Sunday, January 29, 2017

Arizona - Casa Grande and Willcox

Casa Grande
December 27, 2016 we moved to Casa Grande, AZ which is about 45-minutes south of Phoenix. 
Christmas Tree?
We stayed at the Sun Scape RV Park. This is a very large "snow-bird" destination with over 500 sites. 
Many of the sites are personally owned and have small homes on them. Our site was back-in with full hook ups. We were able to store our tow-dolly on site and have room to park. The sites are a little wider than normal and very level. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $26.25 a night with a combination of Passport America and Good Sam discounts.
The park is very well maintained and offers tons of activities. There are dinners, breakfasts, card nights, dances, happy hours and more. They have a wonderful activities building with a library, computer and craft room, fitness room and billiards. The laundry room was very clean. 

 There is a large field just outside the park for dog walking and running off lead.  

When you dropped off trash or recycling you were greeted by this guy who lives next door, think he was looking for a hand out. 

The Casa Grande Ruins were just a few minutes away. They are the namesake of the town. When early Spanish explorers discovered it in the late 1600's they named it Casa Grande which means "Great House". It is the largest known structure of the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert. It is four stories high and 60-feet long. The walls face the four cardinal points of the compass. A circular hole in the upper west wall aligns with the setting sun and moon at specific times. The Ancestral People who lived here were hunter-gathers, farmers and traders. They built an extensive canal system to irrigate their fields, many of the same paths are used today. Casa Grande was the nations first archaeological reserve, designated as such in 1892. The steel and concrete canopy that helps to protect the ruins was built in 1932. The buildings were made of caliche, a desert soil that is rich in calcium carbonate. 
It was mixed with water in shallow pits to form a stiff concrete-like material. The walls were formed by hand. You can see horizontal lines in the walls that show the thickness of each layer of caliche that was laid down and then left to dry before the next layer was put down. 

Replica of what they believe
the tower looked like

The complex was quite large with a number of buildings and an outer wall surrounding it. 

A number of birds and small critters have made this their home.

No one knows what name the people who lived here called themselves. Archaeologists use the term Hohokam to label the culture that flourished here from 1,500 years ago to 550 years ago. Six tribes in the Southwest today still have histories that link them to the people who once lived here. For them this is a very sacred place and ceremonies are held here through out the year. 

We went to Apache Junction to visit with Suzie Loos who we met while hiking the Blue Mesa Trail in the Petrified Forest back in October. She has traveled through-out the states starting in Alaska and is spending the winter months in Arizona. We had a great time catching up and sharing stories. The views of Suspicion Mountain weren't bad either. 

On the drive back home we went through Florence, AZ so of course had to get pictures and the beautiful court house was a bonus. Florence was Nancy's moms name. 

The best part of our stay here was we got to spend time with Chuck and Gina, Nancy's nephew and his wife from Phoenix. They came down and spent a night at the Franciso Grande Hotel and Resort. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Duke's, named after John Wayne who was a frequent guest and had a penthouse suite. We sat for hours talking and laughing. The next day Nancy left Les home to finish his chores and she met Chuck and Gina at the Old Town Ale House where they shared some great craft beer and then we stuffed our faces at the Macayo's Mexican Restaurant. There was a couple across from us celebrating a birthday and they asked Chuck to take a picture of them. 

It was a true Chuck moment, he had them do different poses and then proceeded to show her how to email the pictures to family. The best part was when he paid for their meal, the poor lady was speechless and her husband, the birthday boy, just chuckled at her and said "well, I've never seen that happen before." 

It was so great spending some time with them and even better that there wasn't anything going on which is usually why we are together.

New Years Eve Day, December 31, 2016 we traveled to Willcox, AZ. We stayed at the Fort Willcox RV Park

We stayed here back in February 2016 as well. The park is under new ownership now so we did not get our waffles for breakfast or the yummy pies that the previous owner made. The park itself hasn't changed much, although they have big plans for improvements. Sites are pull through, gravel and level. The park is quiet with only occasional road noise. The view out our front window was very nice. 
New Year's Eve was a bust for us, Nancy was losing her battle with a cold and was in bed before 10 pm - didn't even make the east coast ball drop.

We spent a whole day exploring the Chiricahua MountainsWe drove to the tiny town of Portal which has a general store and cafe, and then came back across the mountains. 

The Visitor Center and entrance to the mountains is in Portal. 
Sign outside the Visitor Center
 don't see that everyday

The guy at the center told us the road would be a washboard in places and have some holes and rocks to maneuver around. 

Mielikki was not happy to be on the floor between Nancy's 
legs but it kept her from trying to get out the window

He didn't tell us about the running water, fallen trees, narrow one lane sections or the cows.

This trip is not for the faint of heart and there were a few times Nancy thought she would faint! 

