A really big hole

The best preserved and first proven meteor crater on earth is in Arizona. Just outside of Flagstaff you can get a taste of a piece of the stars…

The meteor crater museum
The meteor crater museum

 

 

One of the most impressive meteor craters in the world is in Arizona. It’s new by scientific standards (5,000 years old) and because Arizona has so little weather, it’s very well preserved. In some parts of the world a meteor could hit and it would just become a lake. But we have so little water, animals, and plants here that this crater looks almost like it did when it was formed.

 

The meteor crater is just a few minutes from Flagstaff. You take the 40 out of Flagstaff towards Winslow and it comes up on the right in about half an hour. You’ll see the signs.

 

Visitor's Center
Visitor's Center

 

 

The visitor center and museum is pretty cool. They have pictures and stats on every meteor impact of note anywhere on earth, and more than you could ever want to know about our own meteor crater.

 

This is about as close as you can get to outer space without actually leaving the planet. It’s pretty neat to realize you’re standing next to a rock that has travelled through space across all sorts of unknown and possible Star Trek-like stuff.

 

Not of this world
Not of this world

 

If you keep on going down the 40 you’ll get to the petrified forest. I didn’t keep going because I’ve been there… and it was not as cool as I hoped. It’s a lot of flat ground and not a tree for miles. There’s some rocks on the ground. I’d stop to see it if I was driving by, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

 

As for the meteor crater, it’s so close to Flagstaff that it’s a cool thing to do while you’re over there. Make it part of a day trip when you’re tired from hiking. It’s open until 7pm, so it’s easy to fit into a day up north.

 

The Hole
The Hole

Dan Tedesco at The Sail Inn in Tempe

The Sail Inn is a great spot, and Dan Tedesco is awesome live!

Dan Tedesco and band
Dan Tedesco and band

 

 I was supposed to be with my family Friday. But they ditched me, so I went to the Dan Tedesco show at The Sail Inn by myself last Friday. All I can say is; they’re sorry they missed it!

 The Sail Inn spent some time as Trax recently, before going back to being called The Sail Inn. While it was Trax, it underwent some very nice re-modeling and all of that is still there. There are plush couches, mirrored walls, and lots of nice places to chill. There are still two rooms inside and a big bar, and there is still a huge outside area with lots of tables and chairs.

 

Main Room
Main Room

 

In better weather, the show would have been on the outdoor stage. But of course, this is summer in Arizona. So the show was on the smaller stage inside. (Which was just fine for Dan and his band.)

 The Sail Inn filled up fast. The crowd was, as always, more diverse than at any other bar or venue I go to. There were people that looked barely 21, and people who looked like they could be grandparents. That has always been one of the nicest things about The Sail Inn. Anyone can go there and feel welcome. It’s not easy to find, and it’s literally on the “wrong side of the tracks” from Mill Avenue. But if you find your way to 1st Street and Farmer and you find The Sail Inn, you will feel welcome no matter who you are.

 

Lounge Area
Lounge Area

 

Dan Tedesco is a Chicago native who I met when he was attending ASU. At the time, he was a one-man-show. He had a lot of funny lyrics blended with uplifting rock n’ roll. After some time in Los Angeles and a pilgrimage back to Chicago, Dan has a whole band behind him now and a much bigger collection of songs.

 His songs are still infused with his quirky sense of humor, and they are still good old rock n’ roll. But the music has really filled out with the band behind him. It has room to become more complex, and more rich and enveloping.

 I have always had a hard time describing Dan’s style, because to me, it’s rock n. roll. But these days, people don’t believe in rock n’ roll anymore. They want to hear a complex genera description like “alternative-metal-rock” or something. I have explained other music as fusions of various genres. But in the case of Dan Tedesco, the music can’t be described as anything other than pure rock n’ roll.

Think vocals that are kind of like Tom Petty, but a little less stoned and more passionate; and then rock music with some Jimmy Hendricks-like guitar solos. That’s the best I can do. But you can hear it for yourself on Dan’s web site or on his Myspace, and in this case, that might be best.

