I can’t believe how many people we know are living the good life here in Arizona! After the wonderful visit with the Dickeys, we took a short drive to another friend’s house, also in Gilbert. We have enjoyed the company of Ralph Ellis at least three times on Ragbrai. He is the brother of Dan Ellis, former Marine Corps pilot, entrepreneur extraordinaire, multi-year Ragbrai veteran, and bosom buddy of Farmer John for more years than either of us can recall. Ralph can pretty much claim to be a “native”, as he has lived in Arizona for 46 years. If you have been here and enjoy the wonderful roads in the state, thank Ralph, since he’s been with the Arizona Department of Transportation for 40 years. He graciously provided a “home cooked” meal for us and passed on some neat places we needed to see while we were in the area. Thank you, Ralph! Great to see you again. Sorry we missed seeing Cookie, but we’ll tell her you behaved very well.
“Visiting Week” included wonderful friends we haven’t seen for many years, Sheryle and Charlie Kaluza, winter residents of suburban Sedona. These faithful friends go WAY, WAY back to our first years back in Iowa after the USMC days. Charlie was a med student at Kirksville, Mo and we all met at our mutual Catholic church in Memphis, Mo. We have kept track of each other (and each other’s kids/grandkids) for all these decades and the warmness of mutual friendship still burns brightly. Sheryle is an immensely talented singer and composer and we were graced with her presenting for us a series of songs she has written for a “parlor opera”. It was “goose bump good” listening to her emotional singing of these songs of love. Thank you dear Friend!
They have been here long enough to recommend some excellent sites that aren’t in all the tourist brochures. One of the most intriguing was Grand Falls, on the Little Colorado. It is definitely “off the beaten track”, and at the end of an 8 miles section of unpaved, rock studded and dirt road within the Navajo Indian Reservation. But, well worth the drive and the dust bath that the vehicles were treated to on the road.
The falls live and die based on the snow melt on the White Mountain Range, east of Flagstaff. On the day we were there, the falls, even as impressive as they appear in this picture, were less than half as big as they had been two weeks before. Within a month, there will be no more than a trickle over the falls until next year.
Following this impressive display, Cathy and I headed off to Walnut Canyon, another “must see” site suggested by the Kaluzas. Again, this was not one of the places often mentioned in the tourist agencies, but turned out to be a real treat. And, without any prior planning on our part, we have been following the diaspora of the “cliff dwellers” that we had first observed farther south and west at Gila Hot Springs.
The beauty of these canyons is just beyond the capacity of our cameras to capture. We enjoyed a miles long hike along an excellent path that connected many of the individual dwellings along both sides of the canyon.
Darkness was falling as we made our way back to “Cornville”, the actual post office address for Charlie and Sheryle. They had plans for us to have dinner at the “Cornville Country Club”. My worries about finding a tie and long pants were quickly bashed, and we enjoyed a wonderful “country meal” with live country music.
A fairly early Farewell to the Kaluzas as we headed toward the fabled “Red Rocks of Sedona”. There are a larger than number of sights to see than we have the time to accomplish on this trip in this tourist Mecca. Our good luck with the “timing” thing has run out here, however, as this is “Spring Break” week for every college and high school in the world, or so it seems looking at traffic in this popular destination. We are thus foregoing any visits into the city of Sedona itself and will enjoy the natural scenery.
It was really tough to leave this place with so many inviting walking and biking trails beckoning us. But, it was going to take several hours to drive back to Gilbert and return to the Dickey household. We are getting used to this “eating out” thing, and another great out-of-the-ordinary place was on tap for tonight. San Tan Flats has found just the right combination, meaning you get there early or you stand in line for a long time. And, being St. Patrick’s Day only increases the popularity of this low-tech, low-investment, low-priced, high-fun eatery/drinkery. Don’t expect to be “pampered”, but do expect to be well-fed and entertained.
Even the best of visits have an end point, and we sadly said “adieu” to the Dave’nJudy team. We will be with the “home town” folks, Claude and Mary Greiner and Bob and Jan Brophy soon. Stand by!
Long time no biking! One more day of leisure to report on, and then back to the Mission!