Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Very Scary Road

Yesterday Lloyd and I went on a little road trip here in sunny Arizona.  We wanted to check out something new so we drove to the small cities of Superior and Globe and on through the Tonto National Forest and from there, rather than backtracking and covering the same terrain on our return trip, we decided to take the Apache Trail (highway 88) past the Roosevelt Dam and through the canyons to Tortilla Flat and on to Apache Junction.

Here's what President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) had to say about the Apache Trail. I don't think it has changed much since his day.

"The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the Glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have.  To me, it is the most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has ever created." 

Sure it's beautiful and grand and magnificent and all that Pres. Roosevelt said, but I'll tell you what the 'indefinable something' is...the scariest, narrowest, twisting and turning road you'll ever find!!!

The 38 mile segment traversing through the Tonto National Forest is designated as a National Forest Scenic Byway. The entire route has also received recognition as a State Historic Road by the Arizona Department of Transportation.  It took us over two hours to travel that 38 mile segment of unpaved, narrow, twisting road, up one canyon and down another, repeatedly. There were switchbacks and blind curves with no guardrails and barely room for one car to drive easily.  Occasionally there were little outcroppings that you could pull onto if you happened to meet a vehicle coming the other way.  Luckily we didn't.

In spite of the edge-of-the-seat nervousness, the scenery really was spectacular.  Lloyd wanted to stop at every bend in the road to take pictures, and we did stop wherever there was room for us to get out of the middle of the road.

Here's some shots of our adventure.

The Roosevelt Dam, where the road begins

Our first clue that this was not going to be an easy drive...the
dirt road with little piles of sand at the oter edge.  It followed the beautiful
river for quite a while.  The Salt River I think.  (Correct me if I'm
wrong Roe.)

No way to tell if something's coming around that curve

And uuupppp we go...Some of these shots are, of necessity,
taken out our spotty windshield.

Halfway up the first canyon.  You can just see the river in the middle
of the picture.  Our road can be seen cutting across the near hill.

A tight squeeze if we were to meet an oncoming vehicle.

The sun played a major role in the photo shoots.  I was
afraid we wouldn't make it off the trail before dark.  We
almost didn't.

Civilization in the form of a bridge.

A single lane bridge going down the canyon.

The sun creates interesting shadows in the background and
turns the side hills gold.  You can see the road we just
traversed in the center.
Almost to the top

A curve with a layout for stopping

Sun setting behind a saguaro

Golden sunshine on the cliffs

Don't know what lived in that cave

Pretty sunshine

Stopped on the road to get out and take pictures

The top of the steepest climb...I can't see those guardrails
being much help if we started to go over the side.

Sunlight and cactus

Another road we climbed...all uphill

Love those blind curves

Our road far below

A layout where we stopped to take pictures

Scary turn

At last...pavement...civilization...Tortilla Flat...thats the
whole town there...closed up for the day at 6pm.

And that's our great adventure.  The scenery really was beautiful.  I know the road doesn't look scary in the pictures but it really was!  Trust me.  Go see it if you're able, just don't invite me.  Been there, done that!

Monday, October 27, 2014


We've been in Arizona for two weeks now just taking it easy, resting, swimming in the pool, shopping, and generally just vegging out.  Yesterday we decided to go to downtown Phoenix in search of the State Capitol and whatever else we could find.

Phoenix is the only city I've been to where the downtown area is almost totally deserted on Sundays.  The roads were devoid of traffic, which made getting around really easy.  A few extremely well tanned homeless people were seen going about their own business in the bright sunshine, and that was about all.

We found the State Capitol easily.  It wasn't nearly as impressive as the California State Capitol in Sacramento but was beautiful in its own way.

Arizona State Capitol
 There was some interesting structural and architectural styles in some of the older buildings in downtown Phoenix.  I concentrated on them and ignored the large modern glass and steel structures in favor of the more artistic ones.

Not sure what this one is, but loved the circular porch-like structure on the front.

Grace Court School

This colorful building is The New Windsor Hotel.  Lloyd commented
that if that is the New hotel, he'd like to see what the Old one looked like.

Phoenix has some beautiful churches. This Presbyterian Church was one we were able to tour through a couple of years ago.

This next one, The First Baptist Church, is on the National Register of Historical Buildings.  It was damaged by fire in 1984 and almost torn down in 1992.  The Historical Society fought to save it and were successful.  With a grant from the Historical Foundation, it's in the process of renovations now.  The stained glass windows have been removed, a lot of the roof structure is missing and there's a lot of interior damage.  I'd like to see it again when the renovations have been completed.

This interesting old building with the antenna on top is the Westward Ho Hotel.  It appeared to be fairly old but we couldn't get near enough to it to see if there was a date on it.

I liked the way this circular building was tucked into the corner.

This beautiful old building taking up almost an entire block is the Orpheum Theater."After 12 years, $14 million and an incredible amount of perseverance, the historic Orpheum Theatre has been renovated for 'adaptive reuse'. The Orpheum Theater hosts a great variety of first class productions, drawing thousands of people to a vibrant downtown venue."

Along the top of the Orpheum are beautiful carvings and statuary.

And lest you think that Phoenix is a city of the past, here's one of the newer buildings downtown, the new Phoenix City Hall.  The sunburst over the front doors represents the eternal sunshine found in Arizona's Valley of the Sun. I just made up that last sentence.  I don't know what it officially represents but that's what I like to think.

And that's my very limited exploration of downtown Phoenix.  There's much, much more to see, but that'll wait for another day.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Pacific Ocean as seen by an Atlantic Girl

We couldn't come this far west without putting feet in the North Pacific Ocean.  Having grown up around the North Atlantic, this seems like the ultimate cross country adventure.

After leaving San Francisco we drove to a fairly isolated stretch of oceanfront called Drake's Beach.

Flowers along the beach path
 I love the sound of the waves crashing on shore and could stand there for a long time just watching and listening to them...very hypnotic.

Lloyd and Joyce thought the water was too cold for wading so they
sat on a log beside a tidepool and talked while I soaked my feet
in the ocean.  Did you know of the therapeutic benefits of standing knee
deep in a cold ocean...numbed my legs so that I barely felt the
arthritis in my knees.  Bonus!

From there, we drove further down the shore to Point Reyes Lighthouse.  It was on a promontory that was almost unaccessible.  We hiked up above the lighthouse and took pictures of it from that vantage point.

The visitor's center was closed by the time we got there so we weren't
able to go all the way down to the lighthouse.

I like how you can see the curve of the horizon here

A close up of the lighthouse complex

The trees up there were beautifully shaped by the prevailing winds

The winds bent the trees in a tunnel formation over the path.

From here we headed down to Surprise, Arizona, where we'll stay until the end of the month.  In this case, the journey was worth the time and effort.  Now we will rest.