Friday, November 23, 2007
So, we landed at the Days Inn. What a nightmare!! We check in, it's dark, there are workers redoing the concrete in the front and we are redirected to another door. Odd time to be doing concrete, but obviously not enough to steer us away. Drive around back, park several doors away from the room and lug the luggage across the parking lot to the room. Big surprise as I step into wet concrete, complete with roller bag, across a very recently reset "roller ramp" onto the sidewalk. No signs, no plastic tape warnings, just $200 boots and luggage in the midst of a wet concrety mess. I'm not happy. I'm even less happy when I get to my room and my key won't open the door.
Leaving the concrete soaked luggage at the door, I march the approximate half block back to the office in my quickly setting concreted boots. I state first that my key doesn't work and then inform the desk manager of my walk in the concrete and am in need of a place to clean my boots. Directed to the public restroom, I find no paper towels nor a trashcan. In the meantime, she calls her husband (manager), who comes in and proceeds to yell at me how about how stupid I am for walking through the concrete when they had a trashcan placed in front of it. Now, "in front" was not my "front" as I was coming from the side and, besides, since when, does a trashcan mean "wet concrete." I'm offended - he has no right to be yelling at me. This drama goes on to include where I can and cannot clean my quickly setting boots before he threatens to throw me out. He's yelling the entire time.
I've been traveling for 10 hours and am hungry, let it drop and return to my room. We go out to dinner, return. I'm in my jammies when the phone rings. It's the same "screaming manager" demanding that I come to the front desk within 5 minutes with my driver's license, or he will "prosecute" me. For what, I'm not sure. I refuse. He then threatens to come to my room and physically evict me because he is sure I have washed my boots in the room, and the concrete residue is going to clog his pipes. He's also saying he's going to add "damages" to my bill. I tell him we will gladly leave, if full refunds are given.
As we are packing up, he enters both rooms, without knocking, to "check" to make sure there is no concrete in his pipes. As we are leaving he states that all charges will be reversed. We leave, checking into the Econo-Lodge next door. Great people! We tell the story. Seemingly this is not a surprise to them, as this particular manager has often "kicked" people out for less. He also refuses to rent to "locals," stating that they "tear things up," and has a reputation of being extremely disrepectful to women.
I am not prejudiced, but this place is not benefiting from this middle-east manager's attitude towards women, his cultural biases, or extremely poor customer service skills.
Were I a 6' cowboy, would he have screamed at me and called me "stupid?" If he had been taught better customer service skills and respect for guests, would he be consistently kicking people out?
As a side note, while the rooms were decent and clean, there was no coffee, shampoo, and two of the four lamps in the room had no bulbs.
Why am I writing this? Because, I have an avenue! Because it's the worst lodging experience of my life, because this is unacceptable behavior; whether he's Indian, an American redneck, or just a terrible manager. Because I'm pissed, my boots are ruined, this is somehow my fault for walking through concrete in the dark with no warning, being yelled at, and being kicked out.
I have worked for years in the customer service business, and customers ARE NOT "always right" and challenges need to be addressed individually. But managers such as this should not be in their positions and having a franchise name behind them. It damages the entire franchise, if not the entire town (were it my only experience in Lebanon.)
Update: This terrible manager also charged both me and my travel companion for our rooms so am now having to fight that as well.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Next, we're off again along the Apache Trail, which entails 40 miles of steep, winding and mostly unpaved road past magnificent scenery. We first pass by Theodore Roosevelt Dam before losing pavement and beginning yet another dusty truck. Along the way we see everything from dense forests to giant cactus to several deep blue. Also along the trail are the Lost Dutchman State Park and the somewhat corny "ghost town" of Tortilla Flats. As we end this journey that took quite a bit more time than we anticipated we arrive at the restored ghost town of Goldfield. This is an authentic 1890's ghost town that has been restored and recreated as a tourist destination. There are a number of original old buildings that now house stores and restaurants. The town also provides underground mine tours, a narrow gauge railroad, wagon rides and more. But we are tired. The place is great, but it's time to go home. We take several pictures, eat lunch, call it a day, and call it a trip.
