Cave Creek area Wildlife

by Tina Williams

One of the amazing things about living in Arizona is how the residents try to live in harmony with the wildlife. This is more true in the town of Cave Creek where the desert is protected and wildlife is free to roam and live in their habitats. Living in the area is to recognize animals and insects.
When most people unfamiliar with Arizona think of the desert here they think of rattlesnakes and scorpions.  While they’re certainly in abundance there are many more critters to be conscious of. Here’s some of the more popular ones;

gila-monster-cave-creekGILA MONSTER

Yes, a Gila Monster is venomous and their bite is extremely painful. (Mostly because they don’t let go for a bit and will chew to get more of their venom into your wound. Ouch!) But they’re also protected in Arizona. It is against the law to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect the Gila Monster or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. In summary, just stay away from a Gila Monster if you see one.


Is it a pig? Is it a hog? Is it a giant possum? Is it a wild boar? It’s not a pig – because, as it’s described, pig is old world animal and a Javelina is a ‘new world’ animal. The best way to look at it, as I understand it, is they’re a very distant cousin of the pig. One fun fact about the Javelina is the babies are called ‘reds’ cause of their coloring – and, from personal experience? They love to eat the jack-o-lanterns on Halloween.


Yes, we have tarantulas in various colors and they’re completely harmless, at least here in Arizona-- other from them being large enough to really disturb even the most moderate arachnophobe. Sadly, the male tarantula has a short life span and only lives a few months after mating – but the female tarantula can live up to 25 years. Not fair, right?


Yes, we have mountain lions. Fortunately, they have plenty of food here in the desert so they aren’t super aggressive. But they are definitely on the list of animals you need to be careful with. If you cross paths with one never turn your back on it and definitely never run away. You then become the prey. If you have dogs or children around keep them close, open your arms up and start yelling. Anything to make you seem less like prey. (Information on how to handle crossing paths with a mountain lion provided by

Have any other animals you’d like to be talked about? Let us know!

Tina Williams is a local Cave Creek real estate agent, novelist, and publisher. To reach her, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website at and facebook or instagram @tinawilliamsrealtor


Big Earl's new owner Brooke Butler

Brooke Butler purchases Big Earl’s Greasy Eats
Renovations, events planned for historic business

February 16, 2017, Cave Creek, Arizona – Brooke Butler, a native Cave Creek resident who has worked for iconic Big Earl’s Greasy Eats for more than four years, has purchased the business.

Butler, who has many plans for the retro restaurant/bar, says buying the business was her destiny.

“I wanted to buy Big Earl’s Greasy Eats because I have worked here for years and have a deep connection with the restaurant and the many relationships I have fostered here,” says Butler. “It became apparent to me that this is where I should be.”

Brooke ButlerButler says her team of 17 employees already has removed the stage and dancing poles, which were key to the development of the restaurant/bar’s annual White Trash Bash, which takes place every July.

“We are excited to bring a lot of fun and interesting changes to Big Earl’s in the coming weeks and months,” adds Butler. “Our team has added tater tots and fried pickles to the menu and are offering even more exciting adult milkshake varieties, and we plan to will add more new food items for later this year. One of our goals is to bring back the 1950s feel that made this place a piece of Arizona history, however, we have committed to continue serving the same award-winning food that people have come to love.”

Butler is planning to add Monday night family nights, video truck games monthly and a party to celebrate the sale of the establishment.

The History of Big Earl’s Greasy Eats

big earls cave creekKnown as the old Cave Creek gas station, Big Earl’s Greasy Eats was designed as a station for Standard Oil in 1935 and patented in 1936. In 1936, Phoenix had 127 service stations, 14 of which were Standard Oil stations. Today, the Cave Creek station, Big Earl’s Greasy Eats, is the only known surviving example of a 1930s art deco Standard gas station in the greater Phoenix metropolis. Now a world famous restaurant, the former station originally was located on 19th Avenue in Phoenix and was moved to Cave Creek in 1952. It functioned as a Standard station until the late 1980s. Open 364 days a year, Big Earl’s Greasy Eats serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Big Earl’s Greasy Eats is located at 6135 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, Ariz., 85331. The phone number is 480-575-7889, the email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the website is




More than 400 volunteers fuel the engine behind Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center

More than 400 volunteers, from 10 years to 93 years old, are the engine that energizes Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center, the most successful food bank in Maricopa County.

