Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Arizona - The Name

     We have often been asked over the years, just how did Arizona get its name.  This story is our best answer and the one we now think is correct.

      For well over 100 years historians have searched and argued over the genesis of the name, Arizona.  In the mid-1940s a consensus was reached that the name, Arizona, probably came from two words from the Akimel O'odham People (the River People and more commonly known as the Pima) language, Ali-Shonak that translated to mean “place of the small spring.”  In fact we taught this meaning, "Place of the Small Spring" to our students for years.
     Yet through the years others have suggested that Arizona comes from the Mexica (Ma-she-ka or Aztec) word “arizuma” meaning “silver-bearing” or some word from some language meaning, “arid-zone.”  The debate has raged on for years. Now and as a result of years of hard work, travel and research by one Arizona National Park Ranger there just may be an agreement as to the true origin of the name, Arizona.
    For the past 25 years National Park Ranger, Don Garate', of Tumacacori National Monument has been researching Spanish historical records to determine where and when the word, Arizona, first appeared in official Spanish documents.  His efforts have resulted in a new idea, rooted in historical facts, as to the origin of our state’s wonderful name.
    It seems that in 1736 at a place some 40 miles south of Tumacacori National Monument and about 10 miles below today’s international border, boulders of silver were discovered on a ranch owned by a Basque rancher, Bernardo de Urrea.  The silver strike was officially recorded as Planchas de Plata and one boulder was recorded to weigh up to 2500 pounds.  All together over 4,000 pounds of silver were recovered from this strike.
     The land and canyons that encompassed Urrea’s ranch were covered with oak trees and thus he was calling the area of his ranch “Aritzonac.” In the Basque language “aritz’ means oak and “on” translates to good and “a” means the – “the good oak” tree.  Add a “c” to make it plural, Aritzonac, and now it means “the good oak trees.”  It is an easy transition from Aritzona to Arizona.
     We believe that Ranger Garate’s research has now put an end to the years and years of debate as to how the name Arizona came into use.  If you are interested in reading more about Ranger Don Garate's work, check out this link - www.nps.gov/tuma/historyculture/arizona-planchas-de-plata.htm 

Over the years, five flags have flown over Arizona - the flag of King Carlos III, the Castilian Flag, the flag of Mexico, the flag of the Confederate States of America and Old Glory, flag of the United States of America.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Motor Lodge - Prescott, Arizona

     It is always good to travel to Prescott, Arizona.  The mile-high, one-time capitol of Arizona is loaded with historic venues, beautiful natural escapes and just a wonderful places to kick-back and spend a cool evening in the pines.  This is our third special piece of Americana still found in Arizona.  Please note that all the photos at the end of this story belong to The Motor Lodge.

     The Motor Lodge in Prescott is another of those jewels in Arizona’s “Crown of Classic Americana” that are found scattered around and in our state’s small cities and towns.  Similar to the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook and the Shady Dell in Bisbee, The Motor Lodge is another of those fun and enjoyable places to stay for all who still get a kick out of going back in time to a more carefree and happy of days.
     Like so many of the unique historic properties found around Arizona, The Motor Lodge owes its current survival and retro charm to the dreams and the hard work of business partners Brian Spear and Joe Livingston who bought the lodge in April 2008.  They discovered that the 12 rooms of their newly acquired adventure seemed to be “stuck in time” and quickly realized that with a little fixing-up, they just might have acquired a very special piece of Americana. 
     In the bottom drawer of an old office filing cabinet they discovered a letter that indicated that the lodge had originally been built as summer cabins around 1910.  Over the years it passed from one owner to another with a variety of names and refurbishments.
     During the 1940s the cabins rooflines were connected giving today’s lodge a distinctive horseshoe court appearance.  Today’s guests are treated to a boutique-style hotel with each room uniquely decorated with an eclectic assortment of furniture and art.  The lodge’s neon sign still beckons travelers to come and relax while sitting on one of the cabins’ front porches, just watching time go by.
     All modern amenities are included as well as a romantic tandem bicycle that can be borrowed for the short, 3-block ride to the historic Prescott square.  Charm and personalized service are the trademarks of this Arizona motor inn.
     In 2010 the “People’s Choice” awards from TripAdvisor.com declared The Motor Lodge the  #3 hotel out of 53,000 America hotels for service and the #5 hotel for bargain pricing. Arizona Highways magazine declared the lodge as one of the top five places to stay in 2009 and Travel.azcentral.com recently voted the lodge the top bargain hotel in all the state.
     So as the days of summer continue and you look for an escape to a cooler place, keep in mind The Motor Lodge in Prescott.  You will enjoy unmatched hospitality, charm and new memories of a nostalgic time still found in Arizona. 

