Arts, Culture & Media

Geo answer

Saddle up for today's Geo Quiz.

We're looking for a state capital at the edge of what once was a stage coach route known as Constellation Road.

The dusty trail goes past the old Gold Bar mine, and through stretches of desert wilderness.

Back in the 1800's, hunters and trappers came this way on horseback to the Hassayampa River in search of beavers.

The pelts were sold to hat-makers faraway in Europe.

Nowadays European tourists come this way to explore the wilderness and experience life on the ranch.

We'll tell you more about these modern-day cowpokes.

But first name the capital of a state that became part of the U.S. following the Mexican-American War.

The answer's down the trail...

We were following an old stage coach route that passes north of Arizona's capital, Phoenix.

Phoenix is the answer to our quiz.

Nowadays, many riders on this dusty trail are headed for the Williams Family Ranch. And as Tony Ganzer of station KJZZ explains, many are a long way from their European homes.

{Sound::: Horses trotting, voices: "We're going to go right up that trail.."}

Rancher Roy Williams is leading a group of guests on their first Arizona horseback ride. His dark brown stallion expertly climbs a ridge overlooking pristine, cactus-checkered wilderness.

"There was a group in here mining but when they made it wilderness in 1994, they had to take out all the mining stuff."

Two riders look curiously toward Williams. They're from Austria.

"Go ahead and tell em about it in German, Maryn."

It may seem odd to hear German in the Arizona wilderness, but about 75 percent of the visitors to the Williams Family Ranch hail from Europe...and many of them are from Germany. Roy Williams and his wife Carrol began taking in tourists in 1992 to help cover their bills. One of their first guests happened to be a German author.

"She ended up writing this really nice article. Carrol and I got the centerfold in this magazine and they took our picture down at the river with our dogs and horses and by her publishing that, and our phone number and everything, we started getting people."

The publicity gave the William's Ranch a boost. One German guest was so impressed she created a travel company for the ranch, complete with a bilingual Web site in German and English. She carefully chooses guests whom she thinks will gibe with the Williams family.

(German) "Wir wollten wirklich keinen Comfort, und das wirkliche Leben eines Cowboys miterleben."

Sylvia Bann says she and her traveling companion wanted no comfort in their vacation, and wanted to experience the life of real cowboys. Bann is a police officer from a town near Salzburg, Austria. She's traveling with her friend Daniella Chergitz, a secretary.

(German) "Das Ranchleben ist nicht (so oberfl�chlich wie das Leben in der Stadt, sage ich mal, wo man nur auf seinen Styling achtet, seine Kleidung, die neuesten Schuhe)" "Life on the ranch is not as superficial as life in the city, I'd say, where people only care about their hair styles, their clothes and the latest shoes."

A generator powers the ranch house after dark, when the solar panels rest. Maryn Lorenz relaxes outside after a steak dinner. She's from Southwestern Germany, and has been visiting the ranch for years, taking weeks or months to enjoy the wilderness.

"This going back and livin' a simple life for a while..I think that at least attracts me. Nothing's going to bother you out here, and you can just take all the time you want."

Lorenz says the Williams offer their guests a chance to be part of the family. Everyone eats together, and guests help tend to the horses, and do other chores.

{Sound: rain on aluminum roof}

Tamara Williams sits on the porch, as rain hits the tin roof. She came to the ranch, searching for something in short supply in Germany�wide open spaces.

"In Germany you never find space anywhere where you have so much sky. When you're right here in the mountains, no matter on which mountain you are, you even see a mountain that's higher."

Tamara Williams is now at home on this range. On her first visit, she rode with the Williams' nephew Sam during the cattle round-up. A year later, they got hitched.