Q. What to do when things don’t work out... Detours... Plan B... ?
A. So you took the wrong turn.... You didn’t plan enough time…. You didn’t know you needed a reservation…. And you have to invent Plan B. Travel wisdom says that some of our best adventures are unexpected. And they say a truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.
So your Tucson stay in Southern Arizona doesn’t extend to January 22nd for the Dillinger Days reenactment of Tucson’s capture of John Dillinger, “Public Enemy #1,” and his notorious gang at the Hotel Congress in 1934 which includes antique cars, gun molls, a 1930’s-themed carnival, vintage games and live music in this historic train station hotel in the heart of downtown. Instead, grab a Bloody Mary at The Cup in the Hotel and give Ken Scoville a call 520-358-8500 at Old Pueblo Walking Tours to get all the dirt on our founding fathers and mothers; the gossip, the ghosts and intrigue of the Presidio Real de San Agustin del Tucson when we were a walled Spanish fort fighting off Apache raids. Discover some of the many layers of our history from an Ancient Pit House to the mansions of Snob Hollow. Then shop or relax in the Old Town Artisans Courtyard. www.hotelcongress.com
Here you are in the Southwest where the only two caves in the United States to make “The World’s Top Ten Caves” list are located, and you missed out on both Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. But a guaranteed adventure awaits you at The Caverns Inn in the Grand Canyon Caverns one hour east of Kingman in Northern Arizona along historic Route 66 where you can rent a room and stay 21 stories below ground in the oldest, darkest, deepest and quietest room in the world, in the largest dry cavern in the world! The ceilings are 70-feet high; the room is 400-feet long without a trace of natural light but an abundance of clean air. And you will sleep in one of only 3% of the world’s dry caves—and the largest at that! Ornately adorned by rainfall for 6 million years, the caves have been dry for the last several million years only. www.gccaverns.com
Somewhere along the line you never got to own that 1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow or that 1989 Jaguar XJS or that 1989 Pontiac Firebird GTA. Just two or three miles west of Kingman you’ve got your chance at Old ’66 Classics car lot sprawled out under the Cerbot and Hualapai Mountains. www.old66classics.com
Perhaps the pyramids of Egypt weren’t in the budget this year, but you can enjoy this type of architecture when you view Tempe’s city hall—a 6-story upside down pyramid built in 1970 so that each office is shaded by another office. Or visit Papago Park in Phoenix and the tomb of Governor George P. Hunt’s wife which is a pyramid constructed from white bathroom tiles. Best of all, if you find that there’s not enough time to drive to the Grand Canyon (as so many learn) because the sixth largest state in the country is riddled with remote areas and great distances between rest stops and cities; then hop on a jeep with Jim! Jim Vaughan and Vaughn’s Southwest Custom Tours Inc. of Central Arizona is a leader in custom tours for groups of all sizes. During a recent visit with him, I learned he had just returned from north of Flagstaff on a little-know tour of the Lava River Cave in an area that was peppered with more than 600 volcanoes formed some 6 million years ago. Outfitted with helmets and lights, you tour an area resembling a 20-foot train tunnel that’s 25 feet across. The coolest parts of the cave are 35 degrees Fahrenheit year ‘round giving this tube the nickname of an “ice cave.” These caves are present worldwide. In fact, scientists have discovered lava tubes on the moon. Historians found evidence that homesteaders in the 1800’s used ice from the cave for refrigeration. In 1915 lumberjacks working in this area, where the military stationed in Prescott pastured their horses, gave the Cave wider recognition. Jim’s knowledgeable tour brings an added dimension to an already unique escape. 800-513-1381
[Free lance writer Johnny Fenton—a 32-year resident of Tucson—is past President of the Southern Arizona Concierge Network, Certified Tourism Ambassador, Les Clefs d’Or and National Concierge Association member.]