     Here is a link to this wonderful and fun place to stay - http://themotorlodge.com/

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Shady Dell RV Park - Bisbee, Arizona

    Here is our second story about finding a wonderful piece of Americana in Arizona.  It is always fun to travel to Bisbee and staying at the Shady Dell is one great retro experience!  Hope you too make that journey to the Arizona town that was once known as the "Queen of the Copper Camps."

“We have been through a time warp and don’t want to go back!” -  words written by a recent happy guest of the Shady Dell RV Park in Bisbee, Arizona. 

     Here on the outskirts of the Queen of the Copper Camps, modern Arizonans can escape back to the time of “Happy Days” and relive once again the romantic and mystique of 1950s Americana.
    The Shady Dell RV Park is the longest continuously operating trailer park in Arizona getting its start in 1927 when Bisbee was a roaring copper camp.  Under the shady cottonwood trees miners and their families lived in few trailers and small cottages then found on the site.  Evening family entertainment was provided by the miners’ band that would play on the park’s cool, common green.

    “Thanks for the hospitality and the retro night.”

    Bisbee, like all copper mining towns fell on hard times and so too did this little trailer park until 1974.  It was in that year that Ed Smith and Rita Personette took ownership of the property and accidentally began the process of creating the Shady Dell RV Park that visitors enjoy today.

    “My favorite part was listening to records on the record player.”

    Ed and Rita’s dream was to have a little piece of land and enjoy collecting some of the historic “ships of the highway” that they enjoyed in their youth.  So onto their newly acquired site they brought their first five travel trailers. 

    “It was a great insight into a romantic bye-gone age – retrotastic!”

     As folks drove by the newly created RV park on historic Highway 80 they would see the ancient caravans and stop to ask if they just might pay for the fun of spending a night in one of the historic trailers.  The Shady Dell RV Park that we know today was officially born!
Ed & Rita were soon collecting and bringing more of the historic trailers onto their park.  They found a 1949 Airstream, a 1950 Spartan Manor, and 1954 Crown, a 1951 Royal Mansion and a 1957 Airfloat Flagship.  Into their park they also brought a 1947 Tiki Bus and a 1947, 38 foot Chris Craft Yacht, affectionately named the  “Rita D”.  All eleven trailers/bus/boat overnight venues were refurbished and decorated with the most authentic of furniture and charm from their mid-century heydays.

“It was everything we imagined and more than we expected!”

     So too did Ed & Rita find and bring to the Shady Dell an authentic 1957 diner that once sat on the corner of Ventura & Topanga Canyon Blvd in Los Angeles.  Dot’s Diner was one of a series of California diners and today serves Shady Dell guests with hamburgers, fries and shakes from the day when Rock & Roll was just being born. Even a few classic sodas, such as Bubble Up, NuGrape Soda and Cheerwine can be enjoyed while sitting at the 10-stool diner counter.

“The Shady Dell paid attention to every last detail.”

     The Shady Dell again changed hands in 2007 and owners Jen, Justin and Annette now greet park guests.  These two young folks from Scottsdale continue to add to the charm and nostalgia that has now made the Shady Dell world famous.  White picket fences, a bandstand gazebo and even a few Don Featherstone pink flamingo’s just makes for more and more Americana charm.

“…thinking back when times were so much simpler.  Living large at the Shady Dell.”

     And with young folks with young ideas and some modern, iPod technology, the Shady Dell now continuously broadcasts on AM 1650 the music of the 1950s on the radios found in each trailer.   These oldie tunes are interrupted only for original 1950s commercials and public safety announcements such as the infamous “duck & cover” atomic bomb drills that an older generation remembers as a unique part of their youth.    
     Now RV parks are probably not for just everybody, but if you are looking for an interesting and fun trip back in time, the Shady Dell should certainly be at the top of your list.  Whether it is a night spent in the Airfloat Flagship, or the Tiki Bus or on the Rita D., a good time and great memories are guaranteed by the folks of the Shady Dell who are working hard to preserve this small part of Arizona’s history. 

*Note: some accommodations do not have in-trailers bathrooms and guests share a modern, clean bathroom facility.

GPS Coordinates
N 31° 25.000807’
W 109° 53.530’
Info 520-432-3567, 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Arizona's Americana

   Arizona has some wonderful destinations that would fall under the category of "Americana."  This is the first of 3 stories dealing with some great places to stay that will make you think the calendar must be stuck sometime in the 1950s.  These are not the modern resorts of today, but they surely are clean, fun and were once the best America had to offer.  We encourage you to take that weekend roadtrip and enjoy Arizona's Americana.

