Friday, March 11, 2011

High Plains Drifters in the Sonoran Desert

Saguaro Cactus - Arizona's Sonoran Desert
j. smith photo, (c) 2011
The High Plains Drifters believe we are in the Sonoran Desert. All the travel guides are promoting hotels with views of it, golf courses that blanket it and excursions that could take you further into it.  It's a stark, dry, and somewhat intimidating place because it is so vast -- as are the cities clustered around Phoenix, which continue to spread their roads and homes out over its flat monotone surface.  Coming from the Evergreen State and its towering mountains, this place has required that stretch from the comfort zone that we are seeking when we set out on new adventures.

The Timeshare Trail led us south from Las Vegas, past Hoover Dam (more on that later), over a ribbon of highway that stretched off as far as your eye could see into the distance. It lead us through remnants of the old American West.  We passed places that just sort of appeared, all alone, hugging the highway; places like Rosie's Den offering 47-cent a cup coffee which was just down the road from  the Last Chance where you could eat the best burger.  We drove a section of Route 66 in the town of Kingman, a frontier town founded in 1882.  For those of you watching our soaring gasoline prices, the price there was $3.74 a gallon.

Just beyond Haulupai Mountain Park was the small Wikiup, AZ with a couple cafes and motels and where we noted the first sighting of saguaro cactus, those towering sentenals of the Southwest that live so long, they don't start growing 'arms' for the first 50 - 60 years of life.

We set up 'housekeeping' for the week in Diamond Resort's Scottsdale Links Resort.  We've explored the town in Ol' Orange (still the only car we've seen painted that color); me with two maps spread out on my lap and Joel's head swiveling as he announced crossroads and intersections in hopes I could assure him we were going the right direction for whatever our intended destination.

In the course of the week, thanks to several of you, we've found some new 'finds' and visited some old  favorites, I'll tell you about those places soon.  And while here, we fell in love with Pinnacle Peak, one of our directonal landmarks and a striking bit of scenery. I have more to tell ya about it, but fer now gotta pack up as we are headin' to Tucson today and Ol' Orange is awaitin'.

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