Our last day was basically spent relaxing and hanging around home. We took the kids to school and then came back home to lay around the pool. It was warm outside, but the pool hadn’t had time to warm up yet.
Jenny and Emmett have a beautiful yard and live in a very peaceful neighborhood. It’s actually called a county island because they have not joined the town of Buckeye yet and still have rural water and septic tanks.
I was so relaxed and read my book and dozed off and on. I loved just hanging out.
Peaking over the pool is the cactus in their yard along with their palm trees.
Their pool and surrounding area is really nice. Especially when you can leave it filled all year round.
I love it and could see how if it warms up more than today how this would be where I spent my time!
80*. This is what it was like for the whole day. Sunny and 80*. I loved every bit of it.
Madelyn wanted to be brave, but that water was pretty cold. She just kept thinking about it for the better part of an hour.
Then…she did it. Jumped right in. She was practically in shock from the cold but at least she could say she went swimming in March on her vacation. I didn’t even get my swimming out. Just sat laughing at her antics!
So our day went. We went to get the kids from school and then hung out doing homework and went to Chase’s practice and then headed home for one last relaxing evening of hanging out with the family.
The final morning dawned just as beautiful as the rest and we packed and took the kids to school one final time. I nearly cried knowing it will be while before I can hug them again. I even got to give Chase a kiss. Don’t tell him I told you though. It was so much fun to spend time with them and see where they live and all the things they do.
Then Madelyn, Jenny and I went back to the house to finish packing and go through some clothes of Jenny’s for me. That’s the perfect kind of shopping for me.
Heading out one final time. The area they live is so beautiful. I wanted to take a picture of each and every street and turn so I wouldn’t forget.
Of course through shopping and going through Jenny’s closet, we now had more than we brought so we headed first to the UPS store to ship some of it home. Then we still figured we had left plenty early so we went to a few more antique stores to look around.
See this? I am doing this on my barn door. If I could make a living looking at old things, that would be my perfect dream job.
Of course we had to have one more splurge of Sushi. I think Madelyn got pictures of it, but I evidentially didn’t. Should have, it was very beautiful and super good! So now that we are completely stuffed, we headed slowly to the airport. Once there and our goodbyes sadly said, everything went smoothly to get up to the gate and after getting some coffee and glancing through the final shops, we sat to wait for our flight home.
We checked the two locations temperature. 26* different. That’s not to bad. Except I didn’t now at the time that we were heading back just in time for a solid week of grey and rain. It’s funny how you can want to go home so badly and at the same time want to never leave.
Our flight was uneventful and we arrived on time. It was great to see mom pull up and hug her. It was even better to get home and kiss my boys. I will definitely make the trip again. If nothing else to just spend time laughing and talking with Jenny. Oh how I miss that already.
Warning: This is going to be an extremely long post. I only used half the pictures and I think there is 84. I may have to cut it down again.
So Sunday dawned even more sunny and beautiful than Saturday. We loaded up early and headed off to Sedona!! It is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! This was a much different view than the last time I went with Grandma and Grandpa to Jerome and Sedona. We loaded the side by sides and trailered them up there.
We had to make a pit stop as everyone finally woke up about half way there. Jenny’s husband Emmett, his brother JD and his family joined us today!
The rigs and most of the crew. We continued on and I basically stared as the scenery changed. It was very green up here, lots of grass and wide open pastures, even cattle! I loved the look of the green grass and then a cactus.
The sun coming up over the hills. The whole way there you are basically climbing. It’s slow but it’s noticeable in your ears. Phoenix sits at 1086 feet above sea level, while Sedona is at 4500 feet above see level.
So that was that for Sedona. We loaded up and headed back to Buckeye to relax a little before going to watch Emmett play slow pitch and I got to meet a bunch of Jenny’s good friends. It was a great way to end a perfect day spent with wonderful people. I can’t thank Emmett enough for taking the time to take us up and ride with us. Our days are dwindling in Arizona. But we were so tired tonight all we could think about was bed.
So Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful! Finally Chase was feeling better and we get to spend the whole day them! We headed for Apache Junction. Some of you may know my Grandparents used to go to Arizona every winter. They had a place in Apache Junction.
