Senator Highway

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John and I have traveled a lot of the back roads of Arizona.  But this road trip was a first for us.  We took the back road between Prescott and Crown King, called Senator’s Highway.  There are many ways to get to Crown King, some easier (via the freeway), some harder, like the nasty notorious back road – which I hope never to take again!

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Senator’s Highway is the old stagecoach route built in the late 1800’s.  It was the road that connected the many mineral mines like Bode Mine, Bradshaw Mine, and Crowned King mine.

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Arizona actually had 4 capitol cities before settling on Phoenix as it’s permanent capitol.  Back in 1864, Prescott was it’s capitol…. then in 1867 it moved to Tucson… in 1879 back to Prescott… until finally moving between Prescott & Tucson to Phoenix in 1889.  The old Senator’s Highway connects Prescott all the way to Phoenix.

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This old two track stage coach road is a seemingly endless meandering, incessant switchback of a road.  It took us 5 hours to get all of the 37 miles between Prescott and Crown King, and that was in our modern vehicle.  There’s a story that airplanes overhead can see the road at night because of all the glittering glass left over from the broken booze bottles that passengers would throw overboard when they would get liquored up for the tortuous trip.

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Not only does it host gorgeous views and grand vistas, it is also home to one of the oldest still standing stage coach stops, Palace Station.  Palace Station is still used by the Forest Service as quarters – off limits to the public.

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While it was a slow going road, it was well graded and a beautiful drive, well worth the trip… and a wonderful day’s adventure.

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Grand Canyon – South Rim

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We just got back from the Grand Canyon – South Rim hoping to get some great storm cloudy pix.  It’s difficult if not impossible to schedule a trip around a storm, as getting reservations at the Canyon can be it’s own difficult task.  But we managed to get last minute reservations in one of their old ‘rustic’ cabins.

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A storm was predicted for the days we were there… but today’s weather forecasters are often wrong.  Furthermore, it’s hard to say if upon a storm one will get awesome clouds and interesting sky, or complete whiteout and washed out gray skies.

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The afternoon we arrived brought snow almost immediately.  The next day we were socked in and you couldn’t see the Canyon over the edge…. so I was glad I got the shots I did when I did.

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The day it snowed all day, we had hoped to get to see Hermit’s Rest, a Mary Colter building 7 miles off the main Grand Canyon loop.  Unfortunately, the road was closed due to all the snow we were having.  We got about 8″ in the day we were there.

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Going to the Grand Canyon is like touring the world…. people of all nationalities wander with you taking in the magnificent sights of the ‘big ditch’…. even in the snowy winter.

While we were out driving in the snow, we passed no less than 3 tow trucks towing multiple cars that had careened off the ice.  It was like a ice rink with rental cars as bumper cars, skidding into trees and into each other, many of whom had no doubt never before seen snow.  Roads were blocked with tow trucks clearing the way, making it impassable everywhere.

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We found these elk watching the traffic go by… munching the afternoon away after a short clearing.

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Check out my pix … here…. of Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower.

 

 

 

 

Loneliest Road

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It’s been called The Loneliest Road, which ironically gave it fame and tourism otherwise unsolicited or deserved.  Route 50 cuts across Nevada from East to West, with nary a stop along the way.  It’s sole purpose to get from one end to the other… CA being on the West end, Utah being on the East.

Our destination was to cut across Northern CA to Great Basin National Park, on the Eastern edge of Nevada.  This time of year we were the only ones at Great Basin National Park, as the Park itself and all the roads, overlooks, and scenic drives were closed (unlike what their own website indicated).  One year round campground was open, so at least we had that.

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With snow on the ground, the temperatures were quite nippy.  It did provide for our first glimpse of a white turkey, though… so that was pretty cool.

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Lehman Caves was open, and provided a wonderful excursion and scenic site.   You can check out my photos of the Caves here….Lehman Caves

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We will have to imagine the park and it’s views since it wasn’t open when we were there.  But I can tell you that the babbling brook and creek running as the snow melted was very calming and serene.  The views of the snow packed peaked above us, surrounded by aspen and birch were stunning to behold.

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I can’t say it’s worth the drive, having seen so little of it… but it was a nice place to rest our head for the night.

 

 

 

 

Getty Museum

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I have definitely heard of the Getty Museum.  It has been open since 1997 in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.  To view the grounds alone is mind blowing, with it’s expansive well groomed campus, home to 5 modern marble block buildings housing extensive collections of fine art dating all periods of Greek and Italian masters.

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To see the extent of the collections, which rotate – so you never see all of it, is stunning.  Portraits (or busts) of both famous and simple persons of centuries before, bestowing their wealth and stature; paintings dating back to Before Christ (BC); figurines of great importance and talent; photographs; and wood carvings.

