Up The Lehmann's Sφk

Arizona
Arizona Texas Indiana Norway Austria Paris

 

 

 

 

Pε svenska

 

In January 2005 we went to the States for 3 months. Myra sent a running travelogue back to our Svalφv chapter of SPF (The Swedish Assoc. for Senior Citizens) for publishing on their homepage. Here is a translation of the detailed description of our activities. 

Here is a presentation of American retirement life as a snowbird. What is a snowbird?

bulletAccording to Webster's New World Dictionary slang  -- "a northern tourist who vacations in the South during the winter".

 

Travelogue

  1. Arrival in Tucson

  2. Activities

  3. Old Tucson

  4. Tucson & Nogales

  5. Train Museum & U of A

  6. Desert Museum & Tanque Verde

  7. Biosphere 2

  8. Last week in Tucson

  9. Phoenix - Wickenburg

  10. Quick Visit to Las Vegas

  11. Sedona

  12. Grand Canyon

  13. Jerome & Verde Canyon

 

 

#1 - Arrival in Tucson 

On January 1 we checked into our new "home" for the month, Rincon Country West RV Resort (RCW). Myra's brother George and his wife Sandy were here last year, so we joined them here this year. There are more than 1000 spaces for RV's in the park. RCW is a gated community. Everyone is very friendly and most everyone wears specially-made name tags, so that you know both the name of the person you're talking to as well as where they come from.

People come in RV's and some tow cars behind. Others, like us, stay in so-called "park models", which are comparable to one-bedroom fully-furnished apartments.

Our winter hideaway:

1-bedroom, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen.
Living room.

We also have cable TV, phone, wireless internet, as well as access to lots of activities, pool, jacuzzis, pool hall, etc.
Bedroom
That isn't our car parked outside the reception area.

Rent for the whole month (including access to all the facilities) is $1,600. Heated swimming pool, 3 outdoor jacuzzis, 3 laundry rooms, as well as 3 gyms. Coffee is always on in the coffee room and a great place to go if you want to sit and chat. There is even a library and a post office where everyone has their own mailbox. There is also a sewing room with a number of sewing machines available, game rooms, ping pong tables, tennis courts, shuffleboard etc. There is a large auditorium where parties are held, bingo once a week as well as other activities. We go there for a stretching class every weekday.

Pool with snow-covered mountains in background.

As an example of the many activities available, here's the program for Mondays:

bullet7:00    
TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly)
bullet7:15-7:45 
Stretching (M-F)
bullet7:45-8:45
Aerobics (M-Th)
bullet8:30  
Tennis (M-Th)
bullet8:45         
Shuffleboard
bullet9:00-17:00   
Ceramic Art (M & Tue)
bullet9:00-12:00    
Villageaires (choir)
bullet9:00            
Bike Club goes biking
bullet10:00            
Horseshoes 
bullet10:00-11:00    
Swimming (M-F)
bullet10:00-11:30    
Blood Pressure Clinic -- free blood pressure check
bullet10:00-12:00    
Square Dance Plus
bullet11:00-12:00    
Water Aerobics (M-F)
bullet12:00-13:50    
Dance Lessons - Waltz
bullet12:39-16:00    
Wood Carving
bullet13:00               
Cactus Quilters 
bullet13:00-16:00    
Easy Bridge 
bullet14:00-16:00    
Square Dance - advanced
bullet16:00-17:30    
Dancing Lessons - Ballroom
bullet18:00-21:00    
Cards and Games
bullet18:30               
Sewing Workshop -- Painting on T-shirts
bullet18:30-21:30    
Euchre 
bullet19:00-21:00    
Genealogical Research
bullet19:00               
Dancing Lessons - Round Dance Workshop
bullet19:00               
Square Dance - Beginners
 

Most of these activities are free, except for materials. There are many other activities as well, such as bingo once a week, pancake breakfasts twice a month, wine tasting twice a month, ladies' lunch at a select location, variety shows on Friday evenings -- and that's not all! Anyone who gets bored here, doesn't stick their nose out the door. 

Bingo in the auditorium

There are quite a few clubs in the park and the short-term residents are also welcome. Do you really think we want to leave here on Feb 1?  Forget it!

This morning it was just +1C, but sunshine and +15C is predicted. In fact, the sun is already shining, so I don't have time to sit here and write any longer.

I'll get back when I have more to tell about. 

Greetings,

Louie & Myra 

              

To the top

 

#2 - Activities

As I mentioned, there are loads of activities here. There's also a coffee room where you can drop in for a free cup of coffee or tea from early morning on. On Friday mornings at 9:00 everyone has their own coffee mug in hand and heads for the auditorium for a free cup of coffee and a doughnut or other pastry. Some people arrive a half an hour early to be sure they get the full selection of pastries to choose from. This is sponsored by different companies, sometimes a travel agency or an RV dealer. They present their wares and have a drawing for door prizes. The main part of the program is then presented by the park management about reminders of up-coming activities or any information that needs to be presented.

