Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuzigoot and Montezuma's Castle National Monuments

Today we wanted to visit the two national monuments that are close to us.

We began our day at Tuzigoot National Monument.  Since the high today was supposed to be in the 90's, we thought we would begin here as we had heard there was more shade at Montezuma's Castle.

We arrived at the Visitor's Center, showed our America The Beautiful Pass,  and toured the little museum inside.  

At 10:30, we took the tour with the park ranger up to the top of Tuzigoot.  You can walk up to the top and explore on your own, but since we had the opportunity for a guided tour, we took it.

It was extremely informative. This small stone walled pueblo which overlooks the Verde River was built by the Sinagua people and was inhabited between 1125 and 1400.  It's kind of ironic because Sinagua is from Spanish words meaning without water, but there is water around here.  

The Sinagua farmed the fields down below.

They also had quite a view.  The average family living quarters was 200 square feet.

Jim at the top of the structure.  We also thought it was interesting the way the National Park Service has evolved in their thinking of restoring these structures.  In 1930, walls and ceiling were rebuilt.  Now, they try to leave everything in its original structure so as not to disturb the original contents.

After our tour, we went to the other side to walk the 1/2 mile trail down to an overlook.  On our way back we got this shot of the visitor's center and monument.

After lunch, we went the other direction to visit Montezuma Castle.  From our morning tour, we learned that Montezuma's Castle was completely looted of all artifacts, but the structure was left intact. Tuzigoot was practically buried before archaeologists uncovered it in the early 1900's, but it was full of artifacts.

It was a short, shaded walk down a concrete walk.  We saw people stopped and looking up. We looked in that direction and there it was!


even closer.
It's amazing how high up it is.  It took some long ladders to get up there.  There used to be guided tours through the structure, but those no longer take place.

The trail went into a loop with some other features to look at.

Next, we headed about 5 miles down the interstate to an exit that took us to Montezuma's Well.  It is a sinkhole with   There is evidence that humans have lived here as far back as 11,000 years ago.  Spanish soldiers named it Montezuma's Well because they believed the structures in the cliffs must have been built by the Aztecs.

We took the wrong turn on the trail and actually came to the end where the irrigation ditches were.  It is believed the Sinaguans created the irrigation ditches 1,400 years ago as they developed into an agricultural community.

Columbines surrounded the area.
We found our way back to the trail and got our first look at the large pool.  1.5 million gallons of water come into the large sinkhole from vents every day.  The water is a constant 74 degrees.

We walked down to the bottom of the pool.  Not as many people come out here, so we had the time down here pretty much to ourselves.

People have been coming here for years.  Here is an advertisement from a Phoenix photographer dating back to 1818.

We headed back up to the top following this beautiful path.

It was a fascinating day of exploring other cultures and history!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Visit to the Little Town of Jerome, Arizona

We're in Cottonwood, Arizona which about 20 miles from Sedona.  It's a nice little town close to lots of things to do.

Today, we decided to drive the 13 miles to Jerome.  This is an old mining town located pretty much on the side of the hill.

It was nearly lunch time so we walked up the stairs to The Haunted Hamburger.  Legend has it that as the building was being renovated for the restaurant, hammers began to go missing.  Also, pictures some of the customers have taken appear to have a "spirit" or "ghost shadow" in it.  We didn't see any ghosts while we were there.

However, we sure did enjoy our view.


After lunch, we headed up one more flight of stairs to go visit the Jerome Hotel.  Before we got there, this sign beckoned to us and we had to check out Olive Oil Traders.  We spent quite awhile there sampling the infused flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  I never thought combining different flavors of olive oils and vinegars could be so fun and tasty. There was absolutely no oily taste, just good flavors.

We were on our way to the Jerome Hotel.  Here's a sign that pretty well explains the roads here.  The town is literally on the mountain.  You can loop around each street while you are walking or just climb flights of stairs.

After some steady uphill climbing we made it to the Jerome Grand Hotel

with some pretty impressive views.  At one time, Jerome had as many as 15,000 people, but today there are only about 500 residents.

We began our walk back down the mountain to the parking lot where our car was parked. There were some interesting shops to stop at along the way.

At the parking lot, we stopped to see the Sliding Jail.  Apparently, the whole town is shifting and the jail has actually slid down from where it once was.

We headed out making a wrong turn but what a view we were rewarded with!