 Overall, it was a good night. The Sail Inn is still a fun place to go, and Dan is still a great musician to go check out.

Isle of Essence at Copper State Tavern

Isle of Essence has a great new direction, and I found a new great songwriter named Robin Lore.

The bar from outside
The bar from outside

 

Copper State Tavern is on the north side of Bethany Home Road, just before the intersection of 51st Ave, Grand Ave, and Bethany Home Road (So don’t miss it, because then you’ll have to go though a six way intersection and turn around.) Drive into the parking lot slowly, because the speed bumps are huge.

 Unfortunately, there is no sign that says Copper State Tavern on the building. It’s the only building in the strip mall with neon, so you can spot it that way. The decor in minimal and classy southwest, and the tables are amazing (some kind of lacquered collage.)

 

Table Top
Table Top

 

It’s a little small place, and it’s packed when there are 40 people inside. There is a big screen TV above the bar, and when I took a picture of the crowd there was a fast food commercial on. So, check out the amazing hovering cheeseburger.

 

The bar packed
The bar packed

 

First on the stage was singer/songwriter Robin Lore. This woman has a beautiful voice and some very catchy tunes. I really enjoyed her, and you should check her out.

 

Robin Lore on state
Robin Lore on state

 

The band I was really there to see was Isle of Essence. I feel terrible that I haven’t seen them in a few years. And, since they were kicking off a national tour, I thought I’d better check them out again.

 

Isle of Essence
Isle of Essence

 

I remember Isle of Essence as a rock and roll band. I remember them as being good, but kind of raw. I was not at all prepared for what I saw at the Copper State Tavern. Isle of Essence has become a wonderful, jazzy, sort of funky rock band with a sophisticated and original sound. It’s not easy to put into words, but it really is a great sound. They’re still a lot of fun to see too. They really seem to have fun on stage.

 

The singer Jeremy
The singer Jeremy

 

Having recently signed a distribution deal, you should be able to find Isle of Essence in stores like Best Buy very soon. But they will still play local shows when they get back from their tour, so make sure to try and catch them.

Heading North

Northern Arizona has a lot to offer anyone heading out of town.

Jennica on a rock
Jennica on a rock

I apologize for the picture quality in this blog. I forgot my camera at home, and had to buy a disposable camera on my way up. I forgot how bad the pictures are from those.

 

In the forest
In the forest

Hiking in Northern Arizona is beautiful any time of year. It’s particularly beautiful in summertime to me because I love ferns and the sound of aspen leaves in the wind. I took my friend’s daughter hiking just outside Flagstaff in Snowbowl, which is a ski resort in the winter, but in the summer it’s criss-crossed with wonderful hiking trails.

 

The two of us
The two of us

We did a moderate trail, and we didn’t run into any people. It was very peaceful and quiet. I would definitely recommend Snowbowl for hiking.

 

Jennica and her dad
Jennica and her dad

After I returned a very tired Jennica to her dad in Cottonwood, I headed back to Phoenix. My favorite stop was always Sunset Point, but it has been closed for years. I was excited to see it open again, and completely remodeled.

 

Sitting area at Sunset Point
Sitting area at Sunset Point

There are observation decks, spacious bathrooms, and places to relax and sit. They really did a wonderful job with Sunset Point, so make sure to stop there the next time you head north.

Observation patios
Observation patios

Rollercoaster rides are still cool

Summer fun in the Valley can include rollercoasters and cotten candy!

 

Castles N' Coasters
Castles N' Coasters

 

I often forget about the water parks, miniature golf courses, and amusement parks we have here in Phoenix. I guess it’s not the sort of thing a person does every day, so it’s easy to forget about. Still, it’s summer and that’s the time of year to grab some cotton candy and go on a log ride, right?

With that in mind; check out Castles N’ Coasters near Metro Center Mall in west Phoenix.

