Big Horn Polo Club

Polo is a two thousand year old sport, believed to have been started in China or Persia and was played for the purpose of training cavalry. The British took up the sport when they saw it being played in India and brought it to the West. And the game has been played in the Sheridan, WY area for over 120 years.

“Big Horn is known across the country as THE place to find promising young horses, thanks to the number of breeders and trainers who make Big Horn their home. Along with Flying H Polo Club next door, which hosts some of the top-rated players in the world, this part of Wyoming has become a polo destination for many in the game.”   http://www.thebighornpoloclub.com/polo-history.html

Big Horn Mercantile

The town of Big Horn had a population of only 500 in 2010, with one mercantile and a restaurant or two it’s a mere speck on the map, but in 1984 this minuscule village played host to the Queen of England when she came to visit relatives and buy polo ponies during a North American tour!

 

Sam Mavrakis rings up a sale to Queen Elizabeth II at the Ritz Sporting Goods in Sheridan, 1984. Sheridan County Museum.

While we were in Wyoming (not to buy polo ponies or visit any noble relatives) we had the opportunity to watch our first polo match. I was tremendously excited; especially after finding out the Queen Elizabeth connection, interestingly enough told to me by a Walmart cashier as though I should have known this fact already.

I really have no interest in sports but this was different. The surroundings were beautiful, the horses were magnificent, and the players wore nice uniforms and didn’t tackle, fight, or curse; or at least you couldn’t hear them if they did.

 

Children at polo match

Oliver, Lucy, and Willow. The temperature was nice, but the sun was brutal.

Big Horn Polo Match

Big Horn Polo Match

Big Horn Polo Match

If you ever make it to this part of Wyoming be sure to spend a Sunday afternoon in Big Horn watching a polo match.

 

Yellowstone

Yellowstone park may only be second to the Grand Canyon as the most iconic family vacation spot in America. And like the Grand Canyon people come from all over the world to see it. Being there with so many other tourists, hearing so many other languages gives you the feeling of being some place extraordinary and indeed it is.

Every inch of it is a feast for the eyes and the soul. As I look through the photos that I took while there, I am stirred up with admiration again.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake. The children could have stayed here all day.

Yellowstone Lake

I’ve never seen a lake with clearer water.

The park boasts a great deal of wildlife; from bears, both grizzly and black, to moose, wolves, and bison. With well over 4000 of them, no matter what animal you hoped to see you are bound to see bison.

Yellowstone Bison

Yellowstone Bison

“Discovered in 1870 by the Washburn Expedition, Old Faithful geyser was named for its frequent eruptions — which number more than a million since Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Old Faithful erupts about every 60-110 minutes depending on the duration of the last eruption, shooting water up to 140 feet into the air on average.” (http://www.yellowstonepark.com/natural-wonders/old-faithful/)

old faithful

We all know about Old Faithful, but did you know that 60% of the WORLD’S geysers are to be found in Yellowstone?

Wooden walkways lead you through geysers fields (not sure if that is the appropriate name) where if you choose to rebel against the posted warnings and step even a foot onto the surrounding ground, you could break through the crusty surface and be burned alive by the boiling water beneath. A place such as this more then justifies the leashes that some people put on their children. Thankfully Lucy was too small to walk.

wooden walkway though geyser

Yellowstone Geysers

Yellowstone geyser

purple flowers

These lovely little flowers were growing just feet from the above geyser.

Yellowstone geyser

orange geyser

pool

The contrast of environments within Yellowstone is astounding! Mountains, lakes, boiling pools, geysers, forests, prairies and more.

children at YellowstoneYellowstoneI could post photo after photo and never truly express the vast beauty of Yellowstone. I hope you get visit yourself some day.

 

 

Old Tucson Studios

When I first looked into visiting Old Tucson I assumed it was a historic site containing the original buildings of present-day Tucson, but I was wrong. It’s actually a movie studio  originally built in 1939 by Columbia Pictures for the movie Arizona. Since that time, over 300 movies and commercials have been filmed there.

Old Tucson

Not being a fan of Westerns I have only seen one movie filmed in Old Tucson, The Three Amigos. This adobe facade is from that movie.

 

Old Tucson Hotel

We visited on Easter Sunday and attended a church service here in the Grand Palace Hotel and Saloon.

The Reno

The Reno was built in 1872 and was purchased by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer in 1945. Old Tucson Studios purchased it in 1970 and since then The Reno has appeared in more than 100 films.

Medicine man show

There are several live shows in Old Tucson, but this was the only one I was able to watch (Lucy and I were having a little trouble with the heat that day).  A medicine man comedy. It was very funny. The guy on the left is in a documentary series called Legends and Lies.