We were able to turn around at this viewpoint and head back down the mountain.  What a great way to spend a day!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

RV Restriping and Exploring Mesa, Arizona

 We arrived at RV Stripes & Graphics in Apache Junction, Arizona on Monday. Steve, the owner, quickly got us parked in the back of the shop where we would be for the next 5 nights.  We had water and 30 amp hookups.

While they began the process, we used the days to explore some of the nearby areas.

Tuesday was probably going to be the noisiest day with all the graphics being removed.  We decided to take a drive up to the mountains with our pugs.

We headed north to Payson, then took Forest Road 64 through the mountains and back down to Roosevelt Lake.  The road was mostly like the picture below making for very slow going.

There were some nice views, but we were glad when we finally returned to paved roads.

 On Tuesday, we went to Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa for dinner.  We didn't go for the pizza, but to be entertained by the "Mighty Wurlitzer" which they say is the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. It has a really interesting history if you would like to read more about it.

When you first walk in, you see these large windows with different pipes and instruments.

 Then the magic begins!  You hear music and the organ begins to come out of the stage floor with the organist playing.

 She played music from Phantom of the Opera, Mama Mia, Star Wars, Disney favorites, and more.  Music is usually played for about 45 minutes and then the organ goes back under the stage and the organist takes a 15 minute break.  We stayed for 3 of the performances that were all different.  The pizza and ice cream weren't bad either.

Here is a you tube video I found of the organist playing if you would like to see it in action.  If you are ever in this area, it is certainly worth a stop to see a performance and have some pizza.

Thursday, we took a ride on the "Desert Belle" on the Saguaro Lake located about thirty minutes from us.  It was a 90 minute narrated tour and was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

The boat took us through a canyon and around to the other side of the lake and back.  We did see a bald eagle which was very cool, but too fast for us to get a good picture.

As we went through the canyon, we saw the Four Peaks Mountain and were told this is the mountain that is depicted on the Arizona license plate.

This is Elephant Rock.  If you look closely, you can see the ear in the center of the picture with the trunk to the right of that.  We saw it, can you?

 A closer view of the Four Peaks, it was windy that day, so the dust created a haze.

 Saguaro cactus growing along the water's edge.  We learned that the Saguaro only grows in the Sonoran Desert.

Last, some pictures of the restriping process.  We were very pleased with RV Stripes & Graphics.  Steve went out of his way to be sure we were comfortable, everyone was very professional, and we were pleased with the final product.

RV door before

RV door after

Driveer's side of rv before

Same side after graphics were removed.

Same side completed.

It was a long process, but we are so happy with the end result.

Saturday, we head to Cottonwood so we can explore the Sedona area.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Visit To Biosphere 2

Just 20 miles from our campsite is Biosphere 2.  It's almost Earth Day so we thought visiting it would be a proper way to celebrate.

We arrived about 11.  Usually, there are guided tours through the facility, but today you could wander around on your own and spend as much time in places as you wanted.  There were docents around each section to answer questions and give more information.

From 1991 to 1993, eight scientists were sealed in the Biosphere.  It was called Biosphere 2, Earth being Biosphere 1.   We were extremely interested in the whole concept of people existing on the inside and not consuming anything from the outside.  

This was the living area.  The curved staircase leads to the "disco" room.

As we walked inside the biomes, the first we saw was the ocean complete with a coral reef.  It is 25 feet in the deepest section.

Next, was the rainforest.  Animals also lived here with the biospherians.

After we toured the biomes, we headed over to the South Lung.  You had to walk through a wind tunnel to get to the other side.

Inside the lung, the docent explained that they were built on each side of the Biosphere.  Because the air in Biosphere 2 expanded and contracted,  something had to be developed to keep the Biosphere from possibly imploding.  The lung was developed.  It's a kind of bellows that actually expands and contracts from the air inside the Biosphere 2.

We walked out back into the outdoors.  I was only in there 2 hours, I don't think I could have handled it for two years!

When we got back, I did some research on the internet about the people who lived in Biosphere 2. It was really quite interesting.  Here's a link if you want to read more about  Jane Poynter's experience in Biosphere 2.

Monday, we head to Mesa, Arizona to have our fifth wheel graphics replaced.  We bought our rig new, but it had sat on the dealer's lot baking in the hot Texas sun for two years.  The graphics were not in good shape and have gotten worse. We're looking forward to getting a newer looking rig.