We then cruise through Willcox for a brief look at their historic district before heading north to Safford and turning back east and north again to our main destination - Clifton. Though were backtracking and the historic mining town takes us out of our way, we were so very glad we went. Clifton, though it has a lot of current residents, truly has all the makings of a ghost town. The entire area has been continuously mined since the 1870's and operations continue today. Three towns were originally established in the late 1800's, including Clifton, Morenci and Metcalf and mining prospered in all three. The large mines changed hands several times until the whole kit and caboodle was purchased by Phelps Dodge in 1921. Everything continued on an up-swing until the Depression caused the mines to shut down in 1932. However, new technology was soon developed, underground mining ceased, and open-pit mining began in earnest. For Metcalf and "Old" Morenci, that was the end for them, as both towns disappeared into the pits. However, a "New" Morenci was established, which is the base of operations today.
Finally, we begin to backtrack back to Highway 70 headed westward to the San Carlos Apache Casino. No, we're not big gamblers, but their hotel had a great nightly rate.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
On to Tombstone! Just ten more miles down the road we arrive at my much anticipated destination. I was so excited to visit this historic place where so many of those Old West figures walked, that we got an early start in the morning and was glad of it. Arriving before most of the businesses were even open, we virtually had the town to ourselves. We first spent the time just walking around, taking photos, and enjoying the Old West atmosphere. The City of Tombstone has done a great job in preserving its historic buildings and providing an authentic peek into the past. Its main street is blocked off to traffic and still retains its dusty street. Makes for much better photos!!
After having seen it all, we then began to explore in more depth. Our first stop was the O.K. Corral and Historama. Though the site is not the "real" actual place of the gunfight, they've done a great job a re-creating the past. The tour provides a a 30-minute presentation, complete with films and animated figures on a revolving stage of Tombstone's early years . Next door to the Historama is the corral, where life-size figures portray the legendary gunfight between the Earps and Doc Holliday against the Clanton Gang. Other sights to see include the reconstructed Camilius S. Fly studio, complete with many of his historic photographs, old stables, carriages, a hearse, and even a red-light district shack. Live gunfights were scheduled throughout the day.
Next, we head over to the Tombstone Epitaph, which got its start in 1880 and is still in business.Today, this historic newspaper is published by the University of Arizona's Journalism Department. At the old newspaper office, you can see the original press and other printing exhibits and to pick up your own Epitaph.
On down the street we stopped in at the Bird Cage Theatre, an 1881 dance hall, gambling house, saloon, brothel, and theater that provided the finest and most expensive entertainment of the day. During its first eight years, the doors never closed. This old place, which now serves as a museum, was the scene of twenty-six deaths during its eight years of business. The self-guided tour offers views of the historic bar, gambling tables, and bordello rooms. You can see the actual faro table that Doc Holliday once dealt cards at as well as a multitude of other items that were originally in the old theatre and never left.
Hungry, we then head over to Big Nose Kate's Saloon, a large and colorful cowboy bar that began life as the Grand Hotel in 1881. Dressed in period costume, we enjoy the employees and live entertainment, as much as the great food. In the corner, an old cowboy takes photos for tips. We eagerly step up to the plate! My only regret is that we haven't the time to while away the afternoon, drinking sudsy beers with these great characters.
Now, on a hunt for the old house that Wyatt Earp once lived in, we find it, now hosting the Wyatt Earp House and Gallery, which brings together the history of the Old West with western and southwestern art.
Last, but not least, we head on over to Boot Hill Graveyard. Though I knew that those Clanton Gang members killed in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral lay there, as well as John Heath, who was lynched by a Bisbee mob, I didn't know that the old cemetery contained so many other graves - some 250 of them, ranging from outlaws, to painted ladies, to regular folks.
Alas, our time in Tombstone has come to an end and we still have some time so we head down the Ghost Town Trail in search of yet more old mining camps - Gleeson, Courtland, and Pearce and are rewarded with a number of historic buildings along our way.
Finally, we head back to Sierra Vista and our hotel.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
On a ghost town mission, we head up state highway 82 to the small town of Patagonia, having made the mistake of not eating breakfast, getting something to drink, or filling up with gas in Nogales. Not sure why I thought Patagonia might be bigger than it was, but we were in for a rude awakening. Cute little town, but not much there. We paid an exorbitant amount for gas at the one tiny full-service gas station and ate packaged tuna salad sandwiches from the small market. We grabbed one bottle of water each and headed down dusty Harshaw Road in search of off the beaten path ghost towns of Harshaw, Mowry, Washington Camp, Duquesne, and Lochiel. This path, though dirt, was a good road dotted with ranches on either side. Our first stop, slowing down for a beautiful horse on the road. Now, for whatever reason, animals just seem to come to me, even though I'm not a big animal lover. We stop, the horse turns and heads straight for the car. Dave laughs, he's seen this happen dozens of times.
