Lanterns over Benson

Allow me to introduce you to Benson Arizona.

Located some 45 miles southeast of Tucson and surrounded by several mountains is the small town of Benson. It’s a town that time seems to have passed by. Five thousand people call Benson “home” with many of those being retired having relocated here for the abundant sunshine and slow pace.

There’s no big industry here, no huge shopping centers, no high rise condo’s and with only three traffic lights, no traffic jams.  You’ll find the local Walmart to be half the size of others and if you’re looking for gourmet dinning …well you’re out of luck.

What you will find though is a town with friendly people, cafe’s with home style cooking, and a community with Heart!

Once a year, Benson has a fall festival that attracts the entire community. Like most festivals it has its fair share of food vendors and local artisans. There’s music, the ever popular “Funnel Cakes” and “Elephant Ears” and the Bar-b-que brisket is touted to be the best in town! Of course the town mayor is making his rounds making sure all are having a good time and scoring votes for the next election!

Then Night falls. Like a scene from “Field of Dreams” the cars are lined up waiting to pass the gate. People gather claiming the perfect spot. Anticipation fills the air. You can sense that something spectacular is about to happen!

Headlights under a spectacular sky!

The best has been saved for last. You see, each admission includes a hot air lantern. With “What a Wonderful World” playing  over the loud speakers, all are lit and released. Hundreds and hundreds! The night sky bursts with light as far as the eye can see. 

All around adults and children alike were gazing into the night sky with smiles on their faces. What a beautiful moment this was.

For a breif moment, the simple little town of Benson Arizona was the guiding light for all to see!

Arizona! Not what you think

Being from the Midwest my impression of Arizona has been a few big cities in the middle of the desert surrounded by dust and dirt. Though the latter may be somewhat true, what I never imagined were the beautiful mountains, lush green canyons, crystal clear streams and deep blue skies!

We settled down for a month in Camp Verde AZ. with the sole purpose of making day trips. And travel we did! By car….

On Foot……

And by train!

While visiting old town Cottonwood, a local told us that the Verde Canyon train ride was a “must do”. Following the advise we made our reservations. The train, a restored fifties era engine as well as vintage passenger cars refurbished with plush furniture and western decor. In between the passenger cars were open air platform cars which allowed for 360 degree viewing.

We boarded and sat back for the 20 mile 5 hr. trip. The champagne and hors d’oeuvres were a nice touch! The scenery? Well , I’ll let that speak for itself.

At the end of the 20 mile trip is the town of Perkinsville. It’s not much of a town but is the site of an old western movie set. At this point the engine moves on to a siding and relocates to what was the end of the train. The engine then reconnects for the trip back.

Hey wait! Where’s he going?

One of our day trips was to Montezuma’s Castle. It’s not a castle but an ancient cliff dwelling. And Montezuma was never there! Go figure! It seems that the explorers who found the site called it that and the name stuck.

Arizona claims the site as their National Monument and it’s managed and maintained by the National Park Service.

The castle is popular spot for photographers and tourist alike including those who choose to capture the moment the old fashioned way!

There’s so much to see and do here. Arizona is rich in natural beauty and culture. We’re so happy to be here!

Thanks for coming along!