Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mesa, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona, is quite the city.  The bypasses around Mesa, Apache Junction, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Glendale, and all the other 'burbs' of  Phoenix consist of six lane highways that can get you from one area to another without having to drive through the major arteries of the city.  And even those major arteries that we drove through are multi-lanes that are easy to maneuver.  The population in this region is several million but it doesn't seem like there are that many people around.  It is even more crowded in the winter when the snowbirds move in to enjoy the nice weather.  There were 33 RV parks for 55 and older just in the Mesa area so you can imagine how many of us there were.  

The highways around the city proper were built below street level which kept traffic noise down.  The sides of the highways were decorated in colored stones or murals reflecting the desert culture. 

It made the driving in the area even more enjoyable.

These sides were created with colored stones.

This one was a large lizard.

We stayed at the Viewpoint RV and Golf Resort.  Several couples we had met in earlier RV trips stay here for the winter so we decided to look them up.  We had a wonderful time,made more new friends, saw some of the sights but realized, very quickly, that there is so much more to do in this area.  Mesa is a great town and rates high as a place to get away from the winter snow and cold.

We took in a baseball game where the Chicago Cubs spend their spring practice.  They played the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first inning took 45 minutes because they wanted to watch all their players perform so there were many hits and many changes in the pitching line-up. 
The vendors were working hard but even they got tired.  This one joked that it would probably take until midnight to get to the seventh inning stretch.  We left after the seventh inning because the Cubs were losing and we had been there for over three hours.  Just enough time for beers, a hot dog, Philly cheese steak, and other ballpark goodies. 

These are the Superstition Mountains where we hiked with the pups.  The Lost Dutchman State Park is part of this area.

A view of the valley below.

Everyone got some really good exercise.

We hiked quite a ways up and the trail was more and more difficult.  So I decided to rest for awhile and the Captain and the dogs continued on.  See how I blend in with the rocks......I think it's the grey hair.

The climbing got tougher as they reached the Siphon Draw Trail.  It is not a designated or maintained trail so the climbing can be challenging.

This part was a 25 degree climb over solid rock.  Not too much further up and the Captain and the pups came back down.

One of the couples we had met in Red Bay, AL, Jerry and Heddi Stricker, are wintering in Mesa and they took us out to a restaurant called the Organ Stop Pizza.  Quite the place!  The centerpiece of the restaurant is a Wurlitzer Organ built for the Denver Theatre in 1927.  The organ was used until the 1930's when the advent of the talking picture and the Depression brought it to an end.  Organ Stop purchased it in the 1970's and undertook the mammoth task of rebuilding the damaged instrument.  Over time, they have enlarged and improved the organ so that today it has 6,000 pipes with 78 ranks, and 17 tuned percussions, and is the largest Wurlitzer in the world. 

The organ is installed in four chambers with 43 foot ceilings that provide unparalleled acoustics.  The center stage, displaying the Wurlitzer and the organist, raises and lowers beneath the floor.

The theatre pipe organ is designed with imitative orchestral tones rather than the liturgical sounds found in a church instrument.  The theatre organ is part military band, part symphony orchestra, and part theatrical sound effects.

Some of the 6,000 pipes played by the organ. 

A picture taken from the second floor dining area shows the immense size of the organ and it parts.

While we were there the organist played the Canadian National Anthem since there are many Canadians who winter in Mesa.  He also played our National Anthem and we all rose for it.  It was really quite emotional.  It was a splendid show ....and the pizza was pretty good, too!

We also hiked in Usery Mountain Regional Park and saw this directional guide someone had put there in case you got lost.

While hiking, the Captain took a shot of this cobra fossil on the trail.  Looks mean, hey!

Actually, it was the remains of a dead Cholla cactus........you know, the nasty kind that stuck us in Tucson. 
Another day we took a drive up to Tortilla Flat through the Tonto National Forest.

We found Canyon Lake nestled in the mountains in a very pristine area.

All around the lake are large canyon walls. 
The drive involved going over several one lane bridges that made the journey interesting.

Arriving in Tortilla Flat, Arizona.  In 1906, the Apache Trail was created as a freight road for the construction of the Roosevelt Dam.  

Tortilla Flat became an important water and supply stop on this road.

The Superstition Saloon.

This is an old bathtub that was hanging from the ceiling in the saloon.  It was used for oil and mineral baths.  It was from the Universal Bath Company, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1872.

The saloon had fans that rotated on a light to keep the place cool.

The walls were filled with memorabilia and an estimated $80,000 dollars worth of dollar bills.  In the spring of 2003, agents from the FBI came with a tip that prior to the bombing of the Twin Towers on Sept 11th, 2001, coded messages had been left on some dollar bills on Tortilla Flat's walls.  The investigators took six suspicious bills and questioned the owners on what they remembered of who left the dollars.  They never heard anything else again about the investigation.  

Sitting at the bar required getting on a saddle.  Nice view, hey!
There were also local animals watching.

We drank a local beer called Snake Venom and it was served in Ball canning jars.

The old one-room school house.

Just another crazy tourist.

Another trip was to the Goldfield Ghost Town.  It was once a productive gold mining town.  

They still have tours into the gold mine.

And, of course, a bordello, called Lulu's.  Hmm, that was the name of the Captain's aunt. We even named the rig after her. 


The local church was right down the road from the bordello and is still used for services.

While we were there they had a gunfight on Main Street.

These were the bad guys........

.......and they lost.
A view of the Superstition Mountains in the distance.

Mesa has a wonderful place called the Swap Meet.  It is open Friday through Sunday with vendors selling everything imaginable.  While there I found some really nice jewelry :)

The RV parks have softball teams that compete against each other.  One of our friends we met in Red Bay, AL, was playing so we went and saw the game.  Here Jerry is hitting a softball way out into the park.  Needless to say, with that type of playing, they won the game!

While in Mesa we met Gary and Judy Roettger who are from Minnesota and winter in Mesa.  As we backed in, Gary rushed over and pruned a large fruit tree that was about to scrape the side of our rig.   How's that for being a nice neighbor!  And then they offered us our fill of fresh, delicious grapefruits that were hanging from  a tree at their site.  Yummy! 
In the early evenings we got together with our friends Jerry and Heddi Stricker, Robb and Kay Root (who we met last summer in Medora, ND), Gary and Judy, and other RVers for drinks, snacks, and a whole lot of laughter. We really had a good time in Mesa with all of you!

Now it is time to move on to Las Vegas, Nevada, to see my sister and her family.  We've never been to a casino before so this should be fun.  Peace!


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