Another four miles south is the old site of Washington Camp that was first prospected in the early 1860's but quickly abandoned due to numerous Apache attacks. However in the 1880s in began to boom when the Duquesne Mining and Reduction Company of Pittsburgh purchased the claims and began operations at what became Duquesne. Once having some 1000 residents, little is left of Washington Camp's old buildings today, though the area is dotted with mining remnants and newer residents.
Continuing on to Lochiel, this old settlement, lying right on the Mexico border, remained a crossing point into Mexico until the early 1980s, when it was closed for budgetary reasons. First established in the early 1880s, it prospered with two smelters for neighboring mines. Today, it is privately owned by ranchers and cannot be accessed, though photos can be taken from the road.
Continuing on this dusty trail, the road remains good but we have now both finished our one bottle of water and the dust kicking up is making us thirsty. It's another 20 miles down this winding path before we reach the next stop - the ghost town of Sunnyside. We're watching along the road as the U.S./Mexico border fence looms in the distance, and it comes as no surprise that we run into several border patrol officials, getting stopped by one to make sure we are "legal."
We finally reach the Sunnyside Road, which deteriorates badly. For three miles we bump and jostle, wondering if this destination is worth the trip. Most definitely, it requires a high clearance vehicle. We finally reach a point that we don't even think should be driven and decide to hike for a short period. About 1/2 mile down the road, we are rewarded with the crumbling little camp of Sunnyside. This old settlement was unusual among Arizona ghost towns, as it had no saloons or brothels, rather it was a religious community. Though families lived in separate quarters they had their meals in a communal building and worked as a group in the mine, at agriculture, in the sawmill, or other community tasks.
Today, this old place provides a number of picturesque opportunities but is a difficult trek to get to. By the time we finally returned to the rocky and treacherous road, backtracking out of there, we were, of course, extremely thirsty, not in good humor, and were of the opinion that the trip was not worth it.
But, still, we had quite a little trip ahead of us to reach to Coronado National Monument. After miles of more dust and a climbing winding road, we were never so glad to reach the Visitor's Center, that thank goodness, had bottled water for sale. The park commemorate the explorations of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. A few more miles brings us to a much anticipated paved highway and we are on our way to Bisbee.
This picturesque 1880's mining city proved to be one of the richest in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich Mule Mountains. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.
Done, we headed to Sierra Vista and our much needed hotel and a good restaurant.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Continuing southward we veer off I-19 once again to head for the Saguaro National Park, where forests of these tall "people-looking" cactuses. A universal symbol of the American West, the park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants that can only be only found in a small portion of the United States. There is no charge to drive through the park.
Back onward to Tucson we pass by the Old Tucson Studios. An Old West film studio, they have been filming in this recreated 1880's Western town since 1939. An active film set that where some of Hollywood's biggest Westerns have been made also provides daily live entertainment and attractions including high-flying stunt shows, gunfights, saloon musicals, trail rides, historical studio tours, and shopping. Alas, the admission is $16.95, our time is limited, and our destination are "real" ghost towns, so we pass.
Circumventing most of Tucson, we head continue on to the San Xavier Indian Reservation to take a look at the Mission San Xavier del Bac. This old mission is acclaimed by many to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. Built in 1768, the mission is a graceful blend of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican Renaissance architecture. Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted. In front of the mission, most days will find the local Indians selling the arts, crafts, fresh baked bread and other wares. Unfortunately, on the day that we were there it was so windy that most had escaped the swirling dust.
Now, for a much anticipated destination, an old dirt road to one of Arizona's best ghost towns. Exiting I-19, we first head to Arivaca before heading down SR-289, a dusty dirt road, to Ruby, Arizona. What a great ghost town!! Established in 1912, this old mining town is one of the best preserved in the state. Mining began in Ruby, that was first called Montana Camp, in the 1870's. After the turn of the century, mining began in earnest and the town boomed to over 1,000 residents, bringing out over 3 million ounces of silver before it died.
