Monthly Archives: August 2019

Don’t Do What We Did . . .

Reposted from April 13, 2015

Following up on yesterday’s Verde Valley visit, here’s another trip, same month, but 4 years later. Verde Valley is one of our favorite areas.

Since this morning was our train ride day, we headed out about 10:45am for our 1pm trip. The reason for the early start was that we wanted to get some lunch first. Riding in Coach (we’re cheap, and First Class was $60 more), we would only have snacks and drinks available on the 4 hour trip.

So getting into Cottonwood proper, we stopped off at the Carl’s Jr. next to Wal-Mart. Although we may have eaten at a Carl’s more recently, the last time I really remember was at the one in Fairbanks, AK. We ate there a number of times when we spent five months up there in the summer of 2008.

Jan had a Cheeseburger with Jalapeno Poppers, and I had the El Diablo Burger with Fries. Really good burgers, both.

We arrived at the Verde Canyon Railroad depot about noon and picked up our tickets at Will Call. Of course after being told to pick up our tickets before noon, we then had to wait 45 minutes before we could board for the 1pm departure.

Our coach was a Pullman passenger coach seating 74 people, and has snack bar at one end and a bathroom at  the other.

Cottonwood Coach

In addition, each Coach and First Class car had access to an open air for better viewing

Open Air Coach

Inside the seating is two-by-two, and the seats were pretty comfortable.

Inside Cottonwood

We pulled out of the depot a couple of minutes after 1pm, and quickly headed into the Verde River Canyon. The 76 mile trip, 38 out and back, takes about 4 hours, including a 15 minute layover in Perkinsville.

We quickly began to encounter some amazing rock formations on the cliff sides.

Verde RR 1

Verde RR 2

Then there’s the tunnel.

Verde RR Tunnel

At 680 feet long, this curved tunnel is unusual for two reasons. One, because it’s curved, it gets completely dark inside for a short period, especially because there are no lights on in the coach.  Two, is because the entire tunnel was completed in only one year, by only 25 Swedes. That’s a lot of blasting.

Verde RR 3

Arriving at Perkinsville, the halfway point, and the only time on the train you can smoke, and only on the open-air car. we waited for about 15 minutes so the engines could do a ‘runaround’ to get back in front of the train.


There is a side track next to the mainline that allows the two engines to move back to what is now the front for the trip home.

Perkinsville Runaround

Note now that the caboose that was at the rear on the trip is now next to the engines. And as we’ve seen on other excursion trains like this, the seat backs flip over to the other side of the seat cushion, so you aren’t riding backwards going home.

Verde RR on Curve

One thing I found interesting is all the cacti that manage to grow out of solid rock.

Verde RR Cactus

Verde RR Cactus 2

And of course the continues great views

Verde RR 4

Verde RR 5

Verde RR 6

We really enjoyed the ride and the great views. The trip was well worth the cost. But don’t do what we did. Don’t sit on the left side of the coach. Sit on the right side. The right side has the best view of the canyon, and you’re not in the sun on the ride home.

We pulled back into the depot a little before 5pm and were quickly headed out. Since we had eaten about 11, and it was now after 5, we decided to continue down to Camp Verde and have dinner at Crusty’s Pizza.

We first ate here during our visit in 2011, and it was good enough to try again. And like last time, we both had the Baked Spaghetti. I got the large order,

Crusty's Pizza 1

while Jan got the 1/2 order.

Crusty's Pizza 2

And like last time, we had plenty of leftovers, since I only ate about 1/3 of mine, and Jan didn’t even get through 1/2 of hers. Part of the reason is that the meal also comes with a large salad, as well as the Cheesy Garlic Bread.

Jan said the sauce was almost as good as hers. I said it was nowhere near as good as hers.

After all,she knows where I sleep.


Thought for the Day:

Never Question Authority. They Don’t Know Either.


Montezuma and Tuzigoot . . . All Over Again

Reposted from April 18, 2011

Today was our last chance to see some of the other sights in the Verde Valley, so we decide to drive a big loop around the area to see the Indian ruins.

But our first stop after the Post Office to drop the tax forms in the mail, was to have breakfast at the Denny’s in Camp Verde.

Important stuff first.

Then it was on to Montezuma Castle National Monument, featuring some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. Only inhabited from the 1100’s to the 1400’s, they actually have nothing to do with Montezuma, the Aztec leader. The ruins were wrongly attributed to him by the first American settlers to discover the ruins in the 1860’s, as the dwellings were abandoned more than a hundred years before Montezuma was born.

Montezuma Castle 1

The five story dwelling had more than 20 rooms and housed about 50 people, and was accessed by tall ladders. This made the dwelling safe from most attacks.

