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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montezuma_Castle_National_Monument

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

I arrived on the outskirts of Tombstone on January 31, 2016, at Tombstone RV Park. What a nice RV park and nice people who are so friendly and so willing to help make your stay with them and in Tombstone an experience to remember.


Now when I got here I was in for a big surprise when the weather suddenly turned pretty darn cold. By late afternoon, the wind started picking up and getting pretty nasty, then cold and rain.  The next day, Monday was not much better as there continued to be some winds and the temperature never got above 42 so I just hunkered down in my motorhome for the day. By Tuesday things were a bit better so I ventured into the town of Tombstone for a couple hours and visited a couple of sights. I did not stay long because it was still cold and when the wind blew it was even colder. By Wednesday, the weather was warming up…… I was planning to go into town but other events that happened here at the RV park prevented me from doing that so I just stayed here. Thursday and Friday (February 4th and 5th)  I spent in town attending gunfights, visiting museums, taking tours, visiting Boothill Cemetery and just taking in the whole experience and feel of Tombstone and its history.

Now one of the things I learned over the period of several days is that Tombstone is just not about the famous O.K. Corral shootout. Yes, it was one of the biggest things that happened here and what has made Tombstone pretty famous, but Tombstone is so much more. There were a number of characters who made this town what it was and there is so much history and things that happened here in just a span of 8 short years. I don’t quite know the word I am looking for, to sum up, the experience but it was just really neat to know that I was walking the streets, the sidewalks, entering buildings that had so much history. This town left me with that small town, community feel and spirit of the old west. It is just a unique town that I just really enjoyed and was glad I was able to come here and experience it all.

Tombstone, AZ


Tombstone was a mining town! It’s beginnings started with a man named Ed Schieffelin who was prospecting the nearby hills in 1877. A soldier told him once that the only thing he was going to find in those hills was his own tombstone, but Ed found Silver and lots of it. Miners soon began to come from near and far to find their riches. Soon a town began to be built, first, it was a lot of tents, then gradually wood and adobe structures began to go up and replace the tents. Ed recalling what the soldier told him about only finding his own Tombstone, the town name became Tombstone. By 1881 the population reached 10,000, a fire burned out much of the new town but it was immediately rebuilt, and the famous Earp and Clanton gunfight near the OK Corral occurred.  Eventually, water began to seep into the mine shafts, pumps were installed, but the mines were soon flooded and could not be worked. By 1886, Tombstone’s heyday was over and $37,000,000 worth of silver had been taken from the mines.




My first stop in Tombstone was “The Bird Cage Theatre” since it was the first building at the start of Allen Street.

The Bird Cage was named for the 14 Bird Cage crib compartments that are hanging from the ceiling over the gambling and dance hall. It was these compartments where the “ladies of the night” worked their trade.  The Bird Cage was said to be the wildest and wickedest nightspot and made a reputation for itself that would never be forgotten. In the 8 years it was open the Bird Cage never closed it’s doors 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. It was the sight of 16 gunfights and 140 bullet holes in the walls, ceilings, and the bar.

These “birdcage”  boxes were rented for $25.00 a nightDSC06182


A bullet hole in the bar, the bullet is still in there our tour leader said.


The bar is a custom-made Cherrywood Bar and Backbar. Next to the bar is a dumbwaiter that sent drinks upstairs to the ladies of the night and their men friends. Today the bar is Tombstone’s only remaining bar of the 1880s in its original building.



Below the gambling and dancehall is the wine cellar, the dressing rooms, and the poker room. The longest poker game in western history was played here at the Bird Cage. It was a house game and the players had to buy in at $1,000 minimum in chips for a seat in the game. The game ran continually for 8 years, 5 months and 3 days. The poker table still stands as it was left with its chairs on the dirt floor.

