♥The stunning Salt River Canyon, whimsical wild horses, and a gripping ghost town♥

This year has proven to be quite adventurous. We’ve had the pleasure of two trips so far and have another planned; consequently,

I’ve been working hard to share at least this one before we embark on the third!

In March, we escaped the cold for a while. (Never did that before.) Rick’s parents winter in Apache Junction, AZ, each year…

So,  3 things kept running through my mind:

  1. We can say goodbye to the winter weather for a bit
  2. There is a place for us to stay
  3. We could enjoy special one-on-one time with the inlaws

Rick was able to get the time off, therefore…

Hello Apache Junction!

The only downer was we had to fly,  🙁  but only one-way.  🙂

… AND, our daughter, Calie, would be stationed in Yuma during that timeframe, so we would get to see her, too!  BONUS!  😀

This post shares how we enjoyed Apache Junction so you won’t miss a thing on your possible getaway there. Here we go…

My last post was all about trees.  Click here to see some majestic trees.

This post includes

  1. Cacti and desert
  2. Small mountains and wild horses
  3. A ghost town and old movie set
  4. The incredible Salt River Canyon
  5. Sedona and Jerome  🙂
  6. And much more

We relished our time in the sun, so I hope you’ll tag along with us and allow me to introduce you to many amazing places. But, you know what?

Every day can be an adventure, no matter where you are. All it takes is a good mindset, gratitude, and to open your eyes to every little thing around you.  🙂

Join me now, won’t you?

A Kidnapping and 6,000 Pipes

If you’ve read about some of our other adventures, you know we take off early for our trips. We got up at 2:00, and son-in-law Dave delivered us to the airport before 4:30 am. Lots of turbulence just confirmed my dislike of flying.  🙁

We landed at 6:30 Saturday morning (we still had a whole day!) in Phoenix, Bob and Maryln picked us up, and we immediately hit the road for the 3-hour trip to Yuma. We had a kid to see!

Plans changed

The tentative plan was to spend the weekend with Calie in Yuma, but, instead, we “kidnapped” her off base and drove 3.5 hours to Apache that morning. (She technically wasn’t supposed to go over 30 miles away, oops!)

LOTS of travel/driving and enjoying each other’s company characterized this day!

Lots of miles and smiles ahead!

On our way to Apache, we stopped at Dateland.  An interesting place, it proffered samples galore of many different kinds of dates and “all things dates” for sale.

The date groves were very pretty. Being something I’d never even thought of before made Dateland more fun. 

Dateland, AZ
Dateland, AZ
Dateland, AZ

Pizza and Pipes!

That evening, Grandma Jordan and Grandpa Bob (as the grandkids call them) introduced us to a unique place for dinner...Organ Stop Pizza. The pizza tasted fine, but the entertainment was unlike anything I had seen before.

The huge room had two floors and all eyes gazed at a man playing a massive Wurlitzer organ with 6,000 pipes!

Festive chaos

Dancing animals and instruments, such as drums, which moved or played via the organ’s pipes, and red, purple, and aqua-colored lights added to the festivity.

It was UNIQUE, to say the least.  😯  But, we were ready for our LONG first day to end!

Today’s mission: Get us to Arizona and get Calie to Apache.  

Organ Stop Pizza, Mesa, AZ

The incredible mighty organ… and his man.

Apache Junction winter park

This is where they escape to each year  🙂

Superstition Shadows, Apache Junction, AZ

Home sweet home, at least for 8 days

Scottsdale, Sedona, and Jerome

This day brought many spectacular sights and a visit with a family friend at her beautiful home in Scottsdale.

After breakfast at Micky D’s (no, not McDonald’s), a hometown cafe known for its biscuits and gravy, Scottsdale was our first stop.

Becky treated us to a tour of their home, garage, and large shop, which boasts of many collector’s cars and fun memorabilia. We also saw the backyard pool and met their 3 “puppies,” one of which busted out of his metal cage while we were there!  😯

The red town

From Scottsdale, Sedona and its breathtaking scenery beckoned to us.  Merely driving through Sedona is a treat because of the stunning red rock formations as far as the eye can see!

