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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Traveling The Historic Apache Trail, Arizona

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Here I am, your friendly tour guide.
Friendly Tour Guide
Come travel with me as we tour and enjoy our trek into some rugged country in Arizona along The Historic Apache Trail. There's much to see, it's a full day. Most of my reading about this trail before hand indicated the trail took 5 hours, is 41.5 miles in length, and begins 15 miles outside of Phoenix at Apache Junction. The information I read did not indicate how truly rugged the roads were, that bathrooms were limited, and food even more scarce. The scenery though is well worth it. Beautiful outcroppings, sheer mountains, remote desert areas with cactus and lizards, a ghost town, mountains, hiking, camping, and Ancient Ruins. We spent the entire day...well beyond the 5 hours noted.. You'll experience hairpin turns as your drive through the Sonora Desert and see two common cactus -- Saguaro and Fero.

I suggest beyond my usual note to wear sensible comfortable shoes (which do not include flip flops or sandals), a bottle or two of water, you bring a picnic. There is only 1 place to eat along The Historic Apache Trail, and the offerings there (Tortilla Flat), are very very limited. A another word to the wise, do NOT pass up any opportunity to use a bathroom........it's a long day with only a few places available and most of those are pit toilets. You might also be wise to carry tissues. The shoes are needed to avoid the dirt, dust, and cactus. You will be traveling twisting, wilderness type roads. Only a portion of the drive is on a paved road.
lake

The Dam
So many sites to see along the way. Beautiful vistas from the inside of the car; as well as multiple opportunities to get out, walk and explore. Theodore Roosevelt Lake and Dam among them.
One of the interesting and very educational sites when traveling the historic Apache Trail is Tonto Monument. There's a visitors center, with a nice gift shop.
A pretty good hike to the top of the ridge provides quite a view of Tonto Monument off in the distance, as well as the city below.
Ancient Indian Ruins
The Indian Ruins are reported to be over 1,000 years old.
ruins

hiking trail
Goldfield, a mining town in it's day has been reconstructed, this memorial plague so notes this. You can tour this little reconstructed town for a taste of old west. In it's hayday, this ghost town produced 3 Million Dollars in 4 short years between 1892-1896.
Historic Goldfield Ghost Town

scenic twisting road
We're looking down on the rugged road, one of the most rugged in all of Arizona. Large RV's and other over-sized vehicles aren't permitted. Some rental agencies don't even permit their RV's to be on this road due to the ruggedness.

Apache Trail
dirt road
The road had recently been graded, scraped...notice the dirt ridge on the edge.

Theodore Roosevelt Dam. The building of this dam was the primary purpose of the road (the paved road), which was built in 1930.
Bridge

At Days end, a beautiful site. A man made bridge against an awesome sky(not man made) before we start our trek back to the hotel.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Special Thank You for my Traveling Companions

I've traveled lots of places and have been blogging about places to go, things to see when traveling. I've also posted a few things not to see and do, age appropriate and things of that nature.

Some people travel with children, some travel in groups, some travel with friends, and some travel with their families........some travel by plane, some travel by car, and yes some travel on buses and in trains........... DRUM ROLL......the cheapest and less taxxing way to travel in any of these forms in here on my blog. You can take a virtual vacation, it will cost you nothing, you don't have to plan for months, you don't have to do laundry or pack. I love having traveling companions and hope you'll all come frequently and leave me comments...it's nice to know whom I'm traveling with. lol

I've been blogging about travel since Feb of this year, and would like to thank my regular travelers/commentors. I love having you with me, sharing in my trips. My thanks is mentioning you here, and leaving links to your webpages. I'm working on adding a special area for my frequent travelers, but since I'm a bit tech challenged...it's still in the works.

No, not all these folks have travel blogs, venture out and see what they're blogging about.
Jan
EddieGarcia
FishHawk
Jude
SusanHelenGottfried
Ollie McKay

These 6 folks have traveled with me at least 4 times.

Stayed tuned for more travel tips. Out of town for a few days folks, so apologies ahead for not being able to visit, drop, comment etc. My daughter is getting her Masters! We're quite excited and proud.

****Errrrrrr, I typed this blog note before leaving town, I changed the date and it was suppose to run on the 23rd. I click today (the 26th) on scheduled posts while in edit mode and see it's still there and never got published. ???? How does one SCHEDULE s post? Would love someone to post how...THANKS in advance.

Please return soon, I'll have interesting things to share with you all.
Now, though must do laundry from the trip to Baltimore, mow the yard, and water the flowers

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lombard Street, Traveling in San Francisco, California

twisty Lombard Street
Lombard Street, famous (incorrectly so) for being the crookedest street in the world. In fact, it's not the steepest or crookedest even just in San Francisco. No matter, it is known and photographed as such. The steepest street in San Francisco is Filbert with a slope of 31 1/2 % grade, while Famous Lombard Street is only a 27% grade. Vermont Street in San Francisco claims to be more crooked, while Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa has yet sharper turns.

