October 6, 2008– We left Phoenix this morning and headed, very indirectly, to Tucson. In fact we headed north up 87 to Payson and then 260 over to Show Low and then south down route 60 to Globe and then through Florence, finally taking 79 into Catalina which is north of Tucson. All these roads were marked “scenic” on the map and of course, they were.
But before we left, we stopped to at a car spa to get the Prius (or, as we call her, “Miss Pris”) cleaned. We had looked for a normal car wash all day Sunday and never found one so this morning we decided to try one of the spas. I’m sure Miss Priss appreciated the fine treatment.
As we become more familiar with geography, we are learning to tell altitude by the rocks and plant growth around us. As we drove out of the Phoenix area, the Saguaro Cactus were everywhere — each so unique in its cartoonish-like stance that it puts snowflakes to shame! I could look at these cacti all day! But suddently they were gone! Instead we started to see a cactus (or succulent, who knows) that has a tall seed pod growing out of its base. I need a cacti plant book to figure out what it’s name is — but I have a photo for you to see.
When we were driving along 87 we could see a Mesa top in the distance; little did we know that we would end up driving at the top of that when we were on route 260! Turns out it is called the Magollon Rim and it has the most contiguous growth of Ponderosas Pines in the country. We have learned that the Ponderosas grow at around 6000 feet above sea level. (At 7500, the Douglas Fir takes over.)
When we were on the Magollon Rim, the temperature dropped to 57 degrees. A thirty degree difference with the Phoenix valley area!
We thought Show Low would be more interesting than it was — I guess we expected some kind of Western town. But there was nothing special about this town, which had its start as a winning poker hand.
The drive on 60 was a very interesting ride down from the rim into the canyon — though far less dramatic then some of previous drives (like 550). Take a look at the photos for some of the sites that we saw today. While we were on the switchback going down 60 we could see where we were going to be in the future but couldn’t see how to get there. Carl finally concluded that there must be a bridge. And there was one! We had a nice break exploring this rest area for a bit — where the old bridge still stands.
When we arrived in Globe, we drove around a bit and found it to be an interesting old town. One of the conversations that Carl and I have as we are driving and seeing new towns and speculating on just “why” the town exists. Some are obvious, and Globe/Miami area is one of these. They still have an active copper mining and smeltering. Interesting because it is a “working” town the downtown area still has all the old buildings for the late 1800s, early 1900s but they have not been “yuppified” like areas like Telluride which once existed for mining and now exists for the skiers and tourists. In other words, the downtown had a run down look — though more real. It was 3:30 or maybe closer to 4:00 and we hadn’t had anything to eat since our muffin with our Starbucks coffee. So, when I saw a Mexican restaurant with homemade Mexican in a recently repainted stucco building, I said “stop.” We ended up having the best huevos rancheros, ever. Ymmm! We recommend Chacos Casa Reynoso if you find yourself in Globe, Arizona.
It turns out that the main business in Florence, Arizona is the state prison, but apparently it has a good historic district, which we only saw briefly. It looked to us that the housing, hotels, everything was geared to the very large state prison.
After that the highway turned into a live botanical garden with a large variety of cacti everywhere. It was beautiful.
Since the sun was setting, we decided to stop for the night in Catalina. This is another nice Best Western and at a good price.