Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Florence, AZ

Yesterday we drove to Florence and met Dave and Gayle Ode, friends from the Brighton/South Lyon area. They have a winter home in Apache Junction and we met half way at the L&N Mexican Restaurant. We ordered our meals to go and took them across the street from the restaurant to a nice city park where Sunshine joined us for a picnic. It was nice seeing them again because it has been a long time. The day was warm and sunny and the picnic table had a roof to block the sun. After talking with them, we are pretty sure that Arizona will be the area where we will settle the Montana on a lot when we feel we can travel no more. We can either drive or fly to it in the cold weather and "weather out the snowstorms!" After lunch, we decided to look at the snow topped mountain that we had seen in the recent past and wondered about. In the west, with the tremendous high deserts, it is difficult judging distances to the surrounding mountains. We drove for over twenty miles and finally realized that this was part of the range in Tucson that includes Mt. Lemmon, where we had visited a couple of weeks ago. This is the mountain where the kids take their pickup trucks and cars up to the snow cap and bring down loads of snow, trying to get to the bottom before it all melts. This area is so vast and one can see seemingly forever here. On the way to see this mountain, we discovered a monument to Tom Mix, one of my cowboy heros. When I was a kid, we used to go to the Saturday matinees at The Strand Theater and see double features. I loved Tom Mix. He was killed in an auto crash near this monument in 1940. The monument is old but it brought back many pleasant memories to me! Carol's "Christmas Tree" cactus, Cholla, is here and looking good!. We are pleasantly surprised every day about something new and much different to us. Took the last shot of Sunshine sleeping on the couch with her head jammed into a hedge hog toy that was given to her before we left Michigan by our neighbor, who has two greys. Wanted Zoe to see that her gift is being used well!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunny's Day!

Today was Sunshine's, aka Sunny's, Day. We went to the Petsmart in Chandler, AZ, where Arizona Adopt a Greyhound, Inc. was having a Meet and Greet with their greyhounds. They bring their greys to the store and let the public get to know all about greyhound adoption, up close and personal. We look for these functions as we travel so that Sunny can relax in the company of other greys. While there, she also had her nails trimmed. She really felt pampered today and was calm and relaxed all the way home. We also like going to these functions because we can join in and help the public learn about greyhound adoption. Sunshine also likes being petted and talked about by the public. She is the star wherever she goes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Apache Trail aka Superstition Mountain Loop

Thursday we took one of the most stunning road tours we have taken to date - The Apache Trail around Superstition Mountain in Apache Junction, AZ. This is described in Frommer's Guidebooks as "Best scenic drive in Arizona" and we would not argue with that assessment at all. This is a one hundred twenty mile loop that is advertised as a two hour tour but we took over six hours and stopped only as the sun began setting. Twenty two miles are narrow, gravel switchback roads that showed us the deepest of canyons and tallest of bluffs and the array of colors was magnificent. The spring flowers are starting to come out in this high desert and mountain region and the added color to the perpetual colored rocks is stunning. We came across three canyon lakes and a huge dam. We took over 450 photos and wished for more, at times, but the time was getting shorter and darker. If you ever get in the Phoenix area, this is one "gotta see" sight that we would recommend you gotta see! From the greeting mural in Apache Springs to the many mountain, desert and canyon sights, to the former mining and now ghost towns, this is a "don't miss" area. We brought our picnic lunch as we usually do when we travel and it was not difficult finding a beautiful vista to see while "dining."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Casa Grande Ruins

