Relive Arizona history Saturday at ghost town’s festival

Fairbank's schoolhouse, restored in 2007, will be open Saturday for Fairbank Day

Fairbank’s schoolhouse, restored in 2007, will be open Saturday for Fairbank Day

It’s festival time in Arizona! Late winter and early spring bring some kind of event to every town all around the state. There’s a festival, show or fair for just about anything and everything — gem shows, coin shows, gun shows, car shows, horse shows and RV shows. There’s a fest for science and technology, beer, wine, pecans and gourds. Chandler — my own hometown — alone claims several this time of year: a science spectacular, a classic car show and fests for barbecue and beer, jazz, ostriches, Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. It would be possible to travel from town to town around Arizona for weeks on end celebrating one festival after another.

You have another option for this Saturday. For a change of pace, consider a road trip to ghost town to celebrate and learn more about Arizona history in one day. Pack up the family and head to southeastern Arizona for Fairbank Day.

Fairbank is a ghost town north of Sierra Vista along Highway 82, 10 miles east of Highway 90. It was primarily known as a railroad stop for trains transporting silver ore from Tombstone to the mill works in Charleston, Contention City and Millville. At its peak, Fairbank recorded 100 residents, several stores, houses, saloon, stagecoach station, and of course, the depot.  River flooding and a rare Arizona earthquake caused the decline of the mines and mills, which trickled down to a decreased necessity for the railroad stop at Fairbank.

f3By the 1940s only a few buildings remained but it wasn’t until about 1974 that Fairbank bid farewell to the last businesses and residents. A few structures from Fairbank’s 1880’s heyday still can be viewed at the site, including the Adobe Mercantile Building, a couple of houses, stable and schoolhouse. Most of these aren’t accessible to the public however. The school building which was constructed in the 1920s to replace one destroyed by fire, has been restored and operates now as a visitor’s center, gift shop and museum.

Fairbank Day observes the long history of the town plus the local area around the San Pedro River. Activities include: townsite tours, guided hikes to the nearby ruins of Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate, train robbery reenactments, Spanish settlement recreations, prehistoric settlement archeology presentations, U.S. Calvary demonstrations, book signings and discussions by local authors, plus music and food. Donations from the event will benefit the Friends of the San Pedro River organization, which provides support for conservation efforts, advocacy and education in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management.

One of the standing house structures at Fairbank ghost town

One of the standing house structures at Fairbank ghost town

There's obviously a history of snakes at Fairbank

There’s obviously a history of snakes at Fairbank

Vistors can take a short "hike to history" on one of the nearby trails

Visitors can take a short “hike to history” on one of the nearby trails

 

How Fairbank looked about 1890 (From Wikimedia Commons. Image in public domain - copyright expired.)

How Fairbank looked about 1890

 

Fairbank ghost town has its 'day' this Saturday

Fairbank ghost town has its ‘day’ this Saturday

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10 things to love about Bahamas’ Atlantis Resort

A recipe for the best family vacation starts with a gorgeous beach on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. Add a water park, marine habitat, casino, spa, movie theater, concert venue, designer shops and world class dining and voilà: you have Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

Seeing an email alert this week from the resort about its spring travel deals reminded me of our vacation stay there. Although our vacation was during the fall, Atlantis during any season is pure paradise. (See blog post from 2012.) Spring may is often considered the ideal time to visit, and current discount deals make this popular Bahamas resort on Paradise Island even more attractive. Add to the mix an airfare credit of up to $300 and you may find yourself booking a flight for your family to Nassau today! Here are a few of our favorite things we love about Atlantis:

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1. Swimming pools resemble landscape architecture works of art.

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2. Some days you may feel like medieval royalty about to conquer an abandoned castle

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3. Colorful lily pads transform a frog pond into garden water features ‘fit for a prince’

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4. Warmer, calm cove waters and pristine beaches line the resort’s perimeter – perfect for wading

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5. Iconic sights such as the Royal Towers will prompt memories of popular spy-action movies

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6. Leisurely lunches at one of several outdoor poolside & patio eateries

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7. Views in every direction conjure images of the mythical ‘Lost City’

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8. Beautiful walkways and patios along the marina allow easy access to the casinos

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9. River rides can provide either a thrilling tubing adventure…

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…or a relaxing float trip — or both! That’s 10!

Visit the Atlantis Resort website for more information about Atlantis Resort and seasonal specials and discount deals.

We’d love to hear from our readers: What’s your favorite family beach resort? What are your spring break travel plans?

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Fast, fresh and friendly: Gilbert’s Sushi San Restaurant

It seems there are more sushi restaurants than convenience stores around the Phoenix area. Some are ritzy, upscale places with top ratings both from customers and critics. And others run the gamut of comments from “I’m afraid to eat there” to “It’s usually pretty solid.” Sushi gourmands have their own standards. I’ll call ours the “four F’s” – fresh, fast, friendly and a bit fancy. (Attractive presentation gets bonus points.) You can find all four plus more at Sushi San in Gilbert. That’s why it’s one of our top sushi destinations.