05010508.JPG (43462 byte)
One of the many streets in the park with park models. These are mainly owned by people who spend a few months a year here, or live here year-round. There are a limited number of rentals as well for more temporary guests. There is a special pet area for dog and cat owners.
05010509.JPG (39270 byte)
This area is for RV's, some of which come in towing a car behind. It's not unusual for some of these to stay 2-3 months during the winter. There is even a special storage area for those with RV's that they don't want to drive back-and-forth each year, but only use them here once a year for a prolonged time. They may even have the same lot year after year if they like.
Outside the auditorium right after a Friday morning coffee and information. Here you will find a map of the park with its more than 1000 lots and all the recreational buildings. It reminds you of a school, with all the workshops and activity rooms. Walking by in the evening there are sometimes lights on in all the available rooms. 

 

Sightseeing

We've done some sightseeing. 

We've been to San Xavier Mission, aka "White Dove of the Desert"  going back to the 1700's. The first church was built 2 mi (3 km) north of the present location. The current mission was built 1783-1797. It is now undergoing restoration. The inside has been completed at a cost of more than one million dollars. It is located on an Indian reservation and is considered to be an important part of Tucson history. Several church congregations in the area have contributed considerable amounts of money to help with the restoration work.
Louie up on the hill next to the mission. It was used as a set during the filming of the old TV series High Chaparral in the 70's. The rear of the mission was used for the wife's hacienda in Mexico.
 
We also visited the Titan Missile Museum, the last of 54 missile silos of this type scattered throughout the southern states.
The control room of one of the 18 locations around Tucson. There were another 18 around Little Rock, Arkansas another 18 around Wichita, Kansas. They were considered to be the foremost defense against Russia during the cold war.

 

We visited Pima Air Museum, the largest non-government funded aircraft museum in North America. From having 75 planes in 1976 the museum has grown to 250 planes spread over an area of 80 acres, with a total of 150 acres available. Because of the dry climate, nearly all the planes are outside in the desert.

 

 

Ladies' Luncheon

We were about 75 women in the park who carpooled to Tanque Verde Guest Ranch for the Ladies' Luncheon. The ranch was started in the 1880's, but later became a dude ranch in 1920.

 

 

Our Sponsors

Last week's Friday coffee and information meeting was sponsored by one of the city's many RV dealerships. It was fun to look inside some of them -- and were they ever something to see. Not only are some as large as any bus you see on the road, but they even have so-called slide-outs. When they are parked part of them glides out from the side to give them more room inside. Some of them even have slide-outs on both sides, making them as large or larger than the park model we're staying in, with all the comforts of home including a washer and dryer!
The most expensive RV they brought along only cost $195,000. A used fifth wheel, also with slide outs and very roomy inside only cost $42,000. But then you had to have a pick-up with a special drag hook in the bed of the truck. This dealer had more than 700 RV's on the lot!

We've met 4 couples on our street alone that are so-called full-timers, that is they live in their RV's year-round and travel around the country. One couple in a large motor home sold their house, stored their possessions they don't have with them and lived exclusively in it for the last 5 years. Later we met another couple in a fifth wheel that have been full-timers for 6½ years. Another couple have lived in their motor home for 9 years. They rent a space with a storage room here in the park on an annual basis and what isn't in the motor home with them is in the storeroom. They drive off occasionally and come back -- usually in time for a golf tournament.


"Fifth wheel"
A 4th couple across the street from us have been to the 48 contiguous states in 5 years and decided to continue. Now they want to be more comfortable, so they are selling their fifth wheel to move into a motor home. AND we haven't met everyone on our street with a RV. The question is -- how many in this park are full-timers?

 

Every other Friday evening there is usually some type of live entertainment in the auditorium. Keith Longbotham from Nashville (who has obviously been here before) was sold out several days before his first show (due to come again in February). 600-700 people came to enjoy the show. A ticket cost $5.

 

Louie was a founding member of the park's new model train club and we went to a model train fair, part of which was a flea market only for model trains and accessories, memorabilia. There were also a number of train sets on show.

I don't have time any more to sit here and write -- we're headed for Nogales, Mexico today. It's only about an hour's drive down to the border, so I'll tell about it later.

Myra   

To the top

 

#3 - Old Tucson

Showdown on the street with a bank robber kicking the sheriff.
Old Tucson was built in 1939 for the filming of "Arizona" with William Holden. A new standard of realism for westerns was set. Since then over 400 western movies, series and commercials have been made here. John Wayne played in at least 4 movies here in Old Tucson.
Visitors are watching a showdown while shots are fired. We're rooting for the sheriff!
Approximately 350,000 people visit the studios annually. They advertise that they are "12 miles and 100 years from town".
After paying admission, much is available -- from a ride on an old time merry-go-round to riding on a miniature train.

