Sunday, January 08, 2006

Drive to Prescott

We drove over to Prescott, Arizona for the weekend. Went to see one of B’s old friends, and just do a long weekend away. This is a 250 mile drive, about four and a half hours. Down 84 and across Hoover Dam, my first time over the dam, east on 40 then south a ways.

Driving from the west we first came upon one of the many power distribution stations – the power units at Hoover supply most of Las Vegas’ electricity.

Just before the dam we came upon a strange image, looks like the power poles are about to fall over.

Since the generators are at the bottom of the dam the power lines come up the cliff face and over the road, so the towers are built at this strange angle. The gold building is a new visitor center, still under construction.

This is what the back side of the dam looks like from the east side. After four dry years the water level in Lake Mead is down quite a bit. Water is usually up near the top. You can see the white rocks to the left, usually covered.
As is happening so much around the US, Homeland Security was at work, looking into every car driving over the dam. Trucks are not permitted (I guess they are afraid of a bomb, though it would take quite a lot to hurt this much concrete.) Because of the 'threat' a bridge is being built a few thousand yards downstream, to move all traffic off of the dam.

A little further east we can see down the canyon to the Colorado River flowing south.

If the mountains look kind of bare that's because they are - just dirt and rock with no trees or plants.

In Prescott we stayed at the Hassayampa Inn, one of the older hotels.

It was built in 1902. We usually like to stay at the old places, they seem to have a lot more character than a modern Holiday Inn. An old brick building, with creaking wooden floors.

Downtown is rather small, the population of Prescott is not very large, but new houses are going up all around, with people coming up from LA and Phoenix. It’s 95 miles from downtown Phoenix, so some people move here and commute to the northwestern areas of Phoenix. Prescott is at about 6200 feet above sea level - like Denver they call themselves the 'mile high city'.

The center of town is the courthouse. They still have their Christmas lights up.

Prescott was the government center of the Arizona territory from 1860 until 1898. Gold was discovered in the area, which attracted the first population boom. Following the miners were of course bars and saloons. The west side of the square is called ‘Whisky Row’, which was filled with small bars. There was a big fire in 1901 that burned down most of downtown, so almost all of the buildings around the square were built right after that. Whisky Row was also rebuilt, so there are still a lot of watering holes there.

A few blocks away are some really nice old Victorian houses, that were outside of the fire area.

We took an afternoon ride over the mountains to a small area called Skull Valley. There is one small store and a gas station.

The Southern Pacific railroad line runs through town right across from the gas station. There are probably about a dozen houses scattered around. But land even here is starting to sell – probably developers gathering the acreage for future developments.

The area symbol is a skull with a bullet hole in the forehead - very 'old west'.

We spent two nights in Prescott, mostly with B’s friend. Driving back today we drove through the Kaibob National Forest – similar to most southwest forests in that there are not very many trees. But B’s good eyes caught a big white headed bird sitting in a treetop.

We stopped for some pictures – don’t know if you can see it, but it’s some type of really big eagle. The tree it's sitting on is about twenty feet high. All the trees in this area are almost exactly the same height. This area is around 7,000 ft in elevation.

Driving back, just before the Colorado River again, the road was cut down into these rolling hills.

You can see the typical western scrub brush, but I just thought the nice pattern looked pretty.

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