Showing posts with label Prescott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prescott. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Remembering Prescott, Arizona

Travel makes the world smaller. It turns places on a map into people; their kindness and your experiences remembered long after the trip has ended.

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Prescott’s Courthouse Square – gathering place for families and friends

For that reason, our hearts today are back in Prescott, Arizona.  Our travels have taken us to this warm and welcoming town three times in the last two years.  Prescott is a vibrant college town draped in old west history about an hour and a half north of Phoenix.

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By now, you’ve probably heard of it. Prescott has been in both national and international headlines the last two days because the community is mourning the deaths of 19 firefighters based here – 14 of whom were in their 20’s. They were highly trained members of an elite team, known as  “Hotshots” and were killed on Sunday while battling a blaze that today continues to defy efforts to contain it.

So on this Travel Tuesday we want to pay tribute to this wonderful town, while joining with countless others who are sending prayers and condolences to the entire community.

Prescott captures you with its old west hospitality.  No matter who you meet there or why, there’s a warm feeling about the memory of that encounter. 

AZroadtrip2012 113For example, one evening last December we paused to look at the menu posted at a cafĂ© near the Square. We chatted with the owner briefly, saying we’d already eaten.

The next morning though we returned and she called out, “Oh, it’s good to see you two again! Glad you came back for breakfast!!” (It was a hearty plate of Huevos Rancheros we were served, I might add.)

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It is a town that normally this time of year is focused on its July 4th rodeo.  They’ve held one here every year for more than 125 years.  This monument to rodeo riders is outside its City Hall. 

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The town’s filled with public art that is  touching and whimsical – you never know what you might discover when strolling its sidewalks or entering a store.

These two were inside a small mall, and we found the delightful fellow below guess where?

Outside the public library!

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You might recall a post I wrote about Prescott last December when I declared it PC: Pure Christmas!  Prescott is Arizona’s self-proclaimed Christmas City and we believed them after watching one of several Christmas parades they have each December!

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What really struck us was the ‘neighborliness’ of the townsfolk. Although a vibrant, growing community there still exists a small town feel; the kind where neighbors know each other – they celebrate the good times and help each other through the bad. 

Arizona2012pt1 064And that may be what helps this town get through the coming days.

How You Can Help:
A Facebook page has been created honoring the firefighters. Click the link and ‘like’ the page.
NBC News Los Angeles reported on several ways to donate to funds for the firefighters’ families. Click the link for article.
Huffington Post has also listed ways to donate. Click the link.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aboard The Southbound Polar Express

When the High Plains Drifters set out on our Winter Road Trip early Thanksgiving morning, I’d silently decided we were taking a holiday from the holidays (like that John Grisham book/movie a few years ago about a vacation from Christmas).

As the Pacific Northwest forests gave way to the barren Southwest high plains, I ticked off the list the things I wouldn’t be doing: seasonal decorating, shopping and cooking, cards and gifts, ahh, yes. . .no holidays for us this year!

What I didn’t realize at the time was that we weren’t escaping from the holidays; we were hurtling toward them aboard our own  Polar Express, (it’s the other book/movie that convinces the Scrooge in all of us that the magic of Christmas is alive and well).

082We were headed to Arizona - Christmas Central -  the best place in the world to experience this season, …well,. . . with perhaps the exception of the North Pole.

The Sugar Plum Stations along our route left holiday visions dancing in our heads . . . visions like those in. . .


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Christmas Spirit enveloped us within hours of our arrival in Prescott, “Arizona’s Christmas City”.  This is its Courthouse, a centerpiece in the downtown, which by now is lit up each night just like the Christmas Tree next to it.


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We had a week-long stay in Marriott’s Desert Canyon Villas, five-minutes from the J.W. Marriott Hotel where Christmas decorations began appearing the same weekend we arrived.


With each day the decorations seemed to expand throughout the hotel’s massive lobby. Poinsettias lined the stairways, festive green and red decorations seemed to sprout – as if magically – during the night.


I didn’t think the Land of Oz could be made any more wonderful than the Emerald City that welcomed Dorothy and her friends. But thanks to the Marriott’s culinary team this land of Oz was a Confectionery Convention Center where gingerbread pavers lined the Yellow Brick Road.

108We spent three nights – thanks to a Cyber Monday deal – at the Fairmont Princess Hotel in Phoenix –a place that in December could be mistaken for the North Pole.

Scrooge would have had a difficult time here but not those who are still kids-at-heart. 

080Much time was spent watching their four-story tall Christmas Tree change colors; the changes synchronized to the Christmas Carole’s that ring out over the hotel’s plaza, located just outside its elaborately decorated lobby. 

