Sunday, March 27, 2011

White Tanks

I was excited to hear that the mountains near my house not only have petroglyphs but are haunted as well.  The White Tank mountain range is located west of Phoenix near the city of Surprise.  They get their name for the white granite near the base of the mountains and its many depressions also known as “tanks”.   It is believed that the range was formed about 30 million years ago by earthquake activities and detaching from a fault line.  Although the peaks of each range are approximately the same altitude, the tallest is Barry Goldwater Peak at 4,083 feet.  The rocky terrain is beautiful but dangerous.  The mountain range consists of jagged ridges, and bottomless canyons where after a rainfall water will build up and run swiftly down the sheer canyons.

 In the mountains you will find the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, an area where many like to visit and hike.   Many of the areas in this park are undeveloped wilderness with many indigenous species roaming around the desert grounds.  Some of the critters you might see while visiting the park are mule deer, coyotes, javelina, small rodents, and on rare occasions, mountain lions.  Some of the birds found in the park are roadrunners and cactus wren, which is the Arizona state bird.  Since the park is in the desert, many reptiles can be found wandering the area as well.   You can take a guided tour and learn all about the animals and plants found in this natural desert preserve.

One of the main reasons I want to visit the mountain range is the numerous petroglyphs found scattered around the mountains and may predate the Hohokam people.  Approximately 11 archaeological sites were recognized along with 7 Hohokam villages.  There are various trails leading to these sites and villages dispersed and marked for your interests.  You can take as many pictures of the sites and petroglyphs, but all they ask is that you don’t touch them.

The mountains also have stories of paranormal activity.  There have been several UFO sightings over the mountain range, but since the White Tanks are located near Luke Air Force Base, many have been dismissed as being something military.  Some people believe that what they saw was not manmade, but something unexplainable.   Along with the UFO sightings, people have reported ghostly figures and other strange phenomena while hiking the mountains.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gene Simmons Has Nothing on This Fella

Have a great weekend everyone.  There will be more wildlife pictures to come.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Happened to the Sinagua?

Montezuma's Castle

Tucked in the mountains and just outside Sedona is the site where cliff dwellers once lived known as Montezuma’s Castle. The five story dwelling is remarkably well preserved and built in the 12th century by the Sinagua people. They cleverly wedged their lodgings in the rock, high above Oak Creek, which runs through the red rocks of Sedona. Historians can only speculate that they build so high because the spot offered protection from the desert elements. The Sinagua lived in their rock high-rise for over 400 years before disappearing mysteriously.

Another group of Sinagua people established their own community called Tuzigoot. These ruins are located 20 miles from Montezuma’s Castle and built from the natural resources found in the surrounding desert. With all their clever building techniques, the mystery still remains why the Sinagua suddenly disappeared in the 1400’s. Some feel that they may have used up their natural resources or maybe a plague or disease wiped them out, but since there is no written record, no one knows.
My hubby and I are spending our 30th wedding anniversary in Sedona next month. While there, we plan to spend one of our days in Jerome. We also plan to visit Montezuma's Castle, Tuzigoot and the petroglyphs that are all over the rocks of Sedona. I will have lots of pictures and more information on this mysterious group of people known as the Sinagua.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Boo Boo

For the past several months I have watched this gross mass grow on my face.  It started out as a zit and just exploded from there.  It looked like "the blob" was taking over my face.  OK, I am being dramatic (it must be hormones), but I am worried what it is.  Yesterday my doctor did a pinpoint biopsy on it to make sure it isn't skin cancer which is what many Zonies (slang name for Arizona peeps) suffer from.  My hubby had cancer removed from his arm.  This is on my face and I had horrible visions of my nose being removed.  He froze off the rest of the mass and put a camouflage bandage on my face.  I should get my results by next Monday.  Fingers cross that it is nothing but mid-life reminders that I am getting older.  Also, I have a spur on the bottom of my left foot and when inflamed feels like I am walking on rocks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Where Do These Get Started?

