Today I went on an Arizona adventure with a travel group from Luke Air Force Base. Our destination was Clarkdale, Arizona, where a our group boarded the Verde Canyon Railroad for an afternoon ride to the ghost ranch at Perkinsville - and back again. We had first class tickets which meant that we were treated to eats along the way.
The train trip, approximately two hours each way, followed the Verde River through remote red rock canyons decorated with twisted cedar trees and prickly pear cacti. The railroad excursion appears to be an anchor business of the small town of Clarkdale, a community whose primary focus is on serving tourists. Perkinsville, the destination, is a former railroad watering stating that lost its main population with the advent of diesel train engines - eliminating the need for watering stations. It was and is part of a 19,000 acre ranch owned by the Perkins family.
The train's sound system gave an on-going account of points of interest as we passed, and between those updates it played train songs - dozens and dozens of different train-related songs, many of which I knew by heart. Each of the train cars was named after a major Arizona city. Our group was in the Phoenix car. An assortment of flatcars were strung between the passenger cars, allowing travelers to step out into the brisk air and take photos as the train chugged along. The sound system also played outside - rather loudly. While we were stopped at Perkinsville waiting on the train's two engines to move from one end of the train to the other for the ride back to Clarkdale, three of the hostesses were standing with a group of us on one of the flatcars telling stories about Perkinsville and its role in Arizona history. Suddenly Little Eva's Locomotion can blaring out of the speakers. The ladies formed a quick, impromptu girl group like those from the sixties and began dancing and singing along. It was really funny!
One of the highlights of the day's outing was some light snowfall that we encountered when our excursion van reached an elevation of three-to four-thousand feet. It was beautiful, and as I tried to remember the last time I had seen snow, I realized that it was two years ago this month in Seoul, South Korea. Today's flurries were my first American snow in three years!
This trip served to remind me that there is much more to Arizona than our mean-spirited politicians and the endless Sonora Desert. It was so nice to get away from Phoenix, even if just for a few hours!