Apacheland, Tortilla Flat, Superstition Mountain & Goldfield Ghost Town

Today we took a drive out to Apacheland Movie Ranch.  Since 1959 Apacheland has hosted many western movies and TV shows.  A number of Hollywood stars filmed here including John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Jack Nicholson, Ronald Reagan and many others. For a list of actors and films CLICK HERE.

This is the Elvis Presley Chapel from the film “Charro” 142 Apache Land Chapel

143 Apache Land Chapel  145 Apache Land ChapelIn the gift shop, there is a small museum to have a look around.

146 Museum

147 Museum

148 Museum

149 Museum

150 MuseumAfter Apacheland we took a drive towards Superstition mountain, stopping briefly on the way at Tortilla Flat, which apparently has a population of six!  There is a Saloon bar, which we since read have real saddles as bar stools and the wallpaper is made from real dollar bills!  There was a live country band playing too.  Perhaps next time we might have to pop in for a swift one.  For more on Tortilla Flat CLICK HERE151 Apache JunctionWe carried on to Superstition Mountain, which had some very scenic views.159 Superstition Mountain162 Superstition Mountain163 Superstition Mountain DriveIt was also quite unusual in Arizona to come across a large lake

160 Superstition Mountain    164 Superstition Mountain DriveAnd even more odd to see cactai happily growing by the side of the lake!165 Superstition Mountain Drive

166 Superstition Mountain Drive

167 Superstition Mountain Drive

Our final stop on the way home was Goldfiled Ghost Town, where you can take a mine tour if you so desire!  Again here you will find shops, saloons and of course the obligatory gun fight.  For more information CLICK HERE  170 Goldfield Ghost Town

171 Goldfield Ghost Town

172 Goldfield Ghost Town

173 Goldfield Ghost Town

All in all quite a pleasant day out, seeing new things and being outdoors in the lovely weather.

E&J

Christmas Day at South Mountain Park

Happy Christmas!  As it is Christmas day or options were a bit limited.  However, South Mountain Park was open, so we took a drive up to the top where you get fantastic panoramic views – we weren’t the only one who thought to do this on Christmas Day – it was pretty busy up there!

110 South Mountain Park

111 South Mountain Park

116 South Mountain Park

Here is the Mystery Castle, where we were the other day!

112 South Mountain Park

And here we are – looking a little super-imposed!

113 South Mountain Park

114 South Mountain Park

I just can’t help myself!

115 South Mountain Park  117 South Mountain Park

By the entrance (or exit) are a few old stone buildings.

118 South Mountain Park

120 South Mountain Park

121 South Mountain Park

That evening we went to La Hacienda (thanks for the recommendation Linda & Andrew) where we had a lovely evening meal.  The restaurant is located in the Fairmont Hotel which had some beautiful grounds.

125 Fairmont Christmas Night

128 Fairmont Christmas Night

126 Fairmont Christmas Night    129 Fairmont Christmas Night 130 Fairmont Christmas Night

It was a very relaxing and pleasant Christmas Day.

J&E

The Town Of Fountain, Arizona

Another first for us was the town of Fountain.  It is a very pretty place to while away a few hours.

Fountain Hills was named after the towering man-made fountain in the centre of town. It is now the world’s fourth tallest fountain. When it was built in 1970, it was the world’s tallest fountain and it held that record for over 10 years. The fountain sprays water for about 15 minutes every hour between 9am and 9pm. It has three pumps and when all are in use, the fountain reaches 560 feet (170m) in height however, normal operation only uses two pumps and the fountain reaches a height of around 300 feet (91m) – we assume this is what we saw.

As we arrived near the lake, we had some time for a short stroll around and a spot of lunch before the fountain started started doing its thing!

070 Fountain

071 Fountain

072 Fountain

It was quite pleasant to sit and watch!

073 Fountain

075 Fountain

074 Fountain

After that we decided to do a circuit of the lake to see what else was hiding in the pretty park.  Well you can’t have so much water without the odd duck!

