State Parks Offer New Year's Day Hikes

Buckskin Mountain State Park is one of the Arizona state parks offering guided New Year's Day hikes. | Ron Hebert

There's no better way to start the new year (or kick a New Year's Eve hangover) than getting some fresh air, and Arizona State Parks and Trails is again offering visitors the chance to do so on a series of guided New Year's Day hikes.

The department has been offering its "First Day Hikes" for seven years, as part of a national collaboration of all 50 state park systems.

In a news release, Governor Doug Ducey said Arizona's parks "offer unbeatable outdoor experiences the whole family can enjoy," adding that visitors can "kick off the new year with purpose by taking in Arizona's beauty, history and natural wonder."

The guided hikes will be offered at various parks around the state on Tuesday, January 1. A full listing can be found at www.azstateparks.com/fdh. Some of the hikes require reservations, and some do not allow hikers to take dogs along.

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Q&A: Route 66's History, in Photos

Terrence Moore's new book is "66 ON 66: A Photographer's Journey." Scroll down to see photos from the book. | Courtesy of Terrence Moore

In its prime, Historic Route 66 served as a main vein of travel from east to west in the United States. For decades, millions of travelers and tourists took this scenic, eclectic road to get to their destinations, stopping at the many colorful motels, shops and diners along the way. A lot has changed in the route’s 92 years, but many continue to be captivated by the road and its history.

Photographer Terrence Moore has been fascinated with the Mother Road for as long as he can remember. For more than 40 years, he’s been photographing the road from Missouri to Arizona, capturing its evolution on film. In his new book, 66 ON 66: A Photographer’s Journey, he selected 66 of his favorite images he’s made over the years and put them together in a never-before-seen collection.

We recently spoke with Moore to learn more about his new book and what he sees in the future for the iconic route. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Tell our readers about yourself and about your history with Route 66.
When I was 9 years old, my family moved from Minnesota to California. On our drive we actually got on Route 66 in Tucumcari, and having never been out West before, I have all these vivid memories of the trip. When we got to California, we moved to a town called Claremont and we lived just off of Route 66. Then I went to high school on it. In later years, after I got out of college, I moved to Albuquerque and I lived about a half a block off of Route 66; that’s when I actually started seriously photographing it. So it’s kind of just been part of me for most of my life. It was something I was interested in doing, and I just continued doing it over time. I got a few magazine assignments along the way, and that inspired me, too. Next thing you know, it’s 48 years later!

What inspired you to make your new book?
Having grown up in Southern California in that era, it was really a beautiful place to be: a quintessential small college town with citrus groves surrounding it. When I lived there in my formative years, I basically watched the groves disappear before my eyes, and they were mostly replaced with tract housing. It was a really hard thing to watch and take in. When I moved to Albuquerque in 1969, I decided I wanted to document what was left, because I was interested in the architecture and the uniqueness of the businesses along the road. That’s what got me going.

I wanted to do a book years ago, and there wasn’t a great deal of interest. I tried quite a few times in the early days, but it didn’t work out. Eventually everybody started doing books on Route 66, which is really phenomenal. All these years I had dreamed of doing my own book, but I had pretty much given up. But some of my friends inspired me and helped me edit my photos and put the book together.

I’ve made three trips from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66, and with my work I’ve concentrated more on what I knew the best: California, Arizona, New Mexico, a fair amount of Oklahoma and a little bit of Illinois and Missouri. I didn’t try to do a book that represented the entire road and every state; I just concentrated on what I had and who I am.

As you’ve photographed and traveled on Route 66 over the years, how have you seen it change and what remains the same?
There have been huge changes, since the interstate sort of ravages the countryside, the small towns and the small businesses that are scattered along the way. It’ll never be the same, certainly, but the good thing is that some things have maintained. Like the Hackberry General Store in Arizona — that store has been there, I think, since the 1930s and it’s still in business. Or Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, the Museum Club in Flagstaff and La Posada in Winslow. There are still a lot of really wonderful things to see and experience, that give the feel of the old days, even though most of Route 66 has become interstate.

You document the past and present of Route 66 in your new book. What do you see in the future for this iconic route?
The road is overseen by the National Park Service, and they’ve done a lot to preserve these icons and landmarks that are left since it was declared a National Historic Highway. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that the funding that they’ve had through this year won’t be renewed. The good thing is that two senators introduced a bill to make Route 66 a National Historic Trail, and it looks like that’s going to go through. That will breathe new life and bring some funding back into the road again.

