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From Meteors to the Capital in Arizona

May 6, 2006

Hello again to all who continue to follow our journey and welcome to all you first time visitors.

As I mentioned in my last update, we arrived to our 17th state last Friday. Near Windslow, Arizona was the Meteor Crater RV Park. It was located right off the highway exit to the large meteor crater. I showed you just one of the sunset photos I took that evening in the last update. I've posted a few more below.

On Saturday morning we drove to the Meteor Crater. This thing was huge! We toured through the museum and education visitors center first, then went out and climbed to the rim. At first it was hard to grasp the size of it. The crater is 4,000 feet across and 550 feet deep. When you're standing there looking at it, it looks like a really BIG whole in the ground. Then as you begin taking a closer look through all of the small telescopes they have setup, you begin to realize how big it REALLY is!

Through the scopes we can see the six foot astronaut cut-out figure with flag at the base. You can also see the tunnel across the other side halfway up the side that was dug out to repair the drill. There were also some other items which cannot be seen unless you looked through the scopes.

Afterwards, we headed south on I-17 down to Casa Grande. Casa Grande is located south of Phoenix. The next day we went for a drive up to Tortilla Flat which was supposed to be a sort of ghost town. However it has become such a tourist spot, that there were people all over the place. The drive there past Apache Junction and Tortilla Flat along Highway 88 was really nice. After stopping to eat at the Superstition Saloon, the food wasn't that good, we continued down Hwy 88 which became a gravel/dirt road. And at sometimes was just a single lane. Anyhow, we got some great pictures.

Next on Monday, we left Casa Grande and headed just north of downtown Phoenix and setup camp there. We were planning on going to the capital building that afternoon. However, there were three other homeschooling families at the RV park and the boys wanted to go out and play. So we stayed there.

On Tuesday we went into Phoenix to visit the Arizona Capital building. It is now a museum. The current legislators meet in a newer building. We toured the three floors of the building, looking over the many displays about the history and life in Arizona.

Halfway between the capital and the campground was an amusement park. The plan was to go there. Once we arrived though, it turns out that only the mini-golf is open everyday. The ride section that had the roller coasters was only opened Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So much for that plan. We then decided to just go back to the campground, swim in the pool, and let the boys play with the other kids. Then later I went on a few GeoCaching hunts.

Wednesday was another driving day. We had a reservation at the Thousand Trails campground still a little further north at Camp Verde, AZ. They gave us three free nights there in order to try to get us to upgrade to the western zone. After setting up camp, everyone wanted to stay at the RV. So I went out GeoCaching again.

I also stopped at the Chevy dealer to have the Blazer checked out. It had developed a metal popping sound ever since we did the off-roading in Texas. They greased the lower ball joints and the noise went away. However there was some wear in the joints and I will probably have to get them replaced before this trip is over. Another day perhaps.

After school on Thursday we drove up to Jerome. Jerome was a thriving copper mining town long ago. However, after the mine closed, so did the town. The population went from 1500 to less than 10. Then in the 1960's, a lot of free spirited artists came to town and the population began to grow again. Now it has become a popular tourist attraction.

What we went to Jerome to see was the "Ghost Town and Gold Mine". As it turned out there was a small gold mine on this site along with a few buildings that still remain today. But the rest was either build or hauled in by the owner of the attraction. Cricket thought it was just a junkyard, but it was very interesting to me. There were a lot of old machines, engines, and a working sawmill. But what I liked most were all the old trucks and cars there. Most of them are the pre-WWII manufacturers that no longer exist, such as Reo, Federal, and others.

Later that evening we went to the Blazin M Ranch in Cottonwood which was a western style dinner show. They had some shops and things there on the ranch to entertain the guests before the show began. While we waited, we had an old west style photo taken of us. Then we went to the shooting gallery where we each tried our hand at target shooting with a real 44 caliber 6-shooter. We didn't do too bad.

We then went into the main room to take our seats. They served the food first. Since those serving were also singing in the show, the show didn't start until after we all ate. It was still a lot of fun. It was kind of like the old Hee Haw TV show. They called Lucas to stand up in front with another boy because they had birthdays soon. They gave him a paper cowboy hat which gave him a big smile.

Yesterday morning we had to leave early to Sedona. We had arranged a timeshare resort tour in order to save a $140 on a train ride for that afternoon. We took the tour of the resort, which was nice, but still declined the purchase. After receiving the voucher for our train tickets, we returned back to the RV for lunch and to give Jake a quick walk. After lunch, we stuck Jake back in his box and headed over to Clarkdale to take the Verde Valley Train Ride.

If you're ever in this area, you must take this train ride. It is much better than the Grand Canyon train ride, it just goes through mostly flat land. The Verde Valley Railway follows the Verde river north through canyons, around hills, and through a 600 foot mountain tunnel. Along the way we saw an Elk, two adult Bald Eagles out looking for food, two young eaglets back in the nest, and some Blue Herrings. During the 4-hour trip, I managed to shoot 181 photos!

Today we left Thousand Trails and drove up Hwy 89 through Sedona for another look. It was beautiful. Going through Red Rock State Park was incredible. Unfortunately, we were in the RV and towing, it was Saturday and very busy, and not a single spot for me to pull over to park for some photos. When your combined length is more than 40 feet, you're limited in where you can pull of on narrow winding roads! We'll have to come back another time. Cricket did capture a lot of it on video while I was driving.

Continuing north past Flagstaff, we turned north onto Hwy 180. This took us past Humphreys Peak. At 12634 feet, this was the tallest mountain in Arizona. It still had snow on the top of it. I pulled over to take a couple of photos. Then we continued on northward to the Grand Canyon.

We arrived at the south rim around 6 pm. We could see the canyon out the window, but couldn't stop. We headed over to the campgrounds, but there wasn't anything available for the week. So we went back out of the park and just a mile down the road was the Ten X National Forest. We pulled into there and they had plenty of camp sites available. However these were dry camping sites without any hookups. But they were only $10 a night. Our only other choice was a private campground that was charging $49 per night. We choose to dry camp.

Well that's it for now. Next week I'll be telling you all about our time in the Grand Canyon and I'm sure I'll have lots of photos.

See you then,

The view from the meteor rim looking back at our RV and Humphreys Peak in the distance.

Another shot of Humphreys Peak as we got closer from the east.

The old schoolhouse, now a museum, a Tortilla Flat.

Above and the six below were taken along Hwy 88 near Tortilla Flat.

You can see the dirt road in the valley we took to get up here.

We parked just past the bridge to the left. We saw a cave and couldn't resist the climb up to explore.

This was jut one section of Apache Lake. (I think it was called that) You can't really see it in the photo, but there are a lot of boats down there.

Looking for gold in the old mine.

The Blazen M Ranch

Above and below are shots taken from the train ride.

The two little eaglets high in their nest on the side of the canyon wall.