Sunday, April 23, 2017

Other Prescott roamings

Since we were so close we visited Jerome. Jerome was a mining town in the 1800’s, and has survived as an artist community and tourist attraction since the 50’s. We had been here before, but we wanted to see if it had changed. More shops and more restaurants now dot the twisty, turny streets.

Brenda, our GPS, suggested we take an unpaved road back across the Black Hills, and she estimated it would take about the same amount of time as driving US Highway 89A. So we decided to give it a go. Bad call! She kept taking us to roads that were gated shut and locked. We drove around in ranch land for an hour and never got any closer to our campgrounds. Finally we spotted a Yavapai County Sheriff who helped us figure out how to get out of our dilemma.
Then our right front tire gave us a warning of low pressure – under 15 pounds. On examination, we could see a screw head sticking out of the tread. We got extremely lucky. By cracking out our 12V bike tire pump we put enough air into it to get us to a Big O Tire shop. We pulled in and they had one bay open, so they pulled it right in. In less than half an hour they plugged the hole, and told us there would be no charge! We thanked them and left, and in the meantime, a handful of folk had come in, and were being told it might be a couple hours before they could get to them. Man were we lucky!

Check out this really proud pup!
We hiked the trail at Thumb Butte. Nestled in the Prescott National Forest it is just a short hop from the center of town.
The hike was a nice nearly 3 mile loop that climbs to the tree line on Thumb Butte. The views of Prescott and the expensive homes in the woods were spectacular. This was well worth the visit.
We also biked the Peavine Trail, an abandoned rail bed that connected Prescott with Phoenix back in the mining days. The abandoned bed runs right past Watson Lake and the Point of Rocks formation that are so interesting. It’s a great bike ride through some gorgeous scenery.
We are on our way back to Vegas for a few weeks. I will sign off until we head out on our way back north for the summer.
Talk to you soon!

Friday, April 21, 2017

More National Monuments

Today we hit the 3 distinct campuses of Montezuma Castle National Monument, designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, and Tuzigoot National Monument, designated by distant relative Franklin in 1939.
Both monuments display ruins from what generally is referred to as the Sinaguan Culture dating from between 1.100 and 1,300 AD. Montezuma’s Castle is a mammoth 5 story cliff dwelling nestled along the Beaver Creek. Archeologists believe the Sinagua farmed the area, using the Beaver Creek as their primary water source.
Not far from the Castle is Montezuma Well. Cliff dwelling ruins also circle this body of water which is a rare geological formation. A deep sinkhole formed above a spring, and the spring water filled the sink hole with many thousand gallons of fresh water. Each day about 10% of the water is replaced – the amount that seeps out making new for the fresh. As a result, this made an ideal location for the ancients.
The water that seeped out of Montezuma’s Well was not wasted either. The Sinagua built irrigation ditches that channeled the escaping water to their fields. The 1,600-year-old ditches still remain in many places, one of which is the base of Montezuma’s Well.
Tuzigoot is not a cliff dwelling. Much like Anasazi ruins we have seen in New Mexico, Tuzigoot is an above ground pueblo community built on top of a hill (for defensive reasons) not far from the Tuzigoot River (for needed water).
Most of the remains were actually reconstructed by well-meaning archeologists in the 1930’s. I say well-meaning in that what they did was take stone and reconstruct what they imagined the structures likely looked like. Today, the National Park Service leaves such historical ruins in a state of arrested decay in order not to inadvertently change the sites into something that they might not have been. Luckily, some of the original walls still exist at Tuzigoot.
Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


It’s not pronounced like you think. Think of what you might get in an envelope if you attended the White House Correspondent Dinner. You might get a “Press Kit”. That is how its pronounce by the locals. No long “O” in this here word. We strolled the main downtown historic district with all its old, interesting buildings, all holding either art boutiques or bars. The bars date back to the late 1800’s when this block of Montezuma was known as Whiskey Row.
We visited Agua Fria National Monument. On January 12, 2000, President Clinton declared the 71,000 acre 40 miles North of Phoenix and placed it under management of the BLM.  As a Monument managed by the BLM there are essentially no visitor infrastructure.
There are no paved roads in the monument. It appears that those most interested in the site are ATV owners, and there were plenty of them around. Still, the terrain was pleasing and the views very compelling. We were glad we visited.
We found a map of the Monument and learned we were only about 10 miles from an archeological site. Even on dirt roads, 10 miles can be managed. However, the road conditions require a higher clearance vehicle than the Equinox, and on a couple of occasions, we parked and walked.
We managed to find Pueblo la Plata, the archeological site near the Agua Fria River. While there was not a great deal of signage or interpretive information, there were pottery shards up the ying yang. While not exactly sure of the age of the ruins we were observing, the ample supply of pottery shards held our interest, and made the visit a winner.
Talk to you soon!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Evertything breaks!