The thing about Route 66 is that it’s never going to die, no matter what. Between the individuals along the road, the associations along the road and the federal government doing what they can do, people are still going to be driving down it in 50 years, having fun.

What do you hope people take away from your book?
People are going to get a real feel for what the road was like before it was rediscovered, before people realized they needed to save and preserve it. By looking at my book and paying attention to where the photos were taken, you’re going to see what was once there. But I didn’t just want to show places that don’t exist anymore. There’s plenty of stuff in there that still exists and stretches of the road you can still see and experience today. I wanted the book to represent the old and the new, and just give people a little more to see and experience than a book that was all shot in the past 10 or 15 years.

The thing that’s different about my book is that more than half the images in there are things that are gone. There was no one else seriously photographing the highway in the 1970s and into the early 1980s. The images I have in that era are really unique, and many of them are one of a kind. I don’t just have 66 images; I have thousands. I’ve got a lot more that I wish people could see, but at the same time, we have a book that’s kind of quick and easy and fairly strong visually, because it doesn’t have so many images that you don’t see them all.

What would you tell people who are interested in traveling on Route 66 today?
Get an idea ahead of time of what you don’t want to miss and factor those in, and then just slow down, poke around and talk to people. The more you do that, the more fascinating your trip will be, whether you’re just doing a small stretch of the road in Arizona or if you’re doing the entire thing. There’s little gems out there. I never really searched the road with a microscope, and there’s all kinds of amazing things out there that are associated with the road. Just don’t be in a hurry and don’t be afraid to talk to people. Let the experience come to you.

66 ON 66: A Photographer’s Journey is now available everywhere books are sold. To learn more about the book or to see Terrence Moore’s work, visit his website.

— Emily Balli

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New Book Celebrates Arizona Cuisine and History

Courtesy of Historical League

A new cookbook offers recipes from some of Arizona's best restaurants, along with stories and cooking tips from some of the state's best-known residents.

Tastes & Treasures II: A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizona is a project of the Historical League of the AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park. The book features recipes and stories from places such as the Grand Canyon's Bright Angel Lodge, Bisbee's Café Roka and El Chorro in the Phoenix area.

Biographies, photos, recipes and food memories of prominent Arizonans are also featured, according to the Historical League:

 Read about the Lazy B Ranch and how to make beef jerky from Sandra Day O’Connor. Arizona’s poet laureate, Alberto Rios, has an original story. Lattie Coor shares his recipe for Tamale Pie. Arizona’s official historian, Marshall Trimble, has given us the family recipe for Trimble’s Tasty Cowboy Beans. 

A section of "Cherished Legacy Recipes" also allows users of the book to add their own family recipes. "Whether it’s the grandparent who always served your favorite dish the first night of a visit, a dear friend who taught you how to make the cookies you still love, or an ancestor you honor when you prepare their favorite holiday dish, a tribute page celebrates someone you love," the Historical League says.

The Historical League is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Arizona's cultural heritage and promoting awareness of the Arizona Historical Society.

To learn more about the book or purchase a copy, click here.

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ADOT Offers Tips for Winter Driving

Snow along State Route 89A in Oak Creek Canyon. | Jennifer Austin

Now that winter weather is in full swing in Northern Arizona, it's a good time to brush up on some good ways to stay safe when you're traveling in the snow.

The Arizona Department of Transportation notes that sometimes, the best option is to put off travel when snow is falling. This allows ADOT's snowplows to clear state highways — a task that becomes much harder when crashes occur on the road. Keep an eye on weather conditions by calling 511, visiting az511.gov or following ADOT on Twitter at @ArizonaDOT.

If you can't wait to travel until the winter storm is over, ADOT says you should prepare for possibly being delayed or stranded on the road. Wear warm clothing and pack an emergency kit. That kit should include blankets, healthy snacks, water, cat litter or sand for traction, a first-aid kit (including all necessary medications), and a fully charged cellphone.

Additionally, ADOT says you should make sure your car is in good working conditions. Consider using snow tires, chains or studded tires for driving on snowy or icy roads.

Most importantly, the department recommends you slow down and leave extra space between your car and the car in front of you. Give ADOT's snowplows room to work, and remember that when it's snowing, the safest place on a highway is a safe distance (at least four car lengths) behind a snowplow.

For more tips on winter driving, visit ADOT's Know Snow website.

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Fees Increasing at Tonto National Monument

Ray Minnick | Tonto National Monument

The cost of visiting one of Arizona's many National Park Service sites is going up next year to fund improvements at the site.

