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Fort Verde State Historic Park, Camp Verde, AZ

Louise Speaks:  Our first outing was to the Fort Verde State Historic Park.  It was just down the road from our camp ground so we packed a sack lunch and away we went.  I had arranged to have a tour for our group telling us the history of this military base.  The idea of the tour was to experience life through the eyes of a frontier soldier.   The fort was a base for General Crook’s U.S. Army scouts and soldiers in the 1870s and 1880s.  From 1865 – 1891, Camp Lincoln, Camp Verde and Fort Verde were home to officers, doctors, families, enlisted men, and scouts.  This park is the best-preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona.  Several of the original buildings still stand and living history tours like what we have scheduled  gives visitors a glimpse into Arizona’s history.  Today we experienced three historic house museums, all furnished in the 1880s period, that are listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places.  The former Administration building houses the Visitor Center with interpretive exhibits, period artifacts from military life, and history on the Indian Scouts and Indian Wars era.  There is even a room with authentic clothing that we could even play dress up.  Several members of our RV group did just that.

This is a park that attempts to preserve parts of the Apache Wars era and it’s fort  as it appeared in the 1880s.  The park was established in 1970 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places  a year later.  Settlers in the mid-19th century near the Verde River grew corn and other crops with the prospect of getting good prices from nearby Prescott, which was at that time, the territorial capital.  Nearby miners were also interested in buying the crops that were available.  The rapid increase in population for the mining economy disrupted the hunting and gathering environments of the local Indian tribes.  In turn, they raided the farmers’ crops for food.

The farmers requested military protection from the United States Army and, in 1865, although Arizona was still only a territory, the infantry arrived.  They set up several posts over the next few years.  After approximately 1,500 local natives were placed on a reservation by 1872, the army’s role changed from protecting the settlers to ensuring that the Indians stayed on the reservation.  The last major military engagement with uprising natives took place in 1882 at the  Battle of Big Dry Wash.

The fort was never enclosed by walls or stockades, and it never saw fighting on site.  At its height, it consisted of twenty-two buildings, only four of which survived until 1956, when local citizens created a small museum in the administration building.  They later donated the buildings and ten acres  as a State Park.




Some of the buildings were built with pice, which is large adobe slabs cast within wooden frames, rather than assembled from the more familiar individual adobe bricks.  The buildings remain and you are able to go inside and see just how the military lived.  Some quarters for the officers are very formal and elegant looking, while the quarters to the enlisted men were very simple.  At one time there were buildings for the married men and their families but those burnt and were never rebuilt.

The tour was very authentic as the guides dressed up in the attire of the times.  The first building, which was the administration building, houses several rooms of a museum showing uniforms and fire arms.  Volunteers share their knowledge of the weapons and describe in detail all the uniforms that are on display.  There are chronological charts to show the history of the fort and it shows how the Indians helped the military and were part of the US Army.

The fort is right in town, and the residents show how proud they are to be a part of this piece of history.  There are huge Ramada’s where we stopped to have our sack lunch.  This really was a great stop and the group seemed to enjoy finding out yet another piece of Arizona history.  I highly recommend stopping by this state park if you are ever going north or south on the I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff.


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Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ

Louise Speaks:  Continuing with our theme of visiting all the State Parks in Arizona, we are once again hosting a camp out to DeadHorse Ranch State Park.  Now this is only about 60 miles from home, but it is a state park and one that offers camping,  We will actually be visiting three state parks on this trip alone.  Of course like I had mentioned before, if the state park offers camping, you must camp at the park for it to count…so here we are.  This is only a 4 night trip, but with all the activities planned it is going to be a fun filled week.


For only being 60 miles from home, this is a great park.  The Verde River runs right alongside the campground. This park even has cabins for those that don’t have an RV.  Of course I use the term “cabin” loosely as they are very primitive…but they are heated and have Air Conditioning.  The Quail Loop circle where we camped does have plenty  of trees that offers a great amount of shade.  We had 11 rigs join us on this trip and what a fun time we had.




We did do our BBQ wagon master dinner, and had heavy appetizers each of the other nights.  Happy Hour was fun as we sat around and talked and got to know one another.  At night, while we were fighting off mosquitoes, we had a campfire where we once again had the chance to get to know some of the new people who attended.




We did have activities planned for each day…of course it is visiting other state parks, so we were able to cross things off our list.  I’m going to blog about each stop separately….so be watching for those.  All and all this is a great state park.  There is plenty of  space in between sites, and we were able to fit chairs and tables for all 19 campers in attendance.  We were the talk of the camp ground with our nightly game of LCR and with all the food and laughter.  Even though this park is only 60 miles from home, I would certainly come back here if I ever just wanted to get away.

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Disneyland and California Adventure, Anaheim, California

Louise Speaks:  This was a sudden decision trip.  I happened to get 3 free tickets for Disneyland and California Adventure so decided to go.  Since I took my daughter who lives in California and my two grand daughters last year, I thought it only fair to take my daughter who lives in Arizona and one of my grand sons.  Thelma decided not to go on this trip so it ended up being a family vacation.  The catch was my daughter had to drive.

