La Posada Hotel, Winslow, AZ.

 hotel 2Louise Speaks:  While in Winslow, we decided to check out the La Posada Hotel,  a place I have heard many of our friends have visited.  It’s amazing when you think of the size of Winslow having two attractions of this caliber.  La Posada embodies the visions of both Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the hotel’s renowned architect, and Allan Affeldt, its current owner. But the story really begins with Fred Harvey, who “civilized the west” by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel. He was so legendary that MGM made a movie called The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland.

In the 1920s, Harvey decided to build a major hotel in the center of northern Arizona. “La Posada”—the Resting Place—was to be the finest in the Southwest. Construction costs alone exceeded $1 million in 1929. Total budget with grounds and furnishings was rumored at $2 million (about $40 million in today’s dollars). They chose Winslow, then (as now) the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Winslow was ideally situated for a resort hotel since everything to see and do in northern Arizona is a comfortable day’s drive away.

Colter worked for the Fred Harvey Company from 1905 until her retirement in the 1950s. Although famous for her magnificent buildings at the Grand Canyon, she considered La Posada her masterpiece. Here she was able to design or select everything from the structures to the landscape, furniture, maids’ costumes, and dinner china. Many people consider this the most important and most beautiful building in the Southwest.

La Posada opened May 15, 1930, just after the stock market crash of 1929, and remained open for just 27 years. In 1957, the hotel closed to the public. The museum-quality furnishings were auctioned off in 1959. In the early 1960s, much of the building was gutted and transformed into offices for the Santa Fe Railway. Several times over the ensuing 40 years, the building was nearly demolished, as recently as 1994 when the railway announced its plans to move out for good.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation found out about La Posada’s peril and added it to their endangered list — where it came to the attention of Allan Affeldt. But La Posada was never for sale. Allan Affeldt purchased it from the Santa Fe Railway after learning that the property was in danger. He visited the hotel in 1994 and decided to help local preservationists save it. This daunting task entailed negotiating for 3 years with the railroad and resolving various legal, environmental, and financial obstacles. He established La Posada LLC to take on the enormous risk and complexity of the estimated $12 million restoration.  Although none of the partners is a hotelier by training, they have accomplished what once seemed impossible—transforming a forgotten but magical place into a living museum.

roomEach room at La Posada is unique. Many rooms feature handmade Ponderosa pine beds designed by master carpenter Keith Mion. Handwoven Zapotec rugs and Mexican tin and Talavera tile mirrors adorn the walls. A number of rooms feature original 1930 B&W mosaic tile bathrooms complete with 6-foot cast-iron tubs. Other rooms feature new custom Talavera tile bathrooms with whirlpool tubs and hand-painted tile murals. There are views into the Sunken Garden, into the Cottonwood Grove, across the South Lawn to the Santa Fe railroad, into the Potager Garden, and across the north gardens to Route 66.  Rooms are named after famous people and can be reserved by name.  The Howard Hughes room is a delux suite while the Roy Rogers room is concidered a standard room.  Rooms range in price from $109.00 for a standard room to $169.00 for a delux suite.

Walking through this hotel and it’s gardens was like stepping back in time.  It did appear more like a museum than a hotel, but I’m sure with the serenity and peacefulness of it’s surroundings, it would make for a great weekend getaway.  Of course this hotel was not in Patricia’s book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” but it does seem to be quite an impressive piece of Arizona history.

This was our last stop…19 days and over 3500 miles…what an adventure.  We have now completed the state of Colorado per Patricia’s book.  Tonight we sleep in our own beds and rest before going back to work.

Thelma Speaks:  As you walk into the La Posada Hotel you have to wonder what it was like back in 1930.  As you walk through the halls you wonder who has walked there before and what their thoughts were back in the 30s.  The halls are all decorated with the southwest flare.  Being on the patio you can watch the railroad tracks in front of you and think of how it was in the 30’s to get off the train in the southwest and have a hotel of this kind to relax and stay a while before continuing on your way to California.  Parts of the La Posada seem more like a museum but after all, there is a lot of history between these walls.  I think it would be a great getaway if you wanted to stop and relax in a more peaceful setting. This hotel is not in Patricia’s book but it is a part of Arizona history and should be recognized for its part in the building of the west!

