Riordan Mansion State Park-Flagstaff, AZ

AZ Day 4 010On my last day in Flagstaff on February 29, 2016, I visited the Riordan Mansion.

Matt Riordan was hired to be the General Manager of the Ayer Lumber Company. After working as GM for three years Matt bought the lumber mill from Mr. Ayer in 1887 and created the Arizona Lumber & Timber Company. Matt brought his two younger brothers Michael and Timothy to work with him in the Lumber Company and they were very successful and as the largest employer in the area, they contributed to the growth of early Flagstaff. In 1897 Matt sold the mill to his younger brothers. Michael and Timothy decided to make Flagstaff their permanent home and married sisters Caroline and Elizabeth Metz. The two families lived side by side near the lumber mill. As the business continued to be successful for them they decided to upgrade to new larger homes. An architect named Charles Whittlesey was hired to design their home which was a duplex American Arts & Crafts style home. Each family had about 6,000 square feet of living space with all the modern amenities of the time. The two homes were connected by a large common room.

The home was built in 1904 with 40 rooms, 6 bathrooms and servants quarters. It was a rustic mansion built from rough, log-slab siding, hand-split wooden, shingles, and volcanic rock. Both families used the large common room as a social area and it also has the rustic look with the exposed, log-supported ceiling beams. The inside of the homes has elegant interior formal spaces with plaster walls, wainscoting, built-in bookcases, window seats, and beautiful wooden light fixtures. Skylights and beautiful stained glass spread natural light throughout the house.

Some windows and light fixtures contain Tiffany-style glass, and in the center of the house, a light well allows sunlight and air to circulate. In the kitchen, the six-door self-draining icebox is filled from the outside making life easier for the cook.

The Riordan families lived out their years on their sides of the house with the second generation donating the homes and most of the original family furniture and belongings. Arizona State Parks acquired the east house in 1978 and began giving tours in 1983. The west house was acquired in 1986 and opened to the public in 2002. The guided tours begin in the East Wing of the house where the majority of the homes furniture, belongings, and pictures are displayed and arranged and where no picture taking is allowed. The tour finishes in the West Wing of the house which you can wander to some degree on your own and take pictures among the “museum” style set up. It was difficult to take pictures and get any sense of how the family lived since there was little family furniture and personal belongings in this portion of the house. So below is a mixture of my personal photos I took and a few I was able to acquire off the internet that were “forbidden” photos!

In the living room, a portrait of Tim’s oldest daughter, Mary, hangs over the fireplace. As you move about in the room her head and torso appear to turn and follow you. It is not a ghost! but an optical illusion. Facing the fireplace is a green wicker swing that hangs from the ceiling. In the summer the swing is turned around so the outside view can be enjoyed.


Stain glass 


Tim was a tall, large man that loved to entertain so in the dining room there is a football-shaped table which allowed him to see all his guests easily.


This is the 6 car garage that was converted into the visitor center


I took this older picture off the internet to get an overall picture of the whole house as I was not able to get in the right position to get one myself.










Walnut Canyon – Flagstaff AZ

Walnut Canyon is located 10 miles southeast of Flagstaff. It was made a National Monument on November 30, 1915, by President Woodrow Wilson to preserve the ancient cliff dwellings.  In the rock, cliffs are formations of former homes of the Sinagua people. These are the same people who also occupied and lived at Montezuma’s Castle. Sinagua is Spanish for “without water”. Here at Walnut Canyon, their homes were built under the limestone edges within the canyon taking advantage of the natural recesses in the cliff walls. The dwellings were small, but large enough to cook and sleep. There are two different trails that visitors are able to choose from. One is an easy 1/3 mile path along the rim edge. The other is a .9 mile loop trail that descends 185 ft into the canyon via a series of 240 steps. The trail passes alongside the remains of 20 separate dwellings that were constructed by the Sinagua people around 1100-1250. The trail descends down to the canyon floor but is not accessible to the public. Water at one time flowed intermittently through the canyon, but with the construction of Mary Lake and its dam in 1905, water no longer flows through the canyon as it did thousands of years ago.


