Page 3

Sandy and Dan's Arizona Trip

Cathedrial Rock

It isn't very often that we get the opportunity to travel three times in a year, but during 1999 we had the good fortune to do just that. We took a short trip to South Dakota in July, in September we traveled to Boise, Idaho, and then a business meeting afforded us this opportunity. This was my second General Electric Marketing Advisory Council meeting and it was held in Scottsdale, Arizona. We thought it would make a nice break in our routine if we could make arrangements for Sandy to travel with me.

With the help of General Electric we were able to arrange for an extra 2 nights at the hotel and also made airline reservations for both of us. We took a flight from Minneapolis and flew non-stop to Phoenix, AZ and then a cab to the resort. We stayed at the Scottsdale Marriott Camelback Inn and Resort, which turned out to be a little more expensive then we had planned. We did not have a brochure of the facility and were very surprised to find that we were not booked in a high-rise hotel. Instead it was a resort that was comprised of a large number of small units called casitas. Ours was 6 units and others were two and four units. All the buildings were stucco and styled after the Southwestern architecture. The image below is the lobby that also included a restaurant, gift shops, and meeting rooms.

The entire facility is connected with streets around the perimeter but the primary method of getting around the resort are the walks as shown in the image below.

We have never been to the Southwest and were immediately impressed with the change in vegetation. We have been to Florida, Texas, The Bahamas, and New Orleans and are familiar with palm trees and other tropical plantings. Scottsdale, on the other hand, presented us with not only a variety of tropical plants but also an entire array of desert plant life. The Marriott did an outstanding job of presenting this variety right outside our door and throughout the entire facility. The only grass we saw was at the main entrance and a few other small areas within the resort, the rest is desert terrain.

We did not get the name of the shrub with the pretty red flowers, but they were everywhere. The shrub had small leaves and everywhere we saw them they were covered with blooms. In fact each morning the grounds keepers had leaf blowers moving the petals into piles to be picked up.

We were most impressed with the large saguaro cactus. It seemed that wherever we looked we'd find another one and in a shape that we had not seen. We were told that this variety grows only in this area and that are a protected plant. Up close some of them are very rugged looking, showing their age and the effects of weather on them. The image below is one particularly nice one that was on the resort itself. I would estimate it to be about 15 feet tall and about a foot and a half in diameter.

The rocks you see in this image are not rocks, instead they are fiberglass imitations. When we first looked at them they looked too perfect but we couldn't get close enough to see touch them. They have a waterfall and pool arrangement that added a nice touch to this area. While on a tour on Saturday we saw an area outside of the resort where they were building another setting similar to this. It consisted of a metal framework with fiberglass panels attached. It appears as though once all the major panels are in place a plaster or stucco material is applied to them to blend it all into one seamless structure.

The Mummy Mountain provides a backdrop for this setting. If you click the button below I have highlighted the same image so you can see how it got it's name.

The image above is another setting of cacti that we thought represented much of what we saw around the resort. As mentioned at the beginning this was a business trip so I will mention just a bit about it for those who are interested, and I'm sure you all are (grin). I was appointed to the General Electric Lamp Marketing Advisory Council earlier this year. This is a group of Crescent people and General Electric Lamp people who get together to discuss marketing plans for a very important product line of ours. Except for a few key members, all the rest of us rotate in and out of the council on a two-year basis. This allows for fresh ideas and new outlooks on selling at the local level.

I attended my first meeting in Cleveland this summer and this was the second. Phoenix was chosen because it is the home of one of our newest facilities. This location has been in use for 8 months and has experienced considerable growth. The image below shows the front side of this great building.

Our meetings were over by Friday noon so Sandy and I had plenty of time to enjoy the resort as well as take a day tour to Sedona. Our tour began early Saturday morning when our driver picked us up in a 12-passenger van. After making several other stops it was off to the Sedona area. Our first stop was at Montezuma's Castle. The name is a little misleading in that Montezuma was never here nor is the structure a castle. Regardless of all this we found this a very interesting stop, unfortunately the tour guide moved us along quickly and we were not able to spend as much time as we would have liked. The image below shows the cliff dwelling that this National Park protects.

