Travel Thoughts by Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together…. to Arizona!
Arizona…..I think everyone should experience Arizona at least once. My first time was a business trip to Phoenix maybe 20 or so years ago. I didn’t get to see much, but I did contact a friend of my Mom’s while I was there and we met up one evening so she could show me around, some.
My second time was in 2006 when I went to attend the 50th birthday party for a friend I graduated with that was living in the Mesa/Chandler area outside Phoenix at the time – she still lives in the general area. I could only stay for a long weekend for that trip, but we managed to get out and do quite a bit of sightseeing in the few days I was there.
But, the third time was the charm….I was able to plan an eight-day stay with friends who lived in Apache Junction in 2013 and we crammed so much into my visit.
I stayed with my friends in their beautiful home at the foot of the Superstition Mountains with stunning views and a pool. It would have been a perfect vacation, if we never left their house. But – we did go out…a lot! Apache Junction is also near Phoenix, where I was on my other trips, but we ventured out pretty far in just about every direction every day and saw a lot of the state.
My first full day was spent with the high school friend I mentioned above – I called it my “Bonnie Day”. We drove about two hours south to Old Tucson in Tucson – a theme park with old movie sets and memorabilia. We had such a great time talking and laughing and talking and laughing and ended the day having a fabulous steak at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill restaurant.
There is a ton of stuff to see and do right in and around Apache Junction. Ron, Lisa, and I went to all the local tourist attractions over the next couple of days. We had to go to Superstition Mountain Museum – a cool place with several actual movie sets, including the Elvis Chapel – a chapel used in the filming of Elvis Presley’s western “Charro”. What self-respecting Elvis fan would miss that? We also spent some time at Saguaro Lake, Fountain Hills, and Tortilla Flat. All amazing places.
The highlight of the local stuff was taking a lake cruise on the Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake – WOW!!! If you are ever in this area of Arizona, I highly recommend this cruise – words cannot describe how amazing it is! And emotional…I was in tears and had to remind myself to breathe at several points along the hour and a half cruise. Canyon Lake snakes through the canyon with water so blue and crystal clear – like a mirror reflecting the rocky ledges along the way. And, amidst all that beauty, we also saw big horn sheep, bald eagles, a bald eagle nest, and other wildlife native to the canyon.
Of course, we included a visit to the Grand Canyon on this trip. We got up really early Saturday morning and drove three and a half hours to Williams. We got there in time for breakfast before we boarded an old-time train that took us on a two-hour ride to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. The train was an amazing experience!
There was incredible scenery all the way, musicians singing for us, and lots and lots of wild life to see – including, herds of mule deer, elk, antelope, cattle, and even several coyote. We spent several hours at the Grand Canyon – even with the poor visibility, snow, and fog, it was so amazing – take whatever you’ve heard about the beauty of the Grand Canyon, multiply it by 1000 and you still won’t come close to the real thing!
Then, on the train ride back, we were stopped by some train robbers who boarded the train with scarfs over their faces and wielding guns to rob us! The ladies were screaming and everyone was shaking in their boots! Hahaha What a riot – so much fun! We spent the night at the Grand Canyon Inn – a really nice place out in the middle of nowhere just outside the town of Williams.
The next day, we explored Williams for a while after breakfast – a small historic town established in 1881, but looks more like it got stuck in the 1950’s. Then, we took the long way back to Apache Junction. We drove through Jerome and Sedona, driving on steep, winding roads at high elevations and taking time to stop and enjoy the gorgeous red rock and whatever else caught our eye along the way.
And, the fun didn’t stop there! On my last day, we left extra early for the airport so we could stop at the Queen Creek Olive Mill where they have olive tree groves and make olive oil on-site. I learned so much about olives and olive oil in the hour or so we were there.
I never would have guessed how fascinating the process is and how delicious it can be when you get it fresh from the source. Be sure to click the link to the blog post to learn all about it – so interesting. I had several different flavored olive oils and some other products they make at the mill shipped home to me so I could enjoy them for a good long while.
Yep – Arizona is a gorgeous state with so much to see and do! The friends I visited were living there because Lisa is a travel nurse and she had a year contract in the area, so they aren’t there to visit, again. They did another contract in Lake Havasu City that I wasn’t able to work out a trip to, but they hope to go back, so maybe I’ll have another chance. And, from what they told me, I think I may just plan a trip on my own, if they don’t. That’s in a part of Arizona I have not been to….yet….and, I’d get to see London Bridge if I go there! Hehehehe