Showing posts with label High Plains Drifters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label High Plains Drifters. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On the Road Again. . .off to “Play House”

Hail, rain, gray skies and gusty winds – the combination made a perfect send-off from the Pacific Northwest last week as we kicked off the first of our ‘travel season’ adventures.

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Pinnacle Peak - Scottsdale, Arizona
 The High Plains Drifters, our nom de blog, when we head to the Southwest set forth on our journey last week. Our destination: our Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona timeshare homes where we have taken up residence for the better part of this month.

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Snoqualmie Pass - Washington State
Our route took us over the Cascade Mountain range then through Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys and past the Tri Cities, in all a nice long stretch of Washington State’s Wine Country.  No time to sample any though as we were headed across the Columbia River and into Oregon before stopping for the night in Baker City, Oregon. A town so charming that it is deserving of an entire blog post - one that will be forthcoming in future weeks.

Statue of Meriwether Lewis seeking directions from local Chief - Capitol grounds Boise
Our second night was spent in Boise, known as the City of Trees -- a most appropriate name for this city, the capital of the state of Idaho. We sliced through the southern tip of the state and headed for Utah.

We took a route through Utah and were blown-away (literally and figuratively) by both its vast beauty and emptiness AND its strong winds! Our third night was spent in southern Utah - Cedar City - where we were awakened by a storm in the middle of the night. The winds howled and shrieked from 2 a.m. on and as we left town we saw signs and dumpsters toppled by the strong winds. Luckily we missed the snow forecast to fall later in the day.

Arizona Spring 2012 131We undertook our journey at a leisurely pace, so we didn’t arrive in Arizona until the fourth day.

Saturday night was spent in Camp Verde, in northeast Arizona so that we could time our arrival in Phoenix to coincide with the early afternoon check-in at the Marriott Canyon Villas, our home for our first week.

Regulars here know that we’ve become sold on the timeshare-vacation-home approach to life.  It allows us to ‘live’ in Arizona in the fall and to move our Hawaiian ‘residence’ in the winter.

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Our home - Marriott Vacation Club Canyon Villas - Phoenix, Arizona
Because we traded a studio week that we own at the Marriott KoOlina in Hawaii, we are spending our first week in a spacious one-bedroom condo at its sister Vacation Club here. Next week we will move to our Four Seasons timeshare home.

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An Arizona Afternoon
I call our timeshare time, ‘playing house’ because we do spend our days much as we do back in the Pacific Northwest:  time at the gym, time writing, time reading, doing grocery shopping, cooking, doing laundry . . .plain old every day retirement living.

What we don’t do are chores and cleaning, repairs and upgrades – those things are handled by staff. Isn’t that a nice concept? All that in exchange for an annual maintenance fee which we gladly pay!

Arizona Spring 2012 127 In fact this ‘playhouse’ allows us the time to do nothing – a luxury even in retired life. We can hop in the car and take excursions on a whim (the kind we put off in the Northwest because we have chores to do.)

Sometimes we do nothing more than laze at poolside or watch the wild bunnies that scamper through the grounds. . .

. . .and that is far more fun than watching rain and hail fall up north!

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On the Road in Nevada

Have you taken any road trips lately? If so where did you go? Let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email.

Happy and safe Travels to you and thanks so much for the time you spent with us today! Hope to see you back again next week! Bear with the looks of the blog until I get the hang of using our new Surface - that we purchased just before the trip. I've not yet downloaded Windows Live Writer so you are seeing a mishmash of blog layout. . .I had another mosaic that I managed to kill out or lose somewhere. . .oh, the joys of technology~

We are linking up with these fun blogs – drop by for some great armchair getaways:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Travel Photo Monday – Travel Photo Discovery 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ely, Nevada: An Elixir for the Soul

While The Scribe was packing our suitcases, The Scout was planning the route for our Winter Road Trip through the Western United States. 

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He’d calculated that on our second southbound day we’d reach tiny Ely, Nevada, (population 4,288 in 2011)  tucked away in the eastern part of the state in time for lunch. This town, that began in the late 1800’s as a stagecoach stop, is located at the northern tip of Nevada’s Great Basin. It became the county seat in 1887 and by 1906 was a copper mining boom town.