Both mirrors you see here have hung in the same place since 1881.DSC06253

The Bird Cage Theatre survived two fires of 1881 and 1882, but when the mines flooded the Bird Cage it was sealed and boarded up with all its fixtures and furnishings intact. For nearly 50 years it stood closed. In 1934, The Bird Cage Theatre became a Historical Landmark of the American West and was opened for the public to visit. It is Tombstones only historic landmark in its original state in 1881, with its lighting fixtures, chandeliers, drapes and gambling tables, the grand piano, and coin-operated jute box.

This piano is the original grand piano that has sat in this spot since 1881. It furnished the music for the shows and dances. It is built out of solid Rosewood and is hand-carved. This piano was the first in Tombstone. It was shipped around the horn of South America to San Francisco by boat and brought to Tombstone by mule train. It was part of a five-piece band that played at the Bird Cage Theatre from 1881 through 1889.


This was the first organ used in the first Protestant Episcopal Church in Arizona.


Tombstone original Boothill Hearse-Black Moriah horse-drawn hearse and first vehicle with curved glass.



This is the original Faro table where Doc Holliday played and dealt Faro (Faro was the most popular card game in saloons). Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo had their famous duel between the Faro table and the grand piano.



These serving baskets were used by the girls in the birdcage to get refreshments to the customers.


The Bird Cage did have entertainment each evening that began with a variety show. One of the shows was “The Human Fly,” in which women dressed in theatrical tights and costumes and walked across the stage ceiling upside down. This act lasted until one of the clamps supporting the performers failed and she fell to her death.


Gun Fight Re-enactments

Tombstone Cowboy’s

OK Corral

Ike and Billy Clanton along with their cowboy partners Tom & Frank McLaury were responsible for a lot of the saloon fights and stagecoach robberies. It was a direct confrontation with the Clantons and McLaury’s that led to that fateful gunfight on October 26, 1881. To try and keep the town under order there was a law that no guns were allowed in town. For several days before the Clanton’s were in and out of jail and court for violating the gun law. The last straw came at about noon on the 26th when Ike Clanton was spotted by several townspeople being fully armed and going from saloon to saloon, getting drunker by the minute. The Earps arrested Ike Clanton and after a visit to the judge and paying a $25.00 fine he set out to find his brother and the McLaurys. Death threats between the two sides grew louder and more credible. Finally about 3 PM the Earps caught up with the Clantons and McLaurys at the OK Corral, and the shooting started. Thirty seconds later thirty shots had been fired and three men lay dead….Billy Clanton and both Tom and Frank McLaury (Ike Clanton was a coward and took off when the shooting started). Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded. Witnesses were confused as to who started shooting first.

Doc Holliday


Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury


Doc Holliday, Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan EarpDSC06318

Tombstone Court House State Historic Park

As Tombstones population grew so did the need for law and stability. In 1881, the Arizona Legislature established Cochise County. The courthouse was built in 1882 for about $50,000. It housed the offices for the sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and board of supervisors. The jail was at the rear under the courtroom. Tombstone remained the county seat until 1929 when it was moved to the growing city of Bisbee. At one point there was an attempt to convert the courthouse into a hotel during the 1940s but that fell through and the building stood vacant until 1955 when the Tombstone Restoration Commission acquired it and they began the courthouse rehabilitation and developed it as a historical museum that has continued to operate as a state park since 1959.



A replica of the gallows where 7 men were hanged.


Boothill Graveyard-Original cemetery where outlaw’s, miners and old west residents are buried.


This the gravesite of Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury who were killed at the O.K. Corral shootout


Tombstone Epitaph and Museum that is still in operation today


In 1882, Tombstone had a second fire that again destroyed much of the town, but they rebuilt. A few years later when the mine flooded and silver ore prices dropped so low Tombstone became nearly a ghost town. Over the years, mining returned to Tombstone….During WWI, the town produced manganese for the war effort and 25 years later lead was mined on behalf of the government. After WWII the town focused on tourism to bring the town back to life. Today Tombstone has once again become the center of the Southwest and welcomes nearly 500,000 visitors and vacationers a year.