More than 400 volunteers fuel the engine behind  Foothills Food Bank & Resource CenterAccording to executive director Pam DiPietro, the food bank’s 400-plus volunteers donated some 28,148 hours in 2015 alone. Without this energetic team of dedicated individuals, Foothills Food Bank would not be able to serve the 41,209 people who received food for the 501c(3) organization last year. The busy food bank disbursed 811,915 pounds of food to its desert foothills clients in 2015.

“Our amazing volunteer core of hard working volunteers is a committed group of people who love helping others in need and who understand what it takes to drive the food bank’s important community outreach efforts forward,” says DiPietro. “Without our volunteers, we would not exist,” she adds.

Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center’s volunteers base performs a number of critical jobs to ensure its clients receive the nutrition and services they need as they progress through difficult times. Here are just a few of those jobs and how they help drive the engine in the right direction every day:

Greeters: these caring people make food bank clients feel welcome and ensure they understand how the food bank works.

Drivers: more than 20 van drivers work seven days a week to collect food in various locations in the valley including local bakeries, Basha’s, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other partners including CVS and numerous churches, schools and small businesses, many of which hold food drives for the food bank.

Donation volunteer: Four volunteers, each day, seven days a week, weigh and sort the food that arrives from the drivers.

Team Leads: these busy individuals, twelve a week, interview each client to review their specific needs, and update their profile for the food they receive once per month.

Packers: every week, 46 volunteers gather the food orders and arrange and “pack’ them for clients to take home.

Exit volunteer: some 12 special people weigh food, including extra perishables, before the client leaves and record the order for the food bank.

Recyclers: four giving people every week pick-up items so they can be recycled.

Scheduler: a daytime scheduler plans work times for 70 volunteers every week.

Toiletries: One special person sorts and bags badly needed toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and brushes, hand cream, soaps and more.

Newsletter: every quarter, the food bank reaches out to donors and clients with updated information about what is happening at Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center.

Snack Pack: the food bank’s Snack Pack program provides needy children with weekend meals; 16-20 volunteers pack the meals so kids in the northern desert foothills communities receive the good nutrition they need to be healthy and productive.

Care Club: twice each month, clients are able to order extra food for a nominal fee.

Stockers: every week, 10 giving individuals stock the shelves to keep inventory ready for clients.

Client Resources: New staff member Robin Kilbane and several volunteers provide other resources, such as food stamp applications, personal financial needs, rent and more for the clients who grace our doors

Other volunteer positions are filled by people who:

-       clean and service the food banks vans

-       write thank you notes

-       record donations

-       update a mailing list weekly

-       prepare newsletter mailings

-       maintain the food bank’s library

-       provide other resource, such as food stamp applications, personal financial needs, rent and more for the clients who grace our doors

-       pull together food bank statistics

-       help with special projects

The Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center’s longest term volunteer to date is Mary Hunkeler; she is 93 years old and began volunteering shortly after the food bank opened. A second volunteer who has been around for nearly 30 years is Claire Steigerwald. She can be seen several days a week taking in donations and recording, stocking shelves and training new volunteers has served the organization since 1988…when it first became a food bank.

It truly does take a village to help neighbors and others in need. It is the power of volunteerism that drives the engine that is Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center.

For more information, call the Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center at 480.488.1145. The Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center is located at 6038 E. Hidden Valley Drive in Cave Creek.


(past article) Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse New Stage to Premiere November 14

New Stage at Buffalo Chip Nov 14thNovember 2015, Cave Creek, Arizona – The new permanent western stage is set to debut to the public with Nationally known Texas Guitar Slinger Tyrone Vaughan, who will perform on Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 8:00 PM. CLICK FOR TICKETS According to Larry Wendt, owner of the infamous Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse, the large stage is being built using all rustic plank wood and materials.

