The Pony Express – Very Impressive

Kathy and I took another “day trip” this past week.  This is just one of the wonderful things about our location (Camp Verde) in Arizona.  There is so much to see and so many different landscapes within just a short drive in the car.

This time we decided to head east and then north a bit into “high country” to see some snow and check out the towns we see mentioned on the 6 o’clock news weather report.

Our elevation here at Camp Verde is 3146′ while Payson is at 4890′ and Show Low is at 6345′ above sea level.  It was a 65 degree afternoon here while in Show Low the high that afternoon barely got to 50 degrees.

We checked out the lake and the dam at Show Low Lake, we visited the Allen Severson Wetland area, and stopped to check out a really cool store with a lot of woodcarvings  and beautiful hand crafted furniture.  The store was called Wild Woods Furniture and Gifts.

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But the best part of the trip came totally by surprise.  As we were headed back west from Snowflake to Payson, we came across men on horseback escorted by police along state routes.  I remembered seeing a story on the morning news that this was the week when, every year The Hashknife Pony Express makes its ride every January/February traveling 200 miles from Holbrook to Scottsdale, Arizona, and delivering 20,000 first-class letters by horseback. The ride is led by the Navajo County Hashknife Sheriff’s Posse. More than two dozen riders in authentic cowboy clothing carry the mail, relaying the bags along the route. The ride ends in Scottsdale with the ending ceremony at the Museum Of The West on Marshall Way.

The video below shows the Hashknife Pony Express just taking off again after a short rest at a local shopping mall parking lot.  Cowboy hats, chaps, boots, and spurs …

The Road to (and from) Payson

We thought we’d take a drive over to Payson (about 60 miles east of Camp Verde), just to see what was there.

State Route 260 is a quiet, winding 2 lane road heading up, down, and through the mountains with the first stop along the way being the little town of Strawberry.  There is NOTHING between Camp Verde and Strawberry – No gas stations, no homes, no NOTHING but beautiful scenery.

Although the camera may capture the colors and the sharpness of the rocks and the clarity of the blue sky, unfortunately the camera just does not capture the depth (not 3D) of what we see around us.  I shot a video when we stopped to look “over the edge” and this does help to give some reality to what we were seeing and what I’m trying to convey.  Click on the video below and hopefully you’ll be able to get some idea of the massive wonder surrounding us.

As we pulled in to Strawberry, we saw the sign pointing the way to the Historic Schoolhouse Site where sits the oldest schoolhouse in Arizona. Well, we just HAD to meander on down the side road to check it out. See the pix below and click on the link above to see a little more about Strawberry and it’s schoolhouse.

A little further up the road was the town of Pine.  Pine, although still a very small town, was more “touristy” in that it had a lot of little shops, galleries, cafes, pubs, and pizza joints.  People filled the streets walking from one shop to the next.

But we were on a mission.  We wanted to be able to stop and spend some time at the Tonto Historic Natural Bridge State Park.  What a sight to see!

This natural bridge made of stone and built on over millions of years of water cascading over the “top” was really fascinating.  Those that were dressed for it (hiking boots, walking sticks, water bottles, etc) and feeling physically fit could walk the trails down into the underside of the bridge and enjoy the views of the canyon walls from the bottom and walk into the cool mist of the fresh spring water cascading over the edge of the bridge.

It’s really hard to explain how this looks, so be sure to check out the link above to go visit the park web site to learn more and I’ll post a video here that might give you an idea of what it looks like from “up top”.  And yes, that IS a walkway you see all the way at the bottom about 50 feet or so over the water.

When we left Tonto, we drove on in to check out Payson.  We visited a local bike (bicycle) shop where the owner was very helpful in finding me a “big butt seat” for my new bike ’cause the one that came with it HURT!

In Payson we found a nice little diner for lunch called the “Bee Line Cafe” where we had a great light lunch served by a wonderful waitress (obviously a professional).


After our late lunch (we finished about 3pm) we decided to head back to Camp Verde.  On our way up Main Street toward State Route 260, fire trucks and ambulances rushed past us, lights flashing and sirens blasting – obviously some sort of catastrophy up ahead somewhere.

Somewhere turned out to be on SR 260 just about 2 miles west of town — The road was closed.  We asked the state highway worker if there was another route to Camp Verde, but we knew what the answer would be ….. “You might as well just pull on over, lay back in your seats, and take a nap”.  We did just that (in the Home Depot parking lot) and about an hour or so later, the road was opened.

This Honda Civic was one of the vehicles in the crash

This Honda Civic collided head-on with a blue full-size Chevy van.  The van was headed west on 260, the Honda heading east, and from the damage we saw to both vehicles, it’s pretty obvious SOMEBODY crossed the center line.  The road was closed for a little over an hour, but once the ambulances cleared the scene, they were letting traffic through although only one lane (each direction) at a time until all was removed and swept clean.

The rest of the trip home was (thankfully) uneventful.

Just another day in paradise ….