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In a world where there is so much vanity, and ‘cheap’ entertainment, it is a welcome retreat to see such ‘real’ art.  The museum is akin to any great museum you might find in Europe.  It is extremely diverse, wide and varied in it’s mediums and artists.  Where else can you see items of such historical significance?

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In so many ways, it doesn’t seem like such a place should exist.  The history portrayed here is of Europe (much of it Italy) artifacts, not US.   But then, US has very little of our own history… we are all after all, mostly descended from Europe.   J Paul Getty, with all his wealth, fell in love with the Italian villas, and fascinated with Pompeii and the vast mosaics, artifacts, and history.  So much in fact, that he wanted to share it with his fellow Americans… hence the Getty Museum.

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Much of it is very religious is tone.  But irregardless of your religious affiliations… it is definitely a sight to see.

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Milk Ranch Road

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Just off the Forest Road 300 is an obscure road marked FR 218:  Milk Ranch Road.  Along it are magnificent overlooks of the Mogollon Rim below.  One can find an open spot in the woods or down a long rocky rough road to be rewarded by this great expanse.

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If you’re lucky you’ll be blessed with amazing skies, puffy clouds, and remarkable sunsets and sunrises.  If you’re not, just enjoy the view, a nice picnic and peaceful, relaxing visit.

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For more from this trip and Lessons from a Squirrel check out my post HERE.

From the Archives: Austria

I have a friend going to Austria, so I wanted to post some pix to show her what to look forward to.  It’s been 10 years since we went to Austria, as hard as that is for me to believe.  It was a memorable trip with lots of great adventures we remember fondly.   These photos, while not of the caliber I have grown toward, will give her an idea of a variety of different areas.

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We went to a place called Barnbach with this controversial and eclectic church that was very photographic and interesting.  I remember the bakery across the street and the lovely pastry and friendly staff.  Funny the things you remember.

 

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We drove way up in the mountains to Glossglockner to see where the famous Edelweiss flower grows.

 

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We traveled to Werfen, outside of Salzburg, to do the ice caves (Eiseinenwelt) and had the most amazing meal at Restaurant Obauer…. truly memorable.

Salzburg itself was worth doing.  We loved the egg shop, Easter in Salzburg, where they had countless fragile painted and decorated hollowed egg shells.  Very cool.

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Being the salt fiend I am, we did Saltwerks in Bad Duurnberg, where we get dressed up in white suits to float in a boat through the old salt caves.  Very interesting and informative.

Vienna was wonderful for it’s eclectic and wonderful coffee shops with Sacher torte and other extravagant and decadent cakes (loved the 7-layer esterhazy torte and nusstorte).   We loved the wurstie stands, and had some of the best hotdogs we have ever had.

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We visited the Karlskirche church which was fascinating as they used their remodel and scaffolding as an opportunity to gain funds for the refurbishment.  So for a small fee we went up the scaffolding and got a very close view of the painting in the ceiling… awesome opportunity.

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We loved the Prater ferris wheel, built in 1847, made of all wood and still operating after all these years (and wars).  We actually took a ride in it, my very first ferris wheel ride.

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Stephansdom is the main cathedral and square in Vienna along the cobble stone streets.  Worth doing is the Mozarthaus, or Mozart museum made from Mozart old flat he lived in for a couple years when in Vienna.

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The catacombs inside the Stephansdom cathedral and a must-do… fascinating tour.

 

I think we were in Austria for 3 weeks.  We ate well, drank well, and ran our feet off.  We rented a car and took in as many cities and culture as we could.  I remember it being an educational and delicious trip.  Have fun!  Thanks for the opportunity to re-visit.

 

 

 

Oregon Waterfalls

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This is the second time we have been to Oregon in the last 8 months, who’d a thunk?  Not us, but circumstances were such that we had to take our big road trip back to Washington state and travel back down through Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada to Arizona.  This time though, unlike the torrential rains we had in November, we had plenty of sunshine.

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We took this opportunity to do the waterfalls around Hood River, and Klamath Falls.  That’s one thing about the Washington / Oregon area… they do have an abundance of waterfalls, something we don’t see too much in AZ, particularly of this size.

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Highway 138 between Roseburg and Diamond Lake is actually called the Highway of Waterfalls, with nearly 2 dozen falls along the North Umpqua River in this short stretch of road.

xfalls_LR_IR.jpg In Oregon, they come in all different shapes, sizes and types.  They call them Thundering Waters and class them as Cascade, Segmented, Tiered, Horsetail, Punchbowl, Plunge, Block or Fan.

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I’m not sure how many we saw, but we did quite a few, and each cool in its own right.