At 10 years old, everything in a motorhome starts to break. However, I can’t blame this one on that. The space heater in the back closet fell into the door, and when the Woman opened the bedroom slide, the rear closet door that had been pushed open a bit shattered. I assumed a replacement would be needed, if that could even be found.
I managed to glue the frame of the door, but the backing to the glass had been stapled to the door originally. There was not enough wood in the frame to allow me to attempt to re-staple the backing. So, I found some clear Gorilla Tape, and with a few very small brads, and an ample amount of this Gorilla Tape, I think I was able to make a workable fix.
The sunshade on the driver’s side won’t retract. A hunk of rope tied to the back of the shade and wrapped around a cabinet door handle at least lets me see out the windshield enough to drive.
The remote control for the DVD players only works now and then. I can tell you it is almost impossible to navigate through today’s DVD’s without the remote. There are limited controls on the face of the DVD player, but they don’t allow you to access the needed advance features.
And now the Woman tells me that the toilet will not flush without some manual intervention. Not sure I will be able to tackle that one!
Talk to you soon!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Arizona Opry

Back in the early 1900’s, the patriarchs of the Barleen family were well known barn dance fiddlers in Kansas. They mastered their skills, and in the mid-1970’s, the family moved to the Missouri Ozarks and opened the Barleen Family Country Music Dinner Show. They ran the venue seasonally, performing throughout the summer season.

In the winter, the family would routinely winter in Arizona. They took the opportunity to visit RV Resorts and Retirement Parks, performing shows similar to those they held in their venue back in the Ozarks. The shows were met with such enthusiasm and welcome that in 1987, the family opened their winter venue in Apache Junction. This is the venue we visited and thoroughly enjoyed.

There are currently 22 Barleen family members still involved in the shows. In addition, the family has added substantial talent to their already deep talent base. We were regaled with a tasty meal and over a two-hour show. Next time we find ourselves in the area in the winter, we will have no qualms in taking in this show again.

Talk to you soon!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hierosglyph Trail

We headed back to the Superstition Mountains and Wilderness Area and found an absolute gem.

Departing the Lost Mine Trailhead in Gold Canyon, the Hieroglyph Trail heads 3 miles up into the foothills of the Superstitions. The Tonto National Forest surrounds the Superstitions, but there is nary a deciduous tree in sight. However, the Saguaro and Palo Verde are thick and the view awesome.

We hiked up to where the waterfall would be after a storm. There was plenty of water in the pool at the top of the falls, and again the views were simply divine.

Where the waterfall should be, the hieroglyphs were also thick. From the setting, you can see why folk gathered here centuries ago and left this evidence. The images were fairly familiar, but even so, I can never see too many pieces of rock art.

In addition to the myriad hieroglyphs we discovered a number of ancient grinding bowls. We missed them on our way up, but luckily as we left the area of the waterfall we stumbled on many. Kona decided to see if he could find any ancient food stuffs in the bottom of the grinding bowls.
Kona managed to tackle his first hike of some stature. While 6 miles is only moderate, it was his first shot at anything near this length. He did manage to tackle the entirety of the trail, but there was much whining going on toward the end.

This is a very nice hike if you find yourself in the area.

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Organ Stop Pizza

We were surprised when our lunch stop turned into a spectacular history lesson. Apparently in the late 1920’s, the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company decided to expand beyond pipe organs for churches and cathedrals, with short lived success.

In 1910 in an attempt to open a new market, silent movie theaters. Since movies had no sound and only subtitles in that era, theaters would frequently hire entire orchestras to accompany the silent film. The orchestra would play a score matching the action in the film, with a frenetic frenzy when there were action scenes, somber tunes during romantic scenes, and the like.

Wurlitzer thought it could leverage its pipe organ technologies to mimic the sounds of an entire orchestra. A theater, rather than hiring an entire orchestra every day and night, could make an investment in the Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ, and only hire one musician, with essentially the same effect on movie goers. Unfortunately, it was not long before sound technology eliminated the need for theater organs, but not before thousands had been installed all over.

In 1927, a Mighty Wurlitzer was installed in the Denver Theater in Colorado. By 1930 sound had made its way into film, and the organ was no longer used. Dormant until 1975, an enthusiast bought this Mighty Wurlitzer and move it to Mesa Arizona, and opened Organ Stop Pizza, attracting groups to dine and take in concerts with this amazing instrument.

We got an up close and personal look into this phenomenon. Over the years, the owner has added pipes and instruments to where the organ now boasts about 6,000 pipes – that makes it officially the largest such pipe organ in the world! The master at the keyboard took us on a tour of all the instruments he could play from his bench, including drums, symbols, bells, an accordion, bells, etc. Seriously, he could make the sounds of woodwinds, brass or strings come out of that Mighty Wurlitzer, making it truly sound like a complete orchestra.

To leave us with one last proof of its capabilities, he decided to play a rousing rendition of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode. Everything from the famous guitar riffs to a simulation of the melodic vocal tones, accompanied by the frantic drums, made for a very compelling finale.

Talk to you soon!