Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Arizona - 2nd stop


Family weekend started on February 3, 2016. We stayed at Chuck and Gina's house during this stop. Chuck is Nancy's nephew, who happens be just six years younger than her. Our RV vacationed in the backyard of Don and Kelly's house, friends of Chuck and Gina's. It was so nice to have a safe, secure and free place to park it for a week, and only a few miles away for those trips back for all the things we forgot to grab. Once we were settled in at Chuck and Gina's the festivities started with dinner and watering holes.
The Trouble Game brought back lots of memories
from their childhood and the tournaments played at the cottage.
A favorite the first night was the Whining Pig. A great little bar with a good beer and wine selection, Nancy and Chuck had great fun trying to beat each other at games.

Twenty-four hours later our daughter Katrina and her husband Steve arrived in town. The cell phone lot at the Phoenix Airport is the best, when we arrived to wait on their flight we found a huge lighted screen showing the status of all incoming flights.

Their first full day in town was a busy one. Chuck rented a van and we all piled in for a sightseeing tour.
First up was the Mystery Castle. This place was amazing, everywhere you turn there is something cool and unexpected to see. The 18 room, 3-story castle was built by Boyce Luther Gulley in the 1930's from a wide range of materials. Stone and adobe along with salvaged auto parts, rail tracks, dishes and tile are just some of the materials that were used. Boyce was diagnosed with tuberculous and ran away from home and family in Seattle. He built the castle for his daughter Mary Lou, remembering the times they spent on the beach building sand castles and her asking him to build her a strong one that wouldn't fall down. Unfortunately MaryLou was grown when her and her mother inherited the property after Boyce passed away in 1945 before sending for them.
There is a guided tour that takes you in each room with time to explore a bit and take pictures. It was difficult to get Nancy out of there, as you will see as you continue to read she couldn't stop taking pictures.

Windows everywhere but not your normal windows.

There were also snakes in abundance - painted, stone and tile ones on the walls and floors.

Lots of random items inside and out.

The tour starts in the living room, which is filled with family trinkets, painted rocks, stuffed birds, and portraits. More than you can take in on one visit.

Then you move onto the bedroom. The headboard is carved to look like a train, which Steve thought was very cool. The sitting area is filled with large hand painted pillows and a friendly doll. We loved that there were Foxes everywhere as our daughters last name is Fox.

The kitchen was just as crazy as the two other rooms. The large windows offer a great view of Phoenix.

There is a small room that has been used to conduct wedding ceremonies. A small nook holds the organ, the guide tells a story of the organist and the fact that she lost a number of husbands under mysterious circumstances. The glass blocks around the doorway are old glass cake pans.

The dungeon or man cave was were Boyce entertained his friends. As you enter the door you are greeted by a knight and his trusty steed. This room was locked when Mary Lou and her mother arrived and Boyce's Will did not allow them to open if for two years. This was set up so that they couldn't just sell the place, Boyce wanted them to live in it and fall in love with it, and it worked.

As you enter the guest quarters you are greeted by a large priest and a very large cactus. When you step down from the sitting area the bed is tucked away under a table and it pulls out on railroad tracks. 

What was meant to be the play room is now the gift shop. Filled with odds and ends that you can purchase, and a playful pup keeps an eye on everyone.
In 1948, Life magazine did an article on Mary Lou and her castle, after the article came out so many people stopped by to see the castle, they decided to start conducting tours, this helped with the cost of maintaining the building. Mary Lou passed away in 2010, and the Mystery Castle Foundation maintains it now.

A view of Phoenix from the patio
We took a lunch break at Cooperstown, Alice Coopers restaurant in downtown Phoenix. It is filled with rock & roll memorabilia and the waitstaff all had Alice Cooper face make up on. Next was a beverage stop at Mother Bunch Brewing where we got a few beer samples. Chuck's son Rick joined in the fun.

Chuck photo bomb with
Rick and Steve
Angel's Trumpet Ale House was the last stop before heading home to recoup before the evening out. They have a nice patio area and a good beer selection, the warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream and caramel sauce was pretty tasty as well.
Steve enjoying his beer
The evening gave us our first Uber experience, a taxi like service. They picked us up at home, and dropped us off at OHSO Brewing to meet up with some of Gina's family.

4-person labyrinth - bike decor
cool lanterns and cozy chairs 
This was our favorite place of the day, huge patio area with games and the tables have a fire pit in the center of them. Great food and good beer.

This was just one day. Sherrie, Eric and Lilly arrived around midnight and the next morning we were up and out the door heading to Sedona.
Coffeepot Mountain 

It took two cars to get us all there. We headed out with Katrina and Steve ahead of everyone else so we could do some hiking. The airport trail loop was the first stop.
It is about a 4-mile hike, Katrina and Steve took off a head of us and made it much farther than we did. A nice trail that overlooks Sedona and the surrounding mountains. The views were amazing and as you can tell by the pictures we came across snow!

                                                                                                              Mielikki enjoyed playing in the snow and found the perfect spot to rest in. We made it to the overlook on the trail and enjoyed resting and taking in the beautiful red rock mountains.

