Time. Temperature. Trail. Painfully simple message. I figured if “Be Best” worked for the First Lady of the United States as her campaign slogan why couldn’t my nonprofit Desert Summer Safety slogan be equally simple ? The 3 Ts. Time. Temperature. Trail.
In an attempt to appeal to the masses I created a cartoon version of me to help get this message out. I have made several videos and yes, written blogs but what it takes to truly get a safety message out there that works I have no clue. After all these years and countless commercials Smokey still can’t stop forrest fires.
Every year we get visitors from all over the world coming out to the Superstition Mountains here in Arizona. Some are tempted by stories of lost or hidden gold, many set out on hikes deep into this unique and extreme wilderness. But for most of our tourists, simply seeing this impressive, dangerous area is enough. Take a few selfies, wander around near the parking lot m, go buy fudge at the Ghost Town and be done.
But nevertheless every year we get people who have either ignored the obvious warnings or were themselves oblivious and ended up needing to be rescued or carried away in a bag.
As someone who is born and raised in the desert and who now lives right around the Hieroglyphics Trail, I have seen too many helicopters, read too many news reports and watched in horror as another young life was tragically taken away by this very dangerous desert. I created my nonprofit as education about the wildlife but soon realized I had a bigger mission on my hands.
In August of 2019 , a group of 44 from Kansas came out to the Superstition with plans to hike up to Flat Iron. A simple Google search would tell you that Flat Iron is not for beginners. Roughly a 6 hour round trip up through Siphon Draw, no one should be attempting in 100+ temperatures. To be honest I have never gone all the way up. Siphon Draw stops me. Yes there are local hero’s like Flat Iron Jim who easily go up and down multiple times a week and he’s 92 years old!!!!! But he doesn’t do it in August.
The charter bus pulled into the state park and were met with rangers explaining they had come far too late in the afternoon (roughly 3 pm) and it was far too hot to go hiking. Ignoring this advice the bus drove ahead into the parking lot. Temperature was over 100 degrees with evenings only cooling down in the 90s. Hot.
By 4:30 help and aid was called for and needed. By 8 pm a full rescue was required to safely get this group, that was now scattered along the trail top to bottom in the dark, back down. Rattlesnakes and other dangerous nocturnal creatures call the Superstition home. In the dark, on a treacherous mountains trail is not where anyone wants to be. But our fantastic AZ rescue teams find themselves doing it far too often.
Locals do dumb stuff too like trail blazing, going off the marked path or heading out on the trails close to sunset then having to find their way back stumbling over rocks and praying to not fall into cholla! it’s easy to develop a sense of comfort anywhere you have been living a long time. You let your guard down.
Most people who live in Phoenix don’t encounter the same level of danger we do living so close to protected wilderness areas. With all of the construction and growth over the years, the Valley of the Sun is city living. Sure a random rattlesnake might show up on a porch but for the most part it’s been sterilized. It can be very easy to forget that a simple day hike could turn into a nightmare.
July 30 2021, 31 year old Angela Tremonte flew out from Boston to meet up with a Phoenix police officer she met online. They went to Camelback to hike. Not carrying enough water and one can only assume , being slightly overwhelmed by the flight, meeting a new interest, nerves and not being fully prepared, Angela had no idea what she was getting into. During the hike up she felt ill. The “officer” let her go back down alone and said he would meet up with her. She never made it back down and died from the heat. 1 pm in the afternoon.
That story still hurts to think about and made a lot of us angry.
Camelback isn’t an easy hike especially if you are new to desert heat. Taking someone there in high heat was irresponsible.
“Time” can mean it’s just not the right time to go. Lots of things can factor into how your body will respond. It was not the right time for Angela and there’s no getting that time back. Unfortunately she trusted someone she shouldn’t have. There are no lifeguard towers on our trails. No water fountains. In the summer the trails are empty for a reason.
A few years back our niece sent me a “Flat Stanley” but created and styled to look more like her fabulous self. 👑 If you hadn’t guessed already, I am exactly the type of person who your child should send a Flat Stanley or Flat Savannah to!
At that time I was volunteering at a local museum. Me and my new flat pal went everywhere!!
This reminded me of quite possibly THE best prank ever pulled on me by a few of the funniest and most creative individuals I was blessed with befriending at the Phx Zoo.
Our Experience Team was sent a Flat Stanley. I was thrilled and also put in charge of it!! With an entire Zoo at my disposal, plus being the Senior at the time (meaning I had access to some seriously cool stuff!!) I all but lost my mind at the chance to goof off on that level and take photos all in the name of education!!!
