The San Xavier del Bac Mission is considered one of the finest examples of mission architecture in the United States, combining Moorish, Byzantine, and late Mexican Renaissance styles of architecture. The church was established to convert the local Tohono O'odham American Indians to Christianity. Nowadays it is the focal point of the San Xavier Indian Reservation on which it is located.
Bac was a village settled by the Tohono O'odham tribe in the Santa Cruz River Valley, and means "place where water appears." The village was visited by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in 1692. In 1700 he began construction on the first of two churches to be built in the area, and named it San Xavier, in honor of Saint Francis Xavier.
The first church was destroyed, and the present church was started in 1783 and completed in 1797. It was built by Franciscan fathers Juan Bautista Velderrain and Juan Bautista Llorenz. For reasons that remain unknown, the east tower was never completed.
I do have an impulsive behavior when it comes to travel. I will spontaneously go to a place if I have the right company and mood. One such time was St. Patrick's Day 2006 when my charming boy friend Guy, invited my best friend Agnes and I to his boat on Lake Pleasant.
Getting to Lake Pleasant is easy: from Wickenburg, take route 60 (East Wickenburg Way, which turns into Grand Avenue south to route 74. Turn left (the only way you can go) to head eastbound. Drive for about 20 miles through some of the most beautiful and barely touched Sonoran Desert landscape around. (Enjoy it while it lasts; developers will be turning it into housing development and strip malls as soon as they can). Sharing in the "luck of the Irish" with non-Irish people around, imagine that!
The pints, Margaritas, beers, vodka to mention but a few made for such a merry St. Patrick's day celebrations on the boat last year. Besides us, Guy, had Bob & Linda who both own a boat at Lake pleasant that they live on during the summer months. The rest of the people on the boat we found there, honestly I don't remember any of the other girls on the boat with us. We just had them join us for a cruise and dancing later that night, the spirit of fun was amazing.
The cruise was Bob's idea: being the Italian that he is, and retired at that Bob and his wife Linda life such a relaxed and carefree life. With no children to worry about, they spend their time traveling and having fun at the Lake during the summer months. When I first met Linda, it was evident that she was a fun loving woman. Her smile is as welcoming as the warmth of a mother's embrace. It was about three in the afternoon when we left the docks for the West Side of the lake where most boats anchors for fun. On board Linda had all her goodies, she loves margaritas and so she had her own margarita mixer.
Lake Pleasant Regional park is large recreation area, one of the best water recreation areas in the region. Lake pleasant harbor offers activities for visitors including boating, jet skiing, and more
Casa Grandes, about a 1/2 hrsouth of Phoenix, was a major pre-columbian site for the Hohokam indians from 1350 to 1450. It represents one of the best preserved adobe great houses that used to dot the landscape in this region.
We approached the national monument from the north, then headed south on Interstate 17. Montezuma National Monument is a little less than 60 miles south of Flagstaff. After a rather exciting three days of traveling, hiking and using motels, we were heading back home to Tucson when we made a last minute decision to stop at this historic place. Whether you are traveling north or south, you will need to take exit 289 off of interstate 17 and follow the signs down the Verde Valley to the location of the Castle. When we arrived, we found the place crawling with Italian tourists who had come in on two giant tour buses from California. Apparently there was some sort of annual christian trip organized by the faithfuls of a local region in Italy.
A little history on the castle: The first Europeans to see Montezuma's Castle believed it to be of Aztec origin and named it for the Aztec king. Both the castle and it's well lie in the setting of thick limestone layers that were deposited near the center of the lake. The Sinagua people learned earlier that the limestone was a good thing; they realized the durability of the limestone and the alcove carved by Beaver Creek. It is believed that the Sinaguan architects built Montezuma Castle in a natural alcove that had been carved by the Beaver Creek in limestone deposited in ancient Lake Verde. The alcove seemed to have been naturally curved, ready for the Sinaguan architects to construct their mud brick walls. The Beaver Creek provided a reliable water source and cultivable land along the flood plains. The Sinaguans got salt and good crops along the flood plains. The village alcove provided both shelter from nature's elements as well as from enemies. Antonio de Espejo and his Spanish expedition are believed to have been the first European explorers to see the villages in the Verde river Valley in the 1800s.
