Sharing and enjoying my small-town life with my darling husband, family, friends,
faith, two adorable Ragdoll cats and one very sassy Yorkie!

Friday, February 12, 2010

TRAVEL, Arizona!

We just got home from an almost-2-week vacation in Arizona and Las Vegas. We had a wonderful time, and it was a very nice break from THE CRAZEEE COLD WEATHER that has been holding PA in its grip! (Although we did get stuck in Cleveland for two nights on the way home because of canceled flights from these crazy northeast blizzards... but that's another post for another time!)

Anyway, we LOVED Arizona -- the colors, the textures, the rugged beauty of the cacti and rocks of the desert against the silhouette of the mountains. Even the scrub grass and tumbleweeds were oddly beautiful.

The SAGUARO cactus was my favorite, and is what most people probably "think of" first when the word "cactus" is mentioned.

Some interesting Saguaro facts:
  • Saguaro is an Indian word and the correct pronunciation is "sah-wah-ro."
  • The average saguaro has about 5 arms and is about 30 feet tall. The saguaro grows very slowly.
  • The biggest saguaros are about 200 years old, over 50' tall, and have more than 50 arms.
  • A saguaro's arms usually only begin to grow only after it is about 15 feet tall and around 75 years old.
  • The saguaro is found only in the Sonoran Desert, which includes about 120,000 square miles of California and Arizona.
  • The saguaro flowers every year in May and June, and this is the state flower of Arizona. (It is very apparent to me that I will need to go back sometime in May or June!)
Pretty cool, huh?!

Some other Arizona cacti...

Contrary to popular belief, the blue agave is not really a cactus. It is, however, where tequila comes from, which is a pretty cool claim to fame!

I love the architecture in Arizona... and the lovely, neutral colors of the homes that "blend in" so beautifully with their desert and mountain backdrop. The style of homes I was most drawn to is what is sometimes called "territorial", "adobe" or "pueblo" style... gracious, welcoming homes that just "fit" so well in the southwest. And who knew that landscaping done with rocks and cacti could be so beautiful?!

A few beautiful examples:

There was snow in the mountains. Some of the landscape there looked remarkably like PA:

We visited the town of Prescott, and had lunch in a really fun restaurant called "The Palace".

My boy liked the decorations and memorabilia.

An old movie, "Junior Bonner", starring Steve McQueen was filmed there in 1972. I'll have to rent it sometime!

We also visited Jerome, a cool little town with a very colorful history:

Once called the "wickedest town in the West," Jerome was notorious for its gambling, saloons and brothels and was burnt to the ground 3 times between 1897 and 1899. Jerome's population reached 15,000 at one point, but by 1953 when the last [copper, gold and silver] mines closed, its population dwindled to 50 people. For years Jerome was known as Arizona's most populated ghost town. In the 1960's free spirits "discovered" Jerome and the town slowly started to come back to life. Jerome is now an attractive small town featuring a collection of museums, gift shops and art galleries. This unique setting provides for a nice stop... (Info quoted from here.)

There was a really nice coffee shop there, I had a delicious hot mocha ("with double chocolate, please ma'am... and thanks!") *Yum*!

This sign there cracked me up:

It was in Jerome that I saw my first ever "certified" ladies room. Ummm... OK... certified for what? And by whom?! Don'tcha have to wonder?!

We had a delicious lunch one day at Four Peaks Brewery, a really fun place in Tempe. My husband LOVED their Kiltlifter beer, brewed right on site. In fact, he bought a case of it to go. His only wish? That he could take it home on the plane!

We spent a day in Sedona... famous for its dramatic red rock scenery and its "vortex" phenomenon. Hmmm, I'm not sure I experienced any health "benefits" or unusual positive energy ;o) while I was there, but I certainly enjoyed my day!

Driving into Sedona:

Me and my boy at a lookout over the city. A breathtaking view!

And oh, the killer sunsets... a different display of color every evening!

After a few days in Arizona (and not nearly long enough!), we headed off for Las Vegas and a day at Hoover Dam.

... Stay tuned!

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