113Then, down a path to the skating rink. . .yes, real ice, six-inches deep, in the heart of the desert. A large truck/generator  hidden behind one of the buildings brings this frozen wonderland scene to life.  (The rink is open to the entire community, not just hotel guests.)
They rent skates at the hotel.



After a bit of time at the rink it was time to follow a luminaria-lit path through a fairy land of lights and scenes that appear each evening. Any other time of year, the same pathway leads through a beautiful – but not particularly magical – lagoon area.

And if the kid within you allows you to do it, you can hop aboard a miniature train to tour this enchanted land.

In Arizona where everything seems big – even the Christmas decorations are enormous.  The tree below at  the Desert Ridge Shopping Center towered over the palm trees around it.



At Scottsdale’s iconic Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant we found Santa’s sleigh being hauled by cattle.

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And just down the road this big ol’ bronze mountain lion was decked out for the season as well.


Each evening at the Troon North Four Seasons the pathway between the Hotel and Residence Club wound through a daytime-desert that each evening gave way to a seasonal showcase.
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By the time we reached the Four Seasons I was much like the kids on the Polar Express – I was a believer again.  We may have left the holiday hustle behind, but we’d re-discovered the Magic of Christmas!
Have you visited any magical places this year? What made them magical?

Where ever your travels take you this holiday season we hope you’ll also find some Christmas Magic ~ it’s Travel Photo Thursday – don’t forget to visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travel.  I’ll resume the High Plains Drifters tales this weekend with a stop in Ely, Nevada . . .

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Arizona: Falling in love with an old charmer

The old charmer had won our hearts more than a year ago and back then, we’d barely met. This year we spent the night together. . .it only solidified the love affair.

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The High Plains Drifters wound our way through the Pacific Northwest, through Nevada, and into Utah before reaching Arizona on the third day of the Winter Road Trip.

Our destination was Prescott Arizona’s Hassayampa Inn – the old charmer that we’d been smitten with since we walked through it more than a year ago.  Luckily, The Scout found a Saturday night $129 rate (free parking and Internet) which assured us we’d be spending our last night on the road here.

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The 78-room, four-story hotel, at the time it opened in 1927 was one of the few hotels in the country to begin as a public institution – more than 400 stockholders had purchased shares of stock at $1 per share to fund its construction and furnishings.

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Back then, bathrooms were down the hall, but a multi-million restoration in 1985 resulted in numerous modern conveniences, including en suite facilities in the now-67-room hotel but didn’t take away the old-time charm of staying in them.

AZroadtrip2012 092It also sported the town’s only elevator – which is still in use but operated by hotel staff.

Once the cage rattled itself closed around us in the 1927 vintage elevator and we took off with a jerk, I felt much better having someone who knew what they were doing at those controls. Although that red phone. . .hmmm, wonder what it was used for?

The hotel is in the heart of this university town, some 90 minutes north of Phoenix. It’s name is the same as the  Hassayampa (haw –saw-yahm-paw) River, just north of town. It is an Apache word for “the river that loses itself” or “the upside down river.” The 100 mile river sinks below the surface only to appear a bit further away.

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Back in its heyday Will Rogers, Clark Gable and General Blackjack Pershing were among its guests. In recent years Tom Selleck, Joan Rivers, Alec Baldwin, The Beach Boys and George W. Bush have been on its ‘who’s who’ list.

They’ve undoubtedly admired the Talavera tile fireplace, the etched glass, the hand-painted ceiling, the leather couches and Castilian walnut furniture just as we do each time we entered the lobby.

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At the time the Inn opened it was heralded as the grand jewel of Prescott.

We think it’s still quite a gem!

If You Go:

Map picture

Hassayampa Inn, 122 E. Gurley St., Prescott, AZ 86301, 800-322-1927,

Thanks for visiting this Travel Tuesday – hope you’ll come back regularly! On Thursday we’ll step back from the road trip and reveal the identify of the guest chef on our fall Celebrity Silhouette cruise. . .you’ll never guess who it was!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Arizona: Where “PC” Means. . .

. . .Pure Christmas!

The High Plains Drifters (that’s us, you know) hail from a ‘PC’ state, but in Washington that means, “Politically Correct”.

And that means some stutter and stammer out watered down, lukewarm greetings this time of year for fear of: 1) hurting someone’s feelings, 2) dissing some other holiday, or 3) being sued by someone for not being that kind of “PC”.

I can tell you, that from what we've seen, we much prefer Arizona PC in December!!!

 Our introduction to the season came in Prescott, Arizona, a college town of some 40,000 that’s also  popular with retirees and serves as a weekend getaway destination for those living in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. We spent our third night here on our Southwest Winter Road Trip.

AZroadtrip2012 116We’ve been taken with the town since our first visit  there a year ago, but now I am enchanted by it.  You see, it is Arizona’s Christmas City!