But, the views were so amazing it was worth every breathless moment. 
Every twist and every turn gave us something different to see. Some areas we could see a long distance into the valley. Others we could hardly see past the road. 
Our car looks so small surround by the mountains

We even saw snow! Yep, and parts of the road were a little on the slushy side. This may have been one of the moments Nancy thought she might faint. 

There were so many different types of trees and as always the tree roots amazed us. Such determination to keep growing.

The road ends just at the entrance to the Chiricahua Monument National Park. The last time we were here the road was closed so we were glad we could get to the Massai Point. Absolutely spectacular.
As you walk down the Massai Point Nature Trail you only get a glimpse of what is waiting for you in the clearing of trees. It looks like a huge city of skyscrapers laid out before you. 
Then when you think you have seen it all you turn the corner and a whole mountain side of cathedrals greets you. 
The road to and from the point is just as amazing. The rock formations are just crazy. There is so much to take in that you have to stop along the way and just stare. 


We always see objects and faces in the rocks and it seems other people do too. This one is called the Sea Captain.

The picture in the center is called The Pipe Organ The vegetation runs from ponderosa pines and Douglas firs to cactus, depending on the elevation, which the highest is 9,763-feet. This is another place we strongly suggest going to.


If Old West History is your thing, then you will also want to go to Tombstone. This is our second time visiting here. This time we left the dog home and explored all of the stores and had lunch. As we were wandering around, one of the "gunfighters" crossed the street in front of us to get to his car - we found it very funny that he drives a mustang! 
The drive to and from Willcox to Tombstone was so pretty and we seemed to be in the path of migrating geese as thousands filled the skies. 

Next up is a one night stop in Las Cruses, NM and then on to Texas.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ A place for pictures and other fun things.
There is almost nothing in the kitchen area that is metal so using magnets is not an option for displaying family photos and such (that will be changing as Nancy got some magnetic paint - watch for that to show up in a later post).
So, we bought some cork board and cut it to fit inside the cabinet doors. Now when we open the doors we get to see family! Need some more pictures though. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Arizona - Lake Havasu City and Yuma

Lake Havasu, AZ
We traveled to Lake Havasu City, AZ on December 22, 2016. It is home to the London Bridge. Yes, the one of Nursery Rhyme fame. 
We stayed at the Campbell Cove RV Park. It's on the smaller side and some of the sites have a view of the river. The sites are all gravel and level. Ours was a pull through with full hook ups and about average width. They have WiFi but it costs extra so we used our Verizon JetPack. We paid $23.27 a night with our Passport America discount.  

1/3 scale replica of  Cape Hatteras
 in Buxton, NC

The Lake Havasu State Park is just a block away and this time of year pretty empty. One of the 25 lighthouses that surround Lake Havasu is at this entry point. They have more lighthouses than any other city in the country. They are 1/3 scale replicas of famous lighthouses on the East and West coasts and the Great Lakes.  It made for a beautiful morning walking place. Mielikki made a few interesting discoveries, there are some big fish in this lake.
So how did the London Bridge end up in Arizona in 1968 the Common Council of the City of London put the bridge on the market as it needed to be replaced. 
The construction of the bridge was completed in 1831 and as time passed the bridge began sinking at the rate of an inch every eight years. By 1924 the east side of the bridge was 3-4 inches lower than the west side.
Jump forward to April 18, 1968 when Robert P. McCulloch, founder of Lake Havasu City, made the winning bid of $2,460,000 for the bridge. Each block was painstakingly numbered before the bridge was disassembled and a blue print was created. They were then shipped through the Panama Canal to California and then trucked to Arizona. The reconstructed bridge was dedicated on October 10, 1971. The total cost for relocation and assembly was $5.1 million. 
You can drive across the bridge which is lit up at different holidays. It is rumored that the bridge is haunted, people have claimed to see a British police bobby patrolling the bridge and a woman in black roaming the bridge at night. 
The bridge is home to hundreds of bats that inhabit the nooks and crannies of its hollow interior. The river is home to many birds and ducks. The black bird with the white beak is actually not a duck, it is an American Coot and related to the Heron family. Nancy may or may not have seen an eagle, it took off to fast to tell.

We came to see the bridge while we were staying in Needles, CA but saved sharing the information until this stay. Under the bridge is a walkway along the marina where there are a number of small shops and restaurants and a Visitor Center. 

As you can see on the map thousands have visited
You enter the area through a large iron gate and a walkway lined with flags and posts with dragons sitting on them. A fountain with large lions greets you. 

Santa forgot his suit

On that first visit we met artists John and Roxanne Buonauro. John had his beautiful wood carvings on display. You can see his work at his Etsy shop. We had a wonderful chat with them, and discovered we have a great deal in common. They are not full-time RVer's but they do go out for months at a time. It was fun sharing stories with them and exchanging ideas. When John noticed our Safety Pins he got very excited to know that we were also politically aligned. We had hoped to meet up with them on this stop but Roxanne had knee surgery the day after we arrived, so hopefully down the road we will meet again. 