Lombard Street, San Francisco has 8 hairpin turns that attract tons of visitors every year. It's fun to ride the Hyde Street Cable Car to the top and walk down. From the top you get quite a view of San Francisco. Looking down the hill towards the bay you can see Fishermans Wharf, Alcatraz, and Ghirardelli Square.
Bay view

Beautifully restored Victorian homes line the street, with well manicured flower beds give one colorful backgrounds for photo's.
Victorian homes
I was taken aback by the number of rude tourist who seemed to forget these were private homes. Stepping into their yards to get better photo's ...totally disregarding the signs that politely ask tourists to please stay on the walk. I would not want to be a resident there. People would stand right on top of flowers for the sake of a better photo. I'm always sadden by people's lack of respect for others property. Once when the same person had tromped more than one flower, I spoke outloud to my husband and said ...why are people so rude they ignore the signs and think it's ok to trespass, tromp flowers...wonder how they'd react to someone doing that in their front yard? I hoped people heard me.

Riding the various trolleys and cable cars is great fun, and a nice way to see what you later want to explore further. Plan to wait, be patient, be kind and wait your turn...
This should be a clue to people with small children not to add this activity to your travel plans. Waiting is not in shaded comfortable areas, there is not entertainment, nor refreshments. Do yourself a favor rent a stroller and do the walking tour, or hail a cab.
cable car

There's plenty to see while walking, and you can still see the trolley's and cable cars, see how steep and narrow the streets are.
narrow streets
Lots of fun places to dart in for a cool drink or have lunch, but again...be prepared to wait.

You've all seen this famous street in movies and TV shows. It was filmed in the move, "What's Up Doc" with Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neal and the famous movie "Vertigo".

The switchbacks were instituted in 1922-23 as a means to slow down traffic, and make travel there safer. Lombard Street begins in The Presidio, runs through the Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill Neighborhoods.

MUSTS when traveling in San Fransisco:
Wear comfortable walking shoes
Layer clothing
Be prepared to wait, everywhere you go

NEAR BY Attractions when traveling in San Francisco:
Alcatraz
Muir Woods
The Presidio

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

THE ROCK, Alcatraz Island, California

Alcatraz, The Rock, so much more than the movie! This site is the location of the first Lighthouse on the west coast, the first US Fort on the west coast, a bird santuary. A whole village/town existed at one time. Children played here, went to school here. Some of the memories and history written about Alcatraz comes from these folks. It was considered good duty to live and work on the Island. Nothing of the town or private houses is left; though one can see where they were.

Alcatraz Ferry
Sunny California it is NOT! Notice my heavy gray sweatshirt that I purchased at Big Sur in an effort to get warm. Many of us on the ferry are huddled up, back to the wind, ears covered trying to stay warm. Bring a jacket...and a scarf would have been nice to cover the ears. Ferries to and from Alcatraz run almost constantly. It is wise to purchase your tickets for the ferry ahead. There are day and evening tours, though the evening tours sell out first. Plan ahead!

foggy Golden Gate Bridge
Look how foggy it was. You can see The Golden Gate Bridge...but not well.

San Francisco from the water
Looking back through the fog towards the sky line of San Francisco, bet it would be a pretty site if you were leaving for a night tour with all the lights.

Alcatraz in fog
We're approaching The Rock here, somehow it seemed even more mysterious through the fog. Wonder how it looked to those inmates as they approached?

Alcatraz sign
Alcatraz is historic on many different levels. One is for 18 month of Indian occupation. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. In the 1800's American Indians were prisoners at the military prison at Alcatraz. Then in 1964, one year after the closing of The Pen and again in 1969 when they claimed it Indian Land.

canon
Alcatraz was the first United States Fort on the West Coast, and was fully garrisoned in 1859. Civil War history is alive at Alcatraz.

Alcatraz cell
Can you imagine living in a cell this small? Dark, dingy, one horrible open john-privy. Seeing the world through the iron gates. Hearing San Francisco. Some of the more famous inmates told how on New Years Eve, they could actually hear parties from their cells.

famous Alcatraz inmates
Probably the two most famous prisoners held here at Alcatraz were Alphonse "Scarface" Capone. He was in for tax evasion. He was an inmate from 1934-1939. And let's not forget George "Machine Gun" Kelly, he spent time for kidnapping from 1934-1951

solitary cell at Alcatraz
A thick heavy door to one of the solitary cells. Only a small window where food could be passed in.

