Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apache Trail Adventure

After our rejuvenating week hanging out at the RV, we were ready for some adventure on Saturday.  I had read that the Apache Trail offered some great scenery, and found a few geocaches along the trail, so we made that our destination for the day.


We got up and had breakfast, and by 9:30am we were on our way to Mesa and Apache Junction.  Before heading out on the trail, we stopped at a few RV Dealers.  We saw a couple of Super C motorhomes, and a few nice used Diesel Pushers . . . and we got a free lunch.  Most of the RV Dealers were having cookouts on Saturday, and we could have eaten at all of them.  We settled for burgers at the 2nd to last place we stopped, and made our way through Apache Junction towards the Superstition Mountains.

Superstition Mountains

Our first stop, just outside of Apache Junction, was the ghost town of Goldfield.     Goldfield









It wasn’t much of a ghost town on this beautiful Saturday afternoon . . . more of a tourist town!


Old steam engine

We walked through town, which consisted of a few gift shops, a Bordello Museum (family-friendly!), a saloon/restaurant, the train and mine tour, and a church.

We didn’t go in anywhere, but did talk to the old prospector for a bit, about the history of the town and mining.


It was a cute little town, but definitely a tourist trap!

Reenactment Characters at the Jail

Church on the Hill











Tom even found some new campfire chairs!

Put some of these seats around the fire!

They have gunfights on the weekends, but we didn’t stick around for the show.     DSC_0584

Our next stop along the trail was the Canyon Lake Overlook.  It’s the first of three lakes on the Apache Trail, and it’s very beautiful.





Canyon Lake

One of many one-lane bridges


This area of the trail was still pretty busy, with plenty of cars travelling in each direction.

We crossed the first of several one-lane bridges, and soon arrived in the little mountain town of Tortilla Flat, population 6.

Tortilla Flat

Tortilla Flat is another little ghost town with gunfights in the street, live music at the saloon, a gift shop, and an ice cream shop known for their homemade gelato, including prickly pear gelato.

LOTS of dollars on display in the ice cream shop!

Tortilla Flat


We all got ice cream cones (Bryce did anyway, the rest of us had gelato), and made our way through the crowds on the wooden plant sidewalk.


Yep, this was another tourist destination!







We left Tortilla Flat, continuing on the apache Trail, and left most of the traffic behind us.  It was time for a couple geocaches!

"The Crack" geocache


The first was called “The Crack”, and included all kinds of dire warnings in the description . . . risk of rocks falling on your head, critters, even death!

Nicolas and Bryce have no fear, though, and they headed right in!

There's a geocache in there somewhere!

It was a little dark in there, and we didn’t have a flashlight, but with the help of the pictures in the clue, and a little searching around, Nicolas found it!

Signing the logbook

They found the geocache!

Our first find in Arizona!

Bryce crawling out of the crack


Climbing back out

We continued on, and reached the next geocache.  This one promised a great view, and it didn’t disappoint!












The search included a short hike to the edge of the canyon, and the boys quickly took off!  By the time tom and I caught up with them, Nicolas had already climbed down to look into the canyon!

Yikes - don't fall!

Nicolas and Bryce searched high and low,

We didn't find this one

Still looking










but we just couldn’t find this one!  That was OK, though, we enjoyed the view and the boys loved climbing on the rocks!

Next up -- 22 miles of dirt road!


We left the pavement behind and continued on the gravel road for the next 22 miles.  the road was rough in spots, but overall we didn’t have any trouble with the car . . . although we brought a nice layer of dust home with us! LOL

The next section of the trail – Fish Creek Canyon – was supposed to be the most scenic of the entire drive . . . and it definitely was!















We descended into the canyon, following the narrow road along the edge of a cliff – with a really flimsy-looking guard rail –until we reached the one-one bridge at the bottom!

There was room for a few cars to park here, so we pulled into a spot and got out for a look around.

The boys decided they were going to climb up to the cave we saw in the distance.  There were several people up there already, so we let them go.



They're going to climb up to that cave

Bryce is just so photogenic!! Smile

While the kids climbed up to the cave, Tom and I waited at the bridge.

They made it to the cave

Trees along the creek

There was water in the creek, but not really deep in most areas.  There were plenty of trees still growing along the edges of the creek, though.

From the cave, the boys ventured down to the water.

They made it down to the creek

There was no way to get from there to the bridge, though, so they had to go back the way they came.

Nicolas loves climbing rocks!


They made their way back to the car, and we continued on from there, back up and out of the canyon. . . . and we had one more geocache to find!



One last geocache - this one was really easy!

This was an easy one, and Nicolas had found it even before Bryce climbed up the hill!  They signed the log and we kept moving . . . it was getting later in the afternoon, and we still had several miles to go before we reached pavement again!


Old Saguaros

The next stop on our route was Apache Lake.

Apache Lake

Apache Lake


The boys and I took a walk down to the overlook to enjoy the view.



The sun was sinking lower in the sky as we continued to fight our way out of the dust bowl, following the path of the Salt River.

The sun is getting lower!

Following Apache Lake - in the dust cloud











We finally reached pavement again, and the Roosevelt Dam,

Roosevelt Dam

and Roosevelt Lake.

Bridge over Roosevelt Lake










Roosevelt Lake

From Roosevelt Lake, finally back on wide-open pavement, we made our way back towards civilization.  With 65 miles to go to get to Mesa, we watched the sun dip below the horizon in from of us as we headed northwest.


Driving back into the valley











Organ Stop Pizza


Our destination for dinner was Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa.  I had read about it in several blogs, and was looking forward to a visit.  It wasn’t quite what we expected, but it was very cool!



Pulling into the crowded parking lot, we were worried that we might have a several hour wait for our dinner, but that’s not the way it worked.  You walk up to a counter and order your dinner (CASH only!), and then go find a place to sit in the huge dining room, or on one of the balconies.

Organ Stop Pizza

As we entered the lobby, there was a mass exodus from the dining room – I’m not sure if it was one huge party, or just everybody leaving at once – so it was no problem to find a seat up near the stage.  We got our salads and drinks, and waited for our number to show up on the big electronic display board on the wall.

Just one section of pipes


The entire back wall of the dining room was filled with the pipes for the organ, and there were musical contraptions all across the ceiling.



While we waited for our pizza, the music started up again.  The organ rose up out of the floor, with the organist playing “The Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera.

Our dinner entertainment

He followed that with “Mama Mia” . . . another of my favorites!  We enjoyed the show all through our dinner – it was definitely a new experience!     The Organist









I took a short video so you could see what it was like!

Organ Stop Pizza

The food wasn’t bad, either!  Smile