Visiting Relatives at Prescott

In preparing for our travels to Arizona, we contacted Keith’s cousin, Elaine and her family to see if we could get together sometime as we hadn’t seen each other in several years. After a conference, we decided that schedules and logistics made Prescott a good halfway point and with good food and entertainment for both the young and not-so-young kids.

We started our day as we had all of them since arriving in Arizona, by sleeping in and then having breakfast at the hotel. We got into the car and headed down the interstate for Prescott. By the way, the “locals” pronounce it PRES-cot with the emphasis on the first syllable.

The ride along and from the interstate was desert and rock formations and pretty typical for what we’d been seeing. As we neared town, the landscape changed to a more typical suburban landscape with strip malls and the standard chain stores with a Walgreens, RiteAid or CVS on virtually every corner.

Prescott central was built around a square with the courthouse in the center and the US Post Office and Federal Courthouse right across the street. Since we arrived before we were scheduled to meet Elaine and family, we spent a little time checking out the square and downtown. We found the timeline in the concrete sidewalk particularly interesting. It traced the history of Arizona for the past 200 or so years. The timeline only covered that part of Arizona’s history since that is the history of Arizona as territory and state. Quite a contrast to Maryland’s Lord Baltimore and the Calverts from the 17th century. I wonder if their fourth graders appreciate that there is less state history to be covered?

Erected in 1907, this statue is considered one of the finest equestrian sculptures in the U.S. and honors members of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders who gathered at the plaza on May 4, 1898, before heading to San Antonio at the onset of the Spanish-American War.

Federal Courthouse and US Post Office

The courthouse has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1916. The entire downtown area has a history of extensive fires and rebuilding. It’s listed on the American Register of Historic Places. Barry Goldwater (remember him?) announced his candidacy for President from the courthouse steps in 1964.

One of the more unusual statues depicts a cowboy and his horse with the cowboy lying on the ground with his bedroll.

The courthouse plaza is well-used during the midday by joggers and walkers as well as those folks just having a seat and watching the world go on by.

This gallery wins kudos from us in the category of Clever Names that Fit.

We were to meet at the Palace in Whiskey Row.

On a summer night in 1900, this block was totally destroyed by fire. The liquor was removed and carried across the street as they fought the fire. The story is that the firefighters dumped water on the fire then crossed the street to sample the liquids they’d saved. Within a few days of the fire, new construction was underway in brick and masonry. Most of the buildings on this block were constructed between the fall of 1900 and 1905.  Most of the color and stories of Prescott originated in this one block landmark that still celebrates that fact that it once hosted over 40 saloons.

We were waiting on the street when Elaine and family arrived. We directed them to the parking garage where we had parked and waited until they returned on foot. Along with Elaine were her husband Frank and their daughter Brenda with her four children, Erin, Eric, Ethan, and Emily. Brian and Kathy and their son were unable to join us this time. We had a nice lunch at the Palace where one of the descendants of Wyatt Earpp was walking around visiting. We didn’t get a picture with him though. I have a word or two for those of you who pause at the thought of four children aged 3 to 11 at lunch. Whatever Brenda is doing to raise those four, she is darned well doing right. The children were well-behaved and polite and watched out for each other. If these four are typical of today’s generation of young children, there is hope for the world. When we went walking around after lunch, the kids were where they belonged and said they’d be and considerate of each other and those around them.

After a leisurely lunch where we had a nice visit, we walked around downtown Prescott and checked out the specialty stores. Keith bought a hat appropriate for touring and cooler weather. Frank bought ice cream for all who wanted one.

Frank and Keith were sitting on a streetside bench outside the pet supply store when a lady and her dog walked by. Apparently the dog was a lap dog and Frank’s lap looked good as the dog just jumped right up and made herself at home. It was a surprise and was good for a smile from all. Eventually our visit time came to a close and it was time to say goodbye so we walked back to the cars (Frank and Elaine had just bought a new one and it had DVD players for the passengers. Nice VW van.)  We posed for a picture or two then headed back towards home and hotel.

