So much to see; so little time.
With the weather cooling off over the past few weeks, my husband and I started talking about taking a day trip somewhere in Arizona.
I knew the famous Salsa Fest was coming up, and it sounded like the perfect destination for our road trip: salsa tasting, a classic car show (for the husband), Chihuahua races (which I wanted to see unfortunately the dog race was too early in the day for us to catch – maybe next year!), and a jalapeno eating contest (that neither of us thought we could watch for fear of what we might see).
Road Trip to Safford
So we headed out early on a Saturday morning. Destination: Safford, Arizona, approximately three hours souteast of Phoenix. It was a sunny and cool morning, hoping for a similar type of day in Safford, we quickly checked the weather and found it was going to be ideal for an outdoor event.
We set out from Phoenix through Apache Junction. It was then my husband realized he had never been east of Apache Junction, so from here on out, it would be new territory for him with some new territory for me as well.
We continued east on US 60 and were amazed at how green the desert looked. It was just beautiful! We watched the land transform from Saguaro cactus and mountains to beautiful rock formations with desert brush and trees peeking through.
We reached the town of Miami, and I couldn’t get over the how quaint it was. I noticed several little antique shops along the road. Note to self—make my way back here soon to check out some of these shops.
Next along our journey was Globe. We made note of the cool, old architecture. Instantly drawn into these roadside gems, we had to remind ourselves of the mission at hand, and kept on as to not miss the salsa judging, and more importantly… the tasting.
The closer we got to Safford, the more agricultural the landscape became, which made me reminisce about growing up in Texas and seeing the fields of cotton along the highway as we made the drive to my grandparents rural home. I felt like we had found a little piece of my roots the closer we got to eastern Arizona.
Driving through the quaint towns of Pima and Thatcher, the mountains were big and beautiful. It was incredible the nostalgia that the landscape brought on!
Safford Salsa Fest
We arrived at the festival and found parking right next to the Graham county Courthouse. I just loved the small-town feeling and the architecture here. First stop—the salsa tasting tent. After purchasing our bags of chips (I wasn’t willing to share), we walked by table after table of friendly faces offering a taste of their special homemade salsas, each with a big, proud smile, sure that we would select their recipe. After grabbing as many as we possibly could, we began tasting… and tasting… and tasting. I had a system of favorites grouped off to the side. Finally, I made my selection. My husband had his own winner too. In the end, we never found out which salsa won, which fit perfectly with the style of our day: the mission, as it turned out, was really more about having fun.
More Salsa at Casa Manana
All of the restaurants along the Salsa Trail were offering Salsa Fest specials, so we settled on Casa Manana –a good choice because it was close. The food was great and we loved our waitress. I would definitely go back there on our next visit!
As we sat in the comfort of the restaurant eating more chips and salsa, we realized that we probably should have made this a two-day trip. Reluctantly, we headed out of town and back toward Phoenix—but not before we made a final stop in Pima at Taylor Freeze. We both ordered a dipped cone and felt our stomachs give a big Thank You! It was the perfect way to end the day.
Our conversation filled the drive home as we talked about how surprising the trip was, how many interesting things we discovered, and how enjoyable it all had been. That gave us one more reason to return. Actually, make that two more reasons—we also plan to stop at Boyce Thompson Arboretum next trip!
Sandy Pederson is the Advertising Manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism. Originally from West Texas, she loves exploring new regions of Arizona with her husband and especially when food is on the itinerary!