To reach the well from the parking lot, one has to walk up the flight of stairs by the ranger's cottage. Beware of the cacti, their defense systems are so evolved, you could get hurt if you are not looking out for them. You will then come to a much greener place with lush grasses and reeds. Now we did not go to the creek, we saw it from across the Castle grounds. The ancients diverted the waters from the spring that drains Montezuma's well into a canal for irrigation purposes.
We did not stay very long at the Castle. We toured enough of it. The place of course is overrated as there is very little left to impress upon the eyes. Nonetheless, looking at the way it was built into the hill side, one marvels at the architectural achievements of the time. From what I gathered, no one seems to know how the castle was constructed. There is varying tales of what might have happened then back in time. I, got the feeling some of the history is more investigative than actual documented facts. For the archaeologist and geologist, this would be an actual wonder house. Investigative archeology at it's best right here. Certainly a great stop to catch a glimpse of the past. I must comment the National Parks for the way they have preserved the history and the site itself.
This little known park sets along way from anywhere in the Southeastern corner of the state but is well worth the visit for its fantastic rock formations. No services are available in or around the park so fill up with gas in Wilcox and get any water and food needed there.
Both Tucson and Sedona have some of the best hiking anywhere. In Tucson, I especially enjoyed the Brown Mountain trail. I've highlighted a few others here: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/be2b7/b73a6/
Many others I haven't tried. Best bet is to pick up a guide book and also check with the local staff at Summit Hut when you arrive in town: http://www.summithut.com/
I always found them very helpful.
Sedona is great. Again, there are some great guide books for hiking here. Canyon Outfitters would be a good stop for local and up to date intel/ guide book: http://www.canyonoutfitterssedona.com/
I've always enjoyed hiking Boyton Canyon and Doe Mountain. Doe has some steep sections but it is worth it. It is a mesa some I recommend hiking the rim once on top. When you get to the top, go directly to the opposite side, its a short walk. Turn right and explore the rim. No trail but pick your best and safest route. It is a bit of an adventure. If you are an avid hiker, you should have no problem. Canyon Outfitter will have good maps of the area. I've always enjoyed hiking this to watch sunset. You can also go left once on top just a short distance to watch sunset.
An interesting stop if you are heading for the North rim of the Grand Canyon, Pipe Springs is a natural springs that has attracted first indian and then later mormon settlers to its reliabel water source in an otherwise arid landscape. Today the site is dominated by the remains of the Mormon fort built here.
There is no visitor's center or trails in this national monument, what is preserved here is an escarpment that runs North of the grand canyon and is visible to the North as you take US 89 east from the North Rim of the grand Canyon.
Going to the Grand Canyon was incredible. We drove into the park and from the main car park then used the free shuttle buses which are great and there are certain parts of the park that only they can get to. We went back at dusk to Yaki point and watched the sunset this was amazing and one of the highlights of our whole trip!
The following morning we also took a Helicopter ride over the park, I had heard it was best to go either in the morning or at dusk as the flight is smoother, our pilot was amazing and the views were incredible, this is a must!
There are thousands of rock canyons in the southwestern region of the United States. Of the thousands, some of the most breathtaking are in my home state of Arizona. On a recent 4 days weekend getaway to northern Arizona, my family and I, toured/ hiked Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shay). The Spanish and English have corrupted the Navajo word Tseyi' which means Rock Canyon. Canyon de Chelly is a National monument located within the Canyon de Chelly National Monument National Park on the Navajo Reservation/nation. The canyon is set apart from other canyons in the west because of it's spiritual and sacred nature to the Navajo.
Located on the Navajo Nation Reservation land at Chinle, Canyon de Chelly was declared a national monument in 1931. It is said to have the largst concentration of prehistoric cliff dwellings in the southwestern United States. For nearly two centuries, the Navajo natives have occupied the canyon, they still do even today. The ancient Pueblo Indians placed stones together to built grand cliff dwellings. I was amazed to see how advanced their architecture was even back then. The remnants of the White house is the most outstanding of what is left. The high clff walls were used to shelter against the elements of wind, rain and the sun.
The canyon is made up of red rocks and huge sandstone walls that change color with light. Even from a high up as we were, I could to help but feel like I was seeing the walls of great cathedrals. Some of the walls were smooth and clean cut, while at other overlooks we saw curves, overhangs, ledges and twists that went deep into the canyon.
The canyon has remnants of ancient cliff dwellings, the most outstanding is the White House Ruin and Antelope House. We did not see two other dwelling; the Big Cave and Mummy Cave, both highly recommended.
