Sunday, January 3, 2010

Down Carefree Highway

Near the northern boundary of the city of Phoenix, head east from I-17 on Carefree Highway to Tom Darlington Road and then north to Carefree, AZ.

On the outskirts of this town of just under 4000 are homes that are built into the hillsides. There were several dirt pullovers along Darlington Road that provided the opportunity to photograph these million dollar homes.

I really liked this home (right), because I thought it almost became part of the surrounding environment of the desert hillside.

In 1955, K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington bought 2,200 acres with the idea of planning and building a town from scratch and at the same time committing themselves to preserving the natural beauty of the desert.

Carefree was incorporated in 1984, and through zoning regulations, restrictions, and building requirements, several generations have insured that the area will remain as it always has been, with its beautiful vegetated desert.

Even though there is little color in the desert plants in winter, we were able to find this purple prickly pear cactus (above) and this colorful shrub along the highway leading into Carefree.

We found this agave cactus among other desert plants in Sundial Park in Carefree. In the far left side of the photo is a coyote sculpture.

This fountain in the park has the appearance of a waterfall and allows visitors to walk under the water as it is sprayed out of the wall into the pool.

At the center of the park is this sundial, which, according to some, is the largest sundial in the United States. The metal gnomon, or shadow casting portion of the dial, stands 35 feet above the plaza and extends 62 feet.

Solar engineer John Yellot and architect Joe Wong designed the sundial for K.T. Palmer in 1959.

Palmer and Darlington revealed touches of whimsy when it came to naming the streets to suggest leisurely living and a life-style "free of care." This is a view of the city center (above) along Easy Street across from Sundial Park.

The gate to the Spanish Village is the entrance to several shops, galleries, and restaurants that reflect the Southwestern architecture.

There is an almost casual layout to the town. Streets curve and wind around parks, shops, and civic buildings. At the intersection of Ho and Hum Roads, with Black Mountain in the background, is Big Buns Bakery. We had hoped to sample their sweet rolls, sticky buns, or muffins. However, the day we stopped in was the first day Big Buns was open after a week's vacation--and they were already out of our three choices. So, we had to "settle" for scones.

Well, had we known that these were "I-wish-I-had-bought-a-dozen-of-these" scones, we would not have felt we were having to "settle" for scones. We chose four (clockwise, from the upper left corner: dried apricot-ginger, blueberry, raspberry, and pecan) and took a few bites of one as we walked back to the truck.

And so, as we passed Nonchalant Avenue and Tranquil Trail, our late morning appetite satisfied, we left Carefree and the New West and headed north on Cave Creek Road to the Old West town of the same name.

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