Barringer Meteor Crater – Flagstaff AZ

On February 28, 2016, I took a drive out to the Barringer Meteor Crater which was 37 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ. Meteor Crater was created 50,000 years ago and is believed to be the world’s best-preserved meteorite crater in the world.                                               DSC08071


The desert earth was hit with a nickel-iron meteorite at the speed of 26,000 miles per hour. When the meteorite hit, it was mostly vaporized upon impact leaving little in the crater. Meteor Crater is almost 1 mile wide, 2.4 miles around and 550 ft deep.


A piece of meteorite that was found seven miles from the crater.

In 1903, mining engineer and businessman, Daniel Barringer suggested that the crater was created by an impact of a large iron-metallic meteorite. Barringer staked a mining claim and spent the next 27 years trying to find the bulk of the impactor he believed was buried in the floor of the crater. At the time impact, physics was hardly understood and Barringer was unaware that most of the meteorite had vaporized upon impact.

During the 1960s the NASA astronauts trained in the crater to prepare for the Apollo Missions to the moon.

Today the meteor crater is still owned by the Barringer family. The visitor center has interactive exhibits and displays about meteorites and asteroids, space and the solar system and comets, a gift shop, observation areas with views into the crater as well as guided tours of the rim. The movie theater gives you a 3D animation experience of the thunderous sound and explosive fury of the meteor’s super-heated trip through the earth’s atmosphere with a spectacular collision that exploded at more than 20 million tons of TNT. On display is also a 1,406-pound meteorite that was found in the area. There is an American Astronaut Wall of Fame.






Flagstaff, AZ-Sunset Crater, Wukoki and Wupatki Pueblo

I drove on through Sedona and kept driving up Highway 89 through a curvy up and down canyon road that was very pretty to the town of Flagstaff. Flagstaff was my jumping off point to various site-seeing activities I did in the area.

My first outing was to Sunset Volcano Crater and a 34-mile loop that had me exploring the Wukoki and Wupatki Hopi Pueblos.

Sunset Crater Volcano erupted about 900 years ago. What is left is a cinder cone and really not much to see as there are no roads that lead up to the cone nor is any hiking allowed….not that I am in any shape to hike anything like that LOL.


What I really found interesting was the Lava Flow. There was a short trail through a portion of the lava flow so you could get up close and personal.


Wupatki Pueblo

This Pueblo settlement was built by the Ancient Pueblo people. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki means “Tall House.” It is a dwelling with 100 rooms and a community room and ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. An increase in population began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater between 1040 and 1100,  which covered the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil’s ability to retain water. By 1182, about 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned.

The dwelling’s walls are constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color. Held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand. Each settlement was constructed as a single building, sometimes with many rooms. The largest settlement in the national park is the Wupatki Ruin, built around natural rock. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area’s tallest and largest structure for its time period. The site also contains ruins identified as a ball court. There is also a natural blowhole. I walked the path to where the blowhole was located and it was pretty cool with this “whoosh” of air that blows up out of the ground and was strong enough that it made my hair blow away from my face.DSC07905

The ball court, they played a game here that was much like hockey or soccer


 Wukoki Pueblo

Wukoki Pueblo is another Hopi Pueblo that was only a couple miles from the larger community Wupatki Pueblo. These pueblos are examples of early pueblo construction. It appears that these pueblos were built high on the hills for observation purposes. From these high locations, they could see for miles. Currently, there does not seem to be any water in close proximity but at one time there may have been some streams that had water flow, otherwise, the closest water source was the Colorado River 5 miles away.
















Travels from Phoenix to Flagstaff, AZ-Montezuma Castle and Sedona

I left Phoenix on February 25th after having my Motorhome in the shop for 3 days (More on that in a different blog). So by the time I got it out of the shop around noon, did some grocery shopping and dumping my tanks I was ready to get out of the 82-86 degree heat of Phoenix and did not want to stay another night in a hot parking lot. I am very much enjoying the warmer temperatures but when it gets this hot there needs to be someplace to jump in a pool or someplace to cool off! So I headed out of town around 3:30 PM heading for Sedona. I got about an hour out of town and came to Sunset Point rest stop, it was very pretty and cooler so I decided to just stay there for the night.