We did a 2 hour tour and cover the 7 overlooks on the south rim, they are also the most scenic. If you are pressed for time, you can tour the north rim where there are only 3 overlooks.
It becomes incredibly hot in northern AZ in the later part of May and continues to the 3 digit temps throughout summer. It was very hot when we were there in the first part of June. I would recommend going in the early part of the year or later from September on wards.
Something else that took us by surprise was that the park being located on the Navajo Nation, observes daylight savings. I kept having issues with time until we saw the sign.
No entrance fees. However, donations are appreciated.
There are free camp grounds and hotels in Chinle. The museum was closed when we visited. Should be opened by the end of July.
The largest population of the giant saguaro is in the state of Arizona. The saguaro’s state-wide distribution and specific location within Arizona landscape puts the Saguaros in lower elevations and in areas where frost occurrence is minimal or non existent. The Saguaro is under national protection when it reaches 75 years of age and 15 feet tall. The giant saguaro has a life span on 170-200 years and can grow up to 30 feet tall. It stores water in its spines and can store up to a ton; this capacity helps the Saguaro survive and bloom whether it rains or not. For many years, the native Americans used the saguaro flower and seeds as a source of food, in fact the word saguaro is the Indian word sah-wah-ro. The giant saguaro grows only at elevations below 3300 feet, they are only found in the desert of Arizona. Saguaro cacti are extremely susceptible to frost damage due to the fact that they hold high water content and can not survive in locations where frost is a natural occurrence (elevation more than 3300 feet).
The saguaro cactus flower was adopted as Arizona's state flower in the 1930s, it is a rare flower which comes from the dominant South western desert tree the saguaro. They dominate the Southwest and grow in human like form, they are a great source of fascination for visitors. The saguaro is probably the most photographed tree in the nation. I became fascinated with them when I first came to Arizona more than 6 years ago and continue to be intrigued by them.
With my sister visiting from Uganda, we decided to go on the Stage Coach Ride to get a summary history of the town. Tourists flock there by the thousands to praise the murderers more than to pay homage to those whose lives were so brutally taken. What stroke me as peculiar when I first visited Tombstone was the fact that the whole town is built around this one main street. Since I had visited the town previously, I decided my sister should get to know the history of the town; riding on the old Butterfield Stage Coach ridden by the giant Clydesdale horses took us into the past. The ride took us through the town, highlighting the main buildings and areas of interest. Of course you do not have to go on this ride if history is not your thing, but the whole town itself is history, you can save $10. The only problem I, had with the tour is that it was way too much information about too many places in such little time. The sing-song manner in which the tour guide speaks can be confusing for many people who have no understanding of the western way of speaking. Early on, this was also one of the biggest cities west on the Mississippi River, it was here in Tombstone that the Clantons and the Earps had their famous gunfight. The gunfight is re-enacted at the OK Corral every hour in present day, for a small fee you can see the famous corral as well as the reenactment.
Tombstone is the most famous Wild West city in the history of the United States. Through the years, Hollywood has featured it in many movies, the most famous being “Tombstone” starring Kevin Costner. Nowadays, it exists only as a main street and enactments of what was.
You will be amazed though at what is sold to tourists during visits to this historic Arizona town; definitely worth doing is the stage coach ride. The history of the town is summarized in a 15 minute ride. One wonders why a history so grim and spine chilling became the reason millions travel the world to visit this geographically limited city. Where I come from the history of tombstone would be considered a taboo and therefore never spoken of again. The belief that the spirits of the dead should be left to lay peacefully is upheld strongly. But this is another day, another time, another place and it is selling like hot cakes. Now this is not reason not to go as it makes for a great weekend day trip. You do not need a whole weekend, a day is all you need and you can then proceed to Bisbee for another Historic town in Arizona.
The highlights of the city include; the re-enactment of the famous gun fight at the OK Corral, touring the Bird Cage Theater, riding the old Butterfield stagecoach, visit the Boot Hill Graveyard, Arlene’s, Big Nose Cate’s, take a keepsake photo from the Old-time Studios.
My family and I, arrived in Holbrook the night of June 09/2011 and decided to do a morning tour of the park starting at the north entrance. Interesting what the forces of nature have done to the trees of the forest. The trees are rock hard with minerals that have formulated millions of years in the making. In 1906 the park was said to have been set aside as a preserved lot because of the petrified wood. Apparently the woods are of scientific value. It officially became a National Park in 1962, it has the largest number of petrified wood I have ever seen in my life, the colors are quite enchanting, quite the photo opportunity provider for a photographer.
