Pinetop AZ & Petrified Forest - LOTS of Pics
Another welcome trip up to Pinetop in the White Mountains of Arizona this past weekend. My older daughter had a high school cross-country meet in Pinetop so I took my youngest daughter up on Friday night to stay the weekend.
We arrived early evening after about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Fountain Hills, (HWY 87 north to Payson, HWY 260 east to Pinetop) ,and were in the mood for something a little different for dinner.
I had heard about the Munich Haus for quite some time, and, having lived in Germany for a number of years, decided we would give that a try.
We chose to sit outside on the patio which overlooked a small lake and a nice forest behind. Although the evening was cool, we really enjoyed sitting in the fresh air for dinner.
The Munich Haus has plenty of traditional German fare, as well as some nice German Bier on tap, so I tried out the Warsteiner Oktoberfest bier to get started.
The waitress brought out some nice fresh-baked bread, rolls and butter to start with. I ended up ordering the Wienerschnitzel with a Jaegersauce, along with Spaetzle and Potato Salad. My daughter simply ordered two BIG pretzels and wanted struedel for dessert….
The meal came with soup or salad, I decided to try the soup of the day, which was a German Sausage Soup – Bratwuerst Sausage, Potatoes and caraway seeds in a light, creamy broth. It was outstanding!
Shortly after finishing the soup, the entrée arrived. I was quite impressed with the portion size and upon trying the meat, was completely satisfied. The potato salad and spaetzle were also quite tasty, making this a very satisfying meal.
A Jaeger sauce is basically a creamy mushroom sauce, and although is “Jaegerschnitzel” was a bit different from how I remember it in Der Vaterland, it was still delicious.
We got back to the condo afterwards and after a little talking and TV, we hit the sack.
The next morning we headed over to MAMA BEAR’S CAFÉ for a little breakfast.
I was here last time and was very impressed with the Mama Bear Scramble, getting it with Chorizo. This time I decided on the Papa Bear which turned out to be 3 eggs, 3 sausages, hash browns, two pancakes and a side of biscuits and gravy! OMG, that was a lot of food.
I got through less than half before I called it quits. The sausage was very good, as were the flapjacks, eggs were cooked right and the hash browns had a nice crispiness to them. The biscuit was decent but the gravy was really not what I expected. I’ll pass on that in the future.
My daughter had the sweet roll, which came with butter, she referred to it as “yummmmy!”
Needing to walk off breakfast, we headed over to Greer (HWY 260 east from Pinetop to HWY 373 south) for a nice morning hike, enjoying the fall-like weather and fresh pine scented air. We ended up hiking for a little over 2 hours, thoroughly enjoying the sights and sounds of the forest.
We went back to our condo to get some things together, then went over to the lake to get ready to watch my oldest daughter run her race. She had traveled up that morning with the team, and called about 11:30 am that they had made it and were stretching and getting warmed up.
Her’s was the first race of the day, so we needed to get over there, stopping by Eddie’s Country Store for something to drink and a little to nibble on. They were busy roasting peppers as well, so in addition to a half rack of ribs, I grabbed some freshly roasted Hatch Chiles to take home.
Once we got over to the lake, we found a picnic table close to where the team would be running, and proceeded to eat our way through the ribs. They were very good, with the meat falling away with just a bit of a tug. I noticed that they did not remove the membrane before grilling, I prefer mine either scored or removed altogether. Anyway, they hit the spot for a light lunch, sure beats McDonalds…..
The race started and off ran the JV girls, many of them from the Phoenix area struggling with the elevation. Pinetop is at 7600 feet, a big difference from home where it is just above 1000 feet.
My daughter did well in the race, coming in first on her team, 19th overall. The Native American teams from the White Mountain areas always kick butt at this event, so I was pretty proud of my girl and how well she did under the circumstances.
She stayed with the team, and I took my youngest off towards the Petrified Forest. It has been years since I was there, and she had never been, so it was time for a little science and history lesson.
It is quite interesting how the landscape changes within a few miles. Heading north out of the Pinetop area, (HWY 260 west to HWY 60 east to HWY 77 north) once north of the town of Show Low the Pine Trees disappear and the open prairie and the Colorado Plateau emerges. This area was, and still is to an extent, cattle and farming land.
We drove through the town of Snowflake, settled by the Mormons over a century ago. The name is mis-leading…instead of being a winter wonderland, it has historically been a farming community, named after the first settlers - Erastus Snow and William Flake.
