Monday, November 30, 2015

Experiencing Bearizona

Bearizona is a Williams, Arizona attraction located on Route 66.  This North American wildlife park permits visitors to enjoy seeing feral animals in their natural environment all from the security of your vehicle.  They say that “Bearizona is an adventure!”  There is an extensive diversity of flora and fauna from bison, lively big horn sheep, crafty wolves and cute bear cubs.  Along with the animals, they also feature High Country Raptors (not the ones seen on Jurassic Park).  You will experience hawks, owls, falcons and other raptors either perched or soaring above.  See each raptor close up and personal.

“Bearizona’s mission is to promote conservation through memorable and educational encounters with North American wildlife in a natural environment.”

The park will take at least 2 hours depending on how fast you drive thru.  If you want to see the animals out and about, in plain view, the best time to go is early morning or late afternoon.

Another feature of Bearizona is Fort Bearizona which is a walking tour.  You walk through twist and turns on a path inside the confines of the forest.  You can delve inside a bear den and see where the young bears live, or perhaps intermingle with the farm animals in the Fort Bearizona Barnyard, and end the tour in the gift shop.

For more information, check out their website:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wine Tasting in Williams

One of the reasons we picked Williams to take a weekend excursion to was because it had wine tasting rooms and vineyards.  They have a few places, but we only went to two.

Grand Canyon Winery
This tiny winery creates some of best tasting wines found in the Verde Valley.  They are working on getting their own vineyard, but for now they use the finest grape to come out of Southern Arizona.  They want you to have a delightful experience, have fun, and keep it real.  We tasted three of their sweeter wines and decided to have a glass of Peach Keen.  Our experience there was a pleasing one.

South Rims Wine & Beer Garage
This locale has a leading, but casual wine tasting room and lounge.  Not only does it have a variety of wines, but beers, one-of-a-kind gifts, souvenirs, and Native American artist items.  You also have free Wi-Fi and plenty to eat from their menu.  We had the chicken nachos and they were delicious.  There is plenty of places to sit either at the bar, inside or on their large patio.

The owners created the unique place after retiring in 2012 and looking for something to do.  After enjoying a couple years of relaxation on their ranch, they decided to start a business and choice a place in Williams.  It was close to their ranch and provided a nice place to grow a business, but what kind of business?  It was the town of Williams that provided them with the answer, a wine tasting bar.  After learning all they needed about wines and beers, they renovated the building to suit their business.  The garage-like atmosphere and decorations was the perfect décor.  The owner even took advantage of the pit, and fixed it to house his 1967 Pontiac GTO which is now the focal point of the establishment.  Our experience there was a memorable one.  We will return for more tasty wine and food.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Red Garter Inn

Built and opened in 1897 as a saloon and bordello, the Red Garter Inn bed and breakfast is a nice place to stay while in Williams, AZ.  The narrow two-story building has been restored to its former glory and offer breakfast as part on your stay in Anna’s Grand Canyon Coffee & Café below the rooms.  The façade is Victorian Romanesque brick with twelve foot high ceilings with skylights and antique décor in each room.  There is no elevator, just narrow stairs that lead to the street below.  Deb and I stayed in the largest room with two queen beds.  We had a wonderful stay and will definitely give this place another try when we visit Williams next time.  Also, they say the place is haunted by a ghost named Eve, but she didn’t make her presence known to us.

When we checked in, we got a history of the place and a two page story of how the bordello/saloon/inn began.  I will give you the Readers Digest version of what it said.

“August Tetzlaff was a German merchant tailor who arrived in Williams in 1895 with plans to open an aristocratic, two story bordello and saloon.  His yellow brick building was constructed across from the Grand Canyon Railway station.  He had dreams of making it rich from the silver and copper mines found north of Williams and in the Grand Canyon.

The top floor had about 7 rooms, a parlor and the Madam’s room which was located at the end of the stair’s landing.  The only entrance was through the street’s door and narrow stair leading upwards.  The two front rooms where larger and for the best gals.  These women would hang out the windows in order to lure men in.  They got to pick first and always took the business men and those who had more money.  The rest of the women would take what was left over and had to earn their right to move to the front rooms.  (Humm, Deb and I stayed in the back room, lol.)

The place was finished in October 1897 and Tetzlaff rented the first floor to Michael Reneke for his saloon.  This was a completely separate venue so Tetzlaff added a cork subfloor to muffle the sound.  Reneke added a couple of rooms in the back for him and his family to live in.  In 1901, Williams was devastated by a huge fire which destroyed all the buildings on the south and east end of the property.  The buildings were rebuilt out of brick to hold up like the Red Garter.

Times got tough and the silver mines were not producing.  Even though things looked bad, the saloon and bordello persevered.  In 1920’s the saloon was closed because of Prohibition, the bottom floor was leased to an Indian scout in his 80’s.  He and his fifth wife, who gave birth to his 25th child, turned the place into a restaurant.  Meanwhile, the upper floor still served as a bordello and was enjoying the modern conveniences such as plumbing, running water and tubs.  But with the increasing violence near the building, the sheriff shut it down.  Eventually, it became a place for travelers along Route 66 to rest their weary bones.

The current owner bought the building in 1979 when it was left abandoned and used as a warehouse.  In 1984 the bottom was remodeled into a restaurant, in 1994 three of the rooms upstairs were remodeled, next was the coffee shop and bakery, the other rooms, and a commercial kitchen.  Nowadays, the Red Garter and Café make the perfect combo for a wonderful stay in Williams.”

Grand Canyon Coffee & Cafe (a.k.a. Anna's)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What's Around Williams, AZ

I just spent a weekend in Williams, AZ with my sister-in-law, Deb.  We have always wondered what Williams was like and what to do while there.  We found out that there are lots of activities in and around town.  The historic district provides plenty of places to shop, eat, and stay.  We stayed at the Red Garter Inn (post on this place to come).   It was very close to the bars and nightlife, which we had to check out.

Williams is located around 30 miles from Flagstaff, along Route 66, and in the middle of a huge Ponderosa Pine Forest.  Its location provides plenty of outdoor activities.  You can hop the Grand Canyon Railway to the canyon and take in the breathtaking scenery.  More fun things to do are camping, hiking, fishing, boating, biking, horseback riding, and much more.  If you don’t want to take a train to the Grand Canyon, then drive there.  It takes only an hour to get to the park.  Deb and I decided to check out Walnut Canyon and the Sinagua ruins.  That was an amazing trek and well worth it.  There is also Bearizona where you drive your car through the natural environment of several animal species.  That is also another place we went and I recommend.

If you don’t want to stay in a big city such as Flagstaff, I would recommend giving the quaint little town of Williams a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

Check out their website for more information and activities:

Grand Canyon Railways and Polar Express

We met several wonderful people at the bar and even played shuffle board.

How about some Karaoke?  They have that too.