We found it. I visited them here at Valley Palms twice. I first fell in love with Arizona when I was 14 years old hanging out with them here!
This was their first trailer here. It was easier to find than I thought even though I am sure I haven’t been here for nearly 20 years.
Anyway, we basically just did a drive through there to look at it. Then we headed for Apacheland. Apacheland was once a movie set. It has hiking trails, the church Elvis was married in, parts of the old movie set, a real blacksmith, a museum and store.
We went through the museum store first and looked around there. Then the kids wanted to go on the hiking trail.
Can you believe they went into mines in these little tiny things! We did finally get a picture of Chase and Emily both facing us!
The hike was beautiful and the day was perfect. I am just in awe of this view.
On the hike you walk by a variety of things. This is the Stamp Mill. It was used in milling to crush all kinds of things and hopefully then the gold would be separated out. There was also a primitive mill, a labyrinth, and a drilling machine.
They have the neatest train set up that takes you through the early years of settlement. Chase read about each place and time to us on this tour! They had some pretty neat miniature things on this model train town.
Our little models were at it again in the stagecoach.
Final stop at Apacheland, the church Elvis was married in. They still use it for weddings today.
I thought the cacti that were just outside the door was the neatest part, but if you are an Elvis fan you would probably like the inside.
It’s filled with movie posters that were made at Apacheland.
Madelyn had to get her picture taken with Elvis.
While we were in the church, on of the volunteers recommended we head to Tortilla Flats for dinner. Tortilla Flats is a former freight camp from the building of the Roosevelt Dam and is on the Apache Trail. You can drive the whole Apache Trail but we only went as far a Tortilla Flats.
The entire drive was magnificent. Every twist and turn was more beautiful than the last.
Just before Tortilla Flats, is Canyon Lake. You can camp, swim, boat, fish, or hike around it. That would probably be an entire weekend trip all its own. But it was beautiful to drive around.
We made it to Tortilla Flats just in time for a noontime shoot out between two gold miners and the sheriff. I got so busy watching I didn’t take any pictures of this tiny speak of a town, population 6. Yes 6! They are all employees and caretakers. We went to the restaurant and the food was amazing!
After we ate, we got some ice cream at the General Store and looked around the shop. It was a neat little trek up the mountain. We then headed back down to go to Goldfield Ghost Town.
I was honestly having so much fun looking around and being with my family, I didn’t get a lot of pictures. We took the train ride that goes all the way around the town and explains what all you are seeing. Then we headed into the mines. You go ‘way’ down under ground and get a peak into what it was like to be a miner. The history and stories that you hear about things like being trapped or trying to save money so the owners only allowed each miner 1 candle each day for a 12 hour shift and they had to learn to eat their lunch in the complete dark so you could have enough candle left to find your way out. I was glad to be back on the surface. Even if I was only maybe 20 feet underground!
Our next stop was at the Mystery Shack. It was a miners shack that unfortunately fell into a sinkhole. He left it because it really messes with your equilibrium. Water appears to flow up hill. When you walk to one side you get there pretty easy but it is a lot of work to get back to the other wall.
I got to sit in the chair. You can’t stand up out of the chair. It feels weird to be unable to do something that is so normal. It really messes with you.
No matter where you go you can get a glimpse of the beautiful Superstition Mountain. There are of course shops all up and down the main street. They were neat, and we stopped in a few and looked around, but by now we were all getting tired. So we packed it in and headed back to the Davis Ranch, or home.
We hung out in the yard watching Jenny’s husband and his brother work on their new shed while the kids played. The evening ended with loading up for an early departure in the morning.
Not going to lie. Now I am almost to excited to sleep! We leave at 6 in the morning!
Friday was our 3rd full day in Arizona. Unfortunately, Chase woke up with a fever. So the first thing we did after dropping Emily off at school was to take Chase to the Dr. Jenny had gotten an email from the school that there had been a couple cases of strep throat going around and wouldn’t you know, that’s what Chase had! Bummer. But he was a trooper about it and got better quick after he started his medicine. While they were at the Dr., Madelyn and I walked around outside. It was the most beautiful day.