Betty and Keith had a light dinner at CoCo’s in Flagstaff. It had been recommended by another airplane passenger on the way from Baltimore. The soup and sandwich were tasty and hit the spot. After that, we crossed the street back to the hotel for emails, postcards, showers and to bed.

Another good day!

Up in the Air and a Nod to Route 66

Saturday morning and sleeping late still works for us. Breakfast bar fare and then off for the day. We followed the I40 route to Williams and then turned north towards Tusayan and our helicopter ride. A scenic and uncrowded drive which surprised us a bit as we figured Saturday would bring a few more fellow traveler/tourists out.

Each helicopter can carry up to 7 passengers in addition to the pilot. While you’re checking in (or making the reservation), you stand on a square in the floor which is a subtly disguised scale as each chopper also has a weight limit. They use the weight somewhat to distribute passengers within the chopper. So Betty was given the option of riding upfront while Keith was relegated to the back. The other passengers were two women who were together and two men who were traveling on their (probably) rented Harleys.

As we prepared to board we met our pilot, Brice. He asked the general questions like “Where are you from?” It turns out he has family in Frostburg Maryland. I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of jobs for helicopter pilots in Maryland unless one is actively in the military. Then each group of two got a picture taken with Brice in front of the chopper (which would be printed and waiting for you to buy as we returned from our flight).

Brice then explained to all of us how the seatbelts worked and explained that we needed to attach our inflatable life jackets to our belts since we would be flying over water. We have since decided that IF the helicopter was to go down and IF Brice was able to actually put it in the water and IF we survived, we should definitely consider a reward for him because the water sure was a very small percentage of the available area. But then, he never did tell us how to inflate them. On to our flight…

We loaded up. Four in the back (Betty, Keith and the two guys), the two women plus pilot in front. We wore earphones with a sound-activated mike attached.

The airspace over the Grand Canyon is tightly controlled to enable the helicopters to provide the tours while maintaining empty and quiet airspace at most of the popular viewing areas. So rather than taking the most direct route, we flew over the Kaibab National Forest for quite a few miles to get past the tourists at the Mather Point and flew into the Canyon just west of the Watchtower. The same thrill that welled up when we walked to the Grand Canyon was there again as we heard Brice announce “welcome to the Grand Canyon” and saw it from this perspective.

Words don’t it justice and the pictures can’t accurately convey just how massive and Grand it really is but we’ll turn it over to the pictures to tell the story.


We passed over the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River. The Colorado was a muddy brown from all the runoff of recent rains and snows upriver. The Little Colorado River, which drains the Painted Desert, is a vibrant aquamarine color. It was amazing how there seemed to be no mixing, the Little Colorado was aqua and the Colorado was brown but it was a distinct line where the two came together.

Our flight path included a pass over the North Rim where there was snow on the ground in many places. Brice told us of a controlled burn in the 80s that targeted 2500 acres that got out of control and burned some 14,000 plus acres. You could still see signs of it. Too soon our flight ended and we came back in over the Grand Canyon airport and a return to the terminal where we were given the opportunity to purchase several items including the picture they had taken before takeoff as well as a DVD of the helicopter’s in-flight camera with audio provided courtesy of our digital microphones. Alas, there was a malfunction in our recording but we bought the picture and some very special red plastic helicopter pens to share with family and friends.

We had seen the sign for the Grand Canyon Post Office in Tusayan the day before and decided to stop by there to mail some postcards before departing the area. The Post Office is in the back left corner of the General Store and Trading Post and was closed because it was Saturday, but the General Store was open!

We next headed south on 64 to Williams. Williams is at the intersection of I-40 and 64. It is also the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon railway. Before the interstates came through, it was at the crossroads of the famous Route 66. Today, the train, an interstate exit and the tourist trade seem to be its primary sources of support. Of course, gasoline prices at 50 cents more than we saw anywhere else may help the local economy as well.

After a refill on the coffee cups, we bid our farewell to Williams and headed east on I40 back towards Flagstaff.

As it was still relatively early in the afternoon, we mapped our path to Sedona following recommendations from the ExpeditionPortal and the Garmin. But that’s another entry.