Today, the old town is looked after by a caretaker and there is an admission of $12.00. However, it is well worth it as you explore the old school, jail, general store, head frame, assay office, warehouse, mill, and more. Early pioneers also built a dam which created a small lake which still stands near a a large plateau of sifting sand created by the tailings. And, there's more - a tale of murder and mahem, and we were sure - at least one ghost lurking around the old school. Stay tuned when I get back, I'll give you all the details and lots of great photos of RRuby. What a wonderful place!!
The road continues on to another ghost town called Old Glory, but unfortunately we couldn't find it. This road is best driven with a high clearance vehicle.
Caked with dust we made our way out of the mountains to Nogales, a hotel, and a much needed shower.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I was even more excited as I continued to climb elevation out of Prescott into the Prescott National Forest. It was early in the morning, the air was crisp, and I’m moving from near desert into pine trees. It doesn’t get any better. Then, as I start my trip down, I’m again amazed by the views of the valley and the winding roads, complete with large cactuses growing right out of the rocks.
Then, desert again, until I come upon Yarnell – I would live there! To me, this place felt more peaceful than did Sedona. Surrounded by fertile valleys, cattle and horses roaming the range, this small community was well-kept and filled with friendly folks.
Moving southward, this oasis quickly ends and I’m back in the desert, but not without a destination. More ghost towns – Stanton, Octave, and Weaver. These, were also disappointing for someone who loves a preserved, but not restored ghost town. There’s not a whole left. Stanton has become an RV park, but to their credit, have preserved some of the old sites and are restoring others. As I traveled up the rutted dirt road, I found that Octave is privately owned and heavily posted – no trespassing. Interestingly the postings list the “Octave Development Company” as the owner of the land. What does that mean? More cookie cutter houses?
However, down the road is little Weaver – not much left, but interesting. A little cemetery that always makes me wonder about those folks that lived here so long ago, and a few ruins.
From 1863 to 1942, the mine produced gold worth more than 200 million dollars and still the vast tailing are said to include some $600,000 worth of gold.
From here, I made my way back to Phoenix into another quagmire of congested traffic to join up with hubby Dave, who flew in from Las Vegas to join me in the rest of my adventure.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
If I thought the airport was a zoo, I certainly wasn’t prepared for Phoenix traffic. Double yikes – what a mess and construction everywhere! Anywho, finally made it through and headed up the road.
First stop – Bumble Bee, a ghost town some 55 miles north of Phoenix on I-17. Unlike many Arizona ghost towns, Bumble Bee wasn’t a mining town, rather it got its beginning as a stage stop around 1879. However, when gold was found in the area, the stage road began to see more “traffic.” When the ore played out, so did Bumble Bee and later an ill-fated attempt was made to remake it into a tourist destination.
Most of buildings that remain today are from that attempt to beckon people to visit. Alas, their efforts were all in vain. Today, the winding road to Bumble Bee, which soon peters out from pavement to dirt, is a beautiful drive, but there is not a whole lot to see at the end of the road. Not so long ago, the building that once served as the school, later turned residence, offered a gift shop. Today, the building is for sale. While the drive to Bumble Bee is beautiful and the town’s history interesting, there is little left of the town and was a disappointment for this ghost towner. Beyond Bumble Bee, the dirt road, which gradually gets less and less maintained will take you to the ghost towns of Cleator and Crown King. With several other destinations in mind, I opted out of those two, the winding road and the time to to get there and returned to the interstate.
Next, was a stop at Fort Verde State Historic Park, which is one of the best preserved examples of an Indian War period fort in Arizona. Spanning from 1865 through 1890 there were several forts that maintained the many soldiers that protected travelers and settlers from Indian raids. Fort Verde was the primary base for General George Crook's U.S. Army scouts and soldiers. Today visitors can experience a number of historic buildings listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. Cool stop – worth a visit.
Then, I’m excitedly anticipating Sedona, a place I’ve never visited and heard so much about. Rated as the most beautiful place in America and one of the most spiritual and relaxing places in the world, I was shocked!! Yes, it is beautiful! Those towering red rock formations cannot be denied their beauty! But, oh maghosh, what a traffic nightmare – pretty much took any meditative or spiritual thoughts out of this kid, as she tried to pull to the side of the road for a photo opportunity without being rear-ended.