When I awoke the next morning I continued on my journey. I first came to Montezuma’s Castle so I stopped to take this tour.

Montezuma Castle was one of the first four National Monuments declared by President Theodore Roosevelt on December 8, 1906. At this time, few original artifacts remained in the structure due to looting. Artifacts were uncovered in another area of the ruins in 1933 which increase the understanding of the Sinagua People who inhabited the area for over 400 years.

Early visitors to the monument were allowed access to the structure by climbing a series of ladders up the side of the limestone cliffs. Due to extensive damage to the structure, public access to the ruins was stopped in 1951.

Montezuma was the name given to the cliff dwelling when European-Americans first came across the ruins in the 1860s. They named them for the famous Aztec emperor “Montezuma” in the mistake that they believed he had been connected to their construction.

Montezuma Castle is about 90 feet up a sheer limestone cliff, facing the Beaver Creek. It is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America, in part because of its ideal placement in a natural alcove that protects it from exposure to the elements. The dwelling is almost 4,000 square feet of floor space across five stories. It seems the Sinagua people were daring builders and skilled engineers. Access into the structure was most likely permitted by a series of ladders, which made it difficult for enemy tribes to attack. One of the main reason the Sinagua chose to build the Castle so far above the ground, was to escape the threat of natural disaster from the annual flooding of Beaver Creek. During the summer, monsoon season, the creek frequently breached its banks, inundating the floodplain with water. The Sinagua recognized the importance of these floods to their agriculture, but likely also the potential destruction they presented to any structures built in the floodplain. Their solution was to build a permanent structure in the high cliffs.

Diorama of what the cliff dwelling would look like inside and activities the people would be doing in their daily life.


Beaver Creek


For more information and history on Montezuma Castle please go to the following link:

Sedona, AZ

I then continued on toward Sedona-Red Rock Canyon. What a beautiful drive! I was stunned at the magnificent, beautiful rocks that jut up out of the earth. At every turn and bend in the road was something new and spectacular. I just couldn’t get enough of it. The town of Sedona sits right smack in the middle of this magnificent scenery. I did not stop in the town of Sedona as I just did not see any place that I could park a 34 ft motorhome.

















Mystery Castle, Phoenix AZ

Mystery Castle was another tour I read about that intrigued me, so off I went to see what this Mystery Castle was all about. Boyce Gully was diagnosed with Tuberculosis while still a young man while living in Seattle. He had a wife and a daughter named Mary Lou. Boyce did not want to burden his family with his illness and live a life waiting to die. In those days, there was really no cures for TB and the doctors had told him he might have luck with his health if he moved to the drier climates found in Arizona. So without a word to his family or about his illness he left. Boyce lived another 15 years with very little communication with his family over those years. Boyce would often think and remember the time with his little girl when they would build sandcastles in the sand in Seattle only to have the waves wash them away. Mary Lou would tell her father that he should build her a big, strong castle that they could live in someday that would not be washed away by the water. So Boyce built his daughter a native stone castle….18 rooms and 13 fireplaces with charming nooks and crannies. He used almost anything he could find that was free or cheap. He then furnished it with southwestern antiques. Boyce Gully died in 1945 before he could send for his family…he never felt the house was done enough. When his daughter moved into the castle she was an adult and she lived the rest of her life in her Mystery Castle. She shared her home by giving guided tours until her death in 2010. Today the castle remains open for tours October to May.

I found the story about this place very interesting, sad and sweet at the same time. It’s a crazy house built with all kinds of interesting things. Mary Lou seems like she was a bit of an eccentric with some very unusual home decor and found that she loved cats and animals which she decorated the house with.





































Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats-Apache Junction AZ

I met up with my school friend, Chris, in Phoenix again for a few days. On Friday, February 19th we took a drive up to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats which is into the Superstitious Mountains. What a beautiful drive and an awesome day. Canyon Lake is a popular stop along the Apache Trail for camping, swimming, hiking and even a ride on the Dolly Steamboat around the lake.

