Rounding out January with Some More Adventure


The problem with getting some blogging done these last two weeks hasn’t been lack of adventure, but finding the time to write about them. Our weekdays are always busy with ukulele, pickleball, bocce ball and just socializing with our neighbours and friends. We’ve had two adventures during the last two weekends, which produced lots of pictures.

The first adventure started with a last minute decision to take a drive up Superstition Mountain, a place I’ve written about many times before. Our plan was just to go as far as Tortilla Flat for some lunch and to listen to the band. But, after enjoying a huge hamburger at the outdoor grill and tapping our feet to the great music, we opted to continue driving to Roosevelt Dam, a distance of only about thirty miles. It was a fairly warm and sunny day, so of course the top was down on the convertible.

The last time that we’d travelled that part of the “highway” was the first year we were in Arizona and our neighbour had loaned us her car (we only had our bike here that year) so that we could take Jim’s daughter, Karen, sightseeing when she visited in March. We’d forgotten that after only a few miles past Tortilla Flat the paved road suddenly ended, tossing us into a mixture of hard ruts, gravel and sand. Or maybe we had hoped that the newly widened and paved section to Tortilla Flat had been extended beyond there. Anyway, there isn’t too much traffic on it at that point, but the vehicles we met were mostly 4x4s, and none were open convertibles. We got some amused looks.

We chose the paved highway to the left and made our way back to the city before darkness engulfed us.

Hope you enjoyed the ride! Watch for our next adventure, coming soon.

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Tour Guiding Around Mesa and Area, Arizona


We have been busy since arriving at our winter home, but mostly with things inside the park. On Friday, after the unexpected evening arrival of our friends Jane and Lloyd, from back home, that changed. They are taking a “long way round” trip this year on their way to their winter home in Florida. Because of some cold, windy weather in Winslow Arizona they decided to come further south before turning toward California. We were so glad to see them, and happy to offer them a tour of some of the things that we find amazing in the area.

After some catching up and warming up in the hot tub on Friday night, and a good night’s sleep, we took off to one of our favourite breakfast spots that we hadn’t yet been to this year – What the Hell Bar and Grill, and then we journeyed to Tortilla Flat on Superstition Mountain. Jane is as much of a camera buff as I am, so it was a slow climb, taking time to snap pictures. They were very much in awe of the mountain scenery along the way, and then the unique décor and lunch in the restaurant.

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Customer donated paper currency from around the world covers the walls and ceilings.

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Tortilla Flat gets its name from this rock formation that resembles a stack of tortillas

We were too full to indulge in the prickly pear ice cream, but we enjoyed a little “gunfight” outside the school house. While we waited for the show to begin, the actors made small talk with us, establishing that we were all Canadian. Before the fight began, two of the actors asked for a Canadian volunteer.  Lloyd, being the good sport that he is, allowed himself to be drawn inside the rope, where he was immediately hand-cuffed and led to the hanging tree!

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When the noose was around his neck, the Sheriff appeared and asked what was going on.

“We’re going to hang this guy!” his captors exclaimed.

“I’m innocent,” cried Lloyd.

“He says he’s innocent,” replied the Sheriff.

“But he’s Canadian! So we’re still going to hang him!

At the Sheriff’s command, they let him go and got on with the show. The air filled with gun smoke after the shootout between a few former bank robbers and the Sheriff.

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Of course, on the way back down the mountain we had to let Jane and Lloyd experience Goldfield Mine Ghost Town, a place I’ve written about before. We arrived just time to catch the last more elaborate gunfight of the day there. Lloyd wasn’t recruited this time. It was a great photo op though.

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Sunday morning we were out for breakfast again, at another favourite Sunday morning breakfast place, Midwestern Meats, before starting out on new adventure. We drove out through Miami and Globe towards the other side of Superstition Mountain. Our destination was Tonto International Monument, a heritage site of cliff dwellings.

We took a wrong turn and got ourselves onto a narrow trail meant for four-wheelers, not a Sebring convertible! But Jim got us turned around without dropping over the edge and we found some more scenes worth shooting.

A few years ago we took Jim’s daughter Karen to the cliff dwellings and we hiked up to the upper dwellings. This time we did the lower ones, which was just right for us, since I’m still recovering from my hip surgery and Lloyd has a bad knee. This trail was paved all the way.

The weather was perfect, although I found it a little too cold and windy sitting in the back seat with the top down on the convertible. By the next morning my allergies were acting up.

We took the Bush Highway back into the city, and we were excited to finally discover some of the wild horses that had eluded us last year!

When we got back to Mesa I suggested The Organ Stop Pizza for dinner for Jane and Lloyd’s final adventure before they had to be on their way the next day. I’ve written about this before too, but it is always just as amazing. The food is very good, but the entertainment is spectacular. Music played by the very talented Mr.  Charlie Balogh, on the huge Wurlitzer organ, kept everyone bobbing and clapping and turning our heads to watch all of the various instruments on the walls and ceiling jump into action at the appropriate times. Again, Jane became so excited she could hardly eat her dinner. It was so much fun to see them enjoy themselves.

