Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Big House

My second morning at the Grand Canyon, I woke up to rain and abandoned all hope of a sunrise photo. I turned on the t.v. to hear that it was snowing in Flagstaff, which was on my route south, so I hightailed it out of there, hoping to get through it before it got too deep.

Sure enough, a few miles west of Flagstaff, I drove into a blizzard. Fortunately, I was only in it for about 45 minutes before it turned back into rain. Lots and lots of rain. By the time I got to Casa Grande, it was clear and warmer. I pulled into the hotel and there were hubby and his friend smacking balls on the driving range. AND, a bunch of people over by the practice putting green getting ready for a wedding! It was pretty cool, actually. I went back up to our room and watched it from the balcony. When the ceremony was over, the bride and groom started back down the aisle to the traditional music. Suddenly, it fizzled out, made the scratched record noise, and everyone went awwww. But then, on came James Brown's "I Feel Good," and the couple danced the rest of the way down. Then I watched them take wedding photos, which I have done, but not outside in the wind. Quite educational.

The next day, I took the camera and went to explore Casa Grande and the nearby monument. The monument preserves the ruins of the Hohokam farming community, especially the Great House.

After hanging out there for awhile, I went back to Casa Grande and snapped pictures of things that amuse me. As you can see, I'm easily amused. By such things as . . .
orange trees in January.

Or this quaint little eatery. I figured they probably had good food, but I knew I was going to be driving the next day, on a road with few places to stop, so I passed.

We headed for home the next morning, via southern New Mexico, which is where I grew up and went to college. It was fun to visit the old haunts. Speaking of haunting, we had a couple of fairly creepy experiences there . . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Death by Guitar Hero.

Please come back for more Arizona adventures. They get better/weirder.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Big C

I was hoping to get a sunrise and a sunset photo at the Grand Canyon. But when I got up my first morning there, the weather was being uncooperative. It was rain snowing, which sounds like sleet, but it really wasn't. I drove in and pulled into the first lookout I came to. Now, I've been to the Canyon before, about 21 years ago. But when I got out of the van and walked to the edge and looked out, it was like I was seeing it for the first time. Even without the sun, it was breathtaking.

I walked from one lookout to the next, snapping hundreds of pictures, like a total tourist. I finally made it to the Grand Canyon Village, which was where the Bright Angel Trail started. I had researched some trails online, and I knew that this was a four mile hike. I was really looking forward to it. But when I arrived at the trail head, I realized that this was a rim trail. Meaning, you're not on a paved trail with railings. Not at all. What it means is this. You are on a narrow dirt trail that has patches of the recent snow and ice.

Those black dots to the right just below center are people hiking. That thing to the left is a 3000 foot drop. About this time, my healthy fear of plunging to my death kicked in and my head said loudly and clearly to me, "Oh, HELL no!" So I took my fogie self back on up to the paved trail and took off. I saw a show on the Travel Channel about the Grand Canyon and how they spend five to ten years training the mules who take people down that trail. I figured, since I haven't been trained for five to ten years, it's probably better that I stay off of it.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Arizona Adventure Continued

After I left the hotel at Casa Grande, my camera and I went north, in search of photo ops. And we found plenty! First stop, Sedona. The Native Americans believe that there is a vortex of electromagnetic energy in Sedona that is beneficial to health and spirit. I didn't feel a vortex or anything, but I loved the scenery.

We continued north in Oak Creek Canyon to Slide Rock State Park. Seriously cool place. It's like a natural water park. The rocks are so smooth you can just slide them on down the creek, thus the name, duh. It must be awesome in the summer when it's hot out and you can actually get in the water without perishing from hypothermia. But it was still amazing in January with snow on the ground. I climbed over a lot of big rocks, balancing the camera in one hand, and the next morning I felt some muscles I'd forgotten I had. But it was worth it.

After Slide Rock, I got onto a winding mountain road. I had the GPS on 'view map,' and the road ahead looked like a knot. I was a little freaked out, and then I saw a bridge. I have a bridge phobia, which my husband has never understood. After recent local and national bridge collapse incidents, he feels my fears may have been somewhat vindicated. I crossed the bridge and pulled into the lookout area. It was a nice view, a long ways down, but they had our backs.

A little farther down the road was another lookout where Native Americans were vending their wares. Could have easily spent a couple hundred there, but I managed to get away with only a necklace for our daughter and another for our girlfriend-in-law. Oh, and I encountered yet another interesting warning.

The GPS lady got me lost in Flagstaff, and, when I turned around and went the way I thought was right, she got pissy and refused to speak to me. Wouldn't give me a map, my speed, just stuck a big question mark in the middle of the screen. I'm sure the question was, "Why is this idiot not listening to me?" You'd think an attraction as visited as the Grand Canyon would have better roads into it. But no. I did manage to get there before dark and get checked into my hotel. The next morning, the GPS lady was speaking to me again, so we headed for the Canyon . . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Twilight Zone

We interrupt Alice's Adventures in Arizona for the following latebreaking news item. I read Jeff's post on Saturday about Microsoft error boxes popping up at inopportune moments. Yesterday, I was showing it to my daughter, when something eerie happened.

At first, I thought Jeff had rigged something up to freak people out (because he's quite clever and amusing), but Jessica confirmed that it was the real deal.

I got nothin'.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Movin' on Down the Road

From brunch at McDonald's in Shamrock, we kept west on I-40, all the way into Albuquerque. My mom and siblings live there, with assorted nieces and nephews. Spent the night with mom and ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant, with the whole clan.

Next morning, we were on the road bright and early, still on I-40. Here is another gem from Route 66.

Nice to know. We drove west into Arizona, to the Painted Desert. We were wanting to get to Casa Grande late afternoon, so all we did at the Painted Desert was eat lunch at the park cafe, which was pretty neat. I had the chili, and there was a recipe for it and a recipe for Indian fry bread.

From there, we went through Flagstaff, a lot of wind-y roads, through Phoenix and into Casa Grande.

We were staying at Francisco Grande, which is a golf resort. It dates back to 1959 when the owner of the San Francisco Giants baseball team developed the property as a training camp. The pool is shaped like a baseball bat and the hot tub is the baseball. The main buildings are the same, although, in the sixties, it had one of those motor inn signs out front and another about the San Francisco Giants. This is what it looks like today.

The Tower is pretty much the same, although rennovations were done a few years ago. We were up on the sixth floor, and I walked the stairs for some exercise. That last picture was taken the morning after we arrived. We went into town for breakfast. Hubby was waiting for the other golfers to arrive, and I went north. Adventure continues . . .

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gettin' Our Kicks

We left for a vacation on New Year's Day. Which means multiple blog posts over the next week. About driving, hotels, eating establishments, and lots of photos. This is a short one, because I drove all day and I'm ready to hit the sack. We started out going south to I-40, which used to be Route 66, one of my favorite places. We stopped in Shamrock, Texas, because our daughter was visiting her boyfriend there, who was doing pipeline work just north. It was, of course, January 1st, so pretty much the only place open to eat was McDonald's. But on the way to brunchfest, we encountered something pretty cool.

Apparently, this particular building was featured in the Disney movie "Cars." I haven't seen the movie, so I wouldn't know. But here it is, in all its glory. Seems it houses the offices of the Chamber of Commerce and a gift shop. I think it's neat that it's still around.

That is the first installment of the 2008 vacation. Oh, but just wait.