 

 

Western Movies

The most fun of course is to watch the shoot outs between rugged gunslingers and sheriff or marshal in the street, made realistic by talented stunt men while dance-hall girls put on a show in the saloon.

Cold beer in the saloon
Dance-hall girls on stage 
Is this the OK Corral?
Bartender Louie, waitress Myra and guest Sandy

A few of the hundreds of movies and TV-series made at Old Tucson:

bullet

"The Bells of Saint Mary" with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, 1945

bullet

"Winchester 73" with Jimmy Stewart, 1950

bullet

"The Last Outpost" with Ronald Reagan, 1950

bullet

"Gunfight at the OK Corral" with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, 1956

bullet

"Cimarron" with Glenn Ford

bullet

"Rio Bravo" with John Wayne, 1959

bullet

"McClintock" with John Wayne, 1963

bullet

"El Dorado" with John Wayne, 1967

bullet

"Rio Lobo" with John Wayne, 1970

bullet

"Hombre" with Paul Newman, 1966

bullet

"Bonanza" TV-series with the Cartwright brothers, parts from 1966, 1971 and 1972

bullet

"Dirty Dingus Magee" with Frank Sinatra, 1970

bullet

"The Villain" with Kirk Douglas and Ann Margret, 1978

bullet

"Little House on the Prairie" TV-series with Michael Landon, 1977-1983

bullet

"Gunsmoke" TV-series with James Arness, 1972-1974 (the series started in 1955 and was made in black and white for 10 years and later in color for 10 more years -- the TV-series that went the longest on TV with more than 630 episodes.

bullet

"The New Maverick" with James Garner, 1978

bullet

"The Gambler" with Kenny Rogers and Bruce Boxleitner, 1979

 

The locomotive came to Old Tucson in 1970 to continue its acting career. Reno was "born" in Philadelphia at the Baldwin Locomotive Works on January 11, 1872 as locomotive No. 2816. 

Delivered to Reno, Nevada it was christened "Reno". With an original price tag of $12,500 it hauled gold and silver worth more than $400 million from the famous Comstock Lode. After 65 years of hard work it was retired and ended up in Hollywood in 1939 and has since been seen in more than 100 movies. It was severely damaged in the 1995 devastating fire at Old Tucson, but after restoration it appeared in "Wild Wild West" in 1997 with Will Smith.

Remember this?
1966-1971 High Chaparral was made with Leif Erikson, Linda Crystal and Cameron Mitchell. The TV-series is a chronicle of the Cannon family's move to the Arizona territory to establish a cattle empire. The series was the first to inform the TV-public about the Apache's struggle to preserve their cultural heritage which was being threatened by white settlers.
Ranch House at High Chaparral - just a shell
The whole series was filmed right here on location, with the indoor scenes made in the new soundstage. In 1989 the series "The Young Riders" was made and then the old ranch became part of "Fort Reunion". 

I April 1995 there was a devastating fire, destroying the soundstage as well as 25 buildings and much of the memorabilia (including the wardrobe from "Little House on the Prairie". Now, 10 years later most is rebuilt, this time with a new square as well as many new buildings, making it look different. Myra first visited Old Tucson in 1956 and Louie sometime in the 1960's. We managed to visit once in the late 1960's when they were filming a western on the streets. 

Warm (70-80 F during the day) greetings,

Myra

P.S. It's time to go jump in the jacuzzi before supper. Louie is watching American football on TV. We visited a model train museum this afternoon, so Louie is in seventh heaven.

To the top

 

#4 - Tucson & Nogales 

As good Americans, we attend church on Sundays. Another couple from the park invited us to attend The Holy Way Presbyterian Church. The services there were like those in the majority of American protestant churches. Each Sunday a notebook is passed around where the congregation is requested to enter their name and any information they wish about themselves, such as if they are new in the area or first-time attendees. Just before the sermon the preacher asks everyone to stand up, turn around and say hello to the people sitting around them. Then he asks if there are any first-time visitors and they receive a special welcome. The preacher always stands by the door after the service to chat a little with the congregation as they leave (unless they sneak out another exit). Coffee is served after each service, an excellent opportunity to meet and chat with others. We met a member who lives in our park.

A small church, but with three services every Sunday with more than 300 people attending each week during the winter months and half as many during the summer. The new church was built 8 years ago, but the congregation has been active much longer. They met in the ranch house from the beginning, which is now used for activities.
The most interesting part of the church is that behind the altar is a huge window with a cross – but outside the window is a cactus-covered mountain with Arizona's famous saguaro cactus.


