Odel had a birthday yesterday – not one of the biggies. Since he has already passed Golden Age pass age, social security age and Medicare age (the GOOD milestones), he wasn’t very excited about it. Ho, hum, just another day… but we made it a good one.
We started the day with lots of jokes about birthdays we’ve celebrated on the road (for some reason, the BAD ones stick with us). One of Odel’s worst was in Ft. Stockton, Texas, at a horrible, cramped little RV park. We arrived late in the day, in a downpour and, as Odel stood in a mud puddle in the rain about to plug our rig into an electric box with no breaker (we know better, NOW), he wondered if it would be his last birthday. Fortunately, he survived.
This year, we decided to spend his birthday at North Ranch (click here to read our review), the Escapee Club’s RV park in Congress, AZ. This area, north of Phoenix and south of Flagstaff, is mostly a mystery to us, with the exception of a couple “drive-throughs” over the years. We came to visit Wickenburg and Prescott and explore the beckoning open space – and to drive, in the Jeep, highway 89 north to Prescott. This route has quite a reputation among RV’ers – narrow, winding, difficult, to be avoided.
We paid a short visit to Wickenburg on Saturday – long enough to view the golf course that Odel is playing right now, to gather a map and brochures from the visitor center, visit the Western Caballeros Desert Museum, to enjoy lunch at Nana’s Sandwich Saloon (I’d eaten a big breakfast, so my lunch was pie and coffee), and to wander the historic downtown with its fun history stops (statues with audio enhancement). Wickenburg was charming – very western, clean, big enough but not too big, filled with interesting history. Worth more time!
Sunday: off to Prescott. We mapped a 100-mile loop that would take us north on the devilish 89 to Prescott, then northwest out of Prescott for a looping return on route 10 through Skull Valley - couldn’t find any history on that less-than-welcoming name! Our elevation here at North Ranch is around 2,400’; highway 89 summits a few miles this side of Prescott at 6,100’ before descending to Prescott at around 5,400’ (Prescott is Arizona’s “Mile High City”). We knew we had an adventure ahead…
… which began with a stop just 6 miles north, to surprise Al, Kelly and Pheebe (The Bayfield Bunch) as they worked on the property they hope to buy on Ghost Town Road in Congress. Al captured us peering in the windows; click here to read his blog post. After a quick tour and hugs all around, we were off, heading north.
Highway 89 deserves its reputation. A series of warning signs alerted us to the fact that vehicles over 40 long are not allowed on the highest, narrowest, most winding portion of the road before the summit. Don’t ignore them! It was a fun drive in the Jeep, and obviously is a favorite of cyclists (motorcyclists, that is). Odel got to be the passenger (happy birthday); as driver, my eyes were mostly glued to the road and to the motorcycles anxious to speed around us.
Prescott is a good-sized city. We missed – on purpose - all the big-box stores (apparently out of the east side of town) including Costco and the NEW Trader Joe’s that opened on Friday! Trader Joe’s and Costco – Prescott has arrived in the big leagues.
Interior of The Palace
History in the Palace: contents of the safe.
We spent our time in the historic downtown area. Kelly had mentioned The Palace, with a reputation for good burgers… so that was our lunch choice. The Palace interior is filled with historical memorabilia, which we perused thoroughly while we awaited our lunch (and we concur – GOOD burgers). We topped off our meal with a spin around the courthouse square, then settled into a sunny bench for a spell of people-watching.
I preferred the homebound route, through Skull Valley, to the outbound route. The road is less winding and wider, but what I liked best were the views, more open and expansive. The weather was perfect, and we rode along with the sunroof wide open. Seemed like a winner of a birthday to me.
On a totally unrelated note, remember the dried posole I bought in Tucson at Native Seeds/SEARCH last week? The experiment has begun. Last night, I washed the corn and covered it with water; this morning, I rinsed it, then simmered it in fresh water for two and a half hours, until it was tender (though still very chewy). At this point, if it was in a can, it would be called hominy OR posole.
One pound cooked into nine cups, four of which are now in the crockpot with pork, onions, garlic and the mild, roasted, poblano chilies I picked up at the Tucson farmers market. Tomorrow’s dinner (guests are coming)is Posole, in the “green chile stew” sense of the word, along with the standard accompaniments: shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, green onions, chopped cilantro. Will we taste a difference between the canned product and the dried product? I’m sure you all are dying to know – he, he, he!
Time to slip outdoors to enjoy this beautiful day.