We arrived in California on Wednesday night, spent some time with the family and prepared to leave very early the following morning.  We knew it was going to be a long…..a very long day!  Our plan was to do as much as possible and end with the Electric Parade.  This was actually my main reason for going.  It appears that they are doing away with the Electric Parade in 10 days.  Now I’m told that they have done this before.  They discontinue the parade for a year or so and then bring it back…but just in case I wanted to make sure I saw the parade one last time.

California Screamin’

Once we were parked it was off to California Adventure.  Even though I was just here last summer, they had changed some of the rides.  Since it was a Thursday, surprisingly it wasn’t very busy.  Our first stop was Soarin’ Around the World, which last summer was Soarin’ California.  This has got to be one of my favorites in California Adventure.  From there it was off to California Screamin’.  This has got to be one of my favorite roller coaster rides EVER!!!  Then just to spend some time in California Adventure we did some of the smaller rides like Goofy’s Sky School, Heimlichs Chew Chew Train,  Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree,  Monsters Inc,  Radiator Springs Racer,  and Toy Story Midway Mania.  We finished California Adventure in about 2 1/2 hours…not a bad start to our day!

In case you don’t know, California Adventure is where the old parking lot used to be for Disneyland.  Now you park a few blocks away and they bus you to the front gate.  So once you are inside, you simply walk out one gate and into another.  Of course you have to have a ticket for both parks, because each park is a separate admission.  We had the Hopper Pass which means we can “HOP” between parks as we choose.  However, we are making it a point to not have to come back to California Adventure…we’ve done it all and now it’s on to Disneyland.

I’m sure Disneyland has changed over the years, but yet every time I go, it seems the same.  I mean this in a good way.  It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s adventurous and no matter how old you are, you can’t help but feel like a kid.  And the smells remind you  of every favorite food you have ever wanted to taste at an amusement park.  We had our map and we had a plan in place.  We all had our favorite rides and we were on a mission to ride them all.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Listing our stops mostly in alphabetical order, because I really can’t remember in what order we rode them.  We were trying to save steps and time and do as much as we could.  Our first stop was in New Orleans Square, where our all time favorite is located.  The three of us rushed to Pirates of the Caribbean.  We could have ridden this one over and over, but the lines had started to get pretty long, so we moved on to the Haunted Mansion.



We stopped in Tomorrowland and made sure to drive in Autopia.  Then it was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Space Mountain.  A stop in Tomorrowland would not be complete without visiting the Star War exhibit complete with Star Tours and the Star Wars Launch Bay.  Because it was so hot, we were even able to go inside a nice air condition auditorium and watch a Star Wars:  Path of the Jedi film.  It was a nice way to cool off.




Big Thunder Mountain

My all time favorite is located in Frontierland.  The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is by far the best ride in Disneyland.  Of course that is my opinion, you’ll have to ride and judge for yourself.  This was actually the only ride we rode in Frontierland, but there is much more to do…mostly for kids.  We are going to have to come back here later tonight as we have tickets for a Disney Show.




It’s A Small World

Our next stop, was Fantasyland.  In this land, a visit would not be complete without a ride through It’s A Small World.  A ride, where the song runs through your head the rest of the day.  Fantasyland has many fairy tale rides that are designed for kids, but are so enjoyed by adults.  Because of our time schedule we had to skip many of these rides but they were on our list…especially Peter Pans Flight.  We ended the land with the Mattahorn Bobsleds…watch out for the Polar Bear.  This is also the land where you can walk through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.



Indiana Jones Adventure

Next it was off to Adventureland.  This is where you will find the Indiana Jones Adventure.  Even though there are other things to do in this land, this is the only ride we rode.  There are other lands within Disneyland, but these are geared more for children, so although we walked through them we did not make a stop in Critter Country or Mickey’s Toon Town.  

We took the Disneyland Railroad to Main Street where we were able to get ice cream and churros…a must when at Disneyland.  On Main Street we were able to see Mickey Mouse and other characters as well as the Disney Vehicles like the horse drawn wagons.


It was finally time for dinner and off to our evening show.  We had tickets for Fantasmic.  Problem is, the show starts at 9:00 and we have to be in line by 7:00.  They did let us into the viewing area where we could sit on the ground…but sitting on hard concrete for two hours was not a fun time.  However, the show is incredible.  It is over the water so the colors duplicate.  Mickey and all his friends make an appearance and there are fireworks throughout the show.  Even though we had to wait two hours, it was  definitely worth the wait.



Fantasmic ended just in time to head back over to Main Street and find a place to sit for the Electric Parade.  The idea of more sitting was not inviting but at least for the parade there is a curb so you can stretch your legs.  This was my main reason for wanting to come to Disneyland at this time, since the parade’s last run is in 10 days.  In my opinion, the parade is the perfect way to end a day at Disneyland.  The music, the lights, the characters, the fireworks, it is just Magical!  It was just as I remembered, and I enjoyed every moment of it.



So our day came to an end.  With a two hour drive home, this made for an 18 hour day.  But we did manage to ride 22 rides and see a show and of course the parade.  A very productive, but tiring day.  I think I’m done with Disneyland for a few years…or maybe not…depends who wants to go!

Disneyland could never get a lower rating than an A.  After all it is Disneyland.