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Illuminated by a mid-day sun against a blue sky background the the city park with its nearby towering County Courthouse called out Small Town Americana.   It’s a call that we find irresistible.

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The Scout had read about the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall which  at six-stories it was until 1948, the tallest building in Nevada.  it was there we dined on our mid-day break.  (You can tell from the photo it is still one of the tallest buildings in town.)

So charmed were we by this taste of the Old West – both town and hotel -- that we vowed to return on our northbound trip – and three weeks later pulled in for a second dose  of small-town-soul-elixir.

By then winter had turned the little town into a Currier and Ives card:

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Our arrival seemed synchronized with the snow that began falling in the mid-afternoon.

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The small town seemed even more charming as -now bundled in winter coats and gloves -  we strolled along its darkening main street, named Altman.

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One of our favorite ‘finds’ along the way was Economy Drug, an old-time combination pharmacy, gift and toy store, and boasting one of the coolest authentic drug store soda fountains we’ve ever seen.  Opened in the 1940’s the family’s on its third generation pharmacist.

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We were warmly greeted by two camera-shy ladies running the eatery, one in particular was a ‘fountain’ of history about the town and the business. She told me not to miss the ‘naughty boy’  mural on the side of the building. So . . .

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I didn’t want you to miss it either.  (Look closely near the lighted window.)

This time we stayed overnight in the historic Hotel Nevada and it’s a story unto itself. . .one that I'll soon be telling. . .

If You Go:

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  • Ely, is in White Pine County in the central part of eastern part of Nevada, sitting at the crossroads of U.S. 93 and U.S. 50. As you enter the town,you’ll find a selection of motels flanking the main drag.
  • It’s a great base for outdoors enthusiasts as camping, hiking, fishing and places to climb are found within a close radius.
  • In Ely, you are also in old Pony Express Country and not far from some old stage stops and mining ghost towns. 
  • The old Ely Ghost Train, is an operating railroad museum. Between May and September you can take train rides powered by old steam engines No. 40 and No. 93 – both important links to the area’s mining past. For more information:  775.289.2085
Hope you’ll continue our journeys with us. Sign up to receive our posts in your inbox by using the box at the right. Or we’d love to see your photo among our other friends just mid-way down the column.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On a Mission South of Tucson. . .

The High Plains Drifters and our friends set out on a day trip south of Tucson last week to look at the artsy crafty treasures to be found in the town of Tubac, “Where History and Art Meet”, located about half way between Tucson and the Mexican/U.S. border town Nogales.


The real treasure we found – where art and history really do meet -- was in the Mission San Xavier Del Bac on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation, not far from Tucson.  The Tohono O’odham, meaning ‘desert people’ is the name of the Native Americans who populate the Sonoran Desert in southeast Arizona and northwest Mexico.

The present structure was built between 1783 and 1797, long before the area was to come under U.S. control as a result of the Gadsden Purchase in 1853.


The Mission was founded by Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino nearly a century before this structure was started. Kino, born in what is now Italy, joined the Spanish order and was assigned to Spain’s Colony in Mexico. History considers him both priest and explorer, as he made some 40 expeditions into the area now known as Arizona and others up the Baja before his death in 1711 in Sonora.


The missionaries were forced to leave San Xavier in 1828 but returned in 1911- a year before Arizona attained its statehood.

This Kino Mission is the only one in the nation still active in preaching to the Tohono O’odham.

The mission’s Spanish mission architecture – the domes, carvings, flying buttresses distinguish it from other Spanish missions. It is called “The White Dove of the Desert”.


If You Go:

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The Mission is 9 miles south of Tucson, off Interstate 19, exit 92 on San Xavier Road. Hours: Daily 7 – 5 Mission (no photos allowed during services) Museum daily 8 – 4:30 p.m. No admission fee for either; donations welcomed.

And Down the Road. . .

129Just south of Tubac (exit 29 off Interstate 19) is Tumacacori National Historical Park where you’ll find the abandoned Mission San Jose de Tumacacori – visited by Kino in 1691. It was after the King of Spain expelled the Jesuits, replacing them with Franciscans that the work was started on the massive adobe church that was never completed and ultimately abandoned in 1848. It is also worth a visit.