 

Across the Border

We drove down to Nogales, Mexico, with a population of 350,000 compared to its sister Nogales, Arizona with a population of 20,000. It only takes an hour to get there now with a freeway all the way, but it is like entering another world. 

Border to till USA – the fence in the background continues up and over the hill.
At this border crossing there is only a fence designating the border, no river as elsewhere along the border. 
It's easy to drive across the border. However most people park on the Arizona side, where you can park all day for $4 and it is much safer. Rental cars usually come with a stipulation that you're not allowed to cross the border to Mexico. 
The open-air market atmosphere compares to some tourist destinations in southern Europe. Everything from colorfully painted ceramic items to the Mexican colorful blankets called  "serapes". Even gold and silver jewelry can be found – you must decide for yourself how genuine they are. 
Bargaining to get a lower price is also part of the game. A "Mexican minute" means that the salesperson wants a chance to convince you to come in and "just look" at the merchandise – "it doesn't cost anything to look" is their motto the same time as they are telling you how genuine their merchandise is. 

Many bargains can be found, but be careful! Those who don't understand that you can bid a lower price will not find any bargains. One salesman offered us fantastic 24 k gold necklaces that "he made himself" for ONLY $80, which was probably a good price if they were what he said. When we weren't interested he lowered his price continually while following us along the street. When he got down to $15 we decided to buy, simply because they were pretty. 

We shopped till we dropped.
We stayed until the money we had designated for the day ran out and we began to think that everything we saw looked the same – which took about 2½ hours. The weather was perfect, making it a successful outing. Back across the border again we found a place to cool off our tummies (an old family saying meaning it was high time for some ice cream). 

 

Sponsored Friday Morning Coffee

On Friday it was once again time for an RV-dealer to come with yummy doughnuts, door prizes and show their wares. My brother was the lucky winner of a small portable radio with a headset – perfect for a jogging round. 

Here are some of the "homes away from home" they presented:

There was one motor home with a bathroom with shower all the way in the back, behind the master bedroom. Then there was a smaller bathroom between the kitchen and bedroom – I overheard someone saying that was great if you had the grandkids along. This motor home had no fewer than 3 TV's – one relatively large screen towards the front in the living room, one in the bedroom and ONE underneath so you could watch TV out on the patio under the awning (just to the left of the open door). With its microwave, built-in oven, refrigerator, freezer and 3 slide-outs, it was easy to imagine a life as a full-timer.
The smallest unit shown that day – but far from the cheapest. It is more expensive to make everything as compact as in this cute little number.

What about a drivers license for the really big dudes popular with full-timers? As long as you're just driving for yourself and not commercially, you can drive a large motor home with only a regular drivers license! Considering what these monstrosities cost, it's safe to assume that the drivers drive VERY carefully.

 

Friday Show

Showtime
On Friday evening it was again time for a show, this time with country-western singer Yancey de Veer, singing for 2 hours with only a short break. He was very good and well-liked. Tickets cost $5. 

The weather here is great, even thought it has rained more than usual. There has been a drought here for a number of years, so the water reservoirs really need filling. It usually rains at night and then is 70-80 F (20-25 C) during the day. We can live with that!

05012209.JPG (30419 byte)
Arizona sunset – but we've seen even prettier ones.

We've done even more, but I'll tell about that later.

Until later,

Myra

To the top

 

#5 - Train Museum & U of A

As everyone knows, Louie likes model trains – he's not the only one. Louie was a founding member of the Rincon West Model Railway Club. They heard about the model train fair (see #2). A week later it was time to join an excursion to the local model train museum open two Sunday afternoons a month by volunteers. Here it is truly "Boys and Their Toys" – several models including G, H, OH and N gauge.

Model Train Museum with the gang from Rincon Country West.
One of many model trains in the museum.
In the back is a full-size train car, industrial area along tracks in foreground.
A bustling town along one of the tracks.
More tracks.
Close up with some detail along tracks.

 

 

 

University of Arizona

"Old Main" – first university building from 1870, well-preserved and still in use by ROTC.

No visit to Tucson would be complete for us without stopping by the U of A campus, where we met more than 40 years ago. It was a large university at that time with about 24,000 students. Today there are closer to 38,000. One acquaintance told us that we could multiply the number of years we had been gone by 2 to estimate how many new buildings had gone up since then. It was interesting to discover that quite a bit has actually been built underground. We heard that all the freshman classes are held in the underground section.

Student Union – not old in the early 1960's, was torn down and rebuilt in the same place, except larger.

College of Agriculture – where we met in 1964. Built in the beginning of the 1900's, but hasn't changed much since we left.

