Day 1: Sep 5, 2003
Ending a Great Day in a Wigwam



I started the drive by dashing along I-10 to US-60. Sixty then took me beyond the city clutter, and it didn't take long for scenic Arizona to take over. I know that the Superstition Mountains filled the horizon early on but my knowledge petered out quickly. This is the only tunnel I encountered and the bridge picture was taken looking back from the same stop.

I slipped a short distance from US-60 to visit the historic downtown section of Globe. The town dates from the last half of the nineteenth century but most historic buildings are from the early twentieth. Earlier structures were either adobe or wood and real permanence came when materials like brick and stone became available and popular. The first picture is of the 1907 court house that now serves as an art gallery. The Old Dominion Mercantile building has served a variety of commercial purposes since being built in 1904. Its was most recently home to a microbrewery but that was closed a few years back and the building is now for sale. I'm guessing that the New Tonto Hotel was new not all that long after the new court house and new mercantile.

The hotel in Globe got its name, not from the Lone Ranger's buddy, but from the national forest that surrounds it. You will no doubt notice that the Tonto National Forest is much easier to see than many other national forests. That is because, as we all know, sometimes the forest cannot be seen for the trees and Tonto has clearly avoided that problem.

These pictures were taken as I started down into Salt River Canyon. Incredible views were everywhere. The second and third are from nearly the same location. A white spot, that is actually a large tanker truck, can be seen near the middle of the second picture. It is on the far side of the valley heading left and will eventually disappear from view for several minutes before reappearing climbing the grade shown in the third picture.

As expected, the Salt River is to be found at the bottom of the canyon. The right hand bridge, built in the 1930s, is now closed to traffic but provides a great place to view and photograph the river. A park area at the bridge includes picnic tables, restrooms, and steps that lead beneath the bridge and near the water's edge. A sign identifies this as a "rest area" but, with a walk on the bridge and traversing the steps, my stop was not all that restful.

Just on the other side of the bridge, but completely hidden from view from the rest area, is a small store and gas station. Considering the location and the $2-plus prices in nearby "developed" areas, I thought gas prices were surprisingly reasonable. The last picture looks back at the bridge area after climbing a short distance up the east side.

This pull off, was actually marked with a "scenic view" sign. It was certainly scenic but I couldn't help chuckling as I pondered just what it took to qualify as the only labeled scenic view in this incredible canyon. I tried to share my "humor" with a couple who had already stopped but was met with, "Sorry, not much English". It turned out not to be just a clever ploy to avoid being subjected to bad jokes but we did manage to exchange origins (Germany, France, Ohio - about 2000 miles) and the fact that each of us was there for the first time.

About a year ago, the town of Show Low received a lot more attention than it wanted when a huge forest fire threatened the town. One room of the museum is dedicated to that fire. Other museum displays include a room on the life of local character Eb Lewis who rode around town on a unicycle, made appearances in a self propelled washing machine, and had a cannon of his own manufacture recoil through a wall of his shop. Both Melanie, the museum's director, and volunteer Dr. Eaton seemed to know their stuff and willingly answered questions and shared some local stories. Not surprisingly, the most popular story involves a card game and the winning of a large ranch by showing the low card (two of clubs) and providing the town's name. There are a few different versions of the story and it's possible (but not guaranteed) that one of them is true.

A fellow from Cincinnati could hardly pass up this large sign but the stop was a little disappointing. The blue trimmed building seemed to be connected with the sign but was empty. The blue paint looked fairly new but other aspects of the building gave a somewhat neglected impression. I don't know whether "A Taste of Cincinnati" is coming to Show Low, has been and gone, or was never more than a sign.

After Show Low, the scenery never returned to the awesome level of Salt River Canyon but was still great. The first picture is of something that made me wonder whether it was natural or manmade. Even after studying it in the comfort of my own wigwam, I'm not sure. There is plenty of Arizona roadway that resembles the center photo. This picture is of a stretch of 191 south of Sanders. At one point, a "Rough Road" sign was posted and it was rough but in a smooth sort of way. Instead of bone jarring potholes, the road seemed to have a wavy surface that had the car sort of rocking like a boat. Maybe the boat like ride as more a function of the car than the road. I realize that a Chrysler Sebring is not a Lincoln Town Car but neither is it a Corvette with Z51 suspension.

The bridge is right where 191 meets I-40. It's still in use but what its original use was (old 191 alignment?) I do not know. Not knowing what was on the other side, this was one bridge that I did not cross even after coming to it.

ADDENDUM: Sep 25, 2005 - While leafing through a newly acquired copy of Jerry McClanahan's EZ66 Guide, I was surprised to see a line drawing of the bridge pictured here. I then learned that the bridge was built in 1923 and was part of the original US-66 route.

After taking several pictures here on other occasions, I finally get a chance to spend the night. I'm sure the oddly shaped and somewhat dated accommodations are not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. After I walked to and from dinner at the Butterfield Stage Company, John let me check email with the office phone and I hung around a bit longer just chatting. I believe there was a high school football game in progress just behind the buildings across the street and sky rockets were periodically launched from that vicinity. My theory was that the rockets signaled a home team score. When I once heard the announcer shout "touchdown" and a rocket immediately followed, I figured my theory was proven. I have no alternative theory but, if the "home score" idea holds, the home team must have trounced someone soundly. In addition to the game sounds, fairly frequent trains passing just behind the motel brought a sound that I hadn't heard in a long time. But, inside a concrete wigwam, the trains can barely be heard and the rockets sound like nothing but a knock on the door (I opened it for the first one:-).

Oh, I almost forgot. At some point during the check-in, unload, take pictures, and look for rockets process, I noticed the European couple from the canyon looking at the Wigwam from the sidewalk. Mostly through their efforts (their broken English was much better than my broken German) we managed to communicate a few things. They were staying next door and found the bunch of white tee-pees "interesting". I understood one question to be about whether or not there was water inside. I'm not sure if they thought they had stumbled on a huge collection of water closets or if I was way off base. I satisfied their curiosity by showing them around the wigwam's interior and I do believe I got through that the motel was about 50 years old.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Home] [Next]