No frills exist in the description of Sushi San. It’s neither a trendy chain nor a happy hour pickup spot. It’s a simple and unassuming location in a strip mall at the northeast corner of Warner and McQueen in Gilbert, but the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Sushi San can be very accommodating, whether you’re part of a large family reunion, birthday party or a couple celebrating a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner — nestled in one of the over-sized booths. Of course, there’s a counter – in fact the long bar runs nearly the whole length of the restaurant. It meets all four of our sushi standards. I have always found the fish to be only fresh, the service fast, friendly and efficient and the menu items to be presented with artistic creativity and flair. My photos are inadequate however. Find better photos taken the restaurant on Facebook.

 

Sushi San is tops on our list

Sushi San is tops on our list

Squid salad is our favorite starter

Squid salad is our favorite starter

Always "service with a smile" at Sushi San

Always “service with a smile” at Sushi San

Personalized chopsticks are a nice touch at Sushi San

Personalized chopsticks are a nice touch at Sushi San

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soak like Hawaiian royalty at Kauai’s Queen’s Bath

Start of trail to Queen's Bath was fairly dry during June

Start of trail to Queen’s Bath was fairly dry during June

On our first trip to Kauai, one of the first beach excursions we mapped out was the short walk to Queen’s Bath near Princeville. This 15-minute jaunt gave us an immediate (and cautious) appreciation for the Pacific’s power — the force of its waves, as well as a healthy respect for the seasonally changing coastline trail conditions.

Queen’s Bath is a tide pool along the rocky north shore. It can be a great place to try out or practice snorkeling. We made the trip during the summer, when Kauai’s north shore is calmer and a bit drier than in the winter months.

The trail location can easily found from various web resources; one of these is HawaiiGaga.com. Many of these websites will also alert visitors to safety precautions. As first time visitors from the desert, we weren’t accustomed to walking along slippery, muddy trails laced with protruding roots.  I’m glad we did a little research before our vacation and invested in good set of sturdy hiking sandals with heavy tread. With snorkeling gear and a light backpack of snacks, water, camera and tow, we started out fairly early. This turned out to be a good plan, because there is limited parking for hikers along the residential street. The warmer part of the afternoon will draw the bulk of the tourist crowd.

Following the trail, we walked past a couple small waterfalls and came through an area of lush tropical growth.  (As desert dwellers, we always appreciate any kind of vegetation deviation from creosote bush and cactus. Thicker, greener: better.) And just as we were starting to love this dense little thicket, the trail opens up to a full view of the rocky Kauai north coast. Waves come crashing on the black lava rocks, sending up the salty spray. To see this part of Kauai up close for the first time is exhilarating, exciting!

Soon we realized we are stepping gingerly along the lava rocks along the shore. Walking became a bit more “tricky,” as we kept one eye on the ocean waves and the other on the rocks below our feet. After exiting the wooded trail, we stayed to the left (West), following the rocky coast for a few hundred yards. We passed two other lava rock tide pools that reminded us of the photos we had seen of Queen’s Bath, but they were not our intended destination. Finally, we recognized Queen’s Bath as we approached, knowing it was the same iconic sight plucked from postcards and brochures, the same place we’d seen in the popular Hawaii guidebooks and websites.  It’s the only tide pool that’s almost completely surrounded by rock walls. There is only one narrow ocean outlet against the water’s edge. Several nice rocky benches and ledges on the near side of the pool made perfect places to sit down, spread out our gear and enjoy the “bath.”

Kauai’s Queen’s Bath actually is named after another site on Hawaii (the “Big Island”) that was swept away by destruction after Kilauea Volcano’s 1983 eruption, according to Wikipedia. That particular “bath” site was reserved only for Hawaiian kings and queens.

Spending an hour soaking up Kauai’s sunshine, floating effortlessly in a crystal-clear tide pool and noshing on a picnic lunch with fantastic views of Kauai’s north shore is indeed the “perfect day in paradise.”  And it’s surely enough to make any Arizona desert rat feel like Hawaiian royalty.

Waterfalls and pools along the trail

Waterfalls and pools along the trail

Beautiful Pacific Ocean views along the trail

Beautiful Pacific Ocean views along the trail

Walk past other pools along the shore trail to Queen's Bath

Walk past other pools along the shore trail to Queen’s Bath

Use care walking along those slippery rocks!

Use care walking along those slippery rocks!

We spotted a sea turtle or two in the open water

We spotted a sea turtle or two in the open water

You'll know when you've come to Queen's Bath - it's almost completely enclosed

You’ll know when you’ve come to Queen’s Bath – it’s almost completely enclosed

Queen's Bath is a great place to try snorkeling or brush up on your skills

Queen’s Bath is a great place to try snorkeling or brush up on your skills

Spectacular views of Kauai's north shore while relaxing at Queen's Bath

Spectacular views of Kauai’s north shore while relaxing at Queen’s Bath

 

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