Greetings,
Myra

To the top

 

#6 - Desert Museum & Tanque Verde

"Garden of Gethsemane"
Jesus' Last Supper on the banks of the river

During the late 1940's WWII-veteran Felix Lucero lived under a bridge along the Santa Cruz River and made a number of religious cement sculptures. When the bridge was rebuilt in the 1990's, the sculptures were moved a little higher up, where a park was created. The collection of sculptures is called The Garden of Gethsemane. I visited it first in 1956. Not many people even today know about it.

 

Shuffleboard is a very popular sport among senior citizens in the  USA. Rincon Country West hosted the prestigious "Tucson Senior Olympics in Shuffleboard" – teams from all across town came to participate.

 

The Desert

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (founded in 1952) is definitely a must to visit – it is both a botanical garden and zoo The word "desert" is reminiscent of lots of sand and very barren. This one is however known as "the living desert", as it is filled with a wide variety of cactus. The soil is so fertile that if it gets water, almost anything will grow, which is why there are large areas of irrigated farmland.

Saguaro cactus
The most famous cactus in the area is the saguaro, but it only grows in a very limited area. It grows very slowly and is often 50 years old before growing its first "arm". It collects water when it rains and is an excellent source of water if stranded in the desert without water.

Prickly Pear and other cactus varieties in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

A path in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
There are many paths through the Desert Museum and for the price of an annual pass you can enter as many times as you like for a year and walk along the paths, discovering something new on each visit and drink a free cup of coffee or tea after your walk.

Mountain lions and other wild animals can also be found in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Louie found a train – used in the mining of silver and copper in the area.

                                 
Tanque Verde Guest Ranch

Myra and her sister-in-law Sandy were so enthusiastic about the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch when attending the ladies' luncheon, that they wanted to show it to Louie and Myra's brother George. The most significant reason was that George worked at the Desert Willows Guest Ranch, a "dude ranch", in 1955. After several attempts to find it on previous visits, we succeeded this time to find the street name "Desert Willows Ranch Road" outside of Tucson. On our first visit to Tanque Verde we discovered that the owner of the Desert Willows Ranch bought the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch! That explained why the Desert Willows area is now subdivided into lots for houses with horse stables. The food at the Tanque Verde was as good as we expected.

A "real" cowboy (stuffed dummy) in the lobby of the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch.

The dining room at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, where a tasty buffet was served for $14.50 including coffee or tea.

The swimming pool with its soothing waterfall right outside the dining room at the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch

Greetings,
Myra

To the top

 

#7 - Biosphere 2

Biosphere 1 is the earth! Biosphere 2 was the world's largest greenhouse when it was built 1981-1983 in an attempt to reproduce tropic and subtropical atmospheres similar to the world's atmosphere. Then 8 people moved into the facility for 2 years to see if they could be self-sufficient without supplies from the outside world. However, this was NOT an early version of "Survival". They had all the comforts of home, including a top-notch kitchen with a dishwasher, as well as laundry facilities with washers and dryers.

Each participant had their own apartment with sleeping quarters, TV, CD-player, etc. A large office landscape provided each with their own desk and internet connection. One of the participants was a medical doctor so that important tests could be made on a regular basis. Once every 8 days each participant was in charge of all the cooking and the other days they could just sit down to prepared meals. Meals were eaten together at a large dining table. Occasionally supper was eaten on the "balcony" where they had a wonderful view. All food was grown in their own "greenhouse". Coffee beans were grown within the compound as well and they waited until they had enough to prepare 8 cups of coffee, which generally took two weeks. 

Biosphere 2 was criticized from the beginning for not being scientific enough; however, many important discoveries were made. The largest problem was that – unlike life in Biosphere 1 where there's always light and sunshine somewhere – it got dark in Biosphere 2. During the two years of this experiment El Niρo hit, explaining why there was less sunshine in Arizona than usual. The 8 people that entered Biosphere 2 survived nevertheless their two years.

Six months later 7 people entered the facility to stay for 6 months. It was however nearly impossible to be self-sufficient. It was difficult to produce enough food because of not enough sunlight, nor to be able to produce enough oxygen for both flora and fauna. 

Thereafter Columbia University (NY) leased the facility and built housing for 400 students. They used it as a campus for research and classes. The student housing was used for only one semester.

Welcome sign outside of Biosphere 2 with a map of the whole facility
Indoors – desert area

Outside – tropics
Outside – living quarters
Indoors – tropics
Indoors – subtropics with the indoor ocean with fish

 

Outside – sphere in the background covers one of the two lungs
Student housing – designed to look like an old western town

 

 

Valentine's Day Coming Up

Now that all the Christmas decorations are down in the park, people are starting to decorate for the next holiday – Valentine's Day.