Today we saw the Casa Grande Ruins. This is a National Monument located in Coolidge, AZ. This is located across the valley from Casa Grande and is surrounded, like so much of this beautiful Sonora Desert, by majestic mountains. The remains of this Great House, Casa Grande, are four stories tall and sisxy feet long. It was constructed in about 1350AD and has weathered time and weather since then very well. In the 1930s, the United States government erected a metal shield to cover the remains to protect if from the sun. Caliche (cuh-LEE-chee), is the concrete-like substance that was made from a combination of sand, clay and limestone. It took 2,000 tons to build the Great House. The caliche mud was piled in successive courses to form walls four feet thick at the base, tapering toward the top. Hundreds of juniper, pine and fir trees were carried or floated 60 miles down the Gila River to the village to form ceiling and floor supports. They were anchored in the walls. Surrounding the Great House were many foundations for single family units that were joined together like in one story apartment buildings. On the way to and from the ruins, we saw some more beautiful mountains surrounding the valley we are in. One had clouds and snow gathering around the mountaintop. We went on into the village of Florence and saw an old courthouse that in 1888, a "Vigilance Committee" stormed the sheriff's office in this building, dragged two men from their cells and hanged them in the corridor of the jail. A short time later, the same group attempted to lynch four other prisoners but this attempt was thwarted by the jailer armed the prisoners, took them upstairs and faced down the mob from the windows above the street. Interesting fellers around here, eh?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tucson to Casa Grande

Yesterday we left Desert Trails Campground in Tucson. We liked the park and area so much that it was really difficult to leave but the thought of what might be our next adventure got us leaving with a smile! We shot the cacti in the park because that was one of many great features of the park. Cacti gardens were throughout the park. Even had some of Carol's Christmas Tree cacti, really called Cholla (pronounced choya'). The barrel cactus even leaned to the south for us and has the yellow fruits growing on the top. The prickly pears are getting buds on the tops leading us to believe that they will be flowering soon. The highway through Tucson has tan crushed rock alongside the road with cacti planted in spots where one might think flowers and trees would be if he is from the north like we are. The art work on the walls is very good and interesting. As we headed north, we ran into more green - the trees and even farmers' fields. Contrasting the green with the mountains in the background is interesting, to say the least. Finally, we showed the sun just before sunset through our picture window in the campground in Casa Grande. We were on our way out the door so did not wait for the sunset but will get that soon, I'm sure.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last day in Tucson

Yesterday was our last full day in Tucson. As we drove into town to do some shopping, we were reminded that there was an air show going on at the Air Force Base. We first saw the jet trails and went on to Camping World, where we had some shopping to do. From the CW parking lot, we saw the ending of the air show. Too bad we didn't go shopping earlier - some of the flights must have been spectacular, with the snowcapped mountains in the background. From there we visited with an old high school friend whom I have not seen since graduation in 1958, Larry Havenga. Larry has lived here for 25 years now and says he doesn't miss the snow and ice of Michigan. His home is at the base of the Tucson Mountains, a vast difference from "back home!" This visit was a nice capper for a great month in the Tucson area. This entire area has moved into our number one spot for favorite location so far. We both really like it. How can one go wrong with beautiful mountains, high desert, great metro area, excellent winter climate and friendly people? We definitely will return. Today we move on to Casa Grande, south of Phoenix, for two more weeks of mountains and high desert and great metro area. That is the area of Sheriff Joe, one of my Law Enforcement heroes! From there, we will be moving on up into the mountains and the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and who knows what else? (although I did see that the lows have been in the teens in the Grand Canyon - brrrrr!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saguaro National Forest

Yesterday, we saw rain that did not reach the ground and dust devils. Neither lasted very long but both are phenomenon that we see in this part of the country that we do not see elsewhere. Today we went to Saguaro National Forest, not for from our campground. This is the first time that I have ever been in a forest without trees, just tall Saguaro cacti surrounded by other types of cacti. Even had a jack rabbit scurry in front of us. Those bunnies are big! Not like our cottontails. The Saguaro cacti were throughout this area up rocky mountain sides and in valleys. We have been looking for the "perfect" Saguaro cactus for some time, now. The ones seen in pictures and old westerns have a torso and two even arms pointing up and most here have either multiple arms or no arms, just a torso. We finally found a couple, though. I just love the mountain views we see from the high desert valleys. It is almost impossible to estimate how far away the mountains are when looking across the desert.