I treated that Flat Stanley like VIP! We went to the best of it all!
On my day off my evil friends Michelle CN and Ben Brose plus who knows who else was in on it, ( you all know who you are!) started sending me photos of my Flat Stanley roaming the Zoo! 😳
Stanley was on the zip line !
Stanley was going nuts!
Next thing I know Stanley has a sling on his arm and crutches !!😳
I start losing my shit at these two via text screaming that I have to send this thing back on behalf of the PHX Zoo!! Wtf are you doing?!?( super professional but it was my day off and I now have a Flat Stanley with a leg cast, an arm in a sling , crutches they have made …)
Uh laughing their asses off behind the scenes. 🤣🤣💚That’s what they were doing!
They had made a duplicate Stanley on the copier and were hell bent to turn him into the next star of Jackass!!🤣🤣🤣🤣 I don’t have photos of this mayhem but if you guys do please share !
Omg did they get me good!🤬😤😂🤣😂We all had harassed each other before by doing dumb stuff to our desks ect . But this was brilliant.
Now that I have the nonprofit Desert Nature Alliance and am free of serious pranksters! I would love to get more Flat Whoever’s and enjoy sharing more of this desert with whoever wants too!!!#goodtimes #flatstanley
Last night out, by the dumpster, barely visible until it’s almost too late, too young and too small of nubs to really rattle and warn a predator away. Curled into the usual floppy disc position, a tiny baby rattlesnake.
A rattle snake is born with a tiny nub at the end of its tail. As it grows it sheds its skin. Every time it sheds, a new segment is formed on the rattle. The rattle doesn’t tell how old a snake is. That just shows how many times this snake has shed, plus the rattle can easily break off. Snakes vibrate their tails when nervous. Even my pet gopher snake will do it. But rattlesnakes do it to try to warn you to back away. They don’t chase you. They stay coiled and the rattling becomes serious until they feel threatened enough to rear up and strike a pose . At that point you are in a crap position and need to back away fast.
All rattlesnakes are deadly and need to be dealt with respect . Losing your fingers, hand or life ( let’s not even discuss how incredibly expensive anti venom from any hospital is!!!) is almost certain if you were to try to pick one up. It is a huge NO.
You can NOT let your guard down when you live in the desert and you know you live along with rattlesnakes. So small and at night I am assuming it is a Western Diamondback ( extremely common here) or a Mojave as was suggested to me online.
Temperature, weather , dictates the probability of seeing any snake. It was still in the 80s last night. October 14th. Our heat hasn’t trailed off enough for the snakes to brumate yet. They don’t hibernate like bears do. Look it up.
Be careful and use a flash light! But as you can see, this tiny danger noodle would be almost impossible to see in daylight due to the natural camouflage. #Rattlesnake #babyrattlesnake #desertlife #naturebased #stem #steameducation
As a newly developed nature based nonprofit who devotes itself to loving this desert here in Gold Canyon AZ and keeping us all safely enjoying it, I would like to invite you to follow me on this tour and experience what we have to offer. Being small and brand new, any support you can offer is greatly appreciated.
Open Thursdays and Fridays 12-8pm Saturdays and Sunday’s 9-6pm.
My name is Stacy and I am a freelance writer and photographer. I am not paid by any resort or travel company to write positive things. I write about my experiences and use my own photos. I do not tell anyone or a place when I am planning on writing about them so guest/customer service, food quality etc. stays what it normally would be and not influenced.
I was born in Las Vegas and raised in the deserts of Southern California. Like a lot of desert kids, once I was old enough to drive, I ran to the beach and stayed there. Living and working in Redondo, San Pedro and Newport where I met my husband then a few years later moved to Mesa AZ in 2004. By 2014 the kids were out of the house so we traveled across the country and back, enjoying life and some of the best fresh shrimp around on the South Carolina coast for awhile before ultimately heading back to the West. We now live in Gold Canyon, Arizona tucked next to the Superstition Mountains.
I enjoy being able to tell you honestly and in good faith about places to visit here in AZ. with no filter, no agenda, just an honest summary of what I experienced. Arizona has so many unique things to do that get overlooked. I plan on exploring as much of it as I can.
Our one hour trip across the Valley to stay at the Wigwam was unscheduled and unplanned. My husband and I spontaneously decided to get away locally, truly just needing a break from too much work from home. I was not planning on doing a review on anything or anywhere, especially over a holiday weekend. I really was just dying to get into a pool or tub and simply relax.
With Monday being the 4th of July, we stayed one night (Sunday) only. We have animals to consider when leaving for any extended period of time. Though I do believe the Wigwam resort allows them, our dogs were not invited.
