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Phoenix, 02/21: hither and yon: handmade sausage, South Mountain and a Mystery Castle

Another day of touristy doings:

- A trip to an Arizona landmark: Schreiner's Fine Sausage to stock up on handmade sausage for the evening's Seafood Boil. Some of the best fresh sausage there is... and we each had a "Brown Bag" (sausage of your choice served on a bun with whatever condiments, chips and a soda; eaten outside sitting on a bright red bench). Four kinds of sausage and some of their homemade Teryaki beef jerky later, it was off to

- South Mountain Preserve to do the requisite tourist drive to the summit and gaze out over Phoenix, accompanied by at least a gazillion other people with the same idea. And then on to

- one of our favorite places to take people: Phoenix's own Mystery Castle. Not what you would expect. In the 1930's, Boyce Luther Gulley was living in Seattle where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He left his wife and daughter... abandoned them... and moved to Phoenix, where he built a very eclectic 18 room house out of whatever materials were lying around or that he could scavenge. No blueprints, no fancy design work: he just built whatever his mind came up with. Much of the house he designed with his daughter in mind. Ironically, he recovered from tuberculosis only to die of cancer in 1945, never reuniting with his family. Wife and daughter moved into the house the same year and the daughter, Mary Lou, still lives there.

The Mystery Castle moniker came from a Life Magazine January, 1948 Cover Story entitled "Life Visits a Mystery Castle: A Young Girl Rules Over the Strange Secrets of a Fairy Tale Dream House in the Arizona Desert." The cover photograph featured Mary Lou posing atop the cantilever staircase leading to the roof of the house.

When we first toured the house a bunch of years ago, Mary Lou led the tours; now she is too frail to do so, but she was sitting in one of the rooms on the tour and we spoke to her.  So then

- Back to the house for a brief rest ("the Saturday afternoon nap") followed by one of our Seafood Boils: the aforementioned sausage, two kinds of crab, shrimp, potatoes, corn all boiled outside in large turkey fryers in water seasoned with Old Bay, onions, lemons, and beer; accompanied by coleslaw and preceded by fresh boiled artichokes.

- Dee and Mark finished off the evening in fine style when they brought out their respective guitars (Dee played the Baby Martin she brought with her all the way from North Carolina) and jammed into the night.  


02_09 schreiners
(this is not my image, I grabbed it off their website)

South Mountain

02_09 south mtn summit rd

02_09 south mountain downtown phx

02_09 mystery castle from above

02_09 mystery castle

02_09 mystery casstle view thru a window

02_09 mystery castle door

02_09 mystery castle wheel window

02_09 mystery castle wheel in rock

02_09 mystery castle view of phx

The house is built on the mountain and looking back up is Lions Head Rock

02_09 mystery castle lions hd rock

02_09 saturday night

02_09 saturday night 2

Sedona, 02/20: looking for the vortex!

Day 2 of doing tourist stuff: a gorgeous day for daytrippin'. Drove up to Sedona, telling Dee the urban legends about Sedona and its psychic vortex's.Stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross (built into the side of a mountain) and continued on to some serious shopping, followed by a 3+ mile hike around Airport Mesa (so named because of the airport on top of the mesa). Ruth didn't do the hike, preferring to hang out at the trail-head/ overlook, talking to all who came by and Looking For The Vortex, which according to knowledgeable town's people was right in the area.

Then it was a drive up 89A through the snow to Flagstaff, returning to Phoenix to top off the day with a late dinner at the local In-N-Out Burger.

The Red Rocks of Sedona

02_09 sedona red rocks

Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross
02_09 sedona inside cathedral

02_09 sedona shopping for junk

02_09 sedona statues

On the Airport Mesa Loop Trail

Looking for The Vortex (Ruth on bottom, Dee on the rocks)
02_09 sedona looking for the vortex

02_09 sedona airport mesa trail 1

02_09 sedona airport mesa trail 2

02_09 sedona downtown

Flagstaff Sunset
02_09 flagstaff sunset

Cave Creek, 02/19: breaking in the boots

We have a visitor! My sister Dee is in Phoenix for several days and we are doing the tourist route. Thursday that meant
- a visit to a shop in Scottsdale that makes custom guitars (she is an avid... and quite good... musician),
- a six mile hike on the Go John trail in Cave Creek (a great break-in for the new Spiro boots I got in anticipation of the Grand Canyon foray in April),
- followed by dinner at El Encanto in Cave Creek (great Mexican food, equally great Margaritas for Ruth & Dee). 

02_09 go john trail sign
Go John Trail

02_09 cave creek 3 cactus

02_09 dee on a rock
Dee on a rock

02_09 cactus sentinels

02_08 ruth on Cave Creek trail
Ruth The Hiker

02_09 yellow flower amongst the rocks

02_09 cave creek scenic 1

02_09 cave creek 2 cactus

02_09 cave creek scenic 2

02_09 cave creek route closed
(Route Closed? There isn't a road for MILES!)

02_09 into the sunset
(look carefully: the two specks in the sky are not dust on the lens: they are hot air balloons)  

An undeclared what?

02_09 pigeon legs
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

An Australian traveller was caught with two live pigeons stuffed in his trousers as he returned from a trip to the Middle East, customs officials said today.

The 23-year-old man was searched after authorities discovered two eggs in a vitamin container in his luggage, said Richard Janeczko, the national investigations manager for the customs service.

They found the pigeons wrapped in padded envelopes and strapped to each of the man’s legs with a pair of tights. Officials also seized seeds in his money belt and an undeclared eggplant.

I love this story... pigeons, eggs and seeds I can maybe understand, but an undeclared EGGPLANT??? And where exactly was he carrying said eggplant?