Banners hang on light posts throughout the downtown proclaiming it so. Advertisements fill tourism magazine pages. Residents announce it proudly. Even in Scottsdale they tell you about their neighboring Christmas City to the north.

“Are you in town for the Christmas Light parade?” the clerk asked when  we checked into our hotel in the heart of Prescott.  It was the first of many celebrations this month, he said, describing a series of PC events.

“We are heading to the parade,” we told a couple dining near us shortly thereafter.  “This is the small one,” they cautioned us, “The big one is next Friday. It lasts two and a half hours”

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This one, their Christmas Light Parade, about 45 minutes in duration, brought out hordes of people. They’d been gathering along the route as we strolled to dinner. Even the spectators were in a ‘light’ mood; decorating their own viewing stands with lights or waving lighted wands at the floats as they passed.

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By the time we arrived back to the parade route the sidewalks were filled, in some places, people were standing six-deep, often calling out  and waving to friends who paraded past.

Cheers and clapping erupted as each new display came into view.

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Among the Christmas celebrations scheduled for this month are the 30th Annual Christmas Parade and the 58th Annual Prescott Courthouse Christmas Lighting, (hugely popular events) and the Acker Musical Showcase which features live music throughout the downtown in stores, restaurants, bars and galleries.

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It was music to our PC-dulled ears, when we were told that during the Christmas celebration calendar, there’s also a night when children gather on the courthouse lawn to hear a reading of “The Christmas Story”.

It’s a pretty special time in Prescott, the Poster Child of Pure Christmas.  But Christmas – not “Holiday” -- celebrations are taking place all over Arizona; I’ll tell you about them  as our jolly, pre-holly-day travels through the state continue. And next year we may just be celebrating Christmas in Prescott!

If You Go:

For More Information about the city: Prescott Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center, 117 W. Goodwin St., 86303, phone, 800-266-7534.

For Christmas events and travel information, click this link: Visit Prescott

Sunday, June 3, 2012

High Plains Drifters, Mad Dogs and Englishmen

polotowersscottsdale 036 June 2012 arrived Friday in Phoenix/Scottsdale with a sizzle:  113-degrees was the prediction ~ it felt hotter. Like a sucker-punch-to-the-stomach-hot.

We like hot, dry climates. And that is good, because that’s what we’ve had since arriving in the Valley of the Sun.

Fellow travel blogger, Dick Jordan, (whose Tales Told From the Road is worth a visit) reminded us that there’s a reason for the saying, “Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen travel to ‘Arid Zona’ between baseball’s spring training camps and Thanksgiving” and that reason is the weather.

We arrived during a ‘cold spell’ by locals’ standards. It was 89-degrees. The heat kept rising until Friday and is now back to a more comfortable ‘hovering at 100 or so degrees’.

four seasons scottsdale 014 Don’t be put off by the weather report though, because mornings and late afternoons are great for poolside lazing.

We are loving “Arid Zona” and if you haven’t yet planned a summer getaway give some thought to heading to America’s Southwest. Hotels are offering some great deals (and rooms are air conditioned). Those resorts, like the Four Seasons Scottsdale where we are this week, are offering some great deals in their spas – also air-conditioned paradises. (That’s a photo of the Four Seasons pool with Pinnacle Peak in the background.)

Arizona2012 021 If that isn’t enough to bring you here, then let me tell you there is no better reason to sip a margarita than to cool yourself after a day in the sun.  We’ve been on a quest for the perfect one since arriving in the state – we’ll tell you where to find ‘em in a future post.

(These tasty treats were consumed in Prescott, AZ right after we hit town.)

Right now, I’m headin’ off to quench my thirst. . .again!

Monday, May 21, 2012

High Plains Drifters on the Road Again

DSCF0089The High Plains Drifters, our other nom de blog, will soon be living for a couple of weeks in our hot, dry timeshare world -  Arizona’s desert. 

We’ve got plans to see a number of long time friends from the Northwest (who have also migrated south seeking sun) as well as some local folks we’ve met in the blogosphere: Jackie Dishner author of the guidebook, Backroads and Byways of Arizona, and publisher of the blog, Bike with Jackie (I love that title!) and David and Carol Porter, known  as The Roaming Boomers.  (Take a minute and check out those blogs by clicking the blue links.)

Before we settle in to our Scottsdale ‘home-away-from- home’ life, we’ll be traveling some of the back roads and byways,with stops in Prescott and Jerome in the north central part of the state.
We’ll also be taking a four-hour tour aboard the vintage train, the Verde Canyon Railroad, travelin’ 12 miles an hour through the Verde Canyon, once the home of the Sinagua Indians.

Have any recommendations for us in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area? Or north central Arizona?  How about recommendations for books set in Arizona? 


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