The Loop Rawlins’ One Man Wild West Show is an amazing display of cowboy skills, or at least that’s what my family told me. (I think I was in the hot van nursing Lucy at that time, she’s worth it though)

Old Tucson

I just added this one because it’s pretty.

Tombstone, AZ

 

Tombstone Tombstone, “The town too tough to die”, though I think it’s tourism rather than toughness keeping it alive today. According to Wikipedia Tombstone receives approximately 450,000 tourists each year; and this year seven of those were Foxworthys.

Tombstone found its beginning with a silver strike, bringing everyone from business men, lawyers, miners, and prostitutes to settle in this dry, dusty town. At one time the population was between 15,000 to 20,000 people.

When you walk the dusty streets of Tombstone today you’ll see actors portraying Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, some ‘shady ladies’, and more.

Oliver and Doc Holiday

Oliver and Doc Holiday

 

And of course there are plenty of shops and restaurants as well. You can watch a reenactment of the famous killings at the O.K. Corral, learn about the history of Tombstone by watching a short documentary narrated by Vincent Price or take one of many guided tours.

At the height of Tombstone’s glory days there were 100 bars open 24/7, over 2000 prostitutes, also open 24/7, and two theaters. One of those theaters was The Birdcage. You can take a self-guided tour of the original building, but I would suggest not bringing your young children along. The longest running poker game, being played continuously 24 hours and day for eight years, five months, and three days was played in the basement of the theater. This is the actual table at which that game was played.

Longest running poker game.

Longest running poker game.

In these boxes the ‘working women’ of The Birdcage plied their trade.

Bird Cages

 

Birdcage Tombstone

Birdcage Tombstone

I took the below picture to show that you did not have to be a prostitute to get by in Tombstone. Miss Nella Yaple owned the first drugstore in 1890 and was a Western Union telegraph operator. You go Nella!!

Miss Nella Yapie

Miss Nella Yaple

 

Is The Camper Getting Smaller?

alice

Or am I just getting bigger? I’m afraid it’s the latter. I feel like Alice after eating the cakes, growing and growing until she is stuck in Rabbit’s house. Of course I can’t blame it all on cake; I think being thirty-six weeks pregnant has a little more to do with it. Yes, just four weeks to go and we will have a new little traveler.

It hasn’t been exactly easy being pregnant in a shared thirty-five feet. The already small shower feels like a shoebox and my ‘camper queen’ bed (which relates to a full-size in the real world) has the feeling of a toddler bed with a super cheap mattress. But I’m not complaining (or am I) it will be worth all of the adversity when little Lucy finally makes her appearance. I’m just not sure where we’re going to put her. ; )

In all honesty I can’t say that I won’t miss being pregnant. I love the feeling of her moving inside of me and of course it’s the perfect excuse for getting out of things like cooking, cleaning, and tying my own shoes. Just kidding…about the shoes.

So please, wish us luck as we adjust to this new little person and all of the happy chaos she promises to bring.

The Grand Canyon: More Than a Big Hole

I know that the Grand Canyon is probably the most iconic family vacation spot in America. That it is at the top of a great many bucket lists. (And if anyone can explain the ‘bucket list’ to me I would really appreciate it. Are you putting things in the bucket or taking them out? I just don’t know.) Call me jaded or apathetic or just plain stupid, but I have never really had a desire to see the Grand Canyon. In my mind it was just a big hole in the ground. (I can hear a great cry ringing out after that last comment.) But before you chastise me any further let me say that I have changed my opinion of this Natural Wonder.

It was a long drive from New Mexico to Williams AZ, where we spent the night before traveling on to the Grand Canyon the next day. On the way we visited Holbrook, where we were serenaded and also spent several hours at the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest.  By the time we checked in at the hotel I was exhausted and the children were mad with pent-up energy. At this point I’m still more interested in exploring the shops in downtown Williams than the 15th oldest national park in America.

The next morning after eating our continental breakfast, alone, we headed out.

breakfast

 

Oliver doing his best statue impression.

Williams, AZ

Not many people visiting the Grand Canyon at this time of the year. We practically had the place to ourselves.

While driving down the highway we stopped at the Flintstones Bedrock City RV Park. Which was a good thing too because it probably won’t be around much longer. It seems that the local city officials are of the opinion that it doesn’t fit in with the Western image they are trying to put forth.

We liked it anyway.

Flintstones Bedrock ParkFinally we made it to our destination!

Grand Canyon

And it was breathtaking!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

 

Yes, those are crazy people! There have been at least 685 deaths at the Grand Canyon.

Squirrel Grand Canyon

 

Ivy is greeted by a member of the park’s Squirrel Hospitality Crew.

Although we only saw a small part of it, it was still awe-inspiring. I can see now why people from all over the world make the pilgrimage to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world.