US Flag
The American Flag was really flapping with the wind the day we were there.
*An interesting and very educational tour, I highly recommend it
**Families traveling with small children should look into The Jr. Ranger Program before they go.
***Wear good walking shoes, wear a hat (birds fly and drop constantly...seems someone is always getting hit, so a hat would at least protect your head).
****Watch were you're walking...smelly bird poo........everywhere. Another reason to wear tennis shoes and not open sandals.
*****Eat before you go, there are snacks, but very limited. Eating is only permitted on the dock.
*******Do obtain the audio tour, it's facinating. Very well done, voices, sound effects...you really do feel like you're there when those cell blocks were shut!




Escapes:
Much romance and speculation, were there any "successful" escapes?
Some say it depends on your definition of the word successful, however...here's the stats. There were 36 men who attempted escapes (2 of those 36 men tried twice...so 34 actual men). There were 14 different escape attempts. 23 men were caught, 6 shot and killed while trying to escape, 2 drowned.
34-23-6=5

And what of the 5? There are to this day, 5 prisoners on records who were officially listed as "missing and presumed drowned". Recording it that way, the officials I guess can still say, there were no successful escapes.......but, I wonder.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Muir Woods, California

hiking trailMuir Woods. Most interesting thing to me is how a forest of this magnitude can be soooooooooo close to San Francisco, so close to civilization. These trees are awesome! How forward thinking to preserve them. You can see the size by how small I look when standing near them. It's not possible to look up enough to see the tops of tree without feeling like you're going to topple over backwards.
large redwoodThe black on the tree is the tree's way of self protection, from disease, animals, and fire. We were told the fire damage one can see happened over 200 years ago; but these trees show it like it happened just yesterday.
damage tree preservation
Muir Woods is a National Monument, part of The Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 2008, it turned 100 years old, having become a National Monument (the 10th), in 1908 by an order from President Theordore Roosevelt. Named for Conservationist, John Muir; it almost didn't happen. In 1907 a water company from Sausalito wanted to dam the Redwood Creek, went to court to get the land condemned for there purposes. Owner Kent, blocked their quest by giving the land...all 295 acres to The United States Government. In 1933 The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) began work that lasted until 1941 when it completed it's last project.
Very tall Redwood
As mentioned, one can't look back enough to see the tops; nor photograph them. These trees reach towards the heavens. There is documentation indicating the tallest Redwood tree is as tall as a 35 story building!!
tree dating rings
The last ring on this three was back in 1930, thats 79 years ago folks.
I have this pictured labeled me among friends. I LOVE trees, I find them spiritual. It therefore, seems most appropiate to end with a favorite poem.

Trees
by Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)*

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Did someone say poetry



Sunday, May 3, 2009

EntreCard & BLOGUPP

This is sorta a bookkeeping item...Though a great way for you to take a virtual trip, no packing necessary. Sit there in the comfort of your computer chair and travel with me to a place with animals, a place to learn facinating history of Chicago, a place to get kids and adults excited about writing, a place that celebrates the fun and joy of motherhood, buy fun gifts from the ever popular Hello Kitty without having to travel to the crowded mall and spend precious time and money on gas, travel abroad with me to The Phillipines...you don't even need a passport.

I want to thank my top 3 droppers for April from EntreCard
Mother by Design
IWalk u2?
Hello Kitty Gifts

I'd also like to thank my top 3 ads that helped me with clicks from EC
Chicago Journal
Phillipines Travel
Laane Loves

Anyone following the daily changes at EntreCard will know the back and forth between paid ads. All those listed in bold above are folks who do NOT accept paid ads.

Dropping is nice, it can be fun, you see lots of blogs. YOu can use your EC credits for things in the market place or to purchase ads yourself on others blogs; however...EC doesn't track top commentors...but I do.

Thanks bunches Jan for being my top commentor for the month of April. If you're into animals you'll want to check out her newest blog, if you're into writing she's got that covered too.

So today I travel to Thank You Land, anywhere USA, or really anywhere in the World. The virtual world is an amazing place.

BLOGUPP
What a fun and interesting new toy for me. Well not really a toy, in that it's a great way to make connections with other bloggers. Some might be your topic, but many aren't and thats the beauty of it. There is no registration so joining is fast, and easy. Even for folks like me who are techy challenged. Activation is also quick and easy. Take a look on my right side bar for the cool widget with 2 thumbnails of other blogs. They change; but if you mouse over and click you're instantly taken to that page. A page you probably wouldn't be familiar with otherwise. What a great way to meet another blogger. Read their post, leave a comment and keep going. They'll have a widget on their page too. 2 pages per widget, with a small summary of their last post. Pick a topic, they're all covered. It's only been a few days since I joined and am really happy that I did. I've already told several people about how cool it is. Check it out for yourself. Look at my widget. Click on the blue bar in the middle...like a book binder. You too can join and start blog walking to some new and interesting blogs.

If you'd like to travel to The California Coast and see a LightHouse Hostel, please scroll back to my previous post.

If you like trees, stick around; next post will be traveling to Muir Woods, what an awesome place to visit in California

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