see, so a weekend trip was born.  On the first day, we had an early flight, so we could make the most of our day.

Mom was interested in checking out some rock shops and bead shops, so after we arrived and got our rental car, we set off to find them.  But lunch first.  We ate at a Mexican restaurant called La Parilla a Suiza that I googled nearby the first rock shop. They say their cuisine is from the Mexico City region and it was good!  The only drawback was the air-conditioning was way too high, and it was freezing in there!

The first rock shop, called Norcross Madagascar, was one Mom had heard about in a beading group she belongs to.  They sell wholesale mostly, but also welcome retail customers.  At first we weren’t sure we were in the right place, because it certainly didn’t appear as if they did any retail traffic.  However, the ladies who showed us around the shop were so warm and friendly.  They explained the properties of various stones, and what healing properties they were known for.  Their specimens range from giant to small and they had things that fit every budget, even if you were just buying single items.  They sold carved animals, hearts, cabochons and huge specimen pieces too.  I enjoyed wandering the rooms of polished rocks and display items and found several things that came home with me.

Mom found quite a few things too, including one carnelian orb that she bought.  Carnelian is believed to help people move through feelings of depression, worry and grief.  This one did something more.  We placed it on the table several times, on different sides of the round orb, and each time it wobbled back and forth instead of simply rolling to one side like you would expect from a ball.  I have no idea what it means, but it was oddly comforting.  Maybe it was a message from Dad.

After that we went to Bead Holiday, a traditional bead shop.  I’m not into beading like my mom is, but I did get a few pairs of beads that she made into earrings for me.  I have such a sweet mom!

We checked out the historic downtown area and spent some time at Old Town Artisans.  This block of shops and a few restaurants was once the stables section of El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson, the fort constructed beginning in 1775.  It was fun wandering around in the maze of shops, filled with a combination of tourist souvenir items, antiques and items created by local craftspeople.  We shared some nachos for dinner; another delicious meal!

Our early morning flight made for an early evening after we got checked into the hotel.  It was a good first day!

 

SW National Parks Trip: On the Road…

After we left Petrified Forest National Park, we got back on the road to our next destination.  We were staying in Williams, Arizona that night but we stopped for dinner in Flagstaff along the way.  We didn’t get much of a glimpse of Flagstaff, but what we did see made us both want to visit again sometime in the future.

Our choice for dinner that evening was the Beaver Street Brewery (in keeping with Jon’s brewery cravings for the trip).  When we got out of the car, we were immediately frozen to the core by the frigid wind!  I was surprised by the huge drop in temperature from earlier in the day, only a few hours away.  We hurried into the restaurant, and were met with a lively atmosphere, but we were seated right away.

We started with an appetizer of Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce, served with slices of baguette.  It was a fantastic dish!  The mussels were juicy and the curry sauce was delicious, with just the right amount of spice.  It was a very pleasant surprise, because I’m not usually a big fan of curry spice.  Another thing that I liked was that the sauce was thick enough that you felt that you could really get a portion onto the pieces of bread that came along with dish.

Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce – YUM!

Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce – YUM!

For dinner, I ordered the Enchanted Forest pizza.  It had brie, artichokes, olive pesto, red peppers and pine nuts.  It seemed like an odd combination of ingredients, but I decided to give it a try.  It was fantastic!  It was certainly one of the most creative pizzas I have ever had.  There were so many flavors coming together, but it really worked!  I let Jon have a little bit, but I have to admit, I pretty much stuffed myself on this pizza. I paired it with a raspberry ale, called the Bramble Berry Brew, which was delicious and light bodied.

My Enchanted Forest pizza – so creative!

My Enchanted Forest pizza – so creative!

Jon had the Green Goddess Salmon salad.  It was a big piece of grilled salmon on a bed of mixed greens, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and a chiffonade of fresh basil.  It was drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.  The salad was so huge that it was heaped on the plate, almost falling off the sides.  Jon really liked his meal too, so we were three for three on great dishes!  Jon had two beers; the Lumberyard IPA and the R&R Oatmeal Stout. He liked both, but liked the IPA better.  He said they were some of his favorite beers from the whole trip.

Jon’s Green Goddess Salmon Salad – it was huge!

Jon’s Green Goddess Salmon Salad – it was huge!

If we lived in the area, I’m sure this would be a place we would come back to.

After dinner, we got back on the road for the last 30 minutes of driving to Williams, AZ. Williams is located about 50 minutes directly south of the Grand Canyon, with an easy straight drive up to the park. It also has several reasonably priced hotels. We could have stayed somewhere closer, but the prices go up and the availability goes down as you get closer to the park.  Our plan was to stay there for 2 nights, and spend the entire day in between at the Grand Canyon!

We watched carefully for elk, because we were driving at dusk, but we didn’t have any problems (we did see an elk right by the side of the road though!).  We got the car unloaded in record time because it was still so cold and windy, and checked into the Quality Inn.  Luckily, it didn’t take long to get settled into our cozy room and warmed up.

Of course, we made it an early night, because we wanted to get an early start on the Grand Canyon!  I couldn’t believe we were finally going to see it!

Have you been to Flagstaff, Arizona or the Beaver Street Brewery?  What did you think?