Weekend trip to the high country.
Memorial Day weekend in Phoenix is this city’s annual unofficial Disaster Evacuation Drill, and even I participated this year.
With temperatures threatening to shoot into the low 100’s I decided to spend the last weekend before my kids head off to Germany for the summer, up in the cool Pines of the White Mountains in east central Arizona.
The town of Pinetop is about 3 hours and 25 degrees away from the Valley of the Sun, making it the perfect summer getaway. We are fortunate enough to have a friend who allows us to use her place whenever we are up there, complete with community pool and nice common areas.
We stopped for lunch upon arrival, and after a very disappointing Cheeseburger at a place called Darby’s
we spent the rest of the afternoon looking around the area.
I ran across a calf roping competition that afternoon,
an art fair…I haven’t had a corn dog in years….not great.
one of many lakes
and a man that was pretty handy with a chain saw.
Dinner that evening was just an eat-in affair, with salad, spaghetti and a glass of wine for the adults. We wanted to get good night sleep in order to be ready for our hike the following morning.
Sunday morning we went up to a small town called Greer, on the “Road to Nowhere.” Hwy 373 ends in this beautiful little mountain town, and is a great place to go horseback riding, fishing or, as we did, a bit of a hike along the East Fork of the Little Colorado River.
Along the way we spotted a nice group of elk (about 15 altogether) out for an early morning grazing. The kids got very excited to see these majestic animals close-up.
The Little Colorado River at this point, being so close to the source, is really just a bubbling stream as it works it’s way out of the White Mountains and heads north to it’s rendezvous with the “Big” Colorado River that in turn works it’s way through the Grand Canyon before watering Las Vegas, Southern Arizona and the Imperial Valley in California.
Arizona is home to the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world with Pinetop sitting on the eastern edge, and the aroma of the trees was intoxicating all weekend long.
After the hike, we took a break at the Greer Lodge Restaurant www.greerlodgeaz.com
for a little breakfast. It was nice to sit out on the patio and enjoy the cool breeze and beautiful views….we even got treated to gunfight!
My Eggs Benedict were pretty good, just one thing missing….aaaa, where’s the ham? The server did bring it out immediately, apparently the cook had grilled it up, just forgot to put it on…
Greer Lodge has good food, just a bit pricey. Be forwarned, they have recently changed the food and beverage director, this could be good or bad. The folks waiting on our table didn’t seem too thrilled…
That afternoon was another one of relaxing, although I was “volunteered” to replace the towel bars in the upstairs bathroom….the least I could do for free digs.
I went across the street to check out a local guy grilling up some fine looking ribs, but passed in favor of saving my appetite for a nice Rib-eye that evening at a local place called Charlie Clark's
We had some friends staying in the area and invited them over for a glass of wine before walking over to Charlie’s. Once there we ordered an excellent Calamari appetizer before eating an average salad. I was really looking forward to the steak, but I was less than thrilled when it finally arrived.
I had ordered it with mashed potatoes, and maybe I’ve been living in the Big City too long, but I expected a big pile of fluffy garlic mashed potatoes, not an ice cream scoop of ordinary potatoes drown a pre-packaged gravy.
I also ordered the steak medium rare, unfortunately it was closer to medium. I ate it and it was OK, but certainly not what I expected, esp. for the Big City prices they were charging. I ate at Charlie Clark's a couple years ago, and I remember the steak being much better.
The next morning we got up and headed back over to Greer, this time for a little horseback riding. I was lucky enough to get a trusty steed by the name of Milo. Milo was, well, a Mule. He and I hit it off and were best buds in no time. His attitude and disposition were similar to a good ol’ hound dog.
We took in some excellent views and even spotted a couple Pronghorn Antelope, but they had sprung away before I could get close enough for a picture.
After the horseback riding, we headed back into Pinetop. The kids wanted to swim some more and my wife wanted to relax and read a bit, so I headed over to Momma Bear’s Restaurant
for what I hoped would be a nice late breakfast. I remember eating there before so I couldn’t pass up the chance to refresh my memory.
I ordered the Momma Bear Scramble, which offered a choice of Bacon, ham, sausage or chorizo, I opted for the chorizo. It came with a very nice fresh tortilla and some awesome hash browns and homemade picante sauce. Truly the star of the trip. From what I saw on the other plates, I could spend a week of mornings sampling the menu.
We got packed up and headed back towards Phoenix, noting that the temperature was 71 degrees at midday. By the time we got back down in the Valley the temperature had risen close to 30 degrees!
We got home and got everyone unpacked, then I headed down to the Veterans Memorial here in Fountain Hills to pay my respects to those who died defending freedom throughout the world.
After that I hit the American Legion for a couple beers with those who had served and lived to tell about it, and toasted my Father, a Korean War Vet, who passed away on Memorial Day a few years back.
All in all, a successful weekend. The kids enjoyed the trip as did we, although from a Roadfood perspective I could have done better. Maybe next time, there is always next time.