“We are very excited about this phenomenal extension to our entertainment and restaurant venue,” says Wendt. “This will create a new experience for the residents, visitors, tourists and corporate event guests who visit The Buffalo Chip in historic Cave Creek.”

This is the first and only stage and entertainment complex of its type and will provide excellent viewing for entertainment performances of all kinds. Along with the fabulous VIP seating area, guests will enjoy spectacular views of musicians and other performances because the stage literally is constructed on the side of a mountain.”

Wendt says that in addition to the one-of-a-kind stage, amenities will include 150 amps of power, permanent and LED lighting and a sound system tailored to the needs of the Town of Cave Creek. The Buffalo Chip also is building a western town behind the stage. Town facades in the mountain’s desert setting will include a saloon with swinging doors, a Chinese laundry, a farrier and livery and possibly a church chapel. Nestled next to the stage will be a hangman’s gallows, a food service chuck wagon and plenty of room for a vendor alley and special western performances. The expanded entertainment venue will seat 2,000-3,000 people.

“We believe the stage and western surroundings will be a major attraction,” adds Wendt. “And, we are pleased to kick off our stage’s debut with a performance by the incredible artist, Tyrone Vaughan.” CLICK FOR SHOW INFO & TICKETS


Larry Wendt of the Buffalo Chip

A Passion for Police Work and Old West Cooking:
Larry Wendt of the Buffalo Chip

Meeting Cave Creek By Kimberly Gunning

Cave Creek’s Buffalo Chip has become a Cave Creek icon, an Old West live-music and country-dancing venue, and a spot to grab killer barbecue ribs or step up and test your bull-riding skills. It’s also a hang out for more than a thousand loyal Green Bay Packers fans and a spiritual meeting place on Sunday mornings.

Larry shoots a card at the ChipThe Chip’s owner for the past 17 years is a retired Maricopa Country deputy police chief, Larry Wendt.  Wendt served a full career in law enforcement, holding a variety of positions including patrol officer, detective and member of a SWAT team. “It just happened that I also had a real love for the Old West and Old West cooking,” Wendt says, explaining his reasons for his career change.  

Larry is not a man for the retirement life. “I really enjoy running a successful operation, whether it’s a sting operation in law enforcement or a food and beverage operation.”

Many of Wendt’s favorite assignments on the SWAT team involved hostage situations and extractions.  He jumped out of aircraft and handled special weapons. “You did different high-stress, but high-satisfaction activities every day,” Wendt recalls.  During that time two things occurred: I started going up in rank … and in 1977 I started a catering company for police functions.”

He set up a trailer and began cooking Dutch oven and chuck wagon meals for the people out on search and rescue missions.  With the help of “a couple of other guys,” Wendt fed hungry crews of various sizes. “If we had 25 people on the search, we’d feed them; if we had 100 people on the search, we’d feed them.  Before long, we got to where we could cook for a lot of people in a real short period of time.”

Wendt’s catering business expanded to larger and larger functions outside of the police force, and The Buffalo Chip became one of Wendt’s regular catering sites.  Everything came together when the Chip’s owner, Marla McGee, the daughter of Green Bay Packers’ Max McGee, was looking to sell.   Only nine days into retirement, Wendt drew out his retirement savings from 24 years in police work and purchased the Buffalo Chip.

Not a drinker himself and having seen the negative affects of alcohol on people’s lives throughout his law career, Wendt pondered turning the Chip into a steakhouse.
“But the town had other ideas,” he says. “The Chip was well-liked by the community and I could tell right away that I wasn’t going to be able to change it … I needed to add on to the Buffalo Chip, put a kitchen in it and serve food.  That’s what I did.

I’ve got a staff that has been with me for the whole time I’ve owned the Buffalo Chip.” Wendt credits them with making the difference in the success of the restaurant.

