A Week in the West
It has been quite a week and I have a lot to share with you about our western extravaganza but first, as an enormous fan of Texas, let me start by saying that Jacki and I are thinking of all Texans impacted by Harvey. The images coming out of there are simply heartbreaking and it is a tribute to the federal, state, and local authorities--as well as to the true grit of Texans themselves--that the cost in human tragedy has not been far worse. While I know that there is a long way to go yet, we are thinking of you and wishing you all the strength you will need to see this tragedy through.
Our week began at home in Vegas. We spent Sunday morning packing and doing some last minute planning. As always, some things were forgotten, most remembered, and finally we were on our way to Scottsdale to start our trip.
As per usual, I rented a car from Avis which turned out to be a small Dodge SUV with some transmission issues. Nothing major but acceleration of anything more than the most modest type sets the engine screaming and shifting only happens at the last possible second before the engine blows. If you know me then you know that I am rarely a modest accelerator so this has proven to be an interesting feature of the car. You might wonder why always Avis so let me give them a little plug here: Always great service, always well-prepared vehicles, and several ways to seriously reduce the price of your rental. I rent a lot so I qualify for corporate pricing, I am a member of their rewards program, and when I pay for the rental up front I save even more. This mid-size SUV with unlimited mileage for 18 days was only $786. And that's with prepaying the gas! Pro tip: Use your own insurance and never take any of the added extras they offer. You have a smart phone. Be smart and use it.
Upon our return from Texas last month, we adopted a fabulous rescue puppy named Fawn who has added a hilarious and energetic wrinkle to our day-to-day. This was her first trip so I planned some interesting stops where she could get out and wander a bit. She is half Chihuahua and half Italian greyhound. I think you'll agree that she's a beautiful dog but those legs you see were made for moving. She is like a very small, very smart, and very fast mountain goat.
I made our first stop Chloride, AZ so Fawn could stretch her legs and I could show Jacki one of the cooler desert surprises I know of, the Journey murals of Roy Purcell. Painted in 1966 while Roy was doing mining in the nearby mountains, they were refurbished by him and a number of other artists about 10 years ago. You'll find them about a mile and a half out of town headed due east. Four wheel drive is strongly recommended but it's not a bad walk in either. The colors are extraordinarily vibrant and add something special to the place. Chloride itself is a 155 year-old mining town that has a very quaint motel with a small bar and restaurant--which are excellent, by the way.
We followed US 93 the rest of the way to Phoenix and found a room in Old Town Scottsdale at the Aloft there. If you're going to AZ, summer is the time to go. Hotel prices are ridiculously low and we got the room for 1/3 of it's normal price--$66! The downside was an expensive pet policy which we navigated around deftly.
Monday we headed out for Tucson and wound up at The Red Roof Inn. We love the Roof (most of the time, more on that in a minute)! It's usually around $50 a night for a single king and they are super pet friendly with no extra charge. My 5 star dining tip for Tucson is actually east of town just off the 10 at Brooklyn's Burgers and Beer. They have a full bar as well as a great beer selection and the burgers are off the charts!!
In the morning we headed out on the 10 to visit the desert towns of Willcox and Bowie in AZ as well as Lordsburg in NM. We finished up in El Paso at the Red Roof on the west side there where we were greeted by a near-nightmare in our room. Cheap motels get used for all kinds of stuff, not all of them great. We were in the room about 5 minutes when Fawn found a used condom and a couple of needles under the bed! Management moved us immediately and without fanfare but we were lucky no one stepped on the needles and Fawn didn't eat one. There is an opioid epidemic and some of it takes place at least sometimes in the motels. It's a good idea to check around before you get too settled!
From El Paso we headed up to NM with stops in Williamsburg Village, Albuquerque, and Wagon Mound on our way up to Denver. New Mexico is one of my favorite places in all the world to EAT!! New Mexican cuisine is amazing and there are thousands of wonderful dives and holes in the wall that are a blast to find as well as to get fed in. One of my faves is a Shell station (yes, gas) called Fast Stop on the southern edge of Williamsburg. They have a kitchen that makes fresh burritos every day and they are out of this world! I had carnitas with red chili sauce and potatoes. I'm still thinking about it.... We made a few art stops along the way and finished up in Colorado Springs. Be sure to check back for the daily features as well as New Mexico which will soon come on line!
After a very busy day in Denver we decided to weekend up in Laramie, WY. If you don't love Wyoming, it's because you haven't been. We found what turned out to be a pretty great motel call Xenion right downtown. It's a bit of an oddball but it's clean, comfortable, and you can't beat the location. Two big food hits in Laramie! The first is a joint called The Chuckwagon right out the 287 on the edge of town. Old school and awesome. THEY HAVE MALTS!! I had an open faced Roast beef sandwich that rocketed me straight back to 1972. No short cuts. All fresh, real, and amazing. Another great find was Roxie's Pizza about a block from the motel. Truly a treat. Artisan pizza at it's best with a terrific wine and beer list along with a full bar. TVs to watch the game even!! I had a spectacular bruschetta and grilled chicken with a balsamic drizzle. Amazing!! Pro Tip: Save the crust and eat just the middle of the pie. Ask your server for honey if you'd like something sweet or marinara if you still want savory and you've got yourself a delicious munchy treat while you edit!
That's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed our little slice of adventure. For us it's time for family TV night with, of course, Game Of Thrones!!