Saturday, December 22, 2007

10.21.2007...From SLC to Tucson

Hi all. Monica and I just got back from a delightful trip to Salt Lake City, via several national forests, four Indian nations, the Vermilion Cliffs and Echo Canyon and the most beautiful scenery between Globe Az and Tucson. When my brother Alan said he and Diane were driving to SLC we thought what a terrific opportunity to see them and our niece Margot (who lives in SLC.). We used this drive as a scouting trip for northern Arizona and southern Utah, so we didn't do a lot of stopping, but we sure took names (of places we plan on going back to.).

Well, here's SLC. I can't say that we got a real good handle on the town, but we can tell you several things. First, the town proper is owned lock stock and barrel by the Mormon Church. This building was just one of many such buildings in the center of the Mormon center. It reminded me a little of Disney World (and I mean absolutely no disrespect what so ever.)

Number two: Where the city decided to keep old buildings, they did a nice job. They've built a convenient lite rapid transit system (which is free in the downtown area.). This is the old Union Pacific Railroad Depot.

The inside of the Railroad Depot and that little dot in the middle is Monica. Please note, the floor is clean enough to eat off of. In fact, this is one clean city! The railroad restoration stops here as the rail tracks have been completely removed. In fact, they've built an outdoor shopping mall behind the depot (directly to Monica's right.). The murals are striking, but I don't think that any locals use this place. It was empty while we were there (I understand that they do rent the place out for corporate events, etc..)

Number three: This city is situated in a striking and beautiful area. This is a view from our hotel window. I don't know what mountains those are, but almost every mountain we saw was snow capped. Very pretty!

As I said, we really didn't spend too much time in any one place and much of our limited time in SLC was family oriented, which was a good thing. We really enjoyed Alan, Diane and Margo's company (and Margot, you have an open invite to Tucson.).

Next stop was Winslow Arizona, the home of the Eagle's song "Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona, what a fine sight to see......" or something like that. There's plenty to do around Winslow (not so much in Winslow.). There's the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater. However, Winslow happens to have a lovingly restored 1920s Fred Harvey hotel called La Posada. For those of you not familiar with the Fred Harvey story, well you've come to the wrong place. OK, I'll try to give the abridged and VERY short version and if any of these facts aren't quite accurate, your free to jump in and carry on.

Fred Harvey, a man of some talent, made a deal sometime during the first 2 decades of the twentieth century with the Sante Fe Railroad. Essentially Harvey said to the folks at Sante Fe RR, you build the tracks to carry the people out west to the natural wonders and I'll build hotels like they've never seen before. And he did. I don't know how many Harvey hotels are still standing, but I know of at least three. One in the Grand Canyon, one in Winslow and one currently being restored in CA. The one in Winslow, called La Posada is where we stayed.
It's almost completely restored (some work is being done outside) and unfortunately very little of the original furniture remains, as the RR took over the hotel (this one was doomed from the start because it opened just after the Wall Street crash of 1927 which ushered in the great depression) and turned it into an operations center. However, the folks doing the reno did a wonderful job and it's striking in so many ways.

I've no idea what this room is used for, but it's got a fabulous fire place and you can see the terrific detail and workmanship that went into the construction of the hotel. This is one of a number of rooms that make up the public areas, although this is the largest one not counting the check in area. The colors and design really give the feeling of a blend of the old west and a Mexican hacienda.

A peak down the hallway off of the checkin area. This leads to some of the guest rooms. Again, the details in the stucco work and stone floors etc. is striking. A very pretty place to stay. The rail road tracks practically define the end of the hotel's property out back and these tracks are very active as they are the main conduit between here and LA,or so I heard. I can tell you that there was nearly constant RR traffic whenever I looked out at the tracks! Many guests sit in old comfy chairs out back just feet from the tracks and watch the traffic lumber by.

BTW, notice there aren't any people in these shots? The hotel was completely booked (on a Wednesday night no less.). This may be attributable to the fact that the shots were taken at night and the observation that the average age of the guest was...old (and look who's telling you this!).

As mentioned before, there's not that much to do in Winslow AZ other than standing on the corner. So Monica obliged the camera guy who hasn't an original thought in his head.

Bet you didn't know that Winslow is situated directly on Route 66, did ya?

So we're back down in Arizona now, having passed between Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah (we didn't stop at either-remember, this was a scouting trip, not enough time to stop in a lot of fabulous places.)

Between Tonto National Forest and the city of Globe and very close to the Mogallon Rim is the Salt River Canyons. This is also an Indian Reservation (the Salt River Indians.) We passed through three other Indian Nations (Navaho, Apache and I can't remember the other) as well as the Vermilion Cliffs (simply spectacular-but we didn't stop, so no pics-I could have stayed there taking pictures for several days) and the Echo Canyons (ditto for not stopping-Bisbee was awaiting us at home.). Below is a very typical view of the Salt River Canyons. This river, which is not visible at the bottom in this picture, winds its way through miles and miles of wilderness. It got its name from the saline tasting water and the Native Americans also took their name from the name of the river.

Had to take a picture of the car that took us round trip about 1500 miles. I must say, it was a pleasure to drive it and Monica spelled me at the wheel so it wasn't hard to stay fresh. In the back ground are more features of the Salt River Canyons.

More of the Salt River Canyons, but look in the fore ground and you'll notice a large rock. Look closer and you can make out the ancient rock art etched there by a Native American. No idea what it says and there aren't any plaques or signs even to draw your attention to them. There were many in this location. Unfortunately, some were defaced with graffiti. Unbelievable isn't it? But there were still many more in great shape just lying on the ground exactly where they were etched so many centuries ago.

One last stop and that's Globe Arizona. You wouldn't think that there's much going on in Globe, but they do have a really excellent Native American village that has been restored. The village of Besh-Ba-Gowah was populated by the Salado Indians. The ruins and reconstructed buildings you see here were from the 13th century. This really caught me by surprise as I had no inkling that Native Americans from so long ago were building such substantial structures. These were permanent structures built by people who meant to stay where ever they lived. They were skilled at farming and had several techniques to deal with with dry conditions of the south west. These people were the ancestors of the Tohono Odham people who eventually settled in the Tucson area. The woman in the picture below is not a Native American Indian.

Another Salado structure. Notice the long shadows. Look carefully at the second from the right group of shadows and you can see my legs and head. All right, so it's getting late and I'm tired.

One more shot of our car in the parking lot of the Indian village. After leaving here, we made a dash over the long and narrow highway between Globe and Tucson. Both Monica and I agreed that this highway, which is not designated as a scenic byway or equipped with any vehicle pullouts was equal to any scenic byway that we travelled during this trip. It traveled through desert and sky islands (mountains that rise from the desert floors that resemble islands in an ocean.). It's easy to see how the west could capture so many people's imaginations. We can't wait to start planning trips to explore the areas that we travelled through.

PS. See that little kiss on the rear bumper? I did that during my drive from NY to Tucson when we moved. Just myself and Bisbee (Monica moved two months before us to start a new job.) Bisbee never warned me about that 3' tall post that I backed into. I didn't talk to him for the rest of that day.

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