Friday, May 27, 2011


When we returned from Payson, we were chatting with Paul about Payson, the Rodeo, etc. Paul said he used to ride the Pony Express from Scottsdale to Strawberry where he handed
off the mail pack to the next rider!! He rode right through Payson!! He said he also rode with the Sheriff's posse! How about that!!!

Ever since we have been traveling, I have been looking for "Real Cowboys"!! I saw one in Texas when we drove through Big Bend. And I guess you could say they were Real Cowboys that we saw driving the sheep through TT Verde Valley years ago. And then there was the Real Cowboy who took us horseback riding at Historic Prude Ranch in For Davis, TX.

But here, I have been playing Pickleball for years with Paul -- He is a Real Cowboy!!!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Wednesday, May 18 - Our contract with Thousand Trails allows us to stay at a TT Campground for two weeks and then we must be out of that campground for a week before returning. We could go to another TT Campground, but there are none in the area. I had read that a Rodeo was scheduled in Payton, AZ for the upcoming weekend. Payton was only 65 miles to the East so we decided to spend our "Week Out" at the Elk's Lodge in Payton.

Our trip across the mountains was miserable, cold and rainy. Ken said he even saw some snow on the windshield! When we arrived my car was covered with road dirt; and Ken had just washed it!!

I did not realize that Payton was in the Heart of Arizona; in the middle of Rim Country, home of the Mogollon Rim Country, Arizona's Backbone and General Crook's Trail; and a vital setting for many of Zane Grey's writings. We will have a busy time touring!!

After we were settled at the Elk's Lodge, we went to the Payson Visitor's Center. The lady there gave us several suggestions of things to do while in Payson. She mentioned that the Rim Country Museum and the Zane Grey Museum were straight down Main Street. The admission covered both museums. We decided that was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

The guided tour began in the Rim Country Museum with its exhibits on area logging, mining, ranching and ancient history plus Zane Grey memorabilia. A new display opened in June 2010 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1990 Dude Fire which destroyed over 28,000 acres of National Forest land. Notice the statue of the Fireman in front of the Museum.

The tour continued in the Zane Grey hunting cabin. The original cabin was destroyed in the Dude Fire and was meticulously reconstructed and opened in 2006. The guide told the story of how Zane Grey attended the lecture of an adventurer who spoke of lassoing mountain lions in Arizona. Zane Grey asked the speaker if he could join him on such an adventure. Later they came to Scottsdale and lassoed mountain lions. Zane Grey did go on to write a magazine article about the experience and decided to return to Arizona. Were it not for this coincidence, Zane Grey may never have visited Payson, and may never have changed his writing style to write his famous Western Romance novels set in the Rim Country.

Located in the same Green Valley Park is the Oldest Standing Forest Ranger Station. It no longer serves as a Range Station.

As we left the Museums, I saw this cowboy statue on Main Street.

Thursday, May 19 - Today we drove up to nearby villages of Pine and Strawberry. We wanted to see the Oldest Standing Schoolhouse in Arizona. The schoolhouse was hoisted into place during a one-day log-raising party in the autumn of 1884. We could not tour the schoolhouse because is is only open on Saturday or by appointment.

Later we went to Women's Night at the Payson Rodeo. When we arrived, we were told the Rodeo was not going to happen that night. I presume it was because of the weather. We were disappointed but I imagine the participants and workers were even more disappointed.


Friday, May 20 - Today was a busy day!! I wanted to see Shoofly Village, an archaeological site.

The site was partially excavated by Arizona State University. The flyer stated the Village contained 87 rooms and many courtyards, surrounded by a compound wall enclosing four acres. We could not tell that from the ruins we saw.

Not as well preserved at Montezuma Castle or Tuzigoot ruins back in Verde Valley.

We were heading home when we passed the small village of Mesa del Caballo. We talked with a couple planting their garden. They said we MUST continue out Houston Mesa Road to Whispering Pines and take the Control Road back to AZ 260.

We back tracked and headed further out Houston Mesa Road. This is a beautiful creek we saw along the way.

At the next parking area we encountered this worker from the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocking the creek with trout from the Tonto Creek Hatchery. Each creek in the area gets 400 to 600 fish a week.

The couple in Mesa del Caballo said we would have to cross several creeks. This is one of them.

We continued to Whispering Pines and turned right onto the Control Road to AZ 260 in Payson. That portion of the drive was not too interesting. All we saw was trees, trees, trees. Not one single wild animal!!


I had read that the Crosswinds Restaurant at the Payson Airport was one of the best places to eat in the area. The Elk's Lodge is located on Airport Road and the Airport was only a mile away. They were reported to have great Reuben sandwiches, so we decided to eat there before going to the Friday night Rodeo.