05012730.JPG (22994 byte)05012732.JPG (18588 byte)

A giant inflatable teddy bear holding a big heart and all lit up at night.
A wooden cowboy with his hound dog and a heart.

 

Greetings, 
Myra  

To the top

 

#8 - Last Week in Tucson

There's always lots going on here – even our last week.

One of the largest RV dealers had a big festival they call their "Western Barbecue", where they serve a free meal (½ grilled chicken, bread, potato salad, beans and pie for dessert) in a huge tent with live music.

While we were there we took the opportunity to peek into some motor homes and fifth wheels, where they became more extravagant as you went along. We only looked into a few, but saw 2 with a fireplace (with realistic gas logs)! Having all the comforts of home, it would have been easy to find a unit to become full-timers in! At a price, of course – the most expensive motor home we saw cost $400,000. We saw one without a price tag – if you had to ask, you couldn't afford it!

 

Precious stones?

Every February people migrate to Tucson from the whole world to attend the annual gem show, a fair for rock lovers. All kinds of raw and polished stones as well as jewelry and other handicrafts made from them could be found. This doesn't take place at just ONE location – it is spread all over town. Every shopping center and most hotels had its own show with a number of exhibits. The show lasted a couple of weeks and it seemed to be impossible to visit all of them. There were many places you couldn't enter without a dealers license, held only by buyers from stores or stonecutters.

Over-all view of just one tent at one location – only a small part of the gem show

Beads for sale at the gem show

We only visited one temporary exhibition hall, which was a gigantic tent. Louie took a few pictures before he was asked to cease – there was a risk for espionage, according to one exhibitor who had some designs stolen at an earlier gem show.

 

Gospel

On Sunday evening there was a gospel sing in the church and it was packed when we arrived a half an hour before it started. Two church choirs in town organized the show, but singers from several other churches also participated. It lasted for two hours.

 

Model Trains

The following evening the newly organized model train club in the park hosted a visit by the Tucson Garden Railway Society, who showed pictures and explained how to start a club. They also came with tips on how to build houses to scale for the scenery. The club has the opportunity to set up a garden railway in the park and received valuable tips. The train track they will be installing is "G" scale and the train brand is Lehmann, made in Germany.

"Boys and their toys" –  men are never too old to play with trains.

Tucson Garden Railway Society show their model buildings and how to make them.
 

Then it was time to move on . . .

Greetings, 
Myra  

To the top

 

#9 - Phoenix - Wickenburg

On Feb. 1 we drove up to Phoenix to visit Myra's aunt and cousin. Aunt Grace is over 90 and lives in a special senior living facility. She has a nice one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and her own washer and dryer, as well as a small patio. A few steps away is a restaurant where the residents can eat if they don't feel like preparing their own food on any particular day.

05020107.JPG (28823 byte)

There's an outdoor pool, library, as well as a number of activities. They have their own mini-buses that regularly take residents to malls, church, or simply on planned outings.

The next day we drove to Wickenburg (founded in 1863 in conjunction with the gold rush that began in 1862), a nice little Western town between Phoenix and Las Vegas. We actually ran into some old friends that we heard moved to Wickenburg. 

They invited us a cookout they were having that evening.

05020230.JPG (18619 byte)

Betsy & Myron checking out supper cooking over an open fire.

They are horse people from Montana, so it was fun to see the little RV they take with them when they go traveling with their horses. A fifth wheel where the back part is a horse trailer with a door connecting to the living quarters.

05020205.JPG (30196 byte)05020208.JPG (21655 byte)

Sleeping quarters in the RV
Outside view of the RV with the horse trailer in the back

The motel looks like a western town and we recognized Myron's western art collection inside.

The next day we continued our journey to Las Vegas . . .

 

Greetings, 
Myra  

To the top

 

#10 - Quick Visit to Las Vegas

 

05020318.JPG (63114 byte)

To get to Las Vegas from Arizona we drove over Hoover Dam. It is 726 ft high, 1,244 ft long, and 4.4 million cubic yards of concrete was used. Traffic has increased so much (13,000 - 16,000 people/day), that a new bridge is under construction about 1,500 ft downstream. 

We stayed downtown at Harrah's. We walked down the street, finding the larger hotels, i.e. Sahara, Flamingo and Caesar's Palace. We saw a large waterfall, a pirate ship, and rode on the monorail with a good view of the city. It was just as light at night as during the day.

05020413.JPG (43320 byte)

Las Vegas?

Visiting Las Vegas is like visiting the world's largest cities. You can find New York City, Paris and Venice. There are lots of shows, such as Mama Mia, Chippendales as well as imitators.

05020337.JPG (48181 byte)

Wedding chapels are readily available for those who want to get married.