Christmas Eve day, December 24, 2016 is when we traveled to Yuma, AZ

It was a rainy and foggy drive. We drove along the edge of the storm most of the way. When it rains in the desert there is going to be some flooding, we crossed water over the road a number of times. 
We stayed at the Southern Mesa RV Park, about 20 minutes south of town. Being Christmas Eve the office was closed but the maintenance guy helped us find a spot. It was a little tricky as some of the sites have the hook ups on the wrong side. 

The entire park is gravel and the sites are very level. They are back in sites and a little wider than normal. The park is well maintained and very quite. WiFi was good and Verizon siganl was strong. There is a large field to let the dog run off lead. We paid $26.00 a night with our Passport America discount. 

We had are usual Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas Day breakfast and we spent the day doing our traditional movie marathon. 
When you cook with beer it can confuse your
husband when he gets up and a
bottle of beer is next to your coffee cup!
We were up and out early for a 9:10 showing of Fantastic Beasts and
Where to Find Them, we really liked it. Then we had 10 minutes before the showing of Rouge One, which we loved. The rest of the day was spent just hanging out and enjoyed beef stew - made with beer - for dinner.

Once again we found ourselves on a bumpy road, this time we saw a large weather balloon on the ground which later was floating in the sky. 

The Castle Dome Mine Museum and Ghost Town was really very interesting. There are over 50 silent weather-beaten buildings waiting to be explored. As you wander in and out of them you get to see a bit of what life was like here in 1878 when this was a thriving mining town bigger than Yuma is today. We spent the better part of the day here exploring everything. 
We even got a Christmas present! A box of tea was the surprise under the festive wrapping.

Barber Shop

Most of the displays had mannequins - some of them were a little creepy. When the family behind us were paying to get in the lady asked if their kids had a fear of mannequins. The parents said no - but we are wondering if they do now!
Adam's Cabin

Castle Dome City boasted that they had "5 Bars within a mile". The miners of course requested them and when cattle was brought in to the town the cowboys enjoyed them as well. Of course there were more than few "ladies of the night". 
Outside of Carmelitta's Cantina, was a gun fight. The guy sitting at the table is Juan Llego and his girlfriend is standing behind him. Juan was one of the miners in town. At the door is a stranger in town who started flirting with Juan's girl. Of course Juan got mad - a duel was challenged and Juan laid dead in the street. There was a rumor that the guy was a hired hit-man as Juan was known to sell booze and guns to the Indians, which cut into other peoples business. 

There may have been 5-bars but only one church and not that many pews either. 

There is a small cemetery, Juan's was one of the first graves. There is also a memorial to all of the miners that died.

There were all kinds of random things. Lots of old rusty tools and equipment, which of course Nancy loves. There was a display of glass that had all turned purple including a door knob. We learned that the natural color of glass is green, well we knew that part. 

People wanted it clear, so until 1918 magnesium was put in the glass to make it clear. Over time the magnesium would turn the glass purple - that part we didn't know. Later on selenium was add to make the glass clear, but over time it turned it to a yellowish color. 

There was a small section of a mine shaft that you could walk through, Les barely could stand up straight. The large bucket is called an ore bucket and was used to drop the minors down into the shafts. 

There were two small shacks that you could leave your mark in. One was filled with thousands of business cards - we of course left ours and the other was for military people to leave their name, current, retired or veteran. 

The local jail wasn't very big but the door looked secure. Santa was caught misbehaving so he had to have a little time out. 

The mannequins weren't the only creepy thing in town - these little 
clown heads might win the prize for most creepy. Not even sure what they were used for.

For such a desolate area is sure is pretty. 

Martha's Garden Date Farm and the Peanut Patch were two yummy stops. We had lunch at Martha's and enjoyed a delicious date shake - "World's Best" is their claim. Never had tasted one before and this one was very good so can't argue with them. 

The Peanut Patch has peanuts in every flavor you can think of along with all kinds of other nuts and treats. You can pick up local art or a number of other gifts here as well.
Next up is Casa Grande and Willcox, AZ

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and thing we have learned along the way. 
~ Storage and organizing
You would think after almost two years on the road we would have everything organized. Well, it seems to be an ongoing process for us. 
All of the boxes of kitchen wrap and foil used to lay flat on one of our shelves, which was such a waste of the little space we have. While perusing Good Will one day we came across a large storage container without a lid and knew we had found a new home for all the boxes of kitchen wrap, for a mere .99. They stand up straight, won't fall out and it fits perfectly under the kitchen sink now. Don't worry the empty spot we created is all ready filled!