They did not have Reubens on Friday night but they did have all-you-can-eat Fish Fry. The fish was delicious but the fries were just fries.

This is our "Million Dollar View" from our table next to the window!


Next, the Rodeo!

Waiting for the Rodeo to begin.

This is the announcer.

Opening Ceremony. A local high school girl sang the National Anthem. Ken and I agreed she was "a little pitchie."

Sorry the following pictures are so blurred. I have not found the action button on my Sony.

The first event - bareback riding.


You can barely see the rider in this picture (black horse in the center), but you can see all the action around the Chutes. Cowboys hustling over the fence; cowboy on horseback ready to help the rider if necessary; cowboy on the ground ready to lend a hand.


Bronco Busting. I snapped this rider as he was thrown over the horse's head.

Calf Roping! A timed event. The cowboy has to lasso the calf, tie it's legs together, walk back and mount his horse, ride forward to get slack in the rope, and with slack in the rope the calf must remain flat on the ground for eight seconds. The cowboy with the best time is the winner.

I did not get pictures of the women Barrel Racing. I had gone to buy Raffle Tickets to support a local charity.

The final event was Bull Riding! Another cowboy is tossed in the air!!

Before the Rodeo was over, we had won a pair of Wrangler Jeans with one of the Raffle Tickets we bought. That made this a very, very good Rodeo!!

The next day we went to pick out a pair of Jeans!

Found the perfect pair!! I have never worn my Jeans so tight!!

On our last day in Payson we went to the Beeline Cafe, a very popular restaurant in Payson. We ordered the Chicken Fried Steak. The serving sizes were so huge and we ate so much, I will probably never get into those tight Wrangler Jeans again!!!


Saturday, May 20 - There was an Aero Fair at the Airport this Saturday morning. Ken did not want to go, so I went alone. I thought it was an Air Show, but the main things they had were some vendors, antique cars (which I did not see), and airplane rides.

I was the only person there with my own chair so I had a front row seat, right at the rope stretched across to keep people out of the fly zone. I thought it was funny -- Several people asked me if they could take pictures, or if they could lower the rope to drive through. I had to tell them I was not guarding the gate. I was just a spectator.

There were 13 pilots continuously taking the public on airplane rides at $25 a 25-minute ride. These are some of the planes.

The passenger pick-up area was beside the hanger to my left. The planes would pick up their passengers there and when they returned, they would land and taxi to the pick-up area for the passengers to disembark.

When this Cirrus landed, it did not go to the pick-up area! It taxied straight toward me. I thought it was going to run over me before it veered to the left. I did not know why he was special and did not have to go to the pick-up area.

After the passengers had disembarked, the pilot went to the nearby fuel tanker and asked for a fill-up. Now I understood why he did not go to the pick-up area.

It was an entertaining way to spend some time in the Arizona sun.


Tuesday, May 23 - Today we took the drive on The Mogollon Rim!! The Mogollon Rim , Forest Road 300, is a dirt road that is about 100 miles long. The drive we took was only about 40 miles -- West on Forest Road 300, from AZ 260 Southeast of Payson, to AZ 87 North of Strawberry.

This is the Visitor Center across AZ 260 from Forest Road 300. The Visitor Center was closed down because it had been broken into and vandalized; many of its irreplaceable items were stolen!

Ken standing on the porch.

These were our first views of the Mogollon Rim -- the vista from the deck of the Visitor Center!

The first vista on Forest Road 300 was the Military Sinkhole vista!

The next vista was over-looking some lake. I can't remember the name. I was walking out on a ledge looking for the lake to take a picture. Suddenly, I tripped over a rock!! Rather than trying to catch my balance and taking a chance of falling over a two-foot drop to the next ledge, I decided it was safer to drop to my hands and knees!! OUCH!!!

Fortunately, I had some tissues and band-aids in the car and was able to cover the cuts on both knees and the big gash on my right chin!

The worse thing was Ken would not let me get out of the car after my fall!! He took the rest of the pictures from the car! I made several mistakes on this drive. My first mistake was the fall!!

I soon discovered my next major mistake on our drive! I thought since it was a Rim Drive, the vistas would be on both sides of the road. We were heading from East to West. There was not a single vista on the passenger side -- the East side of the Rim!! Every vista was on the West side!! We frequently had to crane our necks to see the vista behind us!! We still managed to get some beautiful views!!

(I highly recommend driving from West to East on the Mogollon Rim.)

Forest Fires scared thousands of acres of the National Forests along FR 300.

The Mogollon Rim, Forest Road 300, is also known as Arizona's Backbone and General Crook Trail.

Our final vista!!

The drive along The Mogollon Rim was fantastic!!