It is Travel Photo Thursday so hope you’ll head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair adventures! If you’ve not yet signed up to receive these posts in your inbox, you can do so using the box to the right.  Or add your photo to our growing group of Google friends also found in the right hand column.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Setting out on a Winter Road Trip that would take the High Plains Drifters away from our Pacific Northwest home between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed pretty peculiar to a number of our acquaintances there.

AZroadtrip2012 003We’d be missing those weeks of rushing around to replace Thanksgiving decorations with Christmas-appropriate d├ęcor, writing the annual Christmas letter, shopping for, and delivering, presents and of course,cooking.

We’d also be missing winter weather (the likes of which we left behind on Thanksgiving morning – this scene on Snoqualmie Pass, WA).

And, worse, friends exclaimed, we wouldn’t be ‘home’ for the holidays’.  But, oh, contraire!


We are home.  We are settled quite comfortably into our ‘interval world’  home, this one an adobe casita which is part of our Four Seasons Resident Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Here we own a fractional piece of deeded property which can be used or traded for another locale.  The best kind of second home for our nomadic lifestyle.

I should note these photos were taken before we cluttered it with ‘our stuff’ which certainly does make it feel – and look -- like home.

We’ve been hooked on this type of second-home lifestyle for several years now; having first taken the plunge with Hawaiian ownership.


It really is like home:  we cook (there’s a full kitchen) , do laundry and go grocery shopping – just like at the other home back in Washington. However, here we can walk to the gym a few yards from our casita and later sun at poolside, with attendants setting up the lounges and bringing us beverages while back in the room, the maid is bringing new towels and making the bed (you get the idea).

Oh, but what about Christmas and all the decorations and celebrations? 

Well, let me show you:
I chose to feature  the Residence Club and the nearby Four Season’s Hotel lobby – in later posts I’ll show you more from Phoenix and Scottsdale.175

Last night we strolled the paved walkway that links the residences to the hotel for a Happy Hour Margarita and were greeted at the hotel’s entrance by these young musicians who played Christmas caroles – their music setting a seasonal tone throughout the development.


Here it seems everything is decorated for the season; even our cacti and the best part is that we didn’t have to raise a finger getting them so:


Arizona’s weather, we are told, is unseasonably warm this year. It’s been in the mid- to high-70’s but a colder spell is on the way.  Supposed to drop to 61-degrees on Friday. With that kind of weather on the way, the High Plains Drifters will be heading back to the Pacific Northwest.
Oh, but what a holiday at home we have had!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TPThursday: A Vermilion Vignette

The scenery had been stunning in its expansive, empty way; the roadways long and lonesome as the High Plains Drifters (our nom de blog for the next few weeks) made our way south to Arizona on this Western Winter Road Trip.

AZroadtrip2012 067 Having crossed our snow-dusted 3,022-foot Snoqualmie Pass in Washington on a gray Thanksgiving morning, we were delighted to find  elevations further south, like the Le Fevre Overlook at 6,700-feet, to be shirt-sleeve warm and sunny.

In keeping with our travel style, we followed a road less traveled  on this segment of our trip. It was Highway 89A, from St. George, Utah a route that wound its way through northern Arizona (instead of southern Utah) through the rather sparsely- forested Kaibab National Forest.

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We had no expectations – no ‘must see’ places – for the day, only a plan to reach Prescott, Arizona before sunset. And it is those kind of days, we’ve found with travel, when the magic happens.

A roadside overlook just outside this forested land is where we had our introduction to the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, a mind-boggling vast area of some 293,000 acres of plateaus, canyons and cliffs. Two Native American ladies were some distance away quietly setting up tables to sell artwork and jewelry. The silence, the absolute silence and the view. . .I still struggle to find the words to describe that moment and its magic:

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For miles the roadway cut through that ‘valley floor’ itself an elevation of 5,000 feet, with those cinnabar cliffs towering from  3,100 – 6,500-feet above us.