Spending time with my girl relaxing is a lot of fun. I am sure I don’t have a lot of time left before she get busy with her life and hanging out with her old mom won’t be as easy or as important.
The Mystery Castle was built over 15 years by a man named Boyce for his daughter Mary Lou. He came from Seattle and went through the city papers and discovered that there was 40 acres of land that was part of the South Mountain Park that could be mined. Back then you had to live on the land for 7 years in order to claim the land and since no one had done that, well he did. He then started something that could only be described as amazing.
He built a castle for basically no money other than his food. He literally used found or recycled everything in the entire thing. I would venture to say he was slightly quirky. He had come to Arizona from Oregon due to tuberculosis and worked 15 years on this place. Sadly he died before his wife and daughter could join him, but they did move down to the castle after his death. His daughter lived in the castle the rest of her life until her death in 2010.
Every rock was hauled from the area around the castle. He did technically mine the area under the castle to complete the claim. In the picture above, you can see old telephone poles used in the balcony.
This is one of the variety of windows used in the castle. Notice the bricks around the window? Back in the day the making of bricks was not exact. Sometimes they would have the heat up to high and the bricks would melt and become unusable. To everyone but Boyce. He would take these unusable bricks and brick pieces and use them everywhere.
Here is another unusual window made form the rim of the car that Boyce drove from Oregon. He parted it out and used many of the parts in the house. Other materials he used were railroad tracks salvaged from abandoned mines, wood from the sides of unused railroad cars, shipping crates. Basically anything he could get his hands on for free.
He built in a lot of nooks and cranny’s for decorations and even made some of them.
The ceiling here is made out of the sides of a decommissioned boxcar. Thinking about how all this work would have been done without all the modern conveniences and by hand helps you understand how it took 15 years to build a castle with 18 rooms including bedrooms, living area, caretakers quarters, cantina, patios, chapel and dungeon!
He made good use of space and built his desk into a wall using it also as a support. He did the same thing with the wine cellar and other various hidey holes.
Of course you may know by now that I love antiques. And this place is literally filled with beautiful antiques.
For mantels and other places to use for decorations due to his lack of furniture he built it into the walls.
I can’t remember who he got the bedroom set from, but it was someone who worked with railroad. It was designed to look like an engine, and was absolutely beautiful!
Even though Mary Lou lived in the castle for many years, she didn’t used some parts of it and there are still parts to this day that have no modern conveniences. I believe there are 13 or so fireplaces.
He built a wishing well, but not your usual wishing well. This one went to the cantina and if you were on the patio you wished in the well for your drink and it would be delivered up from downstairs.
He built an entire cooking area outside on the main patio. Many of the ‘unusable’ bricks were used in this area. You can see an archway built into it on the left hand side. He built this as the Phoenix Frame. Back when he built the castle you could stand there and look straight out and it framed in the entire city of Phoenix.
Phoenix is a little bigger that it used to be then and no longer fits in the frame.
These are windows built out of the ruined bricks as well.
He even built this little tower. You can’t actually get into it but it’s cute and interesting.
Another balcony in front of Mary Lou’s room.
This is just another example of a beautiful archway up to another patio. I thought it was so neat that he used statues in the actual architecture.
This is in the guest house area of the castle. I want this piece in my home! Some of the furniture was beyond gorgeous. The guest house was open and very airy. It was often used when it got hot in the summer.
This another fireplace that actually had one behind it and used two flues. He got fairly creative in this area.
This is the other fireplace slightly below and behind the other fireplace. To get to the living space in this room you have to go down a few stairs.
To make space he built a loft for storage and this corner he left unfinished and built it around the cactus that was there. It was alive at the time but has since died and left it’s skeleton. So cool.
Again to save room, the bed is a hide-abed! It is on rollers and rolls out and then under the floor above.
If you ever get there to visit, pay attention to every where. When we got back up on the floor above the bed and looked back down, we noticed this cactus he built into the floor. There were amazing details everywhere! In this picture you can also see the rails the bed rolls out on.
Downstairs there is the Chapel area. He wanted this castle to have everything. There is a sunken fireplace with a seating area around it.