Occasionally I will pull up an old post for those who were not following me when it was originally posted. This one I wrote almost two years ago about crazy stories and rumors that people believe to be true.

There has been so many folklore or urban legends that have been spread around from person to person, and from generation to generation. What about those stories told about death, murder, and ghosts in movies that a supposed to be real, and subliminal messages in certain songs? There are movies like “The Haunting in Connecticut” or “Amityville Horror” that are supposed to be based on true stories and proven to be hoaxes, but there are other types of folklore that have been spread around as well. These stories happened behind the scenes or during filming of a movie, or while recording a song. Some of these stories are told of subliminal messages hidden in songs and can be heard if the song is played backwards. These stories end up bigger than anyone expected causing controversy and even spreading like wildfires. Who starts these rumors and how do they get out of hand? Here are just a few examples:

Urban legends:
Let’s start with the biggest stories or rumors told, an urban legend. An urban legend is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories thought to be factual by those circulating them. The term is often used to mean something related to an "apocryphal story." Like all folklore, urban legends are not necessarily false, but they are often distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized over time. Urban legends are sometimes repeated in news stories and, in recent years, distributed by e-mail. People frequently allege that such tales happened to a "friend of a friend" so often, in fact, that "friend of a friend," has become a commonly used term when recounting this type of story. There are many people that believe these stories to be true, even to this day.

The Blair Witch Project:
This was a low-budget American horror film released in 1999. The story is depicted as a documentary pieced together from amateur footage. The film tells the story of three young student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams) who are believed to have gone into the Black Hills of Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. The three students never came back. The spectator is told that neither the students nor their bodies were ever found, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) were discovered a year later. So many people believed this to be a true story that many inundated Brukittsville in search of the three students and the legendary Blair Witch. It was found out later, after the movie made millions of dollars, which it was not a true documentary but a mockumentary instead.

Three Men and a Baby:
This one was a huge story that even hit the news media and other entertainment shows and got way out of hand. In the scene where Jack Holden's mother visits the house and is playing with the baby, you can see in the window there's a human figure in a top hat, appearing to be hiding partially behind the curtain. Supposedly the legend states that the human figure was the ghost of a boy that had shot himself and died in the house, but that turned out not to be true. The figure was a prop left by accident on set, of a stand up cardboard cutout of Jack used for a commercial. You see it again later in the film, as Jack stands right next to it. I still have the newspaper article, from the Phoenix local paper, of the story, tucked away in my VCR copy of the movie.

The Wizard of Oz:
This was another story shown over and over on the news. Directly after the Tin Man scene, as they skip toward Oz and singing "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" song, unexpected movements are seen in the forest background. Rumor has it that a munchkin or stage hand suffered from depression, rumored to be because of a romance that went bad, and hung himself in the back drop. In reality, there were many birds put into the scene to give it a taste of reality, and the unexplained movements were caused by a crane's spread wings. In another rumor, it was told that a large number of eerie harmonies can be heard when playing the movie alongside Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon" album.

Ohio Players "Love Rollercoaster":
In the background, during a music portion of the song, a scream can be heard. This scream was supposedly a terrified or torturous scream where rumors had it was the murder of a woman caught on the recording. Some have said that it was the album "Honey's" cover model, and caused by the manager. Others state it was an anonymous murder in the next room. The truth was that the guitar soloist made a screaming noise on his guitar. The band agreed to a vow of silence, due to the fact that the urban legend boosted the record sales.

