Thursday, May 14, 2009

Phoenix Trip

When did we go to Phoenix the first time?

Our son Jim says it was 1962. I have no reason to doubt that. That would make him 15; John 12 and Martha 8, at that time.

My sister and her family moved to Phoenix in about 1957 or 1958, due to the health of their youngest son, Steven. Their business was basically in the summer, since they made and sold Salt Water Taffy at fairs - principally in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. They had also developed an Antique business in Phoenix and Los Angeles, specializing in glass ware.

Sadly, Stevie’s disease overtook him at about age 4 or 5. Their other son, Damon, developed Leukemia, and he also passed away, but at age 10, in 1960. Thus, our children were no longer able to enjoy their cousins when we went there in 1962.

I had a friend in Chicago who had connections with a firm that delivered cars to various places - mostly other states. I was told that there was a large station wagon to be delivered to Phoenix, and if we would drive it, there would be no cost to us. We took it.

We drove straight through, with Jean and me alternating driving. Jim remembers that it took us 40 hours one way, and 44 the other. Jim’s memory is better than mine, so we’ll go with that.

We basically followed Route 66 (before the Interstates) toward the southwest, going through St. Louis, Springfield, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Shamrock, Tulsa, Amarillo, Tucumcari, Santa Rosa and Albuquerque. My memory tells me that we must have left Route 66 after that , and headed southwest. About 150 miles from Albuquerque was a little town at the base of the Rocky Mountains, called Pie Town, AZ. We ate breakfast at the Pie Town Café.

The Internet says that Pie Town is on the Continental Divide, which would be at the TOP of the Rockies, so my memory must be a little faulty there. The Internet says the town is at the 8,000 feet sea level. So, my memory IS faulty. (Wonder of wonders!)

Except……. maybe Pie Town was on the Continental Divide, but the Pie Town Café was at the bottom? Can’t say.

Anyway, we have a picture somewhere, showing the 5 of us eating breakfast there.

We went through Globe and Show Low in AZ, and down into the Salt River Canyon. (Today, US 90 bridges across the canyon, but in 1962, WE went down into it, and up the other side.) Scary.

I remember we drove through Show Low, Arizona awhile after dawn. A wonder that we had not seen before, was tumble weeds - just running across the field like they had wheels. From there, a short drive through Globe and into Phoenix.

I wouldn’t have remembered the time of year we were there, except I do remember a small Christmas tree on a picnic table in the desert.

Stanley and Miriam took us on a tour of Phoenix, and the general area. The desert we went to, was not very far from the city. They DO talk about Phoenix “rising from the desert”. Many years ago, that’s what it did - being incorporated in 1881.

Not far from their house in North Phoenix was a “quasi-ranch”, I suppose it would be. Anyway, they rented horses, and our three kids rented some, and rode around the ranch. Ten gallon hats were provided.

Since Stanley and Miriam lived in, basically, North Phoenix, we could see a sign for a restaurant way up on the mountain called, “Cloud Nine”. A lighted sign showed its location at night. I don’t think we ever went there.

Looking out of their east window early in the morning was an “experience”. There were mountains all around them, but the ones toward the east were several miles away, and the sun “came over the mountain”. A beautiful sight.

A feature in and around Phoenix that one would not want to miss was the ubiquity of “cacti” (smart aleck pronunciation of the plural of “cactus”). The one that we remember was the “saguaro” cactus. There was another, called, “Barrel Cactus”. It WAS rather “barrel like”, and we brought one of them home. We kept it quite awhile, after Jean put it in a large heavy plastic, round container. We learned about the types of cactus in the book, “What Kinda Cactus Izzat?”.

There was the Barrel Cactus; Beavertail; Cholla; Claret Cup Cactus; Fishhook; Hedgehog Cactus; Ocotillo; Organ Pipe Cactus; Pincushion Cactus; Prickly Pear Cactus; Saguaro Cactus; Totem Pole; and Cactus Flowers. I don’t think we saw all of them. We found most of them south of Phoenix, in the desert.

One of the more interesting things to us was a side trip to Scottsdale, a suburb east of Phoenix. It featured what we had never seen before - a Strip Mall. I don’t think they called it that then, but it’s what it would be called today. The stores were fascinating.

A feature of Arizona that I can’t forget is the small town of Sedona, a couple hours or so north of Phoenix. I apologize for mentioning it with the 1962 trip - since we didn’t go there then - but I was so fascinated with it that I just had to mention it. Jean and I went there with Miriam, after Stanley had passed away.

A major feature of the Sedona area is the mountains and rock formations on all sides - mostly in the distance. Beautiful scenery - challenged only by those in the Badlands of South Dakota.

I mentioned that we were there over Christmas. For lunch that day, we went out into the desert, and there was a “picnic table”, with a 2 foot tall Christmas Tree on the top of it. That’s where we ate. We then explored some of the desert.

Our son Jim mentioned one of the highlights to him was the Saddleback Mountain. It seems to me that was farther north than the Powells, but from a distance, one could see why it was called “Saddleback”. Looked just like the back of a horse, without a saddle.

I just now remembered how we were struck with the different types of houses there. No two stories. No “ranch houses”. Just mostly “adobe” type, and all on one floor. Phoenix “aficionados” will probably tell me that there were also some “regular” houses also, but I’m going on my memory of what we saw.

Not far from there was the “ranch/compound” of Senator Barry Goldwater, a noted legislator of the time. (Before he ran for President.)

Our return home was NOT as inexpensive as the trip out, since we had to rent a car to return. Jim thinks we took more “main highways” back than we did in going to Phoenix.

I’ve run out of memories about this right now, so I’ve asked Jim and John to come up with some more. If time requires me to post this before they remember something, I’ll edit this and include that.

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