Wigwam Village Motel #6 and Holbrook, Arizona.

   “Get Your Kicks, On Route 66” was a popular song written in 1946 by Bobby Troup.  Nat King Cole’s rendition of this Troup’s tune rang out across the many small towns of northern Arizona for the next 30 years.  America’s “Mother Road”, Route 66 entered Arizona from New Mexico in the high desert area of the Navajo Reservation and quickly brought travelers to the historic railroad town of Holbrook, Arizona.
    Holbrook, Arizona is a town alive with history and adventure.  It was once the headquarters of the famous Aztec Land and Cattle Company whose cowboys were known as the Hashknife Gang.  It was the site from which many events of the 1887 Pleasant Valley War played out.  And any town with a local hangout named the Bucket of Blood Saloon must surely have played an important role in the naming of the Wild West.
    Today’s Holbrook, now located on Interstate 40 some 3 hours from Anthem, is far more peaceful than its historic roots.  But fun and adventure can still be found everywhere.    
     Historic Route 66, now called Hopi Drive, is still main street of today’s Holbrook. It is on this old road that the “must-stay” motel of Holbrook is located, the Wigwam Village Motel #6.  “Have You Slept in a Wigwam Lately?” is the ad that entices modern visitors to stay in this 1950 motel.  Fifteen, concrete wigwam rooms make this overnight experience one of the most unique and nostalgic sleep-overs in all of Arizona and America.
     Now the teepees are a little snug by today’s standards but they are very clean and well maintained. Each is furnished with the original hickory log furniture.  No telephones nor 3-pronged plugs to be found, but modern cable TV and air conditioning have been added.
     Holbrook, Arizona is the Gateway to the Petrified Forest National Park.  Rock hounds will find Holbrook to be their rock and mineral Disneyland.  There are so many outstanding rock shops found in the Holbrook area but Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company may just be the finest.
Here visitors can find the largest selection of Arizona Rainbow Petrified Wood in the world.  The beautiful shop contains a huge selection of fossils, minerals, gemstone jewelry and gifts from around the world.  The store’s museum features “Wild Bill”, a 2.9 million year old alligator fossil.  A working lapidary shop allows visitors to watch raw gems be transformed into beautiful jewelry.
     The heydays of Route 66 may be gone but the small Arizona towns that line the ol’ historic highway are still there and very much alive.  You can still “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and Holbrook, Arizona is the perfect place to start.  You won’t be disappointed with this “Get Out” Arizona adventure.

The GPS Coordinates of the Wigwam Village Motel #6 is N34 54.150 W11010.108.  For information about staying at the Wigwam Village Motel visit www.galerie-kokopelli.com/wigwam/.  For more information about historic Route 66 and in visiting Holbrook, Arizona visit www.theroadwanderer.net/RT66holbrook.htm.  For information about Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company visit www.petrifiedwoodco.com/.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Geoglyphs - Mysteries on the Desert Floor

    Intaglios (in tar yoes) are large geometric designs, animal or human figures constructed by early people upon their local desert floors.  The most famous intaglios, also known as geoglyphs, are the Nazca Lines on a high plateau of Peru.  Yet only some 193 miles from Anthem are a series of intaglios ever bit as impressive as their contemporaries of Peru and many miles closer.
    The Bouse Fisherman and the Blythe Intaglios are but a few of over 200 intaglios found in the Sonoran Desert along the Colorado River and northern Mexico.  First seen from the air in 1931 by pilot George Palmer, these large figures challenge our imagination even today as to how they could have possible been designed by an ancient people technologically tied to the earth. 
    Intaglios are one of the unsolved mysteries of archeology.  They may have been constructed only 450 years ago or could have been carved over 2000 years ago; modern science just does not know.  What is a fact is that they have withstood one of nature’s most harsh environment know for its extreme heat as well modern motorcycles, SUV’s and General George Patton’s 1st Armor Corp.
    The construction of these intaglios occurs with the removal of the local “desert pavement.”  Desert pavement is a surface found in the drier parts of a desert region composed of closely packed, interlocking rock.  It is usually dark in color due to a thin layer of desert varnish. It is the removal of this desert pavement that result in the creation of a geoglyph. 
    The Bouse Fisherman is located in the foothills of the Plomosa Mountains off Route 95 between Quartzsite and Bouse.   It depicts a man holding a spear with two fish at his feet and a sun and a serpent above his head.  Modern Native American tradition contends that this is the creator, Kumastamho, who with his spear is creating the great Colorado River to bring water to this arid land.
    Some 15 miles north of Blythe, California another group of intaglios are found.  Here six distinct figures are located in three areas bunched within a 1000 feet of each other.  Each of the three sites contains a human figure and two of the sites contain animal figures.
    At one site, a human figure measuring 176 feet from head to toe has been created in the desert pavement along with large animal figure. Mohave Indian traditions hold that this is the creator of the earth and all life, Mastamho along with one of two lion/persons who helped Mastamho in the creation, named Hatakulya.
    Intaglios are best seen from the air but each of these sites can be visited by car.  Both the Bouse Fisherman and Blythe Intaglios sites are located on desert land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  Each site is now fenced to prevent vehicle from crossing them but visitors are welcome to walk among the geoglyphs.  These and all intaglios of the southwest are protected under the National Antiquity Act of 1906.  So when you get out and go to visit these fascinating creations of the floor of the Sonoran Desert, please “take only your photos and memories, and leave only your footprints.”