They actually held weddings here for a while. Would have been neat to get married in a castle.
An old organ that I can’t remember the whole story of, but the woman that gave it to him married a number of wealthy men that seemed to not live very long. She would then make large donations of to the local churches. They in turn gifted her for her kindness which is how she came to own this organ.
Just another beautiful corner.
There are so many things I heard that I am probably not remembering. I do want to mention that they are not open May to October due to the amount of critters that they have in the castle to get out of the heat make it difficult to hold tours. He also insisted that before his wife and daughter could own the castle or make any real decisions about it they had to live there two years and they could not open the trap door until they had done so. When they had lived there two years, the lawyer gave them the key and they found all the paperwork for the house along with picture of them, all their letters to him and pictures of him during the years he built the castle. He did this to show them how much he loved them and how often he thought of them during their years apart. They also didn’t add any electricity or plumbing until 1992 although there are still many parts that have neither. Amazing to think Mary Lou lived there all those years without those to the castle!
Boyce was green before being green was even a thing. This recycled, upcycled, repurposed castle was one of the most interesting places I have ever visited. I have a feeling I stood with my mouth open in awe most of the morning. After we were done with our tour we headed for sushi and home. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at home while Chase rested.
So after another amazing night sleep, we were up early again and off! We started out by getting the kids dropped off at school and headed for a place called Cave Creek. It turns out it is very touristy and there is a lot of amazing antique, keepsake, food and wine and just cute shops! Of course we loved it. But in our eagerness to get there, most of the shops were still closed. So we went out for breakfast.
We stopped at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral. It was very interesting little bar and restaurant. Just standing on the deck and looking around was beautiful.
I am in love with the view of cactus and palm trees at this point. I have a zillion pictures just of them. But I digress. Back to breakfast. This place was pretty cool, especially after I realized they were Steeler fans also!
It was decorate pretty neat, cowboy boot on the ceiling, all kinds of Steelers pictures and memorabilia.
Things were just hung every which where. It was quite interesting.
This guy hung out on the bar behind where I was sitting. Pretty strange. But the food was amazing and cheap.
I got the Southwest Omelet with breakfast potatoes. It was really delicious. Madelyn had eggs, toast and bacon. Jenny got some amazing French toast. After we were stuffed most of the shops were starting to open up and I was looking forward to walking this off!
The first place we went was the town dump. It is basically old storage units that are rented out to different venders to sell their wares. There was so much stuff and we spent a lot of time wandering through the different things.
There was so much to look at! I took a lot of these pictures so that I could show them to my friend Lisa and see if she can make any of these things. I think they would look so good in my yard. Of course while we are doing this Madelyn had to have a little fun!
We think maybe we should live in Malfuncion Junction! What a perfect name for the craziness that was beyond that gate. We laughed a lot again today.
Then I saw this sign and decided that we had to see what it was about. I am not sure the prices really said BLOWOUT, but whatever, it was an amazing store to look around. We were being really careful to not bump into anything until…
This guy came around the corner. He apparently lives in this store. Well ok, not sure I would pay $500 for the bed covering he’s been laying on, but again, whatever.
The walls and shelves and every nook and cranny was covered with beautiful hangings and knickknacks. All western and all beautiful and all very pricey.
There were a number of these skulls decorated and absolutely stunning. I really wish I was more artistic. We continues through a number of other small stores through out the entire strip. One area was called Frontier Town and they had it all set up like a small town with a wide variety of shops with a wide variety of things for sale. We mostly just wandered and looked, but I did find a couple cute things for the boys and my nieces and nephew. We sampled anything from fudge to olive oils to wines (well not Madelyn) and looked at clothes and décor that cost more than our cars. We ended up behind one store and couldn’t believe how much stuff they had stashed back there! All pots. Hundreds. I just stood in one spot and turned four times and took a picture all the way around me.
I couldn’t believe how many there were and they were unloading a semi. Unbelievable.
We found a lot of things we had to check out behind and hidden from sight.
I was surprised by how much stuff was just sitting outside and had been forever. Of course when you don’t have winter weather like we do in Iowa, I guess you can leave things out!