Now of course when one talks of a forest, one expects to find a forest. But no, the Petrified forest is not exactly a forest, it it was, it was many lost years ago. We drove over 20 miles and found just a few concentrated areas of the petrified wood. The larger land mass is really bear. The north entrance is mostly filled with grand geological formations, while the south entrance has the petrified wood. Driving across the land, there were stop/ view points of interest including; Tawa point, Kachina Point, Puerco Pueblo point, Newspaper rock which we did not stop at, Blue Mesa point, the Agate Bridge point, Jasper forest point, and the Long Log Trails which we hiked last. By the time we hiked it, the sun was high and we were feeling hot and dehydrated.
Accommodation:You can find accommodation within the park, but it is much more expensive than finding one in Holbrook which is about 30 minutes’ drive away.
Park Entrance Fees: Yearly pass is advisable, but one can purchase a one week pass for $5 or a single vehicle pass for $10/ day.
This is one of my frequently visited attractions of Arizona. After a year of pregnancy, giving birth and nursing myself back to health, my sister visited me from Africa and gave me a reason to get out sooner than I would have. Seeing as I’m now only 35 minutes away, I decide to take my sister for a tour of this Arizona Historic Town.
Nestled within the Mule Mountains, the historic town offers visitors a window into the past. This picturesque town founded in 1880 is home to the old Queen Mine, the very heart of riches and economic growth when the town was at its height of growth. The old West mining town was then the richest mining town in the United States producing large tons of gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper. Until the early 1970s Bisbee was a thriving town, but then the minerals became unprofitable, leading to the departure of many employees who sought work elsewhere.
Today, Bisbee is one of Arizona’s main tourist attractions drawing thousands each year. Whether you are a resident of Arizona or just a visitor, a weekend getaway to Bisbee will engage you, your friends, family or colleagues in different activities. Take a tour of the historic town on the town tour bus, go on the Queen Mine tour, take a walking tour, and visit the breweries. Other attractions include the 1000 stair climb, the mini Museum of the Bizarre, Copper Queen Ghost hunt, and Old Bisbee Haunted Pub crawl, southern Institute of Art & Culture, Ghost Tours, the Restoration Museum, Muheim Museum Heritage House and the Apache Spirit Ranch.
After the tours, you probably want to hit the restaurants for nourishment; southwestern foods are the main cuisine in this town. Highly recommended for Mexican cuisine is Santiago’, for coffee and refreshing Ice cream, stop by the Bisbee Coffee Company across from Main Street. Day or night, you will find refreshing drinks at St. Elmo’s Bar, Old Bisbee Brewing Company for the beer lover. Most people love hot dogs; Jimmy’s Hot Dog Company takes care of that craving. Double P Roadhouse Bar & Grill will satisfy your steak and other food needs.
Nothing will disappoint you in Bisbee if you keep an open mind and just enjoy yourself. Of course some people are particular and expect to find the same things they left at home, try not to do that. Leave what is home at home, have fun. This is also a quite cheap weekend as long as you are not buying art. Most meals at whichever restaurant you choose is anywhere between $8-25, quite affordable.
With more than 50,000 people visiting the Queen Mine, you will need to make reservations for a ticket to visit; otherwise you are in for disappointment without one. It is quite cold in the mine, so no matter the time of year, carry a jacket or sweater.
The original London Bridge is located at Lake Havasu in the state of Aizona, USA. Who would have thought the British crown would sell part of their history fro money huh! Well, Lake Havasu has been on my Bucket list only because I wanted to see the London Bridge. Now that I have seen it, I feel like a winner. It is nothing you would choose over the current London Bridge in the UK, but the history of the Bridge preceeds it.
The London Bridge was opened back in good ol'England back in 1831. Built by Sr. John Rennie, it was dedicated during the reign of king William IV. In early 1960 it was decided that the bridge was sinking and would have to be replaced. The bridge was sinkiing because of the weight of cars: it was originally built as a pedestrian bridge but the vehicle traffic of over 10,000 daily was much too heavy. The bridge began to sink because the original footing was on soft ground and the increased traffic made things worse.
The nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down" was believed to have been written because the bridge was sinking. This assumption is not true at all, the rhyme has nothing to do with the bridge, apparently it dates back to the Danish Pirate invasion of of London.
The bridge was purchased by Sr. McCulloch at a handsome price of $1.2 million.
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