For this review of the Wigwam, I will be breaking down my honest impressions into categories. This was my first time at the Wigwam Resort. My husband has played golf there but no overnight stays for either of us.
What, Where and a Bit of History
The Wigwam Resort, originally opened back in the 1920’s, is located in Litchfield Park on the west side of the Valley of the Sun near Phoenix Arizona. Purchased out of bankruptcy in 2008 by former Suns and Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo and returned to its glory, this bungalow-style resort has a relaxed western design with nods everywhere to its rich AZ history yet somehow feels like you could be in an old school Palm Springs resort as well. Maybe it’s the huge palm trees that line the property or the tucked away feel the Wigwam has.
The Wigwam Lobby is decorated beautifully. The ladies at the front desk were professional in both appearance and manners, nice and helpful. We arrived about noon, 4 hours before check -in, in the hopes of going to the pool while we waited for our room to be ready. We got lucky! Our room was ready so no need for me to change into my swimsuit in the lobby bathroom!
The relaxed, outdoor pathway, bungalow-style layout of the Wigwam resort suits my personality far more than having to take an elevator to my floor then walk down a long, poorly lit, oddly quiet, hallway to my room.
As we stepped inside our room, leaving behind the intense sun and AZ heat that had already climbed to 100 degrees, a fabulous chilly blast of air hit us. The air-conditioning was set at 73! A temperature my AZ home only sees in the winter! It made me giggle and shiver. Instead of being a hot sweaty mess I now felt cool and crisp and clean. The room was surprisingly large with open floor space around the king sized bed. I had to stop myself from running and doing a full belly flop onto those crisp white sheets so I could take photos of the room!
The bathroom was fairly plain, yet clean and happily included a very large soaking tub and shower. Though excited to see it, I got nowhere near the tub for my much craved soak because, well, I guess I also have a hard time filling that much water into a tub for me to sit alone in for no more than a half hour. AZ is in a drought. My soul wanted the bubbles and the soothing warm water but with one night only to enjoy as much as I could, I opted for the jacuzzi by the pool instead.
Our room’s private patio facing the Tennis Courts was large enough to host a party. We could see the stars and even saw an owl sitting on one of the light poles. Though the resort was busy we barely heard anyone walking to theirs rooms. We watched carts go by with workers taking care of the property, but overall our area was quiet.
ThePool and the Slidesand the Vibe: Looking at our map, to us it seemed like a closer walk to the Wigwam’s Tower Pool (family pool) than the Oasis Pool (adults) so it was the Tower Pool for us. Time of day and length of walking anywhere in 100 degree desert heat should always be taken into consideration, even for desert locals like me.
The Wigwam’s Tower Family Pool is a sprawling pool with tons of areas to sit in and around the edges. Two, tube-style water slides command your attention as you enter and grab towels. Lounge chairs and cabanas surround the pool with a bar and bridge located in the center. Inside the pool are water spouts that shoot up and out like you are in a magic fountain or a carwash!
During our few hours there, the pool was comfortably filled with families, some babies, children, teens, you name it were there. The vibe was easy and fun, obviously a holiday weekend noticeable by some of the sparkling red, white and blue attire.
The Water Slides.
As an adult of 53 years who just told you she came to this resort to relax and stop working for a half a second, repeatedly jumping out of a pool and running to the wet stairs of two water slides at a four star resort was probably not what you expected me to tell you I did during my stay but that’s exactly what happened!
After watching only maybe 3 or 4 kids shoot out of the tubes directly into the pool, then leap out of the water immediately running back to the waterslide stairs, I was convinced this was a good time I had to try myself! Think about it, when do you EVER run back in line? When something is just that much fun!
On my way up the stairs a young teen boy, possibly with extra needs, struck up a conversation with me about the two slides, their speeds and levels of scary. He was a pure joy to talk to and convinced me to go on the tube on the left that was open air, not a complete covered tube like the one on the right . Personally, I would rather go down an enclosed, fast moving water tube in the dark than hit a wet curve in the sunshine and feel like I am going to fly off the slide! But I took his advice anyways and tried the “slower one” first. Not sure about of his definition of “slow” because I went sailing down and took the curve kind of high on the side causing me to see daylight and have that moment of terror before ending my ride awkwardly hitting the pool sideways nose first, taking in a full gallon or so of water! Fast, scary and fun. That was enough to convince me I had simply taken the wrong slide.
Here I am, 53 years old, dripping wet running up stairs to “Go again!” Because now I needed to know if the other slide , the covered one, was just as silly and fun as the first one. The covered tube, for me, was a blast! The ride was long enough to be fun yet short enough to make you want to run back in line. My body easily slid down its dark winding curves at top speed and I could decide my entry into the water in enough time not to drink the pool!