Canyon Lake

Chris and her doggies

Tortilla Flats

Tortilla Flats was just two miles up the road past Canyon Lake. It’s pretty much just a spot in the road. Tortilla Flats is an authentic old west town that sits in Tonto National Forest. Tortilla Flats got its start because of the construction of the Roosevelt Dam in 1904 as a freight camp. 100 or fewer people lived there at one time and it is the last surviving stagecoach stop. Currently, there are 6 residents, all of whom are employees. Remaining is a post office, general store, restaurant, and a museum.





Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix AZ

While in Phoenix I visited the Desert Botanical Garden, I thought the admission price was a bit steep, but once I was inside and started wandering around I realized how huge it was and I spent a good 4-5 hours there. The garden covers an area of 140 acres and 50,000 plus plant displays. It was started in the 1930s by a small group of local citizens who saw the need to conserve the beautiful desert environment. The garden officially opened in 1939 as a non-profit museum dedicated to the research, education, conservation, and display of desert plants.

I really enjoyed this place as it had a ton of Catci. I never realized how many different types of Cactus plants there were. There was so much to see, colors everywhere, easy trails and pathways to follow. The garden is sectioned out into different types of cacti and plants. For example there was a section called “Night Blooming” that had a variety of plants that bloom at night to attract night-time pollinators, there was a section on all kinds of different succulents, there were also sections that showed the natural history prior to and during the settlement of the area so you were able to see how the different trees and plants were used to build huts, corrals for their livestock. Plants that were used to eat, cook and heal with. There were places to sit, relax, and meditate in peace and quiet.

































Goldfield Ghost Town and Supersitious Museum, Apache Junction AZ

On Sunday, February 14th I spent most of the day at Goldfield Ghost Town. Goldfield sits between the Superstition and Goldfield Mountains. Goldfield got its start in 1892 when very rich, high-grade gold ore was found in the area. A town was soon developed and on October 7, 1893, it received its first official post office.

The discovery of gold along with the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine brought new miners to the area and in no time, the town had three saloons, a boarding house, a general store, brewery, blacksmith shop, butcher shop, and a school. For five years the town boomed with a population of 1,500 people. The town started to die out as the gold dried up and prices dropped, the miners moved on, the post office was closed November 2, 1898, and Goldfield became a ghost town.

Some prospectors clung on to the area, hoping to find the Lost Dutchman Mine or a new gold vein. Others tried to reopen the existing mines, but all attempts were unsuccessful until a man named George Young, who was the secretary of Arizona and the acting governor came. Young brought in new mining methods and equipment to recover the ore and the town began to slowly come back again.  A mill and a cyanide plant were built, a second post office was established on June 8, 1921, and the “new” town was called Youngberg. The new town only lasted about 5 years until the gold was gone. The post office was discontinued on October 30, 1926, and the town died once again.

It seemed that Goldfield was not destined to die permanently. In 1966, Robert F. “Bob” Schoose, a long-time ghost town, mining, and treasure-hunting enthusiast made his first trip to the Superstition Mountains and fell in love with the area. He moved to Mesa, Arizona in 1970 and began to dream of owning his own ghost town. He had heard of the old site of Goldfield, but he found little left other than a few foundations and shacks. He and his wife located a five-acre site that was once the Goldfield Mill and decided to rebuild the old town. They purchased the old mill site in 1984 and reconstructed a mining tunnel, which included a snack bar and opened for business in 1988. Next came a photoshop, the Blue Nugget, a General Store, the Mammoth Saloon and the Goldfield Museum.

Today, Goldfield is filled with authentic-looking buildings, which includes an underground mine tour, and the only narrow-gauge railroad in operation in Arizona. There are several shops and buildings (a brothel, bakery, leather works, a jail, livery, etc).

The authentic-looking street is filled with people in period costumes, horses and wagons, and gunfighter presentations.

Superstitious Mountain Museum

Inside the museum, there are a number of things from volcanic eruptions, Indians, ranchers, miners, Lost Dutchman Mine theories and maps and a few pictures and things about “Apacheland Ranch” movie studio. Outside the museum are the 3 pieces from the Apacheland Ranch that were not destroyed in the fire in 2004…. The Elvis Memorial Chapel, The Audie Murphy Apacheland Barn, and The Gallows.

