Casa Grande and Phoenix Int'l. Raceway

Trip Start Jan 08, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Although this entry is somewhat out of order, (we went to Casa Grande and PIR before we went to Cottonwood and Sedona), I still wanted to share a few experiences and pictures from there (and, we did come back to Casa Grande from the 25th to the 29th, anyhow!) When we got to Casa Grande, I got to wondering where the name ("Big House") came from. Turns out, a trip to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (Picture #1)answered that question! In 1892, Casa Grande became the first archaeological site in the USA to be protected as a National Monument. The "Big House" is an imposing 4 story building which dates back to the late Hohokam period, probably from about the 14th century. It is thought to be part of a collection of settlements along the Gila River that were linked by a network of irrigation canals. (Picture #2)
The building is about 60 X 40 feet wide at the base and has walls over 3 feet thick, with amazing detail including wooden beams supporting the clay walls, and stairways and windows. It is believed that the Casa Grande may have been some kind of astronomical observatory, as the four walls face the points of the compass, and some of the windows are aligned to the positions of the sun and moon at specific times. Of course, the mining engineer among us questioned where the 3,000 tons of Culichi clay mud from which the house was built had come from, but our search turned up only a large round depression in the earth (didn't seem deep enough to have provided that much clay!), which was identified as the "Ball Court", seemingly a common find in early settlements, thought to be used as a stadium for games and gatherings.
I guess that during the spring, the Monument is sometimes the hottest place in the whole US, and even in winter, daytime temperatures can reach 80 F., however it was very windy and quite cold the day we were there (Greg even wore a jacket with his shorts!).
The adventures of the day didn't end with our departure from the ruins, however, as I was attacked by a large prickly (and boy, was it!) pear cactus on my way back to the car (see picture #3). It took quite a while to remove the many needle-sharp spines from my leg and from the bottom of my clamdigger pants! I'll be watching out for angry cactus as we continue our travels through the Southwest!
The weekend (01/21-23)was one of good times with friends Harold and Alice (see picture #4) and good racing at Phoenix International Raceway. The Copper World Classic weekend has always been one of our favorite non-Nascar events, with open wheel cars (Midgets and Silver Crown Series) and Nascar touring division stock cars putting on a day-long show. We went through another round of good-byes, knowing we would meet up again in early November, right there at PIR for the Nascar cup weekend, one of the best!
Before leaving Casa Grande this past week, we spent a fun afternoon with Earl and Grace, friends who live in Sun Lakes, Arizona. We first met Earl at PIR, part of the great group of folks we've got who all sit together (and now, camp together or in near proximity!) at our race weekends. Earl's a character, much like the one pictured next to him here! (See Picture #5) We enjoyed watching Earl play in a Bocce Ball tournament in their community, and Greg decided that it's a game much like the Curling he grew up with in Canada - we thought we might have to get a lawnmower to cut in front of the Bocce Balls, though, since brooms wouldn't work quite the same on grass! Once again, our good-byes included promises of seeing each other again in November, at their son Kyle's wedding the day before Nascar Cup weekend, when he marries fellow Nascar race fan Leslie...a relationship that resulted from one of our camping weekends at the race track...aah, but that's another story!
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