Raising Arizona...

Trip Start May 01, 2003
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Trip End Sep 01, 2003


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Monday, May 12, 2003

ARIZONA HIGHLIGHTS: Dust Devils and tumble weeds, tie-off the steering wheel and snooze on Route 60, horse riding at Rancho de los Caballeros, Red Rocks and Granite Dells, Murphy's restaurant in Prescott, Jerome clinging tenaciously to the hillside, Boynton Canyon in Sedona (one of the most magical places on earth), Mii Amo spa (perfection for Kirsten), "arcology" at Arcosanti, worshiping Frank-Lloyd Wright at the Arizona Biltmore, Mother's Day brunch with the Davidsons, Biosphere2 meltdown in Oracle.

May 6 (Day 6)-Palm Desert-Wickenburg
After leaving the living desert, we set in for a 250 mile haul thorough the desert to Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, AZ. The gods are with us...the girls slept almost the entire way! This is an exceedingly boring ride, until you get off of I-10 and onto Arizona 60. This is exactly how Route 66 looks to us in pictures...two lane, small (almost forgotten) bends in the road that rate as "towns" out here. We see real "dust devils" out here, mini tornadoes twisting over open land, turning red over freshly plowed fields. We also see honest to goodness tumble weeds rolling by. This road is so straight you could literally tie off the steering wheel, go to sleep and half-hour later wake up without so much as hitting the shoulder. Not much to get in the way. We arrive at the Rancho, check out the grounds, the girls play on the playground, and we go to dinner where jackets are required for men. Nice dinner and girls are well behaved.

May 7 (Day 7)-Wickenburg-Prescott-Jerome-Sedona
Highlight of Rancho is girls riding horseback (see pics). Isabelle and Jocey loved the horses(of course). Kirsten got back in the saddle after a long hiatus, got the horse into an unintended gallop and forgot the word "whoa". Luckily the horse knew where to stop and stopped before jumping fences. Kirsten caught the horse bug (4 more months to wear off). We are off towards Sedona on 89A, a nationally-famous scenic route. We passed through the town of Prescott, the gateway to red rock country (high iron content colors the rocks beautiful crimson hues). This is supposed to be an up-and-coming small town with high quality of life but we were not impressed. We did fall in love with the little mining town of Jerome, clinging to a hillside with a mix of old West mining, classic European village and booming artists' community. This town has amazing panoramic views of the Red Rock Valley thousands of feet below. If you are in Jerome, the Red Rooster Café is a must. Jerome is the most fascinating stop on our trip to date. We then descended into the valley and the magic of Sedona.

May 8-9 (Day 8-9)-Sedona
We returned to the most memorable stop on our 1998 Southwest trip (before kids), the Enchantment Resort. The locale is simply one of the most stunning scenic canyons we have seen, Boynton Canyon. Think a combination of Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon but a little more intimate. Jocelyn's jaw dropped and her eyes were like plates when we drove in. We will spend three nights here. We did get some babysitting here, and were able to have a couple of quiet dinners sans children. We took the girls hiking in packs into the canyon, relaxed in the phenomenal Spa and just soaked in the scenery. We cannot recommend this location highly enough. You just have to see it, pictures cannot do justice. We did not venture into town much, although this location is heavily into crystals, "energy vorticies" and other new age pursuits-much of the town's commerce is centered on this and the arts. We preferred to enjoy the resort and hit the trails...Kirsten and I had some solo time thanks to some babysitting on property. We hiked without toddlers on our backs for the first time in a long time and felt the freedom of a 6 mile, 1800-foot vertical climb to the top of Bear Mountain. Awesome views of Red Rock country.

May 10 (Day 10) Sedona-Cordes Junction (Arcosanti)-Scottsdale
We got an early start on a day which pays homage to Frank-Lloyd Wright. We had already been to Taliesen West on a prior visit. Our drive down AZ 179 through Red Rock country and Prescott National forest was brief but beautiful, and soon we were on the nondescript segment of I-17 down to Cordes Junction, home of Arcosanti. This architectural project was started in the late 1960s by Paolo Solieri, a protégé of Frank-Lloyd Wright. The idea is to make more livable urban environments by integrating the architecture with ecology (Arcology). The project is short on labor and funds but long on vision. The residents (80 currently) build the structures, create art and work on fund raising efforts such as casting unique brass wind chimes in the foundry. We found it interesting that there are no building inspections or codes on the site. The girls almost walked off staircases, Isabelle had her head stuck in a walkway railing...you get the idea. We left without any major injuries and headed south through a literal forest of cacti to Phoenix. We arrived at the Arizona Biltmore that evening. The hotel was designed by another student of Wright (name escapes me), and has a distinct craftsman/prairie-style feel, but is much more opulent. For example, the ceiling is covered with 320,000 4 inch-square leaves of gold, placed there individually when the hotel was built in 1929. The girls were fabulous at dinner, we were able to have TWO drinks, and we strolled the grounds with the girls until dark (lighting of the grounds is fantastic!).

May 11 ( Day 11) MOTHERS DAY Scottsdale-Oracle (Biosphere2)-Tucson
Happy Mother's Day to Kirsten and to all mothers!!! Kirsten took a Mother's Day run on the grounds. We kicked off the day with brunch with Tom and Debby Davidson, our friends from Hualalai. It was a challenge with the toddlers at a leisurely and sumptuous brunch at the Biltmore. They fortunately found a nearby Japanese rock garden that they disassembled and reassembled, and this bought us some time to catch up with the Davidsons. We left midday for Biosphere2, which some of you may remember as the failed experiment which sealed eight people in an airtight terrarium and ended when they basically ran out of oxygen as the system went out of kilter. This facility was funded by $150 million of money from the Bass brothers from Texas, so it has an "Arcosanti with money" feel to it. We saw a gleaming white structure covering three acres, now owned as a research facility by Columbia University. The girls were on fumes and so were we, so as Jocelyn and Izzy tried to use the Biosphere as a jungle gym we had a major meltdown with timeouts in the shadow of the Biosphere...Mother's Day ended on an up note when the girls were fueled up and rested as we arrived in Tucson.
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