Trip Up Coastal Highway 1

Sunday, Dec 8th we left Palm Creek Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona at 7AM and headed for San Diego where we are setting down roots for 4 months, waiting for the arrival of our first grand baby. We went to visit Kevin and Ericka after we arrived spending the evening with them in Del Mar where they live. We are staying at the Santee Lakes RV Park about 25 minutes by freeways from Del Mar. Californian drivers are insane, they cut in and out of traffic going 100 mph, and are always in a hurry. This will take some time getting used to and the traffic jams are unbelievable if you are not carefull and try to move around during rush hours.. Continue reading

Picacho Peak State Park

On December 5th we drove south to explore Picacho Peak State Park and climb the 1500 ft to the summit on the Hunter Trail. The 2 mile “Hunter Trail” is named in honor of Captain Sherod Hunter – Confederate States of America who lead Confederate forces against Union forces under the command of Captain William Calloway in the Battle of Picacho Pass (the only civil war battle in Arizona). We had driven past Picacho Peak many times on I-10 and wanted to see if we could climb to the top. The Hunter Trail won the “Best of Phoenix” Winter Hike and we definitely agree, it is a four-mile-round-trip butt-kicker hike, similar and harder than a lot of the trail on the AT. Once we reached the saddle then the fun began and we used the steel cables and planks to get through the steepest rocky sections. It is not a technical climb but the Park have put a lot of work into making the hike to the top accessible for all hikers by installing the steel cables. Picacho in Spanish means “big peak” and with the magnificent  360 degree view from the top looking south to Tucson, north to Casa Grande and the many mountain ranges surrounding Phoenix, you feel as if you are on the highest peak in the area. Continue reading

Asarco Open Pit Copper Mine

After leaving the Casa Grande Ruins we headed further East into the mountains towards Asarco’s Ray Mine; one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world.  We travelled on a gravel backcountry road through some spectacular desert terrain.  Along the way we passed the Boulders, a large collection of massive sandstone rocks.  This area is popular with off-road 4×4’s as it is riddled with all terrain roads.  After crossing over two ranges we came upon the mine site and were blown away by the scale of the operation.  When you see the massive  Liebheer mining trucks carrying over 350 tons of ore up out of the pit looking like ants, you begin to appreciate the size of the excavation.  The open pit is over 2,200 feet deep and covers an area of 3.75 sq miles. The mine processed 250.000 tons of ore per day. Continue reading

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

On Dec 3rd we left Palm Creek Resort and drove east 19 miles to the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument which preserves the remains of the largest known structure of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People, the Great House. It was built in 1350, and stands four stories high and 60 feet long, with a platform mound filling the first floor. The steel and concrete canopy built in 1932 continues to protect the Great House. We took the tour of the ruins and then watched the video about the history of the Ancestral People who left the area in the 1400s due to major floods. In 1694 when the Spanish missionaries arrived they found only an empty shell of the once flourishing village of the Casa Grande, and in 1892 the Casa Grande became the nation’s first archeological reserve. To this day the Great House keeps within its walls the secrets of the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert. Continue reading

Scottsdale AZ, Taliesin West

On Dec 2nd, Monday, after a great Thanksgiving weekend with Kevin and Ericka, we drove to Scottsdale to view Taliesin West, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Taliesin means “a shining brow” alluding to the scenic location and vista. Wright’s house was built in the beautiful Sonoran Desert nestled in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains with vast views of the surrounding desert. The buildings and landscape complement each other, they co-exist in harmony. Taliesin West was planned and built by the master and his disciples in 1937 at the age of 70, indigenous materials were used throughout and his students built it basically by hand. Even the furniture was designed and built by Wright and his students. Wright loved the movies and thus built a theater, a music pavilion and a Cabernet theater where he entertained many Hollywood stars. Many of Wright’s most famous buildings were designed in the drafting room at Taliesin West, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Taliesin West continues as the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and as the winter home for the School of Architecture. Continue reading

Tombstone, AZ

When we left the Caverns we decided to drive to Tombstone, not far away. Tombstone was founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin who prospected the nearby hills in 1877, and found silver. Throughout the past 140 years it has survived two major fires, the loss of the mining industry, and countless violent encounters at the OK corral. We visited the Cochise County Courthouse built in1882 at a cost of nearly $50,000, Tombstone remained the county seat until 1929. We walked down Main Street and went into Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, it is the best cowboy bar in the west. Kate was believed to be the first prostitute in Tombstone but her biggest claim to fame was that she was also Doc Holliday’s girlfriend. A great place to stop for a beer and a bite to eat, then we drove back to Tucson about an hour north. Continue reading

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Today, Nov 21st, we went to explore the Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson, AZ. We left early to drive about 50 miles south from Tucson, and arrived at the Caverns to take our first tour. These caves formed over 200,000 yrs ago, were unknown to humankind until 1974 when Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts found a sinkhole on private land, and followed the source of warm moist air, toward what ended up being more than 2.5 miles of pristine cave passages. They wanted to protect the cave from vandalism and kept it a secret for 14 years. After gaining cooperation with the Kartchner family, who owned the property, working with them for ten years, they decided the best way to achieve their goal was to approach the Arizona State Parks. Finally in 1988 the landowners sold the area to the state for the development of the park and show cavern. The state spent $28 million to preserve the caves and they have done an amazing job. Continue reading

Tucson AZ, Pima Air and Space Museum

Today, Nov 19th, we took Sherpa (our RV) to get her electrical worked on and we took off to see the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson. It opened in May, 1976 with 48 planes and it is one of the world’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums, now with 300 aircraft spread out over 80 acres. There are 4 Hangars, a Space Gallery and the 390th Memorial Museum, and we started in the Spirit of Freedom Hangar and saw the SR-71 Blackbird, a super high altitude spy plane. The first engine designed to operate for longer periods using the afterburner and flight at altitudes over 80,000 ft. The engine weighs approximately 6000 lbs and produces over 30,000 lbs of thrust, for all you fanatic pilots. Continue reading

Casa Grande AZ, Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort

We arrived here at Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande on Saturday, Nov 9th, excited to stay for a week to unwind and relax. Kevin came to join us for one night and he played pickle ball with us and lounged at the pool all afternoon. We drove him back to Phoenix that night where he caught a plane to Fort Myers, the red eye. The rest of the week was spent playing pickle ball and sunning at the pool. The majority, 65%, of the people here are from Canada, and we met a lot of wonderful folks, doing the same as us. The amenities here are amazing, so most of the guests come for a week and stay for 6 months. We will definitely be returning here in the near future. Continue reading

Tubac AZ

On Monday, Nov 4th, we drove to Tubac, a famous authentic western town south of Tucson. Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio (fort), creating the first European settlement in Arizona. Then in 1821, the Spanish were ousted by the Mexicans and the Apaches began warring with the Mexicans. In 1853, James Gadsden, the American Ambassador to Mexico, signed a treaty purchasing a huge tract of land from Mexico, including Tubac. The Apache chief, Geronimo, and his warriors wreaked havoc against the Mexicans. He was finally defeated in 1886, in Cochise County on Canyon Road near Tubac. The fighting eventually stopped and the 200-year war came to an end. Continue reading