The splendid rock configurations cuddle the town as buildings and stone are virtually intertwined. One especially cool site is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built right into the red rock.  😎

Happy people

Calie and Grandpa eagerly await their biscuits and gravy at Micky D’s

'57 black Chevy

This old Chevy is just one example of the many treasures to be found here

Scottsdale, AZ, home

Nice backyard

Posing in front of the Wests’ home

Sedona, AZ

Sedona at last

Sedona, AZ

Rocks and buildings intermingle as one

Sedona, AZ

I love this scenery!

Before leaving Sedona, we consumed some tasty pizza at the Oak Creek Brewery and had a photo session, too.  😉

Sedona, AZ

Great white-barked trees guard the old southwest-style buildings

Sedona, AZ

These crazy-shaped trees/hedges cracked me up!

Sedona, AZ

Photo op with the family

Silly faces

I’m the only one who ever wants a serious pic

A quirky ghost town, a marvelous mansion, and a town sliding down the mountainside

Believe it or not, we were not yet done for the day because only 30 miles separated us from Jerome, a cool old mining town built on the steep, 30-degree incline of Cleopatra Hill, so we continued on.

Upon arrival in Jerome, we explored the Douglas Mansion, built in 1916 above the Little Daisy Mine, the quirky Gold King Mine/ghost town, and the captivating town itself in the middle of the beautiful Verde Valley.

Unending gorgeous views!

Jerome, AZ

Gorgeous view overlooking the Verde Valley

Jerome, AZ

The Douglas Mansion overlooks Verde Valley

Jerome, AZ

We relished the beautiful day in Jerome

Jerome, AZ

Some buildings in town have slid down the mountain!

Gold King Mine and Ghost town, Jerome, AZ

The Gold King Mine is very eclectic

Jerome, AZ

What a view!

Jerome, AZ

I love the colors mining sometimes leaves behind

A long way home…

We devoured some Chick-fil-A on the 150-mile drive back to Apache and arrived home after dark. What a long AND scenery-packed day!

 A bunch of cool sights and MANY miles characterized this day.

Mission: To get home and into bed! 

Long road trip!

We were in the pick-up all day!

Arizona sunset

Nice!

Sunset and cactus

We don’t often get to see a cactus-silhouetted sunset 🙂

The Scenic Apache Trail and Drama on the Interstate

Calie had to be delivered back to base today.  🙁   But first, we made the best of our last day together with visits to Apache Land and Tortilla Flat via the Apache Trail.

The historic Apache Trail

“It’s one of the oldest scenic byways in North America, a drive full of hairpin turns and sun-flares over desert hills. The trail begins in the town of Apache Junction and winds its way through the storied Superstition mountainsThe long, twisting road is dotted with ghost towns, lakes, desert dams, and narrow bridges before terminating at the Roosevelt Dam.” ~ reposted from Saguaroland

We discovered many gems along the way, such as Canyon Lake, a fun one-way bridge, and cacti-landscaped views.

Apache Land, near Apache Junction, AZ

 Calm and soothing scenery!

Apache Land

Apache Land is a former movie-set-turned-museum and makes its home among beautiful desert scenery.

Westerns like “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” and Elvis Presley’s “Charro!” were filmed here as well as “Death Valley Days.”

Many stars left their footprints behind via concrete molds hung on the walls of the barn, which is also the resting place of Doc Holliday’s buggy.

The Elvis Chapel at Apache Land, AZ

The Elvis Chapel, built for his movie “Charro.”

Tortilla Flat prickly pear ice cream

We enjoyed some surprisingly good prickly pear ice cream at Tortilla Flat

Onto an old stagecoach stop

Nestled in a beautiful and scenic drive through the hills of the Tonto National Forest, you’ll find Tortilla Flat, the only authentic stagecoach stop to survive the 1900’s along the Apache Trail.

The “Flat” got its start as a freight camp because of the road construction to Roosevelt Dam in 1904. (More later on the dam and its incredible surrounding beauty.)

While there, we watched a shoot-out, ate prickly pear ice cream, and spied some saloon girls in the restrooms.  😀

Authentic one-room schoolhouse at Tortilla Flat, AZ

The 1932 Tortilla Flat one-room school, near the location of the wild west shoot-out

The dancing girls restroom at Tortilla Flat, AZ

I was a dancing girl for a short time

A cactus flowering at Tortilla Flat, AZ

This cactus holds flowers

The saloon girl restrooms at Tortilla Flat, AZ

Calie made an awesome dancing girl!