 

 

 

The Singing Navajo

 

wigwam hotel

About a month ago we visited the Grand Canyon. To make the most of our three day trip we stopped at several places on the way there and back. One side trip we simply couldn’t pass up was the iconic Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ.

While adding to our copious volume of travel photos we were approached by David Daniel Toby; a Navajo man. How do I know he was Navajo? Because he told us several times, even going so far as to show us his I.D. After introducing himself he asked for money (for food, of course) and we gave our standard answer that we don’t carry cash. But the girls made him a sandwich; just in case he really was feeling a bit peckish. And in return for this small donation he offered us a song. By his definition it is comparable to “Hit the Road Jack”.

Below is a video for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

The Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway

 

I thought roads like this only existed in third world countries; used only by colorful buses with fringe hanging in the windows  and way too many passengers, teetering on the very edge of a quickly eroding mountain road. But they have nothing over us because we have the Million Dollar Highway!

After hearing about the lack of guardrails and the certain-death drops we had decided that no matter how inspiring the views it wasn’t worth plummeting to the jagged rocks below just waiting to introduce us to our Maker. Now, looking back, I guess only I had made that decision because Jim was being tormented by the idea of missing those mountain views and so decided to take the risk.

So one Sunday afternoon, after many fervent prayers, we started our ascent of the Million Dollar Highway. The first town we came to was Silverton. With a population of 629 people it wouldn’t still exist if it weren’t for the Durango to Silverton train. We were lucky to find an open restaurant as the last train had pulled out of Silverton the day before and the majority of shops were closed for the winter.

Brown Bear Cafe

 

Brown Bear Cafe

The Brown Bear Cafe was charming and the food was delicious.

Oliver and Willow Brown Bear Cafe

With our bellies full and our spines stiffened we were ready to take on the last half of our journey. The cruel thing about the Million Dollar Highway is that it really isn’t all that bad from Durango to Silverton. You’re convinced that its reputation has been highly exaggerated, but the the ride to Ouray lives up to the legend.

Jim had nerves of steel, never once did he give us the slightest idea that he was even concerned over our safety. I, on the other hand, was nearly hysterical and could barely bring myself to look at the terrifying precipice that lay only inches (truly, only inches) from the tires on the passenger side.

But with Jim’s nerves and God’s providence we made it there and back again. It was all I feared it would be and all I hoped it would be. The mountain views were breathtaking.

Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway

Here’s a video that Jim asked me to take while he was driving; but I couldn’t bring myself to look out the window.

Tinkertown Museum

tinkertown sign

On our way home from The Balloon Fiesta we took the advice of our new friends and headed up to the Sandia Crest; on a good day you can look down and see the city of Albuquerque, unfortunately it wasn’t a “good day”. But on our way back down we spotted the Tinkertown Museum and it was more fascinating than any mountain view (at least for me).

There are some people who accomplish more in one life-time than others could in three and Ross Ward was one of those people. A show painter, collector, and wood carver he spent forty years creating and collecting the amazing items in the Tinkertown Museum.

Walking down the hallways you are mesmerized by the incredible miniature worlds existing behind glass, unaware that they are on display for thousands of onlookers.

Tinkertown

(Drop a quarter in the slot and these guys will serenade you.)

While ‘you’ were watching television, as one sign says, Ross was creating entire worlds. It makes you wonder what we all might be able to do with equal diligence and focus.

Tinkertown Museum

 

The General Store.

 

 

Tinkertown Museum

 

Tinkertown Museum

I really like the Circus exhibit, but the next one was definitely my favorite.

Tinkertown Museum

Tinkertown Museum

Tinkertown Museum

These are but a few of the amazing exhibits in the museum. There is also the sailboat that Ross’s wife’s brother sailed around the world in. There are walls created from over 50 thousand bottles, Otto the one-man-band and Esmerelda, the Fortune Teller.

Below is a video created by my husband. Check out his blog at thefoxworthytravelingshow.wordpress.com.

 

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

balloon fiesta

daylight balloons

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event on Earth and after visiting it last October I can certainly believe that statement.

We stayed in Albuquerque the night before and rose before the sun with the purpose of missing the hoards of traffic heading to the Fiesta. After shivering in the cold and wandering around in the dark our diligence was rewarded by getting to watch the previously deflated balloons come to life. Suddenly we were surrounded by the dragon-breath sound of roaring flames filling the balloons with the hot air that would send them floating into the sky.

Hot air balloons by daylight are absolutely beautiful, but hot air balloons in the dark are mesmerizing.

Balloon Fiesta

Balloon Fiesta

2night balloons

another balloonnight balloon 3

 

The next day we had the privilege of meeting the Winters’ family. We had lunch with them and discussed their plans to one day join the traveling life. They were so much fun; I hope to meet them on the road some day.