081 Duck

What was surprising though was the sheer number coots – we are not sure we have ever seen so many in one place!080 Coots

081 Coots

We saw some stunning scenery

079 FountainAnd a memorial monument.

078 Fountain

We then went to check out a few of the local shops.  We saw this beautiful horse made from all sorts of bits and pieces.  The more you look the more you see.

085 Horse Statue

Some of the items include pram wheels, whisk, wing mirrors, pans and pan lids, nappy pins – to name but a few!  086 Horse Statue

We also saw this cute Eagle on a Nest statue.      087 Eagles Nest Statue

088 Eagles Nest Statue

A small boy drinking from a hose fountain.

090 Boy drinking from hose statue

We just love seeing oranges growing in the street.089 Oranges And of course, the town clock. 091 Fountain Hills ClockThere is quite a bit to see, especially when the weather is so nice.  We think we might me back!

J&E

 

Mystery Castle, Phoenix, Arizona

We can’t believe how many times we have visited Arizona, and yet we didn’t know anything about the mystery castle. It is probably quite high on our list of oddest places we have ever seen.  The castle is basically made of a jumble of materials such as automobile parts, mine rail tracks, telephone poles etc – mostly items that the builder found (we believe the local dump was nearby) or at very low cost.

040 Mystery Castle

040a Mystery Castle

So who would build such a place and why?  Boyce Gully lived in small apartment in Seattle with his wife and child, Mary Lou, when he was given the news that he had tuberculosis and that he was dying. He chose not to live a life waiting to die, so he ran away to Arizona, leaving his family and friends. Etched in his memory was building sandcastles on the beach in Seattle with his little girl and his promise of building a real castle someday. Boyce lived longer than he though he would and spend 15 years building his dream house, one which would have 18 rooms and 13 fireplaces. 041 Mystery Castle

Boyce died in 1945 (interestingly not of TB) before he could send for his family. His wife and Mary Lou (now an adult) were notified by an attorney that they had inherited the property. Shortly after that, the mother and daughter moved in.

Boyce left instructions that there was a trap door in the house that should not be opened for two years after his death. The trap door, located in a room that was called Purgatory (between the chapel and the bar). In 1948 the trap door was opened and the mystery revealed – it was the deeds to the Castle for his daughter.

047 - Mystery Castle - Trap Door

Mary Lou lived in the castle from 1948 until her death in 2010.  For most of that time, Mary Lou gave guided tours of her home – it is a real shame we didn’t discover the castle sooner as we bet she would have been fascinating to talk to.  Apparently, they didn’t want it to be public knowledge that she lived in such a remote place alone, so they made up people who were supposedly living in the castle with her.  She also had a special staircase to her bedroom, which was very narrow with sharp turns, making an approach from an intruder difficult – sadly we were not allowed to see this.

The Mystery Castle used to be a popular place to hold weddings and it is believed that if the bride leaves one shoe, forever the groom will be true! However, in the mid 2000’s Mary Lou decided that no more weddings would be held at the castle.

046 - Mystery Castle - Wedding Chapel

Here are some of the shoes left behind the brides!

046a - Mystery Castle - Wedding Chapel Shoes

We were then lead to the guest suite which had a painting of Mary Lou!

049 - Mystery Castle - Mary Lou

The roll away bed was probably quite innovative for the time – Boyce used old railway tracks to easily roll the bed! 048 - Mystery Castle - Guest House

048a - Mystery Castle - Guest House

The kitchen was a real eye opener, just look at the built-in double oven – you wouldn’t have to cook anything that needed to be level!054 - Mystery Castle - Double Oven

051 - Mystery Castle - Kitchen Outside are wonderful views of the city.

052 - Mystery Castle - View of Downtown Phoenix

And of a mountain which Mary Lou called here on MGM Mountain as she thought it looked like a lion.

052 - Mystery Castle - MGM Rock

The patio, complete with well and barbecue!

050 - Mystery Castle - Wishing Well

Boyce Gulley built a frame around the view of downtown Phoenix. When he built the frame you could see all of Phoenix when you looked through it, now not so much!