These were so cool. They are cactus skeletons. They feel like wood but are what is left after a cactus dies and they are very beautiful. Of course you can buy them as well! Overall it was a really fun day just wandering and looking at all kinds of crazy different things. I couldn’t believe how much stuff they had crammed into such a small area.
After we finally got done looking in the shops, headed back to get the kids and take a nap! All that wandering and looking was pretty tiring. Madelyn and I are not believing the beauty just on the sides of the roads and the amazing temperature, which my cousin kept saying sorry it wasn’t sunny or warmer. We thought it was near perfect! See you again tomorrow for Day 3!
Because I never leave the area, I am going to break this into a few posts. Madelyn and I had the most wonderful time visiting my cousin Jenny and her family in Arizona. I should have done it years ago and this will definitely not be the last time. We left from Des Moines on Tuesday, March 21st.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time so we decided that we should eat before we left. We had some snacks and then waited at the gate for the flight.
The plane got there and I could hardly contain my daughter. Her excitement was definitely contagious and I realized I was really looking forward to going. After getting everything ready for me to go I was pretty tired, but now that I had everything ready, I was a lot more relaxed.
Finally after a couple hours we see Phoenix lights! Of course after leaving Des Moines it seems HUGE!
My cousin meet us outside in the warmth and we headed straight to her house as it was almost 11 pm in Arizona.
Her house is beautiful. This is my room for the week. I wish I could have brought this bed home with me. So the traveling part of the trip was done. We went to bed and got some sleep so we could get up early the next morning. Of course the fact that they are 2 hours behind home made that pretty easy.
The morning started by saying Hi to Jenny’s Kiddos and Hubby. They then had to leave for school. But our plan required us to meet Jenny’s daughter Emily at school for a field trip to the capitol building!
We meet up with Emily and her group around the back of the new building at the Old Capitol. They have a beautiful courtyard with a number of memorials and statues that we walked though while Emily and her group did a scavenger hunt.
There were a lot of different ones. I could have spent the day reading each of them and enjoying them.
We enjoyed this part of the field trip with the kids. Of course the scenery and weather sure helped make this an amazing first morning.
After wandering around the courtyard we spent a while going through the Old Building Museum. Lots of interesting history in that building.
I didn’t get a lot of pictures in the museum, but we enjoyed going through the different sections and looking around. When the kids headed off to have lunch, Jenny, Madelyn, and I headed off to continue looking around Phoenix.
We were already downtown so we decided to check out a museum that Jenny had heard of.
As we drove towards the museum with the windows down, enjoying the fresh air and the temps creeping towards 80*, I personally enjoyed the building and different architecture.
Just in the middle of downtown is the Rosson House Museum. It is an old house, that is full of history and has a really interesting tour. It was so cool. But I love history and old things! If you want more information, check out The Phoenix Heritage Square. Other than walking through a newly poured concrete square, much to dismay of the workers (in our defense we were talking and excited), the tour was amazing.
The staircase was breathtaking as you walked in. It was ordered and brought in pieces.
The rooms and the stories behind the families that lived in this house and the super cool Gibeon doors and porches, beautiful furniture and the effort taken by the historical society to match up as much of the furnishings, floors and walls with the way it actually was breathtaking. We had such a good time enjoying this museum.
I thought this was an amazing place and such a cool start to our trip. We then headed for the most exciting part of the day for Madelyn.
Yes, Mexican Sushi. This was divine! Of course, I love sushi and Mexican food both. It was a neat mix of both. Fried with rice in them, but the meat is steak or chicken with sushi type sauces. Just yum.
Then we headed to pick up the kiddos from school and headed home before Chase had football practice.
They were so happy to have us at their house, and I have to say that I was so happy to be there with them!
If you trick him, you get a chance to see his face! So we headed off to his practice.
On the way to his practice, we got to pass the stadium the Cardinals play at and where the Final Four and Championship game were going to played the next week.
Of course we were just in awe of the temperature as evening started fall. It was nearly perfect weather.
Then we had this crazy silliness going on. Who knows what happened but we sure had fun and lots of laughs. After practice we headed back to their house for supper and bed. We had an amazing first day!