Road Trip - SE Arizona
Since my youngest spent the week down with her Grandma and Great Aunt/Uncle, I needed to head down the I-10 from Phoenix on Friday to stay the night and bring her back. With the promise of snow, (she excitedly called the day before saying that they were getting snow) my oldest daughter decided to go with me and off we went.
The trip normally takes about 3 hours if you drive straight through, but we decided to stop in Tucson for a little lunch. Visions of Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches and Butterscotch Malts danced in my head as I planned on jumping off at Grant Road and take the 15 minute detour to Wags.
Unfortunately, when we got there, the sign reads "Closed for Holiday".... although I am not sure what holiday Friday, December 29th is. Maybe they went back to Iowa/Indiana for a visit. After all, they are midwestern folk.
Anyway, somewhat disgruntled but not entirely discouraged I headed back out towards the freeway, remembering that a friend who lives in Tucson told me of a hot dog stand that had great hotdogs.
Luckily it was also on Grant so in just a few minutes we pulled up to the un-assuming stand at the corner of Grant and 7th street. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't exactly a hot dog stand but instead a Mexican food stand that happened to offer hot dogs.
The aroma of Carne Asada that filled the air made me forgot for moment that I was there for the hot dogs.
If you're planning on visiting this stand, you should brush up on your Spanish, because the menu board is only in Spanish and the friendly lady inside the stand spoke very little English.
I was able to communicate enough to order a jumbo hot dog, (really just 2 dogs on one bun for $2.50, good deal considering the regular (single) dog was $2.00) a cheese quesadilla for my daughter and a couple sodas.
After paying, the lady hands me a slip of paper and points to the hot dog cart, where a guy is busy putting together other orders. I just ordered the dog with ketchup and mustard, I think simple is better, besides I didn't want to get too full in case I wanted to order something else.
After a short wait I got my dog and, from the stand, my daughter got her quesadilla. The stand also had a condiment cart off to the side that had 3-4 different homemade salsas, homemade guac, sliced cucumbers, diced red onions, fresh sliced limes and other goodies. Everything inside and out looked clean and fresh.
The hotdog was "Sonoran Style" which I have come to the conclusion means hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Very tasty, but as you can imagine, it left me wanting more.
There was no way I was leaving until I tried the Carne Asada, so I went back up to the stand and ordered a taco. The gentleman inside the cart (I came to find out that he was the owner and the lady was his wife) talked me into a "Medium Burrito". Again I ordered it plain, esp. since they had that great looking condiment cart. In the background, I see him pull out an obviously home made tortilla about the size of a car tire and toss it on the griddle to warm it up.
I couple minutes later he hands me this beauty, much larger than he described, but who am I to argue?
Man, the only thing better than the way the carne asada smelled was the way it tasted! I added a little hot sauce or guac from time to time as I ate it, but it really did not need any help.
My daughter got food jealous and asked me for a bit of the tortilla (she's vegatarian...didn't bother to tell her it probably had lard in it.
) SHe liked it so much that she asked me if she could order just a tortilla. I asked the owner and a short time later she had a nicely warmed tortilla in front of her. I offered to pay for the tortilla but was politely refused.
Needless to say, we left the place fat and happy, and resumed our trip to the Arizona Outback. My Mom lives in the Wilcox area, famous for the pistachio farms...not to mention the annual Peach Mania Festival. If you are a peach lover, you need to make a pilgramage to Wilcox in late July and early August for peach pancakes and the peach ice cream.
That evening we made dinner at Mom's place, with my Aunt and Uncle coming over as well. (they live just down the road.) On the menu was, what else, tamales. This time of year in Arizona tamales abound, they were very good that evening, esp. with the help of Mom's home-made enchilada sauce.
She uses Santa Cruz Chili Powder from peppers that are havested only a few miles from her house. http://www.santacruzchili.com/home.html
Of course, Patty LaBelle's Mac and Cheese was on the menu as well, seems to be a popular item in the Desertdog's family these days!
My youngest daughter gave a helping hand and soon it was time to eat.
After Tamales, Mac and Cheese, green salad and plenty of converstion, it was time to hit the sack. We awoke the next morning to frost and unsettled weather.
After getting things packed up and saying our goodbyes, we headed toward the Chiricahua Mountains. http://www.nps.gov/chir/
We had heard that they had received some good snow, and it is one of my favorite places to go.
We stopped off at a little place in Sunsites for breakfast first, recommended by my Aunt and Mom. Margie's Corner Cafe has been there for quite some time so why not?
Apparently the draw of a new place just down the street has slowed business there somewhat, as most of the pickup trucks in town were in front of the other place that was proudly displaying a Grand Opening banner.
Back at Margie's, I ordered flap jacks with sausage and two over-mediums, the kids had Hashbrowns.
I am a big fan of homemade sausage, seldom found in restaurants anymore. Although this sausage was good, it could have been great if it had been thicker and not from a pre-made chub. The pancakes were very good, and they served the syrup warm, like it's supposed to be. The eggs were also just how I like them, overall, a good breakfast. The girls enjoyed the hashbrowns, I saw them as nothing special.
A half an hour later we arrived at the Chiricahua National Monument, and headed up the winding road to the top.
We got out at the top of the monumnet, put on our coats, gloves and caps and walked down an icy trail through the rock formations, hardly believing that we were in 26 degree weather with icy winds.
After being reminded of how miserable cold, windy, snowy weather can be, we jumped back into the warm car and headed back to the nice, sunny weather of 65 degree Phoenix.
One thing I love about Arizona is the diversity of the state. In just a couple hours one can drive through 7 life zones, from low desert to alpine forests and 12,000 foot peaks.
Only 17 percent of the entire state is privatly owned, the rest being state and national forests, parks, protected areas and reservations. That gives one the opportunity to get away and into natural habitat quite quickly. Of course, there's also plenty of good Road Food along the way!