21 Years Ago Today

21 Years 2

21 years ago today, I married the love of my life.  We haven’t changed much, have we?

Michelle is my best friend, my fellow adventure seeker, the one who laughs at my humor (most of the time), my soul-mate, the mother of my children, the grandmother of my grandchildren, my sounding board, my lifelong companion, the beauty I never grow tired of looking at, my joy, and definitely my better half.  I love living life with her, and I really do thank God for her every day.

Caught on Camera!

While drinking my coffee this morning and enjoying the view from my front window, I saw it.

But before I could do anything, it quickly turned and sped down a side street.  Knowing the migration patterns of this elusive sight, I ran and grabbed my camera expecting it to flash in front of my house a few minutes later.  One only gets a quick glimpse of this predator every few years, so I knew I had to act fast.  I set up  the camera in my front window not wanting to be seen by it.  And I waited…

Suddenly, and without any warning, it appeared right in front of my house.  It came from the north so quickly that all I was able to capture was its hind quarter.  Not good enough! I wanted a full shot, and I knew I would only have one more chance.  So I waited again, but this time with my finger on the camera’s trigger.

After a few false alarms and several empty pictures, I caught it on camera.  It flashed in front of my house one last time – this time from the south, and I was ready.  My heart leapt and my finger fired three shots.  The first shot caught the front quarter, the third shot caught nothing – but the second shot caught all of it!  And here’s the photo…

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The Google Maps camera car! I took a picture of it taking a picture of me, and besides probably triggering a lapse in the space/time continuum by doing this, I also secured my spot for the next few years on Google Maps.  I can’t wait to zoom onto my house from the street view and see if I can see myself.

Who says I don’t know how to hunt?

Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Mike Potter

What do these three legendary men have in common? True grit? Yes. A love for the West? Yes. Frequenting the same watering hole? Yes to that too.

Last week, Michelle and I explored central Arizona on our motorcycles. The sun was beating down on us and our bikes needed a rest.  So, we stopped in Prescott, tied up our bikes outside in the shade, and sauntered in to The Palace Saloon to give our saddle-weary rear-ends a much needed rest and to kick back a cold one.

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Because this establishment was once a den of iniquity, I kept my beautiful wife behind me as I slammed open the saloon doors and made my presence known.  The cowboys at the bar took notice of my entrance and got a glimpse of my wife – but their eyes turned away quickly as they sized me up.  They were no match for me and they knew it.  It was wise of them to keep their eyes off of my beauty and go back to their quiet conversations.

Ok. Ok. That’s not what happened.  But I did whack open the saloon doors – after making sure no one was standing on the other side of them. It felt good.  It felt real.  I felt like a cowboy…with my Steelers shirt on.

The Palace Saloon opened in 1877 and is the oldest frontier saloon in Arizona and the most well-known and historic restaurant and saloon in the state. In the late 1870′s, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were patrons of The Palace on their way to Tombstone.  A fire destroyed the establishment in 1900, but it was rebuilt and reopened in 1901 – and this version remains today.

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It’s a fascinating saloon that feels like you’ve stumbled onto the set of an old western movie when you walk in.  There are even “regulars” who frequent the bar every day dressed in full old-west attire.  I asked our waitress if these men were part of some re-enactment taking place, and she told us that the men are the real deal.  They are retired vets who dress this way every day and gather at the bar daily for a drink and to converse.  I asked if we could get a picture with them, and they obliged.  They had their guns on their hips, but I had my guns…on my arms.  So, they kept their filthy little paws off my wife.

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After we ate and kicked back a cold one, we explored the rest of the building.  In the back, there’s a beautiful wooden staircase that once led to two rooms where things that I shan’t speak of took place.  Today, these rooms serve as offices.  The ceiling in the back of the building is riddled with bullet holes from days past when winners of poker games would celebrate by firing a shot into the ceiling.

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What a fantastic place The Palace saloon is! There are probably better places to eat in Prescott, but you’ll not find a more enjoyable and historical western experience in all of Arizona.

Motorcycles and a Mountaintop Cantina

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Michelle and I went on a motorcycle vacation last week to Sedona, AZ – our base from which we explored Mingus Mountain on our bikes.  We rode from Sedona to Prescott and back. 145 miles with a 3000 feet elevation climb. Seriously curvy roads. Beautiful views. Tons of fun!

The highlight of our ride was when we traveled through Jerome, AZ – a small town built in the side of the mountain.  Jerome once was a copper mining town populated by over 10,000 people in the 1920’s.  Once the mines were exhausted, the town nearly died – if not for the few who remained and worked hard to make it a tourist destination.  Today, only 400 people live there, but thousands visit every year.  It’s really a fascinating town of switchback roads with buildings built right into the side of the mountain.  And the views from the town are breathtaking.

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We walked around the town – or I should say “up” the town – then stopped at the Vaqueros Grill and Cantina for a cold one before we continued our ride (non-alcoholic cold one…because the road was way too curvy for a brewsky).  The cantina was a photographer’s paradise.  While I don’t claim to be a photographer per se, I do love taking pictures.  Here are some of the pictures I took.

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