The Apacheland Movie Ranch opened in 1959 with a single row of three-sided roofless small buildings on a site off Kings Ranch Road which is known today as Gold Canyon. By the end of 1960, developers had constructed both sides of its main street into a full-blown movie set. Apacheland Movie Ranch did the shooting for more than 17 television series, 29 full-length feature films and hundreds of commercials during its history. Apacheland was destroyed by a fire on Valentine’s Day 2004.

The Elvis Chapel was used in the Elvis Presley movie ” “Charro”. The original steeple was removed and a special steeple was put on instead. A fake steeple was blown off in an explosion during the filming. When Elvis died in 1977 it was renamed the Elvis Memorial Chapel. The chapel contains Elvis Presley memorabilia as well as photographs, soundtracks and film takes of many of the productions that were created at the Apacheland Movie Ranch. Today the Chapel is used for weddings, memorials, and other events.

The Audie Murphy Apacheland Barn also survived the fire and was named because of a long gun battle that was staged in the barn for the movie “Arizona Raiders” which starred Audie Murphy. Inside the barn are items such as buggies and wagons that were used in the movies, pictures, and miscellaneous memorabilia.


Both the buildings and the gallows were removed from the original location board by board and relocated to the museum grounds.

20-Stamp Mill Ore Crusher

Another item on the Museum grounds is the 20-Stamp Mill Ore Crusher. It was originally located at Bland, NM.  It was donated in 1989 by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This type of mill machine crushes the material by pounding to extract the metallic ores. Five men spent twenty-eight days, all volunteers to disassemble and move the mill to the Superstition Mountain Museum. It was five stories terraced on the side of a canyon wall. Each day the men worked 10-12 hours and only took two days off during the entire project. This mill was state of the art technology for recovering gold in the 1800s. Rare, historical, surviving equipment such as this today can be counted on one hand, let alone in such great condition.


























Tombstone, AZ to Apache Junction, AZ February 10-13, 2016

Hi  Everyone, I know it’s been a couple weeks since you’ve heard from me. But I have been on the road doing some dry camping/Boondocking (no hookups……camping in Sam’s Club, Fry’s, and Wal-Mart). I have a budget each month and it pretty much got spent with my RV spot in Tombstone LOL.  Anyway, I left Tombstone February 10th, traveling across Hwy 10….crossing Cochise Indian country and then Hwy 191 up to Safford.

I stayed that night in the Walmart parking lot. The next day on the 11th I drove just 5 miles out of town to Roper Lake State Park. There is nothing mind-boggling about this park nor much information about it other than it is a 32-acre park that was formerly a ranch and was purchased by the state in  1972 to construct a reservoir. It was a nice park with a lake … folks could fish off the fishing dock or launch their boats into the lake. The lake is stocked with bass and trout. It has a nice picnic area, a beach area for swimming, a campground, and a natural stone hot tub, which was very relaxing and perfect temperature. The campground and lake have a beautiful view of the Gila Mountains and Mount Graham. It was a very, relaxing, quiet couple of days.

I  headed for Apache Junction on February 13th, leaving Safford I took Hwy 70 through several small towns of Fort Thomas and Geronimo. It was a beautiful drive with several mountain ranges and desert. As I drove this stretch of road history came alive for me as so much of this land that I was crossing was Apache Land and land that Gernomino roamed.

I also traveled through the town of Globe, AZ which was founded in 1875 as a mining camp. Leaving Globe took me behind the Mine that was just amazing, but because of the two-lane highway I was bummed I was not able to stop and take pictures. I traveled on over an amazing mountain range that was just beautiful with its canyon sides that jutted up out of the ground so high to the sky. Again I was not able to get to many pictures but was able to find one spot to pull over and get a few.

I arrived in Apache Junction that evening and stayed the night in the overflow parking at Dutchman State Park. The sun was starting to go down so I was able to get an awesome photo of the Superstitious Mountains. They were just beautiful.