This 5 story 20-room structure was built by the Sinagua Indians more than 600 years ago. These native people used irrigation from Beaver Creek to raise corn, beans, and squash. If you would like to know more about this National Park you can click the button below.

The image below was taken with a telephoto lens in an attempt to get a little more detail. It's too bad the lens would not allow us to climb right up there, this was a very fascinating place to visit.

If you have looked at our photo page you will remember that we say that we occasionally "get a lucky shot." The image below would fit that description. This is Beaver Creek and was a short walk from the cliff dwelling. The water was very calm and afforded a very nice reflection.

When we first stopped at Montezuma's castle I noticed a tree that I was unfamiliar with. It was very tall and the bark was smooth and had a mottled color pattern that made it look like a paint by number picture. We noticed several of them along our walk and found out they were Arizona Sycamore. The image below shows this tree, which I discovered can grow 80 to 100 feet in height and it has been reported that trees in this family can have 30 foot diameter trunks.

Our next stop was the former Ghost Town of Jerome, AZ. Now I know, you want to know how a town can be called a Former Ghost Town. It's like this, from the 1880's until 1953 this community supported the copper mine located near it. When the copper mining ended, so did the town. Our guide told us the town nearly disappeared but then the tourists started visiting and today it supports many gift and art shops. You can click the button below to see a site that will tell you more about Jerome and it's colorful history.

We began our visit with lunch at the English Kitchen. As we approached Jerome the driver told us where we would be stopping and I'm not exactly sure what we expected, but this place certainly did not come to mind. It was built back in the copper mining days and has had little repair or updating since then. The menu was nothing fancy, but they did have a good hot chocolate (served in a glass) and the sandwich and fries made for a nice noonday lunch.

The image below shows the fire station that has the only public restroom in town, I mention it here because everyone we spoke to seemed real proud of this and had to mention it. If you visit the site above you will see that this town is described as a "town with a billion dollar view." It certainly was, you could see for miles as you look over the Verde Valley.

After a little time to look over the shops we traveled on towards Sedona. It was here that we got a chance to see the most beautiful sights of the trip. The entire area is marked with buttes and mesas that display a variety of tan to red colors. It was like stepping into a John Wayne movie. In fact the tour guide told us that many of the westerns were filmed right around this area. The opening image on this page is Cathedral Rock that was viewed from a scenic overlook. The image below was taken by our driver and as always we are reluctant participants in the picture taking.

Along this drive we saw a lot of short scrubby looking evergreen trees. I was unable to find out their species so for lack of a better term I have been calling them cedars. At any rate the next two images show the trees I found so interesting. The reminded me of bonsai trees except they were up to about 8 feet tall.

We found Sedona to be a very clean and pleasant community of about 15,000 population. Every attempt has been made to make the town fit in amidst the natural beauty without adding unnatural shapes and colors. Most all the house and business are stucco and are finished in earth tones. We did find it interesting when the driver told us that this is the only place in the world where you'll find a McDonalds with turquoise arches instead of the golden arches. Local signage laws allow a very limited number of colors and golden arches were not included. We did little more than ride through Sedona, our driver did drop several others off to shop in the exclusive (a nice term for high priced) shops while we took a scenic drive down Oak Creek Canyon. It was so busy in the canyon that there wasn't a chance to stop for pictures.

Our final stop on the return trip was to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This very unique Catholic Chapel is built between two very large rock formations and offers a very beautiful setting for a chapel. They, of course, have a complete gift shop that we could not pass up.

Our trip, being in December, also gave us an opportunity to see some of the area decorated for Christmas. Being from the Midwest we are triggered by decorations to think of snow, frost, and bone chilling cold temperatures. So scenes like the one below did look a little out of place for us.

No self respecting travel page would leave it's visitors without at least one sunset image, so here it is. This was the scene our out patio door on our first night in Scottsdale.

Our trip, although brief, was a good break in our routine and a chance to see the sights of a small portion of the Southwest part of this country. Next time we would like to travel by car and take more time to enjoy the areas that left us wanting more.