Lunch at Tortilla Flat   7 comments

The mountains don't seem like much out on the desert, but as you get into them, they get higher and scarier.

 I really need to start carrying my digital camera around with me.  Tuesday, September 28, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for years, and it would have been great to have taken my own pictures of the trip.  But, I didn’t have it.  Therefore, I have lifted a few beautiful pictures from the internet to illustrate my journey.

I have lived in Arizona all my life.  As a boy, my parents used to take the family on trips around the state.  I’ve been to the Grand Canyon (many times), and to Nogales on the south side of the state.  I have driven almost every major highway in the state.  If it’s worth seeing, I’ve seen it.  Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Chin-le National Monument, Four Corners, Kit Peak, Mount Lennon, Saguaro National Monument, Old Tucson, Yarnell, Montezuma’s Castle, and his Well, the ghost town of Jerome (actually a thriving community again these days)–I have gone to all these places and more.  I enjoy exploring the back roads of my state.

A couple of years ago I found myself returning from a vacation in the pine-forested White Mountains along back roads through the Superstition Mountains.  I wanted to show the family the mighty Roosevelt Dam that creates the water supply necessary to maintain a huge city like Phoenix.  It is also where most of our electricity is generated.  After leaving the dam, we took the shortest route back to Phoenix, and on the way we passed a little tourist trap called Tortilla Flat.  As we drove by, I remarked that I would sure like to come back and eat there and explore the place some day.

Built in 1904, Roosevelt Dam created the biggest lake in Arizona.

Tuesday, I did it.  Slipping away from home by myself around 11 a.m. I drove eastwards on Van Buren Avenue until it turned into Mill Avenue.  I inched along through the college town of Tempe, rounded the curve by Grady Gammage auditorium, and continued on Apache Boulevard until it turned into Main Street in downtown Mesa.  This was not the fastest way to get out where I wanted to go, but it was the traditional way to move through Central Arizona back before the freeways were built.  It was the way my father would have taken me as a kid.

This pink monstrosity was built by Frank Lloyd Wright. The arts are alive at Arizona State University.

I drove all the way through Mesa and on out to Apache Junction, reaching the eastern limits of Maricopa County.  I was worried that I would run out of gas–there were no stations on the main road until I almost reached the county line.  But, I finally found one, filled the car with gas, got myself a cold Coke and a bag of fritos, and resumed my journey.

I had a little trouble finding the Apache Trail.  State Route 88 is just a little 2-lane back road leading into the mountains.  But I found it, and finally, more than 90 minutes after leaving home, I entered the true desert, and entered the Superstition Mountains.


The speed limit on this twisty road is 25 miles per hour!  Even that seemed too fast in some places.  I passed a couple of tourist attractions at the western end of the trail and didn’t stop–not for the town of Goldfield, which looks like a movie set for western movies, or the Lost Dutchman State Park, or the Superstition Mountains Museum.  I was on a mission to reach Tortilla Flat.

And like any competent adventurer, I reached it.  I enjoyed the ride, and I enjoyed the views like this one.

The water that you see is the Salt River, on its way from Roosevelt Lake to Canyon Lake.

And by about 2 p.m. I reached the fine western resort of Totilla Flat.  It wasn’t nearly as busy as the next picture would indicate.  Only about six cars were there including my own.

Grocery store, Restaurant, Mercantile establishment. School house museum and stable--that's the whole thing.

I parked, looked around, and went into the restaurant for lunch.  It’s a colorful place.  The food is good, not great.  I had a beef burrito and a Mule Oil Beer which was served in a jar.  I talked to a Canadian tourist who looked more like a cowboy than I did.  I took my shoes off for a while until the management made me put them back on.  After lunch I walked over to the trading post store, and bought myself a nice bolo tie for $10.  I like the cheap, bargain ties. I am not a rich man to spend hundreds of dollars on a string and a stone to go around my neck.

It wasn't this busy when I was there, but it looked the same.  Imagine the Trollgod in his battered fedora sitting just out of the picture to the left.

Having satisfied my old promise to myself to eat lunch there some day, I got back in the car and drove home.  Once out of the twisty mountains, I got on the freeway, and was home again in less than an hour.

It was a good adventure.  It would have been better with a friend, but friends are hard to find when you’re an old retired geezer like myself.  I might go back some time.  I’d like to take a look at the Lost Dutchman State Park, and I’d love to photograph the big Lost Dutchman legend they had on display at Tortilla Flat.


Posted September 30, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

7 responses to “Lunch at Tortilla Flat

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great trip – went the same way too – with my parents back in 84. Good God, I am older than dirt.

  2. wow, sounds really great. I will put it on my to-do list

  3. Thanks for sharing. Arizona does have a lot of interesting places within its borders. Carrie and I visited many of them, but there always seems to be more.

  4. Makes me homesick! For some reason AZ and NM both have their own distinctive look and feel for the greater desert, but Arizona’s what feels like home. Time to return for some vacation time, methinks!

  5. Awesome adventure! Your story telling abilities always impress me. It is the little details like traveling through central Arizona like your father which really make the trip special. It is too bad I live over in Colorado. I would have loved to join you.

  6. I didn’t see any pictures of Highpool!?

  7. “Could you email me with a few hints about how you made this website look this good , I would be appreciative. Wow! This blog site is cool! How do you make it look this good !? and nice Post but where is the link to tweet your post”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: