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Commentary and Perspective from one of America's most unique small town areas, edited by Preston Westmoreland of Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty.

     Carefree times name            Preston photo
Volume 3, October 2010 Edition
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Remember when: World's largest Cactus in Cave Creek Falls Down! Nearby residents cut it to pieces and plant sections in their yards
Tallest cactus (saguaro) in the world

Note the couple standing in front of the 78-foot-tall saguaro cactus, in Cave Creek. The Guinness Book of World Records certified it, before it blew over in a storm in the 1980s.

Cave Creek, AZ
            by Preston Westmoreland
I remembered it was a short hike from Cave Creek to see the tallest cactus in the world, a spindly saguaro with no arms, and an amazing sight to see!  However, the fact that it was armless is thought to be why this famous cactus grew so high. . .  A mutant of nature, where all the energy that would normally build and grow the arms, kept it rocketing skyward, to almost the height of an 8-story building!
Several years later, a sever thunderstorm came through the area and topped the cactus, which shattered into a number of small sections.  As word filtered out about the accident, United Press International even did a story on it that went all over the world.  Several weeks later, there wasn't a trace of the cactus visible. It seems every piece was taken by the locals, and planted in yards, thinking it would propagate into a mammoth saguaro.  I understand none of the pieces ever sprouted.  Arizona Republic reporter Peter Corbett than did a story on the new "tallest cactus" which was found to be in the Tonto National Forest. They named this behemoth, with multiple giant arms, "The Grand One" and estimated it's height at 51 feet with a base of over 7 feet around.   Alas, the Cave Creek complex fire killed this cactus, which fell over several years later.  Someone measured it on the ground and said it was 52 feet long.  There are people who look around for the largest trees, cactus, etc, and there's even a registry kept by American Forests, a non-profit organization.  They say there's another sagaruo near Mammoth, Arizona, that could take the title. While it's only 32 feet tall, the huge trunk adds up in total volume, more than any other.  Corbett also reports that someone measured the huge Cave Creek saguaro when it fell and found it to only be 58 feet tall, still taller than all of the other contenders.

Maricopa County Active Listings-     39,325
County Listings in July 2010-              36,503
Carefree Active Homes Listed-               84   
Carefree Active listed in July, 2010          85
Carefree Bank-owned homes-                  16
Carefree Homes Under Contract-            10
Carefree Homes sold last 30 days-            10
Cave Creek Active Homes Listed-         306
Cave Creek Homes Under Contract-   134
Cave Creek Bank-owned Homes-          97
Cave Creek homes sold last 30 days-     45
Scottsdale Active Homes-                    2,587
Scottsdale Homes Under Contract-      806
Scottsdale Bank-Owned Homes-          753
Scottsdale Homes sold last 30 days-     288
Paradise Valley Active Listings-            357
PV Homes Under Contract-                   61     
Paradise Valley Bank-owned Homes-  57
PV Homes sold last 30 days-                   16
Top Home Sale in the Valley
last month-6307 E. Quartz Valley Rd. Paradise   Valley,                                                            $2.825  million

Thanks for reading our blog!  Check out our Winter Issue for the latest news  and special events coming up for Winter Visitors 

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Real estate hot tips
Insider Commentary by Preston Westmoreland

Let's Clear the Air
arefree (PW)-I was talking to a real estate buyer the other day who didn't want to buy in downtown Phoenix because of the pollution.  And for good reason, the EPA continually warns our county about exceeding Ozone and dust limits and we even have mandated vehicle emission checks for cars.  As someone who use to commute to downtown Phoenix from Carefree, I remembered the days of the brown cloud and seeing the soupy layer of gunk hanging out about 600 feet above the valley floor of 1500 ft elevation. Carefree and Cave Creek have a high number of retired airline pilots living here and it reminded me of the same situation around Thousand Oaks, California.  Airline pilots flying into the LA area, always noticed that Thousand Oaks was above the smog and heavy fog layer, and when they decided to retire, this fact drew them there.  Carefree's air is much clearer, cleaner with bright blue skies, than you often see in Phoenix, after all our elevation is 2500 feet. 
But I told our worried buyers, "if you really want clear air, go to Tonto Hills!"  They had vaguely heard the name, so I explained.  "Tonto Hills, is at 3,580 ft. elevation and is as high as you can go. They actually have very few days where it's over 100 degrees, and it's just up the hill from Carefree."
Tonto Hills is also interesting in the fact that it's higher than the mega million-dollar mansions in Desert Mountain where the rich and famous live. And at Tonto Hills you can get the nicest homes for under a million dollars. Think of it as desert for people who don't like the heat of the desert, as it actually borders the Tonto National Forest, and is minutes away from Bartlett Lake and it's marinas and miles of shoreline.
View from Tonto Hills pool
Big views  and clear air from a Tonto Hills home, the highest area for homes in the Greater Phoenix area. This residence is available and priced at $ 898,000.
Bank of America to freeze all Arizona foreclosures
Phoenix Business Journal - by Mike Sunnucks

JP Morgan Chase & Co. is staying mum on whether it will join Bank of America in freezing foreclosures in all 50 states. Chase Bank stopped mortgages in 23 states after questions arose about whether it was properly reviewing —or even reviewing at all — foreclosure documents before taking back houses from hurting homeowners.