051 - Mystery Castle - View

Electricity and plumbing wasn’t added until 1992 and even then, it is only the odd bulb here and there!

A very strange day out, but interesting in its own right.

J&E

 

Desert Botanical Gardens

Today took us to the Desert Botanical Gardens.  We really like this place at the best of times, but they had a special Chihuly exhibition which really nice!

029 Desert Botanical

030 Desert Botanical Chihuly

031 Desert Botanical Chihuly

032 Desert Botanical Chihuly

033 Desert Botanical Chihuly

034 Desert Botanical Chihuly

We also saw a bit of wildlife.

035 Desert Botanical Butterfly

There was actually a large owl sitting in this tree, but it is quite hard to see.

035 Desert Botanical Owl

035 Desert Botanical Rabbit

036 Desert Botanical Quail

037 Desert Botanical Hummingbird

This cactus just looked funny, we could almost imagine it had a character!

039 Desert Botanical - Cactus Face

Another lovely day out in the sunshine.

J&E

Sedona

Today we travelled to beautiful Sedona, we would say that from where we are staying it took us less than an hour, or was it simply that we were enjoying ourselves and the time flew by!  The beauty of the red rock is hard to capture (especially on the tiny camera we had with us).

014 Sedona 16 Dec

015 Sedona 16 Dec

016 Sedona 16 Dec

Of course you can’t take a trip to Sedona without visiting Tlaquepaque – we love this place!

019 Tlaquepaque 16 Dec

017 Talquepace 16 Dec

As the sun started to set, we Sedona in a totally different light which looked just stunning.020 Sedona 16 Dec

021 Sedona Sunset 16 Dec

J&E

Carefree, Arizona

Just before heading off to Carefree, we took a few photos of our sunny yard in our rental property.

010-Yard-in-Rental-Property,-Chandler-3

Behind was an environmental reserve, we heard some very strange noises during the dead of night, one of them we think might have been a fisher cat – which was a bit like a screaming banshee, the next day we saw the Wildlife control person out and about!

008-Yard-in-Rental-Property,-Chandler

Today we took a trip to Carefree to see one of the largest sundials, unfortunately there was a Christmas market on in the town, so the dial was covered with stalls! It was really nice to walk around though, apart from the snow (ready made / fake of course) we had tried very hard to escape that!!

As were strolling we spotted the English Rose Tea Room, somewhere we have often said we should visit, this time we did, although it was very busy, on this occasion we managed to get in without a reservation, and we had a lovely afternoon tea.

011-Tea-at-Rosies-Carefree

With its quaint interior the English Rose Tea Room feels very English in the middle of the desert. Click this link to take a look at the menu: http://carefreetea.com/our-menu/

On the drive home we saw a lovely sunset – ahhh we are starting to relax.

012-Drive-home-from-Carefree-14-December

J&E

Las Vegas, Nevada

On Saturday 7th December, after two days of driving via Helena, Montana and Salt Lake City, Utah we arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This time we stayed in the Homewood Suites in Henderson, South Las Vegas.  The room we stayed in was nice and we had this lovely Christmas tree right outside our patio door.  The hotel itself was in a very nice area, but the hotel casino had closed down, so it was a bit dead, we wondered if it wasn’t doing so well.  It was quite far out, so perhaps that’s why.  007-Henderson-Hotel-Grounds-2

On Sunday morning we headed into Vegas for a bit of sightseeing and shopping.

001-Las-Vegas

004-Las-Vegas

005-Las-Vegas

They seem to be building a structure that is very similar to the London Eye.  It wasn’t open yet, perhaps next year we’ll get chance to go on it.

006-Las-Vegas

And now, for the real reason we were in Vegas, our much awaited Shania concert.  We have both wanted to see her and we enjoyed it very much and she had some amazing back up dancers on with her, as well as horses!  As we hadn’t had chance to eat before the concert we were both starving when we came out – what a bonus that Gordon Ramsey Pub and Grill was right opposite us!

001-Shania-Tickets

It had been a very enjoyable couple of days in Vegas.

J&E