Backmasking/subliminal messages:
(Taken from Wikipedia) Many songs, especially those from the 1960’s and 1970’s, have been rumored to have hidden messages done with backmasking. Backmasking (also known as backward masking) is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be unintentional. Backmasking was popularized by The Beatles, who used backward vocals and instrumentation on their 1966 album Revolver. Artists have since used backmasking for artistic, comedic, and satiric effect, on both analog and digital recordings. The technique has also been used to censor words or phrases for "clean" releases of songs. There are rumors that the Beatles were involved in the spread of backmasking both as a recording technique and as the center of a controversy. This all came about in 1969, when WKNR-FM DJ Russ Gibb received a phone call from a student at Eastern Michigan University who identified himself as "Tom". The caller asked Gibb about a rumor that Beatle Paul McCartney had died, and claimed that the Beatles song "Revolution 9" contained a backward message confirming the rumor. Gibb played the song backwards on his turntable, and heard "Turn me on, dead man … turn me on, dead man … turn me on, dead man". Gibb began telling his listeners about what he called "The Great Cover-up", and to the original clue were added various others, including the alleged backmasked message "Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him", in "I'm So Tired". The "Paul is dead" rumor popularized the idea of backmasking in popular music. Following Gibb's show, many more songs were found to contain audible phrases when reversed. Initially, the search was done mostly by fans of rock music, but in the late 1970s, during the rise of the Christian right in the United States, fundamentalist Christian groups began to claim that backmasked messages could bypass the conscious mind and reach the subconscious, where they would be unknowingly accepted by the listener. In 1981, Christian DJ Michael Mills began stating on Christian radio programs that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" contained hidden messages that were heard by the subconscious. In early 1982, the Praise the Lord Network's Paul Crouch hosted a show with self-described neuroscientist William Yarroll, who argued that rock stars were cooperating with the Church of Satan to place hidden subliminal messages on records. Also in 1982, fundamentalist Christian pastor Gary Greenwald held public lectures on dangers of backmasking, along with at least one mass record-smashing. During the same year, thirty North Carolina teenagers, led by their pastor, claimed that singers had been possessed by Satan, who used their voices to create backward messages, and held a record-burning at their church. Allegations of demonic backmasking were also made by social psychologists, parents, and critics of rock music, as well as the Parents Music Resource Center (formed in 1985), which accused Led Zeppelin of using backmasking to promote Satanism. On the April 28, 1982 edition of the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather discussed the finding of possible backmasked messages, and played reversed sections of songs by Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra and Styx.

These are only a few of the stories of movie ghosts, or haunting screams, and even subliminal messages found when songs are played backwards. Some of the movies and songs even made a hefty profit when the rumors came out. It just makes you wonder who really starts those crazy stories.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tovrea Castle: The Wedding Cake

On the east side of Phoenix and sitting in the center of several acres is an unusual structure known as “Tovrea Castle”. The shape of the castle resembles a three-tiered wedding cake which could have been constructed by Buddy (Cake Boss) or Duff (Ace of Cakes) and earned the moniker “The Wedding Cake”. Instead of being constructed with cake mixes and fondant, the castle’s materials consist of wood and stucco in an ornate medieval fashion, imitating the styles from the home country of its builder.

In 1928 an Italian immigrant named Alessio Carraro had purchased 277 acres of barren desert land and began the construction of Tovrea Castle. He had great visions of an extraordinary resort with a plush desert garden surrounding the locality and the castle as its centerpiece. With the vision of Russian gardener, Moktachev, they began converting the desolate desert into an amazing desert garden.

It took two years for the creation of the castle to be completed. Soon after construction was finished, Edward Tovrea, who owned land surrounding Carraro’s, opened a meat packing plant nearby. Not happy with Tovrea and other adjoining landowners bring in livestock; Carraro sold the property, along with its remarkable structure, to Tovrea and his wife Della in 1931.

In 1932 Edward Tovrea passed away and Della decided to keep the castle as her permanent home. After she married William Stuart, it became a winter home until after his death. She again lived at the residence full-time until her death in 1969.

After her death, the Tovrea family trust was in charge of the property but neglected any maintenance that was needed causing the place to simply diminish over time. The once beautiful desert gardens were now dying and ignored with the cacti suffering the most damage. Also the deserted castle was in poor shape making the structure unlivable.