05020340.JPG (16944 byte)

Stratosphere by night

05020345.JPG (42060 byte)

Las Vegas by night

The casinos never close and once inside you don't know if it is day or night outside. They are so large that you wonder if you will ever get to the far side. You can't visit Las Vegas without playing in a casino - we played $1 in a slot machine, and that dollar stayed in Las Vegas!

There is enough to do to spend several weeks in town. However, my goal was just to absorb some of the atmosphere and for that one day was enough!

The next day we continued to Sedona . . .

 

Greetings, 
Myra  

To the top

 

#11 - Sedona

We left Las Vegas at lunch time, driving back over Hoover Dam towards Arizona, crossing snow-covered mountains to reach Flagstaff. To reach Sedona, we drove through the unspoiled nature in Oak Creek Canyon, a little more than 30 miles of winding roads and even hairpin curves. We drove through the canyon a number of times the week we were there, discovering something new each time.

Sedona is not a town you drive through to get somewhere else. You drive there if it is your destination. It has grown from a population of 7,000+ in 1990 to almost 11,000 in 2003. Approximately 4 million tourists visit Sedona annually, so they are good at marketing tourism. About 49% of the area belongs to Coconino National Forest, explaining why most of the tourists come to see the breathtaking scenery.

05020607.JPG (37056 byte)

Sedona with the famous red-colored mountains in the background. Many westerns have been made here, but there are no film locations to show for it like Old Tucson. John Wayne has been on location here for movies. The whole valley is well-known for its red rocks, familiar from westerns as well as from commercials.

Sedona has a pleasant climate, located between two climate zones with vegetation and wildlife from both. The summers aren't as hot as in Tucson or Phoenix, but not either as cold in the winter with snow as nearby Flagstaff. Mornings in February were cold with ice on the windshield, but daytime temperatures reached the low 60's or more.

05020608.JPG (47914 byte)

Shopping in Sedona - red rocks appear everywhere, even in the color of buildings.

As so many other tourists do, we assumed "Sedona" was an Indian name, but that's not the case. One of the first residents, T. C. Schnebly ran the valley's first hotel and was encouraged by the other inhabitants to establish a post office so they wouldn't have to pick up mail in Flagstaff. He sent in an application with the already established names of "Red Rock Crossing" and "Schnebly Station", but both were refused because the names were too long to fit on a cancellation stamp. T. C. Schnebly's brother then suggested that he send in the name of his wife, which he did and the name of Sedona became the name of the new of the new post office and hence the town. Sedona's parents made up the name and today's residents are very happy that they didn't name her Maria!

05020614.JPG (23164 byte)

Louie next to a bronze statue of a cowboy painting the scenery - even the little girl is out of bronze. Sedona has become a large artist colony where all kinds of art and crafts can be found at reasonable prices.

We did some sightseeing, but most of that comes later. One day we drove to Petrified Forest, as well as through some small towns.

05020509.JPG (55990 byte)05020514.JPG (32250 byte)

Myra in the middle of petrified tree stumps.
Louie in front of a large western mural painted on the side of a building.

One day we drove up to Grand Canyon . . .

 

Greetings, 
Myra  

To the top

 

#12 - Grand Canyon

The day we planned on driving up to Grand Canyon there was ice on our windshield. I shuddered to think what it would be like to drive up the winding road through Oak Creek Canyon towards Flagstaff without winter tires! The road had been salted and everyone was driving VERY carefully.

05020801.JPG (55749 byte)

Snow-covered trees at the top of the winding road between Sedona and Flagstaff. The view was enchanting the whole way, so I had to keep reminding Louie to keep his eye on the road and off all the snow around.

05020815.JPG (52372 byte)

Looking down at all the hairpin curves we had just driven up, taken from the scenic outlook at the top. Luckily, the roads were better from there on up to Grand Canyon (90 miles), even though we saw more snow.

There are a lot of stories about how Grand Canyon was formed - according to one there was a Scot that dropped a penny . . . and he's still looking for it.

05020824.JPG (51652 byte)

The Colorado River cut through the valley 3-6 million years ago. The valley is about 280 miles long, a mile deep and 10-18 miles wide! As one of the seven greatest natural wonders of the world, it gained status as a nature preserve in 1908 and a national park in 1919. It covers 1,900 square miles and inhabited by 5 Indian tribes (Hopi, Navajo, Havasupai, Paiute and Hualapai).

05020826.JPG (45804 byte)

My sister told about visiting Grand Canyon during a thunderstorm and what a marvelous sight that was when the sun appeared to show 2 rainbows. This was the first time we got to see it with snow and that was also worth seeing. The very best however is to experience sunrise and sunset. 

05020830.JPG (38078 byte)

The last time we visited Grand Canyon was during summertime and there were so very many people. A large area was only accessible by bus, but now during the winter there were fewer tourists and you could drive along the road that follows the edge.

