We arrived in Flagstaff around 9pm and called it a night. I did send our friend Harold an e-mail and set up a time to meet for lunch the next day. We didn’t rise too early, and so had no time to loose in getting ready and heading over to Harold Motel on famous Route 66 to pick him up for lunch. As usual, Suzie did another wonderful job of navigating though the city, and we arrived right at 12! We headed to a restaurant Harold chose, and it was no surprise that he made a good choice. Food was fantastic, as was the company and stories that were told all the way around! Harold has such a good way with stories! After lunch we headed back to our hotel, where we sat back, had a few more beer and visited into the early evening, then after dinner ordered him a cab, and we settled down in hopes of getting an early start to Casa Grande the next morning.
Didn’t get as early a start as we wanted, but then we only had 192 miles to Casa Grande. We put several behind us before stopping at Montezuma’s Well which is a natural sinkhole near Rimrock, Arizona. It is said that over 5,700,000 L. of water enters the well each day from an underground spring, and then flows out through a 150 foot underground passage way into the Beaver River.The Well measures 386 feet (118 m) in diameter from rim to rim and contains a near-constant flow of water into the well, even through seasons plagued with drought. Very impressive sight, with ancient dwellings.The earliest ruins located at the site is a “pithouse” . Over 50 ruins are found inside the park, and not all were used for living space, some likely for food storage or religious ceremonies.
Back in the car, and down the road only a few km to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. As in the name of the Well, neither part of the monument’s name is correct either. When European/Americans founded the ruins in the 1860’s they had been long abandoned. They made the assumption that the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma, was connected somehow to this construction. Montezuma had not even been born at the time that the dwellings were abandoned! Several communities of the Hopi and Yavapai clans can trace ancestries to this area, and still perform religious ceremonies at the site. Rather than a castle, that we envision royalty or more superior persons to occupy, it was more or less an ancient apartment building in which 30 or 50 people lived. It is the best preserved cliff dwelling in North America. The Castle sits 90 feet up a sheer cliff, facing Beaver Creek. Due to its positioning in a natural alcove, it was protected from nature’s elements, to say nothing of protection from other threats such as high water, and enemy tribes. Ladders were used to climb into and out of the dwelling, which were easily hoisted up when not in use. There is almost 4000 square feet of living space built into over 5 stories. Tours are no longer permitted into the ruins, however, standing at its base on the valley floor, one must come to the conclusion that they were very brave people to have built and lived in such dwellings.
After a warm walk around the park, we stopped down the road at the Castle Casino for a quick bite, which ended up not being so quick, and a cold drink. Then off we went again, next stop Casa Grande! Again, Suzie took us right to our destination! We quickly settled in at Derek & Maureen’s and headed out onto the patio for a “cold” one! Might have been more than one, but who was counting!? What a beautiful place.
We went for a stroll around the “community” and saw the common areas, and the Pickle Ball Courts that we’ve heard so much about. As there were several challenges occurring on the courts at the time I can say, it doesn’t appear to be a very “senior” kind of sport! To each their own. Maureen also opened the door into the banquet room…and weren’t we lucky to arrive just days before the big ol’ St. Patrick’s Day Dance! It truly was a very relaxing evening with good friends, good weather and of course, cold beers!