Referring to himself as “a Packers fan by default,” Wendt enjoys catering to  “groups outside of the boots and the hats,” and as a Christian, his motto about Sunday morning church at the Chip is: “We spend all week making sinners out of them. We can spend at least one day trying to show them the other side of life.”

On any day of the week, the Chip’s following ranges from motorcycle crews to karaoke enthusiasts, country dancers, live-music lovers, cowboys, partiers, Green Bay Packers fans and church-goers. “Our diverse crowd is one of the things that I love about the Chip,” Wendt says.

Though vastly different from working in law enforcement, seventeen years later, Wendt still has no regrets about having purchased the Chip.  And judging by the nightly crowds, he’s certainly running another successful operation.  Visit the Buffalo Chip section on Cave Creek Live for the latest events and live shows at the Chip!


Southwest Living in the Desert Foothills

by Suzanne Pickett Martinson

Celebrating the Essence of Southwest Living

Southwest Living in the Desert FoothillsThere are many reasons to love Cave Creek, Carefree, and North Scottsdale, and one of them is putting on a vibrant show right now. The yellow blossoms of native Palo Verde and Mesquite trees, brittlebush and desert marigold wildflowers blanket the landscape against the backdrop of majestic Saguaro and red-plumed ocotillo. Include the mountain vistas, stunning sunrises and sunsets and it is no wonder that so many photographers choose this desert foothills region to capture the essence of the Southwest. Likewise, it is no surprise that this area is home to residents who value wide-open spaces replete with stunning natural beauty.

At a higher elevation than the Phoenix-Metro area, Cave Creek and its surrounding towns enjoy cooler temperatures throughout the year, greatly appreciated during the hot summer when even five degrees make the difference between living life, and just getting through it. These cooler temperatures provide more opportunities for outdoor activities such as gardening, hiking, organized sports, horseback riding, biking, and outdoor dining with family and friends.

The Southwest lifestyle is also evident in the type of home design and architecture found throughout these desert foothills. Whether it be historic ranch charm or sophisticated contemporary, in a planned neighborhood or on sprawling acreage, close to town or in the expansive desert, what stands out clear:  the people of the region harbor a genuine respect for nature, appreciate individuality, and love the Arizona environment and western culture.  

Close enough to the Phoenix Metropolitan amenities and Sky Harbor airport yet far enough away to soak up the genuine warmth of the people who live and work here, Cave Creek, Carefree, and North Scottsdale offer unique shopping and dining experiences as well as a wide variety of cultural and special events and exploring opportunities on horseback, motorcycles, bikes, in jeeps or hiking throughout the year. Fine resorts and quaint hotels offer visitors a taste of Southwest living, prompting some of those visitors to eventually make this area their home.

Join Cave Creek Live each month as we explore and celebrate Southwest living in the Valley of the Sun’s desert foothills.


Cave Creek Bike Week 2015 by Marty Bachman

bike week cave creek by Marty BachmanWhile the corporate bike world that dominates Phoenix fights amongst each other to see who can sell the most $5 cans of beer during Arizona Bike Week, the real bikers will take their party north of town to the rural hamlet of Cave Creek for 10 days, March 20-29. Biker Central, of course, will be The Hideaway Bar & Grill, with a ton of bands, bike builders and half-naked women seeping out through all edges of the club and onto Cave Creek Blvd. Up the street a half block, at The Hideaway's sister bar, The Tap Haus, one of the top builders in the country, Azzkikr Custom Baggers, will be hanging out.

Led by Len Edmondson, Azzkikr Customs had a starring role in the short-livedBiker Battleground Phoenix television series. Beyond his own custom designs that will be on display at the Cave Creek Rally, Edmondson praised the bike building talent that Hideaway owner Mark Bradshaw was bringing to Cave Creek for the annual bike rally, calling it “genuine and pure.”

“It's the premier destination for Bike Week,” Edmondson said, noting the some of the top bike builders in the country will be in Cave Creek. “There will be the who's who of builders there.”