It is unknown why the area was abandoned, but warfare, disease, or drought have been suggested.

Montezuma Castle 2

About a hundred yards down the cliff are the remains of what is known as Castle A. It was larger and more elaborate than the original, but almost nothing is left of it except the foundation.

Montezuma Castle 3

Montezuma Castle 4

While we were sitting on a bench gazing up at the ruins, our daughter Brandi called to say how much she enjoyed the pictures I had posted of Landon from yesterday’s Skype session.

The 1/4 mile walk around the loop and along the river was beautiful and relaxing, and worth the trip just for that.

Montezuma Castle Walk

Our next stop was about 15 miles up the Interstate at the
Montezuma Well National Monument.

This hike was a little more work, with a climb of several hundred feet to the top of the ridge.

Montezuma Well 1

But it’s well (no pun intended) worth the climb. Walking out on the edge reveals a beautiful blue-green pool almost 400 feet across. The Well was created by the collapse of a limestone cavern eons ago, probably eaten away by the two underground springs that feed almost 1.5 million gallons of water a day into the pool.

Montezuma Well 4

And talk about your waterfront condo, there are several cliff dwellings underneath the rim. The Well has been in use for irrigating the surrounding fields since the 8th century.

Montezuma Well 7

Here’s my sweetie showing off some of the interestingly gnarled trees growing around the top of the Well.

Montezuma Well 2

The tree behind her has really been working hard to grow out of these rocks.

Montezuma Well 3

Down the east side of the Well are the remains of a 20 to 30 room pueblo, overlooking the irrigated fields below. Dating from the 1300’s it was probably one of the last major structures built before the area was abandoned.

Montezuma Well 6

The beauty of this place certainly makes it worth the trip.

Montezuma Well 8

Leaving the Well, we next headed about 20 miles back around on the other side of Cottonwood, to the Tuzigoot National Monument.

But since it was on the way we also stopped by Fry’s to pick up some bread, and also scout their gas station access for getting diesel Wednesday morning before we leave for Show Low. Looks like we should have no problem.

Unlike the cliff dwelling at the Castle and the Well, the Tuzigoot pueblo is visible from a long way off.

Tuzigoot 6

After parking and making another long climb of several hundred feet (sightseeing can be hard work), we came on these amazing ruins.

Tuzigoot 1

At its peak in the late 1300’s, the pueblo consisted of 86 ground floor rooms, and possibly 15 second story rooms, with a population of over 200 people.

Tuzigoot 7

But life was hard, and the inhabitants seldom lived past 40. Over 400 graves have been found around the site.

Tuzigoot 2

A number of the tools they used have been found in the area, including these stones used to grind corn.

Tuzigoot 8

Tuzigoot 3

Tuzigoot 4

I wonder if a thousand years from now, someone will be excavating these ‘cliff dwellings’, trying to make sense of a Mr. Coffee and an Xbox?

Cliff Dwelling

I’m always fascinated with the beauty of the many flowers and shrubs found in the areas we visit. Some of the most striking are actually cactus blooms or fruit.

Cactus Flower

Cactus Sprout

Cactus Sprout 2

Cactus Sprout 3

This is a Banana Yucca, and it’s easy to see why it’s called that.

Banana Yucca 2

While I was getting this shot of these Penstemons,

Penstemon 0

I noticed a visitor sampling some of the flowers. Apparently these are a hummingbird favorite.

Penstemon 2

And these are Globemallows, used by the Indians in many medicines and treatments.


This is the Arizona Sycamore, that along with Mimosas, Acacias, and Mesquite, grow in abundance in the area.

Arizona Sycamore

We finally got back to the rig a little after 3 pm, and while Jan caught up on some recorded shows, I decided a nap was in order.

A little before 5 we headed over to Nick and Terry’s to pick them up for dinner. Nick also wanted me to look at a problem he was having with his Gypsy Journal mailing list. After looking at it for a little while, I thought I knew what the problem was, but we decided to eat first and then finish up when we got back.

For dinner we checked out Crusty’s Pizza over in Camp Verde, and boy, was it good. Much better than Stromboli’s in Cottonwood. In fact, it was almost ‘Da Boyz’ in Yuma good.

And that’s good.

After leaving Crusty’s we walked next door to Basha’s to pick up some groceries before heading back to Nick and Terry’s.

After some finagling with the mailing list, I thing we got the problem fixed and Nick was able to get his address labels printed out.

By the time we got back to our rig it was after 9, so that was it for today.

Tomorrow is mostly a ‘get ready to travel’ day, as Wednesday morning we leave for Show Low.

Thought for the Day:

The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.