Statue on Corner, Winslow, AZ

272px-Standin_on_the_cornerparkLouise Speaks:  As we were heading home and had to go through Winslow, we could not pass up the opportunity to see “The Statue on the Corner, in Winslow, Arizona”.  I’ve  sang that song many times and thought it fitting to see what the song was all about.  Winslow has got to be the smallest town in Arizona, yet because of this statue there were tourists all over the place.  We stopped to take pictures of the statue and of the original intersection of Route 66.  Needless to say, we were not the only ones taking pictures.  That is actually a painted mural on the side of  the building, not real windows.

The lyrics from the song “Take It Easy”, written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, were made famous by “The Eagles”. It’s a song almost everyone knows, hums and sings.  It has put Winslow on the map – and at just the right time!  Now you can stand on the corner in historic downtown Winslow, like thousands of people do every year, and have your picture taken at the Standin’ on the Corner Park.  The park features the artwork of muralist John Pugh and sculptor Ron Adamson.  Winslow, Arizona is located on Interstate 40, between Flagstaff and the New Mexico border.

twoThe Standin’ On The Corner in Winslow, Arizona Park has unfolded segment by segment; first with the land donated by the Kaufman family, next a two-story mural by Trompe L’oeil artist John Pugh and finally a life-sized bronze statue created by sculptor Ron Adamson depicting a 1970′s man standing on the corner wearing jeans, boots, shirt and vest with a guitar standing on the toe of his boot. All of this is surrounded by ground-set inscribed donor bricks each telling its own story of a fondness for Winslow by all who have stood on this famous corner and now have a permanent place there. Forever branded in the mind are the lyrics “Well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see; It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.

This of course did not make Patricia’s book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” and it wasn’t what I would call a show stopping attraction, but it was pretty cool to see the song come to life.  If you have to go anywhere close to Winslow, AZ.  I recommend you stop, it was such a fine sight to see!

Thelma Speaks:  Louise, you have to stand on the corner!  If you are close at all be sure to stop and go into the store across the street.  They have postcards, clothing, anything you might want or need from the route 66 theme.  Everyone is friendly in town and the visitors center is willing to help you find places to see and things to do in AZ or in their town.  Very helpful and friendly little town just waiting for you to stop by and enjoy days gone by while standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona!

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mosca, CO.

Sand DunesLouise Speaks:  Well this is our last stop in Colorado.  It’s been a fast and adventurous 18 days.

It was very cloudy as we arrived at the Great Sand Dunes  and as we drove to the “sand” it began to rain.  I’m not exactly sure what is so spectacular about this sand, but it is in Patricia’s Book “1000 Places To See Before You Die.”   The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising about 750 feet from the floor of the San Luis Valley.  The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, westerly winds picked up sand particles from the river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.  It is very easy to experience the dune-building process. This is a very windy region, as hikers on the Sand Dunes will attest, as on many days they will be pelted by sand and even small rocks when hiking on the dunes. The wind carries sand and rocks from many miles away. While the dunes don’t change location or size that often, there are still parabolic dunes that start in the sand sheet, the outer area around the dunes, and migrate towards the main dune field. Sometimes they join the main dune field, and sometimes they will get covered with grass and vegetation and remain where they are. The dunes are relatively stable, however their morphology changes slightly with the seasons. The direction of the wind greatly affects the dune type. This wind regime is part of the reason why the dunes are so tall.

Sand Dunes 2Many visitors to the site try to sled down the dunes. The Park Service provides hints as to the best time to sled (when the sand is wet) and which equipment works best.  Visitors anytime other than late fall through early spring are also advised to avoid bare feet or sandals, and stick with sturdy, closed footwear. While the sand looks alluring, its chocolate color absorbs heat. The daylight sand temperature can reach 140 degrees and will burn bare feet.  Getting to the dunes requires walking across the wide and shallow Medano Creek, which flows only from spring to early summer. Hiking is permitted, with the warning that the sand can get very hot and the area gets snow in the winter.

The dunes and surrounding area were designated a National Monument in 1932. On November 22, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000, aiming at ultimate national park status.  Yes, it was a lot of sand, but I do live in Arizona where we have sand storms galore, so I wasn’t that impressed.  That being said, I would rate the Sand Dunes a C-…it was just okay, but it wouldn’t have made my list of things to see.

From here we are headed to Albuquerque for the 4th of July.  We are not planning on doing much celebrating, we are ready to hit the showers and head home.

 AM…page 715

Thelma Speaks: