Thursday, April 28, 2011

Goldfield Ghost Town

Northeast of Apache Junction is the old ghost town of Goldfield. The town sprang up in 1892 when rich, high grade gold ore was found here.

The gold didn't last very long, about 5 years, but the town was bought and rebuilt in the 1980s. People in period custumes roam the streets, at least on the weekends.

I was there on Easter Sunday, so there were lots of activities, including a big gunfight, where the bad guys got away with the gold.

Or did they? Look out behind you!

The ladies from the local bordello decided they wanted the gold.

And get it they did!

And if that wasn't all the excitement I could handle, there was lots of rusty stuff!

WOW! I love it!

Some of this stuff looks like it's been here forever.

Everything is rusty - even the antique cell phone tower!

Across the street is the Elvis Chapel, which was in the movie "Charro!", that I talked about in the last post.

The movie was filmed at the Apacheland Movie Ranch. This barn is the Apacheland barn. Both these buildings were moved here after they survived a fire that destroyed the studio in 2004.

Friday, April 22, 2011

One More Time

I know I've written a lot about Superstition Skies Restaurant and Bar in Apache Junction, but I just couldn't resist one more post. This place is a "testament to the romantic history of Apache Junction." My sister Barbara and "brother-in-law" Ron joined us there this Wednesday. That is the night my favorite band, Brant and Kerry, plays.

The entrance door is typical of many Arizona businesses.

And even though this is theoretically a suburb of Phonix, it is a whole different world. People actually ride horses to the bar. (Sorry this is so blurry - I was running after them to get a shot...)

The food is yummy, and huge!

And then there's Brant and Kerry, truly an amazing duo. We're dancing the "Nightclub Two Step" here. Doesn't have anything to do with the "Cowboy Two Step." We learned it last year in Texas.

But here's the amazing thing--I learned a lot about the history of the place. Early in the 50s it was a bordello for a few years. See that booth back in the corner? More on that later....

In 1985, one of the world's fasted painters, Burnette Pletan, painted all 4 walls of the back room, their dining room, in ONE DAY! He was listed in Ripley's "Believe It or Not." The murals show scenes of the Superstitions, Four Peaks and the high country during the four seasons.

And here's the booth back in the corner. Looks kind of old, huh? Back in 1969, the movie "Charro!", starring Elvis, was filmed near here. Elvis came here for dinner every night and sat in this booth. It has remained here ever since.

"Charro!" was the only Elvis film to feature no songs of his except the main title theme.

In all my years of RVing, I have never seen the saguaro cactus bloom. I am REALLY looking forward to it! I found this big guy down the street - it must have a thousand buds! I can't wait!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Desert Is in Bloom!

I've never been in the Arizona desert this late in spring before. The bright yellow blooms of the Palo Verde tree are everywhere! No wonder this is Arizona's state tree.

They kind of remind me of the forsythia bushes back east.

The Palo Verde tree is recognizable the rest of the year by its green bark.

I've moved into a park (gasp!) to escape the heat, and there are huge oleander bushes in full bloom behind my rig. They're poisonous, but I'm not planning to eat them...

At the entrance to the park is this hairy cactus filled with lantana blossoms.

Lots of cactus are in bloom too.

This one is also in the park, right near my trailer.

This busy little bee was after the pollen. Better him than me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Heartbreak Hotel

Last Wednesday, we once again went to Superstition Skies in Apache Junction to enjoy Brant and Kerry. One of the songs they regularly play is "Heartbreak Hotel." (Be sure to notice Kerry's upside-down guitar playing.)

This song always brings tears to my eyes, when I remember a certain story I'm about to share.

"Heartbreak Hotel" was co-written by an amazing woman named Mae Axton in 1955. She wrote 200 songs in her lifetime, but "Heartbreak Hotel," written in 20 minutes, was the most famous. It became Elvis' very first #1 hit in early 1956.

Skip forward to 1997. A very special pre-med student wanted to enter the MD-PhD program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Although she had been accepted, all the funded spots were filled.

Ralph, a long-time friend of my father's (shown here on the right at my father's 90th birthday party), had been a sound engineer for many country stars and knew lots of people in Nashville.

He contacted Mae Axton and asked if she would be willing to fund another MD-PhD student.

She said "Sure, I've never done anything like that before!" Can you believe that? Donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit someone she had never met!

Now - here's the bad news - the next day, she passed away suddenly of an apparent heart attack. So sad - she really was an amazing woman.

But here's the good news - someone dropped out of the program and our very special pre-med student ended up with funding anyway!

So who was this very special pre-med student? (Shown here at a much younger age...)

My daughter, (Doctor) Corrie.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Pretty Desert Hike

Last weekend before the weather got hot, a group of us went on another hike from First Water Road, this one from the end of the road - 2 1/2 miles in.

This trail was a little rockier. That's my sister Barbara and Joanne waiting for me to catch up.

The trail went up and down, past some beautiful cactus -

And some very interesting rock formations.

This one was way out in the distance.

There was even water!

After about 2 miles, we got to a pass where we could see Weaver's Needle in the distance. This "little" 5-month-old puppy was on his very first hike, and was having a ball.

More cactus and rocks on the way back -

And even some flora -

And fauna!