Some things will literally take years off your life and stress off your face. The Wigwams Tower Pool and Slides are one of them.
The Tower Pool Staff were all friendly and attentive.
If I had any complaint it would be, had we chosen to go to the “adults pool”, it would have been a long walk from our room or weird and wet car ride back . I am not sure if there is any answer to the logistics of this due to the layout of the resort or if a cart ride is available.
Towels were gone by the evening which was only a mildly silly inconvenience as it’s 100 degrees at night in July in AZ. But if you get out of the pool wet, you do shiver! Possibly the worst feeling for a born and raised lizard like me is wearing a wet bathing suit and walking into a freezing cold hotel room !
Food and Drinks:
A very yummy Pina Colada with Mango Puree, that I couldn’t drink fast enough in the 100 degree heat without freezing my brain before I ran back to the slide!
It is in the W bar and grill where we have the first let down of our stay. Our waiter brought us the flattest Coke I’ve ever seen. Absolutely zero bubbles, it looked like we had ordered a glass of syrup . We sat, not touching our drink for sometime before flagging down another waiter who seemed unbothered by us having been served a tall glass of non drinkable brown liquid and simply walked away with it. He did not offer us a new one, gave a sort of apology (?) only checking later that we did just want it off of our bill. It’s disappointing to sit directly across from the bar and watch as no discussion happens to the bartender who might not be aware her carbonation is out. Just continue serving the same flat soda to the next table.
Our food was good and the prices were reasonable. My tacos were overstuffed with soft shredded pork, far too big and delicious to just call street tacos. Yum! I ate every last bite. After having recently spent $30 at Chipotle for 2 really awful steak and chicken burritos, chips and a soda, the Wigwam’s Tacos and Wings with an awful soda won for the same price. At no point in eating my tacos did I take wads of meat out of my mouth that I couldn’t chew. Sorry Chipotle but I have no clue how you are still in business.
While we waited for our check I noticed a group of 6 full-bellied gentleman in the corner receiving much better service by both staff and bartender than most if not all of the other guests . All resorts have regular guests and VIP, those who spend tons of cash. No surprise. But to have it be so obvious that the W staff were capable of giving good customer service, but not providing it for all of the Wigwam guests, was disappointing.
We, along with the table next to us, needed to flag down a waiter for the bill. No offer of dessert but at that point it was a no anyways. Wigwam ! Your staff can do much better than this and did in other areas!
Honorable mentions to the entire pool , slide and bar staff both in the water and out and especially those sitting by the gates and towels! Nothing but smiles and friendly service. Also to the somewhat crazy but welcoming and friendly lady in the little market “we got this!”
None of your guests at your 4 Star Resort should feel anything less than welcomed and taken care of. Spending 90% of my own work life around people and catering to their needs. I come armed with a big smile, I am patient and understanding of short staffing and wrong orders etc.
Where I won’t cut the Wigwam Resort and it’s 4 stars any slack is customer service/personal attention training for your newer staff, especially those who work in one of your sit down bars or restaurants. A simple “ is everything ok?” “ was there something else we could get you?” “I’m sorry that weird brown liquid tasted flat can I get you something else?” Easy things the staff could and should be doing like looking at all tables even if you aren’t the server to see if all is well. With a bar the size and shape of a hallway, not a convention hall, but a hallway, I’m saying is if I could see all around, easily your staff can as well.
We opted for a late snack of cured meats, fruit and nuts in our room instead of an evening of “fine dining “ at Litchfields. Maybe next time?
There are quite a few things the Wigwam Resort has to offer that we did not get to experience. A longer stay is needed to truly take in all the Wigwam has to offer and before I will either fully endorse or tell my readers to avoid going there all together. But for this short visit I would say sure head over to the Wigwam. Try things we did not. Let me know how it goes.
We hope to get back (maybe ?) during the off season to enjoy a few rounds of Golfing, Tennis, work out in the Fitness Center, get a facial or massage at the Aveda Spa and Salon, spend the evening at Litchfield’s Fine Dining or the Adult Pool, and play Boce or even Cornhole on the lawn. We saw multiple areas that would be wonderful for weddings or celebrations.
Cost When all was said and done for our one night Wigwam stay our total came to right around $350. We left early in the morning in search of a better cup of coffee( Bosas Donuts right down the road). Again it is in beverages where the Wigwam let us down in a huge way. A beautiful patio early in the morning with a cup of coffee that didn’t taste like mud was all we needed. Next time?