After meeting up with the rest of our group, we fulfilled the wishes of Nancy's sister and spread her ashes in Sedona. As usual when Nancy's family is involved it is a comical event, but we are sure that Jeanne would have loved it and she is in her favorite place. Katrina and Steve headed off for more hiking while the rest of us enjoyed the many interesting stores in Sedona. A favorite stop was Peace Place which is owned by our friends Micheal and Laurelle.
A stop at Chilleen's on 17 for dinner was the perfect ending to the day. An interesting neighborhood bar, known for their BBQ. Super friendly staff and we made friends with the rest of the crowd before we left!

You can just see Gina peeking
over the top of the box

Super Bowl Sunday
started off with Chuck and Gina hosting brunch. Gina's family joined us and then we continued on through the football game and we had the largest pizza we have ever seen.

You never know when
it might rain

Sherrie, Eric and Lilly headed back to Louisville, really hate good-byes. We did some pictures in before they left.
Sherrie, Eric, Nancy, Rainey (Gina's granddaughter), Lilly, Steve, Katrina, Chuck, Gina, Les, Rick 

Monday morning found us all back in the van for another day of adventures. The Desert Botanical Gardens were first up. We never knew there were so many types of cactus and that they could be so beautiful. The gift shop is full of lots of trinkets and clothes and they also have a highly rated restaurant on site.

The main trail, The Discovery Loop, is in the center of the garden and has five additional loops off of it that take you through a number of different gardens.

Ones that attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. 

Others are full of small cactus ....

...and some with cactus towering over you.

There is glass and metal artwork scattered among the plants, and places to stop and rest along the way.

A lunch break at Cheeseburger and Cold Beer allowed us to see Chuck's daughter Brittany, who is a waitress there. Good food, good beer and good company what more can you ask for? How about smores at your table?

The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park sits on 40-acres in Scotsdale, AZ. It was a hoot. Steve loves trains so this was a must stop, and as an added bonus there is a carousal which is one of Nancy's favorites.

There are three renovated train cars that you can walk through that are filled with memorabilia and artifacts. The Magma Locomotive #6, built in 1907 and used by the mining railroads until it was retired in 1961. 
The Santa Fe Baggage Car, built in 1914 as a dining car and converted to a baggage car during World War II. It houses the revolving railroad exhibit.

The Roald Amundsen Pullman car is one of six built by the Pullman Palace Company, all were named after famous explorers. It cost $205,000 and was used by Presidents' Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower. President Eisenhower used this car exclusively during the whistle-stop campaign in 1952. On August 18, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister W.L. McKenzie King met and agreed to the Odgensberg Declaration, the beginning of the N.O.R.A.D. (North American Air Defense).

Not sure why, but the mannequins in these places are always super creepy looking.

You get to ride a 15" gauge train which of course takes you through a dark tunnel.

There is a 10,000 sq. foot building that houses four model railroad clubs. There are three layouts and a variety of exhibits.
They have small hand shaped buttons attached to the glass around the exhibits and when pressed different items in the layout move. It was so much fun watching all of it and seeing all of the surrounding scenery they have filled in.

We recommend being a kid every now and then, it really is great fun!

Scottsdale ended our last full day with Katrina and Steve. Some of the shops were closed as it was late in the day when we got there, but enjoyed the ones that were open and window shopping.
The wrong person is
standing on the rock
Katrina and Nancy
made a new friend
Had a quick beer at the Rusty Spur a very interesting little bar with lots of stuff on the walls to entertain you while enjoying your beverage.

Top left Nancy "painting" in the sand - right - view of Phoenix
Bottom left - Katrina and Steve were somewhere 

at the top of the hill 

Before taking Katrina and Steve to the airport we did a little hiking on North Mountain.
Leaving them at the airport was terribly sad. Saying good-bye is the hardest thing ever, but so very grateful we had the time together.

On our last day, Gina took us to Cave's Creek, while Chuck slaved away at work. It is a small historical town north of Phoenix. We found all kinds of things we couldn't live with out in the "junk" stores we explored. There is a small section called Frontier Town filled with shops that have everything western, trinkets, housewares, food, and any type of clothing you might want.
Had lunch at El Encanto's, they have a beautiful patio around a duck pond, and the bar where we sat is all done in yellow tiles. Had the best queso ever with Mochomos, a specially seasoned, crispy beef, and the margarita's weren't bad either. We drove through Spur Cross Ranch, there are hiking trails along with horse rentals, for riding the trials. Next visit we will have to explore this some more.

Nancy's favorite picture
from the weekend

Steve's sister and brother-in-law, Tina and Nigel sent us a selfie stick to help in our picture taking. Steve figured out how to use it for us and had great fun experimenting with it, and got everyone involved.
It was so nice being with family, it was a much needed family fix. That is one of the hardest parts of traveling, the long length of time before seeing anyone. Especially Katrina and Steve. In a few months we will be back together again for another visit in Michigan.

We are grateful to Chuck and Gina for hosting all of us, being all together in one place makes it so much nicer. Especially when it is such a short visit.

Next up is Fort Wilcox, AZ

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to you!

Tips and things we have learned along the way
~ Get off the beaten path. We strongly suggest that you get off the highway as much as possible. When we are out on our day trips, we take back roads whenever we can. This allows us to really see the area. You see where people live and where they shop and dine. By doing this we have found the most interesting shops, not like the tourist traps along the highway, and restaurants owned by local people not a chain. This country is filled with friendly people who love to share their stories and tell you about the area, and who love to hear about our travels. 

1 comment:

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