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We were the only travelers on this stretch of road for some time and could only imagine what it had been like for Sharlot Hall (1870-1943), a journalist, poet and the Historian of the Arizona Territory as she traveled this same area by horse-drawn wagons some hundred years ago.

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The Vermilion Cliffs are an outdoor enthusiasts playground – hiking trails abound.  Next time, we’ll allow ourselves some time to stop and explore the area.  We passed two character-looking mom-and-pop places that offered overnight accommodations:  Lee’s Ferry Lodge and Marble Canyon Lodge.

If You Go:
The Vermilion Cliffs are bounded on the east by Glen Canyon National Recreation area, on the west by Kaibab National Forest, to the north by the Utah border and to the south, 89A (389 if coming from Fredonia).

Services are limited between St. George, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona; the bookend cities of this loop. However, there’s is a service station and convenience store at Pipe Springs, about 15 miles west of Fredonia.

The Paiute Indians have opened a museum across the road from the service station at Pipe Springs National Monument. Allow some time to visit it, the historic fort and cabins.

You can learn more about the woman I mentioned at the Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley, Prescott, AZ. (In 1927 she signed a contract to house her collection of history and memorabilia in the building that had in 1864 been the Governor’s Mansion.)

That’s it for today’s Travel Photo Thursday. Be sure to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos.

And for those who missed the first two segments of High Plains Drifter’s Winter Road trip, you might be interested in:
* A Thanksgiving Jackpot
* A Long Lonesome Road: To Stop or Not
Hope you’ll come back Saturday when I’ll tell you what “P.C.” means in Arizona!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On a Long, Lonesome Highway: To Stop or Not?

The High Plains Drifters left Jackpot, Nevada in the nippy early morning hours on Day 2 of our winter road trip through the Southwest. It was to be another day of traveling over long, lonesome highways as we crossed this state best known for the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. 

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But away from Sin City there’s simply land; lots and lots of land.  One AAA Guidebook says of Nevada road trips, that you will either see miles of nothing or miles of everything – it’s all in your attitude. The first time we drove through the state, I’ll admit I thought it was the most God forsaken place I’d ever seen. . . it’s captured me now – this high desert landscape is lovely and lonesome.

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We reached Ely, Nevada (a place deserving of its own post soon) by noon; a short break for lunch and we were back in the car en route to Utah, where we’d spend the night in St. George.

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We passed a road sign that warned again picking up hitchhikers because there was a prison out there somewhere in the vast wilderness.  More miles and minutes ticked away and we were entertained by views of Wheeler Peak, 13,032 elevation, pictured above.  Our route looped around this stunning peak (there’s a 12-mile scenic drive that takes you to the 10,000 foot level on the flank of the Peak, which would have been spectacular, I’m sure) but once around the Peak our road again became. . .

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. . .the long ribbon of empty highway. A place so remote that neither  ‘dumb’ or ‘smart’ phones work. They whirl endlessly searching for service. 

Joel, after some time and many miles, asked if I could recall the last time we had passed a car. Hmmmm, one, two hours?

He’d no more than asked the question when in the distance we saw a car pulled off to the opposite side of the road.  A man started waving his arm to flag us down, a woman stood by the SUV with its engine hood raised. . .
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To stop or not to stop? 

Joel slowed, crossed the road to where the man was standing but kept our car in gear, foot on the brake.   Turns out this 40-something-year-old couple, who lived in a town a hundred miles away, were on a day’s outing to go ‘prospecting’ in the hills when their car broke down.  They couldn’t call for help – no cell phone service. It was too far to walk.  They’d tried flagging down the  few cars that had passed (obviously long before we arrived) but as the man said, “You know how it is. In this day and age, they don’t stop.”

I can’t tell you how profoundly grateful they were that we had pulled over.

We took all their information (their GPS, by the way, showed them on the wrong highway – luckily our old ‘paper map in the lap’ showed the road we were all on).  It was many miles down the road before we reached a place we could call 9-1-1. The dispatcher assured us he’d ‘get someone right out there’.  We suspect he did!

How sad, that we actually have to think twice about stopping to help someone these days. On this Travel Tip Tuesday, we ask the question:  To stop or not to stop?  What would you have done?


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