Taking a turn westward; however, rejuvenated my spirits when I arrived in Jerome. It is everything I had read about. It’s a true rejuvenated ghost town. Getting its start in the 1880’s as a copper mining town, the settlement, perched high atop Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley, boomed to some 15,000 people at its peak.
The mining was so thorough that the hill was eventually filled with underground tunnels and unfortunately some of the buildings began to slide down the hill and collapse. Thankfully, it wasn’t all of them, as today this quaint town of some 400 residents continues to display a number of historic buildings, so much so, that the entire town site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, this quaint town of about 400 residents provides tourists with not only a view of the past, but also a number of specialty shops, restaurants and galleries.
Of Jerome's many resident ghosts, I didn’t encounter any, but then again, I wasn’t looking for them.
Down the steep hill into Prescott Valley, I welcomed the sight of my hotel, a little dinner, and a pillow for my head.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Husband Dave is at a convention in Las Vegas this week. He has one of those "real" jobs, you know. Hmmm .... that's kind of close ... not too far ... around the corner from Tombstone, huh? Well, ok, my mind works in mysterious ways. Ok Dave, you go to Las Vegas and do your "conventioning." A couple of days later, I'll fly into Phoenix and do a few of days touring on my own. While I'm in the area, I just gotta run up to Sedona, Jerome, and Prescott. That neighborhood must have about a bajillion ghost towns, not to mention a couple of ancient Indian ruins.
Then, Dave, you just take a puddle jumper down to Phoenix and join me, ok? Then, we'll go to Tombstone! Plus, we'll see a whole bunch more ghost towns and other interesting nooks and crannies along the way. We'll make a circle trip from Phoenix to Tucson, and Tombstone, then a little side jaunt across the border into New Mexico for a couple of great ghost towns - Steins and Shakespeare, then mosy back northeast through Fort Bowie and Globe, before hopping a plane back to Kansas City. How does that sound, Dave? Ok! We're on our way and I can't wait. Stay tuned as I keep you updated during my week in Arizona.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
beach communities, California's 320 miles of the Mother Road provide a wide variety of geography, cultures, architecture, and photographic opportunities.
Like other states, many of the vintage icons along the old Mother Road have been obliterated in California, by the bustling population's desire to build "new and shiny," especially in the cities, where you will need to search a little
harder to find the Route 66 era views. Put on your "patience” hat as you head into the second largest city in the United States and give yourself plenty of time, but persevere, as the historic views are well worth it.
You will begin your trek across California at Needles, which provides a peek of several vintage motels before you move into the Mojave Desert and the lonely ghost towns of Goff, Essex, Chambless, Amboy and Ludlow before rejoining I-40.
Take a side trip to the historic ghost town of Calico on your way into Barstow. In Barstow, you can still see many vintage icons, including the El Rancho motel which was constructed from railroad ties, and the restored
Harvey House Hotel and depot which houses the Route 66 Museum.
On your way to Victorville, take a peek at the Exotic World Museum, a tribute to burlesque, at nearby Helendale,
and another Route 66 Museum once you enter Victorville. As you continue your journey into the San Bernardino Valley, you will quickly know that you are entering the sprawling Los Angeles proper; however, San Bernardino provides a view of several vintage businesses as well as the world's first McDonalds, which is now a museum. And, don't miss the infamous Wigwam Motel on the border between San Bernardino and its suburb Rialto, that once rented its rooms by the hour with its sign displaying "Do It In a Teepee."
Continuing on through Fontana to Rancho Cucamonga, don't miss the old 1920s gas station, and the Route 66 Visitors Center and Museum. As you pass through Upland, grab a buffalo burger at the landmark Buffalo Inn, before
making your way on to Pasadena.
From here the original road survives for 80 miles through Los Angeles and its suburbs, where it is known variously as Foothill Boulevard, Colorado Boulevard, Huntington Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and Santa Monica Boulevard until you reach the western end of the Mother Road at the Santa Monica Pier.
Check out the historic 1913 Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, continue to downtown Los Angeles, where you can see dozens of historic buildings, and move on through Hollywood and Beverly Hills for a peek at the "stars" before finally reaching your Santa Monica.