 Castles and Coasters is ideal if you have small children because it’s not overwhelming large, so they can’t wander far. It’s also centrally located, so no matter where you are in the Valley, it’s not too long of a drive.

 As always, please remember sunscreen. This is Arizona people! I see too many of you with killer sunburns after a day floating down the Salt River or out on one of our many lakes. Remember sunscreen, and remember to re-apply it often.

The Scottsdale Civic Center

Visit the Scottsdale Civic Center sometime for some free fun checking out art and elaborate water features.

 

Library Pond near parking garage
Library Pond near parking garage

 

 

The Scottsdale Civic Center is one of my favorite places to go for a walk, and I have dragged friends and family alike to check it out many times over the years. There are several varieties of flowers and trees.

 

Roses at Sunset
Roses at Sunset

 

There are also several fountains, which are loud enough to tune out the city noise and be really relaxing.

 

One of the many fountains
One of the many fountains

 

There are several pieces of public art to check out as well.

 

Public Art piece
Public Art piece

 

You can even play chess (if you bring you own pieces) at one of the many tables in a secluded courtyard.

 

Chess area in courtyard
Chess area in courtyard

 

But best of all, it’s near Sugar Bowl ice cream shop, so after a long walk, you can cool off with a bowl of ice cream from the oldest ice cream shop in Scottsdale. Yum!

Payson

If you’re looking for somewhere nice to walk around that’s less than two hours from Phoenix, Payson is the place for you!

 

Rim Country
Rim Country

 

Payson and the Mogollon Rim country in general have always been favorite hiking spots of mine. Just the drive from Phoenix to Payson is beautiful. As you come up onto the tops of the hills, the sky gets bigger and bigger. The world seems to fall away and become nothing but clouds.

I try to find the spots near water for hiking, because that’s where you find the best plants and the coolest shade. To that end, I have done many hikes into the Tonto Natural Bridge (now closed to the public) and into Fossil Creek (which is thankfully still open!)

 

Fossil Creek
Fossil Creek

 

On my last hike, I was searching for something else. I hadn’t been there in years. It’s the kind of spot where teenagers go to get in trouble. It was off the Beeline Highway, and it was a long road that wound to cliffs with deep, clear pools of water below them. I had been there several times with friends back when I owned a truck and did a lot more camping, and I wanted to find it again.

 

End of the public road
End of the public road

 

I took a right on what I think was Flowing Springs Road, just outside Payson but not yet into the town of Pine. It’s not a long drive to the end of the road. All of a sudden you reach a place with huge signs that say “Private Property” and “No Trespassing, Keep Out.”

 I was devastated when I got to the end, because I had been sure it was the right road after driving past several things that I thought were familiar. I wanted to leave the car at the end of the road and keep walking, but I was with Rob, and he is one of those people who only break the laws he doesn’t like (and the trespassing law is not one of the ones he doesn’t like.) I can only assume I was on the right track and the land beyond what was public had been sold. It always makes me sad to find public land turned private and opportunities for exploration cut short.

 

Muddy Water
Muddy Water

 

But we got out and walked around anyway, and the part that you can still walk around is nice. The water isn’t clear anymore. It’s been damned up to make fishing holes. But it’s still pretty country, and there’s nothing quite like the sound of a babbling brook to sooth a person’s soul. I always feel like I didn’t even know I was holding my breath until I get up to the rim and let it out. *Sigh* What a great place!

 

The Local lizzard "Horney Toad"
The Local lizzard "Horney Toad"

 

So if you get the chance, head up to Payson. It’s still hot there, so bring lots of water and don’t expect it to be chilly. It’s Arizona in the summer, and it gets hot. And please, if you are a smoker, bring something to put your butts in. As Arizona becomes more well-traveled and crowded, I have been sad to see cigarette butts on a lot of my favorite hiking trails. So, as the guy in Jurassic Park says: “Hold onto your butts.”