Gorgeous Canyon Lake in Arizona

Breathtaking Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake, AZ

Me and the kiddo

One-lane bridge on Apache Trail, near Apache Junction, AZ

Fun view going over the bridge

A hillside of cacti in the Arizona desert

My second favorite kind of terrain; first choice-mountains!

A foiled escape

After all this driving and sight-seeing we still had a 4-hour drive to convey Calie back to base.

While on the interstate back to Yuma, we noticed a low-flying helicopter coming straight toward us. As it passed directly over the pick-up, we looked back and, much to our surprise, spotted two Mexican men running across the interstate right behind us!

Just then, a border patrol truck came speeding across the field as the helicopter kept the men “pinned down.”

It could have been a scene out of a movie. What a thrill!

Sad time…

We tearfully said goodbye to Calie at 6 pm as we dropped her off. But the day wasn’t finished yet. Nope; we were going to leave the country!

Being so close to the border, we decided to go into Mexico and take a quick look around. 🙂  We did and got through customs safely, although it was a little nerve-wracking.

After a treat of cappuccinos and snacks, we headed east and arrived “home” at 11 pm. Another good, long day in my travel journal.

Mission: To see more awesome Arizona desert sights and deliver Calie safely back to Yuma. 

“Flavored” Olives, Camelback Mountain, and Los Gringos

We woke to a clear beautiful morning.  After breakfast, we traveled to Queen Creek for some olive oil education.

A beautiful Apache Junction morning

Do you use a good quality olive oil? How do you know? They say it’s good to “know your farmer” …well, I do now!

Chocolate??

The morning spent at Queen Creek Olive Mill taught us a lot because we partook of a tour and presentation.

However, before our tour started, we explored the grounds ourselves and inspected some of their offerings, such as citrus and other fruits.

Meyer Lemon, roasted garlic and vanilla bean, as well as bacon and chocolate, are some of the available olive oils. After a few samples, we purchased our choices and have since ordered more.  😉

**One great thing I learned is their oils are safe up to 380-410 degrees.  😮

Queen Creek Olive Mill
Lemon tree at Queen Creek Olive Mill
Many flavors of olive oil at Queen Creek Olive Mill
Pomegranate tree at Queen Creek Olive Mill
Queen Creek Olive Mill
Olive plant at Queen Creek Olive Mill
Queen Creek Olive Mill tours

We saw a camel…

After the Olive Mill, we wound our way to South Mountain Park, which offers awesome views of the Phoenix metro area as well as some historic buildings. These structures provide opportunities for exploration and unique backgrounds for photos.

The Phoenix valley is flat with the exception of a few small mountain ranges, Camelback probably being the most recognizable, and fun. The distinctive formation looks like a camel lying face down.

Explore and Photograph (right up my alley!)

 Dobbin’s Point Lookout, with its stone ramada built in the 1930s, shares great views of the flatland and boasts a large copper compass which kindly points out landmarks.  While there, we, as well as a professional photographer (with a model) snapped lots of views.

To see this perspective helped me understand the layout of the whole area.

Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ

See Camelback Mountain in the upper left of picture?

South Mountain Park, near Phoenix, AZ

Saw this gorilla face in South Mountain Park

View from Dobbins Point, South Mountain, Phoenix, AZ, area

Hazy, sleepy mountains in the distance

Dobbins Point Lookout at South Mountain Park

Phoenix is to the right in the photo

Dobbins Point, South Mountain, Arizona

This cool structure is the inside of Dobbins Lookout

South Mountain Park near Phoenix, AZ

It’s just me

Towering saguaro

A very tall saguaro

Cactus skeleton in Arizona

Interesting cactus skeleton

Ready for a relaxing evening

When our stomachs told us it was time to eat, we chose Los Gringos–good food and good service in a very colorful atmosphere. Ole!

As we headed home the sky showed off for us, and before long we sat in the luscious Arizona evening taking it easy.  😀

Comparatively, this was a short, stressless day!

I find it ironic that as I write about sunny Apache Junction, it’s 33 and snowy here in mid-October!!  😯

Mission: To have a slow, easy day. 

Los Gringos in Mesa, AZ

Maryln liked her strawberry daiquiri…

Los Gringos, Mesa, AZ

…While Rick and Bob really enjoyed their beverages  😉

Sunset in Apache Junction, AZ

The sky showed-off and gave a perfect ending to the day

Wild Animals,  4-Wheelin’, and a Ghost Town

Get ready for a wild, jam-packed adventure today!