Edmondson said he will bring over a million dollars worth of bikes to the event, primarily baggers, his signature style.

Azzkikr will hold an open house and tour of their shop at 22410 N. 18th Drive in Phoenix, from 10 a.m. until noon on March 25. After the open house, the Azzkikr team will lead a ride to the Tap Haus where there will be a full day of builders, vendors, giveaways, photo ops and music by Sour Diesel Trainwreck beginning at 1 p.m.



Jeff & Tom from the Horny Toad

Meeting Cave Creek by Kimberly Gunning

The Road to the Toad

Like father like son: The owner of The Horny Toad restaurant is not the first generation of his family to run a restaurant, and he says he won’t be the last.

Jeff Price’s grandfather, then his father, ran The Red Vest restaurant in Grand Haven, Mich., on the shore of Lake Michigan, and a restaurant called The Bear Lake Tavern in Muskegon. Young Price worked as a bus boy and helped out with odd jobs around the restaurants. He attended Davenport College in Grand Rapids, earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management, then returned to work for his father at The Red Vest.

Price’s father surprised him one evening more than 40 years ago by stomping into the house, irritable but resolved. He aimed straight for the bedroom and emerged with an armful of his ties, dumped them in the trash and announced that he and Jeff’s mother were “out of there.”

Jeff stayed in Michigan to manage the Red Vest, but once his parents reached Rio Verde Arizona and decided it was the right place to settle, he got a phone call from his father. “Pack up all your stuff, son. Join us as here as quick as you can.”

In August 1975, the family bought The Horny Toad and more than four acres of land surrounding it. They heard that many of the business owners of Cave Creek doubted whether a Michigan family had the savvy to successfully run a restaurant in their wild west town. They did!  

The Price family began with one small bar and a dining room with a dozen tables. Over the next 40 years, they transformed the property into several large dining rooms, an expansive patio, and several gift shops behind the restaurant they leased to local business owners.

The Horny Toad is noted for its crispy fried chicken. Managing partner Price says the restaurant has sold 2.5 million pounds of it. He also attributes The Toad’s success to its homemade barbeque sauce and in-house battered and fried fish.

The décor of The Horny Toad reflects its owners’ interests: framed and signed sports and western memorabilia and a bar top that has supported countless bent elbows. 

“Anybody’s welcome here,” says Price. “Bikers, families, retirees, cowhands  Dick Van Dyke and Charles Barkley have dined here.”

It’s not only a restaurant for everyone. The staff has become Price’s second family. In fact, many of his kitchen and front of the house staff members have been with the company for more than 20 and 30 years. Price’s son, Tom, is next in line to take over the operation. “He’s probably going to end up doing it better than me; he’s just a natural at it,” Price says with pride.

Entering his 40th year at The Horny Toad, Price says that, when the time comes, he will enjoy more excursions on his Trask Harley. He also plans to take a long sailing trip to the Bahamas or the Caribbean. When asked about selling the restaurant, he doesn’t blink an eye.
“It’s a family thing,” says Price. “My son will be the fourth generation to manage it. You seldom hear that in the restaurant business.”

jeff & tom price


Where the Wild West Lives

meeting for west of the west

Cave Creek's Title Claim:  The saga of the motto of Cave Creek; "Where the Wild West Lives".

October 2013: 

“From friendly and fun to fist and fraught” –Mayor Vincent Francia

    Poor Scottsdale.  Some of the folks there wouldn’t get Western humor if it bit ‘em on their bootless ankles.  They should purchase some chaps and come to Cave Creek’s Wild West Days sometime.   It might do those slickers some good.  

November 2013:

"Cave Creek Councilman Mike Durkin...came up with a great (motto) for Cave Creek: "Where the Wild West Lives."  It certainly describes what Cave Creek is going for.  People in the historic West didn't always duel, they built better....Cave Creek excepted this new motto at a council meeting November 4th. Click "Continue Reading" for the details on how this battle was waged...

NextGen Web Development