BofA and GMAC Mortgage Corp. took similar actions also earlier this month.

Bank of America expanded that action today to all 50 states including Arizona.

Chase isn’t commenting on the BofA action or whether it will follow suit. “We are declining comment,” said Chase spokesman Tom Kelly.

BofA and Chase are two of the largest banks and mortgage lenders in Arizona and nationally.

Lenders have come under criticism for not reworking or adjusting enough distressed mortgages especially in troubled housing markets such as Phoenix, Las Vegas and Miami.

Read more:
Editor's Thought:  With B of A holding 22% of foreclosures in Maricopa County, if this delay is protracted, or if other lenders jump in and freeze their properties, active homebuyers in the market will be looking for deals on regular home sales and not distressed properties. The effect this will have right now on short sales as well, is unknown. PW

   Find out more:
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For more information on this area and it's Incredible properties:

Carefree Studios Western Set
Tourists walk down the main street of the Western set where "The Gambler" with Kenny Rogers was filmed.  It's since been torn down.
Why was the Carefree Studios torn down?
(Carefree) PW-Dick Van Dyke loved the area so much, that when it came time to film his new Dick Van Dyke Show, he insisted the cast and crew commute from Los Angeles so he can do the show near where he lived, in Cave Creek.  I remembered the show well, since Dick played a character named "Dick Preston" who was a Phoenix talk show host on TV Station KXIV.  I actually worked as a disc jockey at Dick's real radio station in Phoenix, also called KXIV, before later becoming a long-time radio talk show host on KTAR Radio.  The KXIV stood for the Roman numerals of 14 because the radio station was at 1400 on the dial, a trick nobody understood.  But anyway--
The 47 acre site, which included sound stages and the Western town, pictured above, was started by veteran Hollywood stunt man Fred Graham, who they say appeared in almost every John Wayne movie, suffered 11 concussions, and in his 175 pictures.  When Fred moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 1970, he worked on getting more films to do pictures here. That's about when CBS did a couple of seasons at the Fred Graham studios, which were renamed the Carefree Studios in the early 1970s. The red brick facility had seen it's ups and downs.  A group of businessman tried to infuse it with new business in the 1980's, led by a Phoenix TV newscaster and the name Southwestern Studios, but it didn't last long.  State Farm Insurance took over the property and stories have it that the company would only allow use of the studios for family-rated and General audience type of pictures. 
In 1999, the property was sold to a developer for what is today a very popular power retail center, anchored by Target and Safeway, with everything from Starbucks to gourmet hamburger places.  Sadly, for the people who remember, there isn't a shred of evidence that the Carefree Studios were ever there.
site of the former Carefree Studios
Site of the Carefree Studios, where today the Safeway and Target stores anchor a power mall. The old Western Town set was over the hills, near the Whisper Rock Golf Courses. It's been torn down.

Movies & TV shot all or in part, around Carefree and Cave Creek include:

*The Getaway, Alec Baldwin

* The Gambler with Kenny Rogers

*ElectroGlide in Blue

*Flirting with Disaster

Mission to Glory: he Father Kino Story

*Zabriskie Point

*Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

*Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins

*Little Foss and Big Halsey

*Raising Arizona

*Queens of Country

*The New Dick Van Dyke Show

Bartlett Lake

Update on Barlett Lake
Barlett Lake  and it's full-service marina have enjoyed many years of good water flow from the Verde River into Bartlett Lake. Many people don't realize that the 12 mil-long lake has 2,815 boatable acres, which is more than
Canyon and Saguaro lakes combines.  For information on boating at Bartlett, check out the marin'as full-service website:

Bartlett Lake Marina is a state-of-the-art facility with full service boat storage (covered & uncovered), complimentary member boat launch's
Private marina boat ramp.
seven days a week, on-the-water gas pumping dock
On the water gas pmping station.
and private secure wet slips with full utilities (water, sewage & power).  Our entire facility is protected behind pass coded protected gates, security fencing and closed-circut cameras.  Your property's security and protection is our primary concern.  Rest assured, your boat is safe with us!