SNOWBIRDS II — CALIFORNIA BOUND DAY FOUR — TOMBSTONE AND SAGUARO

We got into Las Cruces late last night so there really wasn’t much of an opportunity to check out our motel, Americas Best Value Inn, but the room was definitely interesting and worth a picture.

HOW MANY BEDS?

HOW MANY BEDS?

In the morning we discovered just how unique the motel and the owners, David and Elina were.  Elina is very artistic and eclectic in her decorating.  The main lobby is huge and filled with so many things of interest.

There are five things I look for in a motel –safe location and parking, friendly and accommodating staff, cleanliness, good shower and good WiFi.  The Americas Best Value Inn exceeded my expectations.  It is not a new motel and so you may find the bathroom a bit small,  and you may miss the hair dryer.  Personally I was rather happy there wasn’t a hair dryer because I always pack mine and seldom get a chance to use it.  This time I didn’t feel like I’d packed it for nothing.  The breakfast was very basic, but considering the price of the stay it was just fine.    Price:  $49.95, and with taxes $58.72.

I will definitely stay at this motel again and give it a 5 star based on my criteria.  Its uniqueness and the creativity that went into making this an interesting place to stay will bring me back to stay there whenever I travel through Las Cruces.

ON TO TOMBSTONE, AZ

Getting an early start in the morning we headed for Tombstone, AZ.   Old western historic towns have never held great interest for me especially one famous for “The Gunfight at O.K. Corral”.   That was about the extent of what I knew about Tombstone and I was delighted that there was so much more to Tombstone.   We wandered the streets as actors encouraged tourists to attend their stage performances re-enacting the famous gunfight among other re-enactments.  We did not attend any of their plays, but I suspect they are very good.  The actors in the streets we “in character” and seemed very knowledgeable about the role they were about to play.

We ate lunch at the popular Longhorn Restaurant.  The restaurant itself was done in typical old west decor.  I thought a couple of the pictures were a little risque for a family restaurant, but that’s just me.  There online menu does not indicate prices, but that would not have been a deterrent to going to such a popular place anyway so I suppose that is a moot issue.   I ordered the French Dip…  who can resist slow roasted beef piled high on a hoagie bun accompanied with au jus for your dipping pleasure?  The price was right at $8.99.   Unfortunately the French Dip was not…  it was processed beef, and had no flavor.  That was certainly what accounted for the au jus which also had no flavor and was just barely warm.  They could have at least thrown a couple more bouillon cubes in it.  It was edible.  My husband had the 1/2 rack ribs at $18.99 which again were just okay.  As for the wait staff — saw our waitress 3 times:  when she took our order, brought our food and put the bill on our table before we were half finished with our meal.  So NOT impressed.  Even less impressed when overhearing the conversation between our waitress and the bus boy about the tip that had been left on the table they were clearing.    Most reviewers on Yelp give the Longhorn Restaurant 3 stars.  That’s okay, but a little on the generous side.  (Can’t believe we didn’t take a single picture of the Longhorn Restaurant — I guess that says something right there)

We left the Longhorn and walked main street stopping to visit with some of the performers.  Then we meandered into the Rhinestone Cowboy and met Betty Krug, the proprietor, and that really made our visit to Tombstone worth the stop.  Her slogan:  “The Shop that Rocks in Tombstone”.  Well more than that shop rocks, Betty rocks!  We spent almost an hour in her store as she told us some of the history of Tombstone in her animated body language as well as her animated speech.  She was priceless!  Her shop is filled with rocks and jewelry, and items handcrafted by local artists.

My eyes gravitated to a roadrunner carving made of Ironwood by the Siri Indians. One of the trademarks of the Siri Indians work is to leave a small portion unfinished so you can see the ironwood in its natural state.

Ironwood is only found in the Sonoran Desert which covers parts of SW United States in Arizona and California and Northwestern Mexico. and Baja California.  It’s hard and heavy wood used for furniture and wood carvings.

Mature Ironwood trees have become rare and they are now protected.  No dead wood less than 100 years old may be taken from the desert.

“Desert Ironwood has an extremely hard and heavy heartwood, dehydrated by nature over a long period of time. As the name implies, it is one of the heaviest and most dense woods known to man. It is so dense that it will not float, and so hard that it has been used for bearings. One cubic foot of Ironwood can weigh up to 66 pounds.  Ironwood is appreciated for its beauty, rarity and durability. The natural beauty of its grain and its dark, rich brown color sets it apart from other woods. The fine, dense grain makes it very difficult to carve but also makes it a very beautiful and rare artist medium. A smooth, glass-like sheen can be obtained from countless hours of patient sanding.”

For more information on Ironwood and the Siri Indians: http://www.pima.gov/cmo/sdcp/species/iw/illus.html

ROSE TREE MUSEUM

Another great place to visit in Tombstone is the Rose Tree Museum – home to the World’s Largest Rose Tree.

ROSE TREE MUSEUM

ROSE TREE MUSEUM

.  As the legend goes, a local miner brought his wife to Tombstone from Scotland in 1885.  She stayed at the Chochise House while their home was being built and she was very homesick.  Can’t imagine the culture shock of being transplanted in Tombstone, Arizona from Scotland.  Anyway, her family in Scotland, aware of the fact that she was so homesick, sent her roots of her favorite plant, Lady Banks’ Rosebush so she would feel more at home.  She had become friends with the owner of the the hotel and he allowed her to plant the bush on the grounds.  From those original roots grew the world’s largest rose tree covering almost 9000 square feet.  I find it amazing that for almost 130 years the original rose bush has been nurtured.

The Rose Tree Museum also has many artifacts of the past which are interesting.

MOVING ON TO TUCSON AND THE SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK

Moving on to Tucson we went through Saguaro National Park.  The largest cacti, the giant saguaro is only found in a small portion of the United States — the Tucson area.  There are two sections that have been designated as Saguaro National Park and they are areas located in located Southeast and Northwest of Tucson.  Some of the cacti tower 50 feet into the air.  The drive through the park is beautiful and the giant saguaro cacti is so majestic.

Time to get something to eat and get a good night’s sleep at Ramada Inn & Suites Foothills Resort in Tucson before embarking on our last day on the road.   Ramada Inn has a happy hour.. wine and chips and salsa.  That was a nice touch.Another perk was guests of the Ramada get a 10% discount on their meal at the Hog Pit Smokehouse which is located next door.  And the Hog Pit Smokehouse ranks #1 on atmosphere, service and food, and good Jazz too!  Absolutely the best place we ate from Minnesota to California.

DINNER AT THE HOG PIT

DINNER AT THE HOG PIT

Denay and Courtney, the Hostess and our Waitress, were the BEST.  They made sure we had everything we needed.  They really showed that they cared about their guests.   The owner, LES BAXTER (of the Grammy=nominated jazz group THE LES BAXTER FACTOR) stopped by our table to make sure everything was all right — well it was great!  Oh and did I mention they had great live music – Jazz?

One Comment on “SNOWBIRDS II — CALIFORNIA BOUND DAY FOUR — TOMBSTONE AND SAGUARO

  1. Heidi,
    you write the best stories i love um….the pictures are wonderful…

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