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We hope that we have provided some good memories of their trip, and wish them safe travels.

Tonto National Monument Cliff Dwellings


It’s snowing here today, in Ontario, Canada – not the usual weather for this time of year. It’s a perfect day for doing some mind travel, back to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

Jim, Karen and I set off in the morning for our final adventure of the season. Our primary destination was to climb to the cliff dwellings in Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountains. It was already noon when we reached the entrance to Monument Park where the caves were located. Unfortunately we hadn’t packed a lunch. We had expected to find a restaurant or at least a snack bar somewhere close by, but there was nothing. The small visitors centre offered only a few types of energy bars at $4.00 a piece and a water fountain. Outside there was a vending machine that provided only pop.

There are two areas of cliff dwellings – the Lower is a half mile hike away, the Upper a mile and a half hike up the mountain. It was the Upper Cliff Dwelling that we wanted to see. Knowing that we would find it difficult to make the climb without some food in our stomachs, we purchased some bars, Jim and Karen got pop and I refilled my water bottle at the fountain before heading to the trail. There is usually a $3.00 fee (good for seven days) requested for the tours and reservations are needed. But, since this day was National Heritage Day, there was a free open house, and self-guided tours were permitted to both the Upper and Lower Dwellings.

At the base of the trail a few native American artisans displayed their craft and demonstrated dance and costumes; some birds and other wildlife were on display.

Native Dance

Native Dance

Young Grey Horned Owl

Elf Owl

Red tailed Hawk

Red tailed Hawk

The day was comfortably warm and breezy. The terrain was rugged. We took our time, stopping often to photograph or just catch our breath. The dwelling looked a very long ways up; however, switchbacks made the climb relatively easy even for those of us who aren’t accustomed to frequent climbing.

Hikers at Tonto Monument

Other hikers up above us

Part way up we were warned by the Park Ranger that it would get very windy the higher we climbed. We made use of the ties on our Tilley hats, and sometimes thought that if the wind had been blowing in the opposite direction, it might have swept us over the edge of the cliff.

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Karen and Jim enduring the wind

It was all worth the effort though.

The views became more and more awesome as we climbed.

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View of the Valley

Views of the Valley from part way up

The soft melody of a flute could be heard in the distance.

In just over an hour we reached the remains of the 40-room Upper Cliff Dwelling. Situated in the northeastern part of the Sonoran Desert, these well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. There are many theories as to why the Salado people began building here. Protection from the elements is one possibility as the cave is dry even during the worst weather, and receives the full benefit of the morning sun in winter and cooling shade in summer.

We spent a half hour wandering through the eight accessible rooms. Some reinforcement restorations have taken place to allow public visits to continue, but a Park Ranger was there to insure that no one sat or walked on the ancient and now delicate walls. The source of the flute music turned out to be a young native playing softly in the highest of rooms. A feeling of amazement and peace encompassed us as we stood there on the side of the cliff.

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Looking out through a "window"

Looking out through a “window”

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Cliff Dwellings

Upper Level Cliff Dwellings

The hike down was a little quicker than going up. Upon our descent we got back into the car and continued on around the mountains. We stopped to look at Roosevelt Dam.

 

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Roosevelt Dam

Roosevelt Dam

About Roosevelt DamOnce past the dam, the road narrowed, twisted and the pavement disappeared.We held our breath as we hung on the side of cliffs on the now very rough road, and we sighed with relief when we reached pavement once more.

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Rough and Windy Road

We enjoyed dinner at Tortilla Flat, and indulged in one last Prickly Pear ice cream cone before winding our way back down to Mesa and home.

Tortilla Flat

Karen in front of the wall of money

 

A View of Superstition Mountains from the Back of the Boulevard


After ukulele lessons, lunch at the Cactus Grill, and a visit to Verizon to purchase some more internet data, we decided it was time for a ride on the motorcycle. We did part of the trip up the Apache Trail, in the Superstition Mountains, that we’d done in December on the Jeep Tour. It was a different perspective from the back of the Boulevard and before long I was busily snapping pictures. Sometimes they turn out; sometimes they don’t. But that’s the beauty of the digital age.

The road is a popular one for motorcyclists, with all of its twists and turns.

Bikers' Twists and Turns

Bikers’ Twists and Turns

One lane bridge around the bend

One lane bridge around the bend

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Being late in the afternoon, it was a perfect time for capturing the scenic mountains and lakes.

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Apache Trail Vistas

IMG_3345 IMG_3368 IMG_3395 IMG_3402 IMG_3403We made a stop in Tortilla Flat for another taste of Prickly Pear Ice Cream.

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Tortilla Flat in the Valley. Great Prickly Pear Ice Cream found there.

IMG_3424 IMG_3428By the time we were heading back down, the sun was setting, dusting the rocks with gold, before becoming a blazing red aura around the peaks.

Sunset on the Apache Trail

Sunset on the Apache Trail

IMG_3441 IMG_3460 IMG_3471Another glorious day in Paradise.