I haven’t mentioned this before, but my in-laws stay at Superstition Shadows, a retirement community, each winter. Consequently, they proudly introduced us to the group they hang out with. …WELL, it was time to hang out with “the group” today!

Hanging with the senior citizens

We welcomed the day with coffee and donuts (ugh) at the community center, then took a scenic drive (of course, because it’s all scenic down there!) out to Butcher Jones Recreation Area for a picnic, an awesome surprise, and an adrenaline-pumping ride in an all-terrain vehicle driven by a crazy old daredevil of a driver!!

On a side note…

“Hanging with the senior citizens” reminds me of the movie “Return to Me,” with David Duchovny (Bob) and Minnie Driver (Grace). They’re in their 30s and hang out with her grandpa and his hilarious friends. Bob invites his friend Charlie to meet him at a bar for a beer, and when he arrives he finds Bob bowling with the old guys. Charlie, with big eyes, goes up to him and whispers, “What’s up with the senior citizens?!” If you haven’t seen it, it’s awesome and so funny.

Back to the story

Located near one of beautiful Lake Saguaro’s beaches, this day of picnic-ing held promise. It wasn’t long before a wild horse came galloping through the picnic grounds! What a surprising surprise!  😀

He was beautiful and didn’t seem afraid at all as he came close to us more than once.

Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ
Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ
Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ
Wild horse at Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ
Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ
Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ

Danger ahead!

After our picnic and horse-watching, we had the “opportunity” to get scared and risk our lives! Ol’ Roger and his all-terrain vehicle apparently made up their minds to terrorize us.

We bumped our way into the empty wilderness, saw more wild horses, and took many perilous paths amidst the striking scenery.

Straight down…no way!

Once, I was prepared to jump ship because that ol’ daredevil wanted to go down a very vertical trail, but luckily the lady in the front talked him out of it! 😯

Roger thought it would be fun to take a different way back, but the path he chose kept getting narrower and narrower and finally dead-ended. After much finagling, he got us turned around.

I was relieved and my heart settled down only when the ol’ daredevil finally stopped the vehicle!  🙄

Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ

Look in the mirror  🙂

Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Gold Canyon, AZ

Crisp and majestic

This kind of place absolutely enthralls me

All of that adventure added up to quite an exhilarating afternoon! But on to, maybe, my favorite place of the whole tripGoldfield Ghost Town. (GGT)

Goldfield intrigues me.

I love everything historic, mysterious, and mountain-y, and this place reeks with them all.  BUT, it’s even better than that as the ghost town sits in the shadows of the Superstition Mountains, which have their own murky past. 😯

For more on these mountains, click here.

Besides its location and mystery, GGT appeals to me because of the fun, neat buildings and, depending on the time of day, the favorable photo opportunities.

Family vacation delight

I just remembered another reason this area/terrain entices me so. When I was 10 years old my family took a trip to Arizona, and one of the most fun activities we experienced was Legend Cityan extremely exciting amusement park.

The Lost Dutchman Mine Ride, their most famous, and to me, memorable, ride worked its way indelibly into my young mind as my brother, Rick, and I wound our way through the old mine via an ore car, alternating between fear and exhilaration.  😯

That’s probably where my love of mining, mountains, and mystery started!

I’ve included numerous photos from GGT, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  😉

Goldfield, AZ ghost town

Inviting, isn’t it?

Superstition Mountains as seen from Goldfield Ghost Town

The Superstition Mountains overlook Goldfield Ghost Town

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Bob, Rick, and Maryln check GGT out

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

It was a perfect day at Goldfield

Jail Rules in Goldfield Ghost Town

#4 would be tough!

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Grandma enjoyed the view from the deck of the Mammoth Saloon

A view of the Superstition Mts from Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

These mountains ooze mystery

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

I like to keep the mountains in view at all times  🙂

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Enchantment!

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

At the saloon, the servers dress in style

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Taking time for an us-ie (or 2 selfies)

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Peppermint stick ice cream in a freshly-while-I watched-made waffle cone

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Lots of fun things to see here

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

Palo Verde trees are abundant in the Apache area

Goldfield Ghost Town, AZ

The wild, wild west