We live across the street from Gold Canyon Golf Resort yet drove the hour across the valley for my getaway at the Wigwam. That’s how much I currently like GCGR’s pool situation or food. I’m willing to drive about an hour anywhere in my radius of this entire Valley of the Sun for what I call a “staycation” solely for feeling like I really “got away”. A drive longer than 2 hours requires a stay longer than a night and in my eyes is an actual vacation. Countless other hotels and resorts are available here in the Valley with much shorter drives than an hour and as of yet I haven’t stayed in them all. Some I never will.
One night at the Wigwam was like being set up on a semi good blind date with an older guy you have some chemistry with but not lust. Hes not bad looking but had vanilla moments. You enjoyed the hell out of the entertainment and food. But let’s be honest, it will probably take some sweet talk, flowers, candy and most definitely a bottle of wine to convince you to go on a date again.
the process of being stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
the drawing in of breath
Was it the smell of the lobby, or the touch of the old linens? Did it take sleeping in a specifically numbered room or did inspiration start to come immediately?
What was it about the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park CO that inspired Stephen King to write the book “the Shining”? Was it something that I might be able to feel or sense too?
The movie “the Shining” was the work of another famous and brilliant S.K…Stanley Kubrick. But his vision, his inspiration, was to take the original tale entirely away from Stephen King and run hard and fast in a completely different direction, forever locking and blurring the two concepts in the minds of “the Shining” audience into one. The documentary “Room 237” breaks down Kubrick’s version leaving you with even more possibilities and questions.
Visiting the Stanley has sat firmly on the top level of my bucket list now for years.
The reservations for my night tour of the Stanley had been made for me as a surprise and told to me less than a week before my arrival. My entire trip to Colorado seemed to magically happen, a series of random events landing me there. I had very little to do with planning any of the trip, a fact that seemed to be completely working in my favor.
Would this majestic old hotel be willing to offer up even the tiniest bit of pure inspiration to me? Is it safe or even wise to seek that type of creativity? Or would I be so overwhelmed with ideas that it takes me screaming down an entirely new path all together?
Millions of visitors come seeking something from the Stanley’s history laden walls at all hours of the day and night. Would the Stanley have any energy left for me?
Our tour was at 6 pm.
Our guide was Dee Dee.
From the minute she started her introductions, respect towards both the hotel and the guests was obvious and a personality trait I found highly endearing. DeeDee’s energy and spirit picks up on the smallest of changes in her environment. Her consideration for everyone and their inner most feelings and beliefs from the start allowed all of us to relax, and let our guards down to have fun. DeeDee seemed to truly be a welcomed friend of the Stanley. I believe her when she says she has had personal experiences through the course of giving so many tours.
As DeeDee led us through the main floor ballrooms she explained how we could play simple games designed to welcome any energy of the hotel that wanted to or could follow along. We learned about the people who built the hotel and their lives all the while opening the very real possibility that one of the many past residents associated with the history of the building could be listening in on the tour.
A few of us were given lollipops to hold out as an offer to any younger or playful energy that wanted to hang around with us. I held my hand as flat as I could. Trying to control my excited breathing, desperately sending energy out to pick me!!! Inside, my soul was frantically waving my hands in the air! “OVER HERE!!!” Jumping up and down screaming “Come play with ME!!”
Desperation is not attractive…to the living or otherwise…I was avoided like the plague.
Towards the far right of our group stood a young girl of maybe twelve (?) was holding her hand out perfectly still. I watched with my own eyes her as her dum dum lolipop jerk backwards, then upright, then to the side. She was not the focus of our group’s attention and only a few of us were even looking in her direction at the time. The look on her face told me she had no idea how that happened and it wasn’t her doing it.
The Stanley, you now have my complete attention.
My bf Laura had developed a decent headache when we arrived at the hotel and I was worried it could get worse. Often places with high energy, altitude or certain mineral deposits can trigger headaches. But Laura is that pure loving type of soul that surprises someone she loves with reservations to a destination on their bucket list…she was not going to let a throbbing headache ruin this trip.
Good souls seem to attract more good.
One of the games to encourage younger, fun-loving energies to be around us involved pencils. I saw a real, not faked, reaction on Laura’s face as her pencils moved without any help and had to be forcibly pushed back together. Call them parlor tricks. Who cares. Did you feel something or giggle because it made no sense? Yes.
And with that Laura’s headache was gone.
I came to the Stanley in hopes of being inspired, not to debunk and find fault in a guided tour. I came open and enjoyed every minute of it.
When the tour ended I hugged DeeDee with my sincere thanks. She had done a fantastic job.
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