In 1993, the City of Phoenix obtained the land and its wedding cake building deeming the place as a historical structure. In 1990, Tovrea Castle and its surrounding land were listed as a historical property and in 1996 added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The castle has been going through restoration while the gardens are being restored to their former glory. Tovrea Castle was to be giving tours and opening its doors to the public in 2009, but because of the economical issues, it has been delayed. Sharon and I are looking into touring the place. As soon as we do, we will share our pictures, videos and story. BTW, I hear the place may be haunted.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Year Old Dead Body Found in Tombstone

There doesn't seem to be an endless amount of bizarre stories in Arizona even today.  In Tombstone, actor/writer Timothy Fattig was arrested after the skeletal remains of his mother was found in her house. This is the article I found:

"An actor who did reenactments of the shootout at the OK Corral and worked on locally produced independent horror films remained jailed Sunday after authorities found the skeletal remains of his mother in her house.

Tombstone town Marshal Billy Cloud says he arrested 34-year-old Timothy Fattig on a negligent homicide charge on Wednesday after finding the remains of 68-year-old Jill Fattig.

Cloud says a town deputy checking on Jill Fattig got no response. Timothy Fattig told the deputy his mom was in a Tucson hospital but later said she died more than a year before and he just closed and locked her door because he was distraught.

Cloud said if an autopsy confirmed the death was natural, he'll only face a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a dead body."

(from the Arizona Daily Star;

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Inside Mystery Castle

If you thought the outside had a bizarre mix of materials making up the facade of the castle, check out the wacky rooms inside.

unusual guests
desert critter shoes

creepy bunny costume
guest bedroom
Lady of the house

child size armor

the alter
the music room

the bar
antiques in the bar
apparently they partied too much
the bar
have a seat

Humm, I don't recall seeing a bathroom.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mystery Castle: A Bizarre Find

From the foothills of South Mountain an odd looking structure is seen perched above. We drove down a small dirt road to find a bit of a scattered parking lot. After parking between a rock and a cactus, we walked up the path towards the remarkable entrance.

One of the things you will take note of is the attention-grabbing way it looks somewhat like a castle, a fort, and cabin all rolled into one amazing structure. You can’t miss the long wood balcony, and the peculiarly placed turrets and parapets. The first thing you see is an old wooden wagon wheel built into a wall. You just know that this place is going to more than some boring tourist trap.

I have to say I was blown away by all the materials that were used to create this place known as “Mystery Castle”. We waited a few minutes before the guide whisked us upstairs for the tour. They started with the history of this rather unique place.

In 1930, Boyce Luther Gulley was diagnosed with tuberculosis, left his wife and daughter in Seattle, Washington, and headed southwest to Arizona. Selfishly, he never told them of the disease and disappeared without a trace. It would be 15 years before Mary Lou Gulley and her mother would find out what happen to their missing loved one. An Arizona lawyer sent them word that Boyce had passed away. Imagine their shock to find out that he had been living in Arizona this whole time when they assumed he was dead.

One of Mary Lou’s vague memories of her father was when she was a small child at the beach and making sand castles together. She asked him to build her a large castle that was strong and one she could live in. It would be many years later before she would see that promised fulfilled. He built the strange castle on the mountain near his mining claim with his little girl in mind.

As soon as Mary Lou and her Mother found out about the castle, they moved to Arizona to live there. According to her father’s will, they had to live in the castle at least three years. After the three years, they were able to open the trapdoor which had some interesting treasures hidden there. To their surprise, buried under the floorboards were two $500 bills, gold nuggets, and a Valentine’s Day card. Mary Lou was touched because she made the card for him when she was a little girl and he saved it all these years. It wasn’t long before she fell in love with her castle. She still lives in a small house behind the castle and gives tours during the time of year when the weather is cooler in Arizona.

Not only is the story of how this castle came about interesting, but all the unusual materials the castle was constructed from is out of the ordinary too. The castle is approximately 8,000 square feet with 18 rooms. These rooms consist of a caretaker’s quarters, a bar, a chapel, thirteen fireplaces, and a wishing well. He used river rock, recycled materials such as railroad ties, unused telephone poles, discarded metals, copper, various types of glass, old car parts and furniture from abandoned structures. When you visit the castle today, it still looks the same as the day that Boyce built it.

These are just outside pictures of the castle, I will show inside pictures on my next post.