Want more information, check out this link - http://ronkilber.tripod.com/geoglyphs/SWAviator.htm

GPS Coordinates:
Bouse Fisherman: 

              N33 47 27.9 
              W114 05 37.2
Blythe Intaglios: 

             N33 48 00.0
             W114 32 00.0

The Bouse Fisherman

Blythe, CA

Blythe, CA

Blythe, CA

Blythe, CA

Blythe, CA

Friday, August 10, 2012

Briar Patch Inn - our Oak Creek Canyon Escape

     The welcome at the Briar Patch Inn itself puts a person at ease because as you arrive at the secluded inn nestled in Oak Creek Canyon, you will find in your cabin a small box with a card that reads…

       “There is a legend amongst the highland Indian village of Guatemala.  If you have a problem, then share it with a Worry-doll.  Before going to bed, tell one worry to each doll, then place them beneath your pillow.  Whilst you sleep the dolls will take your worries away.  Please have this small token from the Briar Patch Inn hoping you will leave your worries behind.”

Yes, the Briar Patch Inn, nestled along the banks of Oak Creek near Sedona, is truly one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots to escape in all of Arizona.
       It was in the late 1930s that a German carpenter by the name of Raacke made his way to what then was a very isolated and remote part of Arizona.  He found what he considered a paradise along the trout filled stream of Oak Creek, surrounded by red rock canyon walls.  Here, he thought, he would find solace from the rest of the world.
His Oak Creek paradise was only 3 miles up the canyon from a small settlement that provided him just enough human company.  The town’s namesake, Sedona Schnebly and her husband, Theodore, were living here too and were just a few of the local people scratching out a living in their beautiful Arizona landscape.
But Mr. Raacke’s quiet and secluded world began to change early in 1940 when the movie folks from Hollywood, California discovered that Sedona was a perfect backdrop to shoot Western movies.  Into the small town of Sedona flooded actors, producers and all the supporting Hollywood cast but with not a single hotel in which to stay.
Mr. Raacke saw an economic opportunity and decided to build a few cabins along his Oak Creek land and rent them out to those most colorful people from Hollywood.  His cabins became known as “Rocky’s Cottages” and the working folks from California filled them to capacity when in Sedona filming a new movie.
Time passed and people changed in this red rock paradise.  Into Oak Creek Canyon in the late 1960s came Ike and JoAnn Olson with their 3 sons to escape the summer heat of Scottsdale, Arizona.  Here they too discovered the paradise once found by a friendly German carpenter.
In 1983 the Olson family decided it was time to secure their piece of that paradise and purchased two pieces of Oak Creek cabin properties – one called Briar Patch and the second one known as Rocky’s Cottages.   Three other small properties were soon added resulting in the 8.6 acres and a 19 cottage resort today called the Briar Patch Inn.
Here Arizona’s paradise is still found.  Rustic cottages beautifully decorated greet every guest. Crackling fireplaces warm the rooms as well as refresh the heart and soul.
 Fresh water springs spill into Oak Creek at the site resulting in the sounds of always rushing water, creating a refreshing, clean stream.  Trout still flourish in the creek and guests can still refresh in the nearby swimming hole.  And for the very lucky, majestic Bald Eagles can be seen diving into Oak Creek competing with the fishermen for that special trout.
A creek side breakfast, afternoon hot mulled cinnamon cider, tea and coffee, home baked cookies and more are all a part of the special experience provided for guests at this old and quaint Arizona bed and breakfast inn.  Even the inn’s “ grass caretakers”, three, loveable sheep known as Wooley, Billy & Lilly, add a peaceful charm and enjoyment for all looking to refresh the body, mind and spirit.
The Briar Patch Inn along Oak Creek – an Arizona Paradise found and just waiting for you to get out, come and leave your troubles to the Worry Dolls.