Tonto National Monument, near Theodore Roosevelt Lake in Central Arizona, currently costs $7 per person to visit, but that will increase to $10 per person on January 1, the monument said in a news release. The admission fee applies to those age 16 and older; younger visitors will continue to receive free admission.

The monument's staff said the increase will fund important maintenance and improvement projects. In the past, revenue from admission fees has been used to improve the visitors center, conduct outdoors and youth engagement programs, and pay staff wages.

Tonto National Monument protects two Salado cliff dwellings thought to have been inhabited from the mid-1200s to the mid-1400s. The monument is about an hour's drive from Payson and a two-hour drive from the Phoenix area.

The monument and other Park Service sites that charge admission offer a handful of fee-free days when admission fees are waived. In 2019, those dates are January 21 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 20 (the first day of National Park Week), August 25 (the Park Service's birthday), September 28 (National Public Lands Day) and November 11 (Veterans Day).

For more information, visit Tonto National Monument's website.

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Apache Trail Improvements Completed

The newly repaved State Route 88. | Courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation

From our friends at the Arizona Department of Transportation: 

With a project to resurface the roadway and construct improvements along a 17-mile stretch of State Route 88 (Apache Trail) complete east of the Valley, the keys to safety on this historic, winding roadway remain obeying the speed limit, staying alert and not driving impaired.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has finished $6.5 million worth of improvements that include paved vehicle pullouts, adjustments to several curves and replacement of some existing sections of old guardrail.

But these important safety improvements are no substitute for safe driving along a roadway that, due to the area’s topography, has always been designed for lower speeds.

In addition to primary posted speed limits ranging between 25 and 40 mph, drivers should heed slower advisory speed limits on signs and, now, painted on the roadway at points such as curves. Slower advisory speed limits range between 10 and 20 mph.

According to data provided to ADOT by law enforcement agencies, speed too fast for conditions was the most common driver violation in crashes along this stretch of SR 88 in 2017 and the first half of this year. Officers cited speed too fast in 40 percent of crashes. Violations cited in another 20 percent of crashes included failing to keep in the proper lane and driving in the opposing lane, passing in no-passing zones and following too closely.

About one of five crashes involved alcohol or drugs.  

SR 88 is a historic roadway that travels in part within the Tonto National Forest. The Apache Trail’s origin dates back more than 100 years as a route to transport materials, equipment and workers for construction of Roosevelt Dam.

The completed project also installed new raised pavement markers, centerline rumble strips to warn drivers if their vehicle is drifting into an opposing lane, and new signs. Crews also improved the ride along SR 88 by resurfacing the highway starting 3 miles northeast of Apache Junction and extending to 7 miles beyond Tortilla Flat.

Improvements started in fall 2017 and included the removal of several large and potentially unstable boulders above the highway.

For more information about ADOT’s state highway improvement projects visit azdot.gov/projects.

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Sky Harbor Tops List of Best U.S. Airports

Public art at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. | Hazel Vaughn

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has topped an influential travel website's list of the best airports in America — for the third year in a row.

The Points Guy, which helps people "maximize" their travel opportunities via credit card points, used factors such as location, on-time statistics and restaurant options in compiling its rankings. Here's what the site had to say about Sky Harbor:

What’s Sky Harbor doing right? Like last time, it didn’t come in first in any one category but made strong showings in nearly all of them, including being easily reached by car or bus, having cheap parking, negligible wait times at security compared to other airports and respectably low delay and cancellation rates (though it could use more lounges for its size).

Three other airports in the western United States — Salt Lake City, Portland and San Diego — followed Phoenix's airport in the rankings. Tampa was fifth. And in news that will shock no frequent East Coast travelers, the New York City area's three airports — Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy — made up the bottom three on the 30-item list.

Sky Harbor's central location didn't happen overnight: At one time, it was so isolated from the rest of Phoenix that locals called it "The Farm." Today, it's one of the country's busiest airports, seeing about 44 million passengers last year.

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Churroholic Coming to Tempe in 2019

Some of the offerings at Churroholic. | Via Facebook

A California-based dessert and coffee chain is making its first footprint in Arizona with a Tempe location that will open early next year.

Churroholic — which, as you might guess, is known for its deep-fried churro treats — is opening at Tempe Marketplace, The Arizona Republic reported last week.

Offerings at Churroholic include churro ice cream sandwiches and churro loops rolled in a variety of toppings, The Republic reported.

The chain was founded in Anaheim, California, in 2017, and its brightly colored dessert items have made it an Instagram favorite.

Churroholic also offers hot and iced coffee, tea and milkshakes. For more information, visit the chain's website.

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