There are a few hotels close enough to the edge where you can see from sunrise to sunset from the rooms. They are busy renovating one of the oldest ones so that it will be finished for the next invasion of tourists the coming summer.

05020879.JPG (47491 byte)05020886.JPG (30695 byte)

Grand Canyon looks different during different times of the day as well as in different weather conditions.

Our son-in-law and his dad hiked down last year and spent the night down next to the Colorado River. It was quite an experience, taking 4 hours to hike down and 8 to hike up. 

05020888.JPG (37160 byte)

A very old lookout tower right on the edge of Grand Canyon.

The snow had melted when we drove the winding road back down to Sedona in the evening, so it was no problem even without winter tires. 

Greetings,
Myra  

To the top

 

#13 - Jerome & Verde Canyon

One morning we drove to the nearby ghost town Jerome. It rapidly became a tent city when copper, then even silver and some gold was discovered in 1876. The closest train station was then in Pueblo, Colorado. In 1882 a new track to Jerome was finished. In 1883 the smaller mining claims were bought up by United Verde Mining. Houses cling to Cleopatra Hill above the mine. The city was wild, a real boom town.

05020918.JPG (50122 byte)

Jerome - "Largest Ghost Town in American". On the right is an old brothel, now a souvenir shop. In 1910 it was known as "the wickedest town in America". 

Not only was card playing the norm, but even prostitution, saloons and shootouts in the street were everyday occurrences. People came from all over the world, making the town a true melting pot. But it was also an industrial community. Everyone in town was dependent on the mine. A lot of money was in circulation and lots of ore was freighted out. It is said that the money made from the mine was the foundation for financing for the new state. Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912.  

05020920.JPG (45145 byte)

The buildings were all constructed of wood, which means that the town burned down on a regular basis. It was considered too expensive to organize a fire department! Even landslides (caused by dynamite in the mine) helped to devastate. The town jail slid down the mountain a city block. But Jerome was always rebuilt.

The mine was closed whenever ore prices sank, just to reopen later. It was however closed for good in 1953 and the town shrunk from 15,000 residents in the 1920's to about 50 by the end of the 1960's.

The Jerome Historical Society was formed and preserved the buildings by guarding them from vandals. The mine owner's mansion became a state park in 1965 and the town was designated a National Historic District by the federal government in 1976. in the 1960's and 70's the town became a refuge for artists. The new arrivals participated in restoring buildings and opening abandoned premises to sell their merchandise. Together with the remaining residents they blew new life into the town. There are about 500 residents today and the town is full of life - inquisitive tourists coming to see the ghost town and to buy arts and crafts in the remaining old buildings. It's fun to read the plaques on the buildings telling what the building was originally used for.

Today authors, artists, craftsmen, historians and their families live in Jerome. It is now a peaceful, colorful and flourishing society attracting more people. AND there is now a fire department!

It is said that the mine is ready to open again whenever the price of copper gets high enough to make it worth while to mine. At the present it's still cheaper to buy copper from other countries.

05020941.JPG (43037 byte)

Verde Canyon Railroad - train entering a 650 ft tunnel that it took 25 Swedes 6 months to bore!

In the afternoon we drove the short distance to Clarkdale, where the Verde Canyon Railroad goes through a picturesque valley that is like a miniature Grand Canyon. There are no roads through the valley, so the train is the only way to see it.

WHY build train tracks out in the sticks where nothing happens?

In 1888 United Verde Mine in Jerome was bought by Senator William C. Clark from Montana. After 7 years he was making a net gain of $1 million dollars per month! He learned that the richest lode was directly under the smelting furnace.

05020943.JPG (38779 byte)

A new smelting furnace was built further down the valley and three new train tracks were built to freight the ore, including the one through the Verde Canyon. It's 38 miles to Clarkdale where the new smelting furnace was built directly under Jerome's mine. The new town was named after senator Clark.

The smelting furnace was used until 1952 and the last 395 ft chimney was razed in 1962, marking the end of an epoch. The community of Clarkdale survives and prospers.

05020954.JPG (43784 byte)

The railroad was built in one year,  completed in 1912 - a miracle for that time. 

It took 250 men using 200 donkeys, picks and shovels, as well as LOTS of explosives. It cost $1,3 million. The same project today would cost more than $40 million.

05020962.JPG (54587 byte)

The train started as a tourist attraction in November 1990. It takes 4 hours for a round trip of 30 miles through one of the most beautiful parts of Arizona with the motto "It's not the destination . . . it's the journey".

Definitely an experience to recommend, and not just for train lovers like Louie.

Greetings, 
Myra  

To the top

 

To be continued in Texas . . .

 

 

Up ]

Copyright © 2008
Updated: 2008-06-21