We continued on until we arrived in Holbrook, the famous Route 66 town, where one can still over-night in a “Tee-Pee” hotel room!
We jumped on the I-40 east out of Holbrook to the exit for the Petrified Forest. Entering into the north side, the scenic drive first takes you up to an overlook of the Painted Desert.
Dropping down south of the freeway, there are several pullouts and side roads displaying different aspects of the park. Newspaper Rock is covered with hundreds of petroglyths, dating as far back as 1200 years.
Blue Mesa is a fascinating 1 mile walk through the badlands of the Petrified Forest. Mineral deposits and clay layers form amazing multi-colored cones, with petrified wood strewn throughout the area. A very interesting walk.
After a few more stops we ended up at the south gate to the park, stopping off at the Museum for a last look at some very impressive petrified logs, including this one, the largest in the park.
My daughter is fascinated with geology and “pretty rocks”, so this was lots of fun for her. During the drive we also got the chance to talk a lot…she is a very inquisitive kid, and that makes trips like this fun. No complaining or whining, just a genuine excitement to see something new.
Back in Pinetop, we got cleaned up, then headed down to Charlie Clarks. I don’t know why I keep going back to this place, the steaks are, as I was to be reminded again tonight, very mediocre.
The appetizers are mostly very good, the place has lots of people having fun, but for a place that is supposed to be known for their steaks, they do a fairly poor job.
I ordered the Center Cut Rib-Eye again tonight, hoping last time was an aberration….although it was cooked as I requested (medium rare) it just did not have that juicy, soft texture that one expects from a rib-eye.
I have talked to others that say that Charlie Clarks has lost what it used to have. The place is always busy, usually on a wait on weekends, but I don’t know what people are ordering that keeps them coming back. $26 for a mediocre steak is not my idea of a good time.
My daughter’s chicken fingers were good as were the fries. The menu says that you can order the Steak “Clark Style” with a Chile Relleno on the side, I did that and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.
I woke up in the middle of the night to thunder and lightning, then a down pour of rain. The clouds were threatening the whole afternoon at the Petrified Forest, and it looks like we were finally getting something from them.
The next morning the rain had stopped, but the clouds still hung low and gray. After a quick visit to Starbucks, we decided to head back to Phoenix, although taking a different route through the Fort Apache Indian Reservation to Globe (HWY 77/60 South), then into Mesa before getting to Fountain Hills.
The drive through the reservation is beautiful, with pine forest and rocky crags, we saw deer along the way even though it was hunting season. (Does must know they aren’t hunted) As we got to the southern edge of the reservation, we started the decent into the Salt River Canyon.
This is really the highlight of this route, an unbelievable chasm cut deep by the waters of the high country over millions of years. At the bottom of the Canyon the road cuts across the river by way of a bridge. A new bridge has recently been built, and the planners smartly left the old bridge as a pedestrian overlook.
We stopped to use the bathrooms and had a bit of a look around. Storm clouds were threatening again, so we took off back up and out of the canyon, getting rained on as we worked our way to the south side of the canyon.
We got into Globe around lunch time and happened upon Judy’s Cook House. The place was busy with lots of Pick-ups out front (always a good sign) so in we went.
Breakfast was obviously a popular item here, even at lunch time. We decided to order off the lunch menu, my daughter getting a pizza off the kids menu, while I ordered the Green Chile Cheese Burger.
The burger was juicy and the pepper had just the right zing to it, with melted pepper jack cheese oozing everywhere. I ordered the burger medium, but there was no visible pink as I had hoped, still a very above average burger. (Hey, the burger fit the bun! Always a plus in my book.)
This looks like the place to stop if you happen to be passing through Globe and need a good bite to eat.
Onward from Globe, we headed towards Superior, enjoying the beautiful ride through Devil’s Canyon and Apache Leap. As we started to hit the flat lands past Superior we came upon the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, nestled up against Picket post Mountain.
I have been wanting to check this place out for years now, and, since my daughter was up for it, we decided to stop in and have a look around.
The Arboretum is a botanists dream come true. Plants from all over the world are represented here, with trails that take you through a beautiful canyon of flora and fauna. The weather had changed quite a bit from earlier, it was now 76 degrees and sunny, perfect for a walk through the garden.
This turned out to be one of my favorite trips. My daughter was a great travel companion, enthusiastic about seeing and doing whatever came along. We got to see some amazing things and took the time to get to know each other a little better. They don’t stay young forever…..