From as far back as I can remember, I’ve had a “thing” with caves. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that my dad liked them, so when I was a little kid and we’d go on vacation, we’d stop at caves. So by the time I was, I dunno, 4 or so, I had already been to Howe Caverns in Upstate NY, Luray Caverns in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and probably a couple of other caves I don’t remember visiting. Joe, either liking caves as well, or just putting up with me, was happy (or at least willing) to explore caves with me so since the time we’ve been married, we’ve explored lava tubes in Hawaii, as well as caves and caverns in Texas, New Mexico and Cuba. So when we realized that Grand Canyon Caverns was (A) in the middle of our drive between the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, (B) was on Route 66 and (C) had been visited by the Ghost Adventures Crew (Joe is a fan) because of possible paranormal activity, we knew we had to include it in our trip.
Tucked away in the foothills of Phoenix’ South Mountain Park is a strange castle a man built all by himself out of rocks and scrap materials. It’s call Mystery Castle, and it has quite the interesting and mysterious history.
But before we get into that, I’m going to change gears for a second – if you are, or ever were a fan of the Monkees, you may recognize these words:
“This morning, I went to this house that uh, a man had built all by himself, and I really got hung up on it, ’cause uh, when I was a kid, I, I used to build a lot of things. And I know I’ve got a lot going for me with the music and the show and everything, but, but still uh, someday, I’d, I’d like to make something, something that’ll last. Something important. Something I, I can say is my own.”
Spoken by Micky Dolenz in the final episode of the first season, “Monkees on Tour,” it’s believed he was talking about the Mystery Castle. I visited Phoenix in 1988 and although I wish I could remember how I figured out where “the house a man built by himself” was in those pre-internet days, but alas, I can’t. But I somehow did, and yep, I went. All I have to remember about my visit is two photos (that were on a roll of film I undoubtedly brought to the Photomat store to get developed) and a vague memory of our tour guide. So when Joe and I were planning our trip to the southwest and decided to start in Phoenix, I knew I had to go back.
If you’re ever traveling near or through Tijeras, New Mexico, you may want to make a pit stop (or, more appropriately, a drive by) for this, just because it’s different…and, dare I say, music to your ears.
You watch the news and see stories about natural disasters all the time. Hurricanes, Floods, Tornadoes. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Wildfires. We can’t avoid them.
One thing you need to know is the people who live in these areas often make their living by providing for the numerous tourists who flock to visit. After cleaning up and getting basic services on line, the next priority is to get the guest areas ready as quickly as possible, often even before cleaning up their own personal properties.
That’s why you need to support these places instead of putting off trips because the area might still be “recovering.”
If you’re a fan of fast food, hamburgers, and/or comfort food, boy, do we have a museum for you! And just so you know, we’re talking about the only museum in the United States dedicated to burgers and comfort food!
Continue reading “This Museum Has Burgers, Comfort Foods and Nostalgia, All Rolled Into One Place!”