3/16/18 – 3/26/18
Alyssa has been following “Mustang Maddy,” (www.mustangmaddy.com) a woman who has a magical way with horses (wild mustangs), and found out she was hosting a Mustang Fever Tour in the Phoenix area. Since we were headed in that direction, we purchased tickets. After moving camp to Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande (another SKP Escapee’s park), we drove north to Daisy Mountain Ranch to “Meet the Mustangs.” We arrived about about an hour before sunset and the ranch was a picture-perfect setting for the show. We watched as Maddy rode bareback on one of the mustangs, then guided 3 other mustangs to move in synchronized circles around her. She talked about the history and struggle of the American mustangs. Next, Maddy brought out Zena, her performing zebra, and she talked about the differences between taming the wild mustangs versus zebras. Afterwards, Alyssa meet the mustangs and zebra up close and got pictures with them for her Facebook page.
We ended the day with a delicious dinner at UK Eggroll Pho N Rice in Glendale. The owner “K” came out to see how we like our food. We let him know that everything was yummy and he gave us some mini-milk containers of sweet yogurt for dessert. His wife makes the yogurt and you can buy them for $2 and if you bring the container back they will fill it for $1. We bought three of them! Never got back for the refills but love our new little containers.
Phoenix in a Day
On March 18, we spent the afternoon in Phoenix going to the Arizona Museum of Natural History first then to the Desert Botanical Garden in the evening since it was open until 8 p.m. The Natural History Museum had an interesting exhibit on Mesoamerica and South America with a display of the Tlatilco (1250 BC) figurines and a tower of Mesoamerica faces. It’s always fun to see dinosaurs and this museum has a two-story “Dinosaur Mountain” which features animatronic dinos within a realistic setting including a waterfall which flash-floods every 23 minutes. Certainly a highlight of the museum!
The Desert Botanical Garden includes five sections of speciality gardens (Desert Wildflower, Desert Discovery, Plants & People, Nature Loop, and the Center for Desert Living). The entrance area featured Chihuly glass sculptures which imitated the cactus nearby. We spent around 2 hours exploring and admiring the colorful giant ceramic sculptures by artist Jun Kaneko which were displayed throughout the gardens. It was still early in the season for blooming plants but there was a butterfly greenhouse full of color and fluttering butterflies. There was also an amazing succulent garden! We were happy that we purchased a membership to support this great place and now we can also use it for reciprocal entry to other gardens throughout the country.
Located in Oracle, AZ, Biosphere is a unique research facility of global scientific issues. They study different environments (rainforest, ocean, savannah, mangrove, desert and model city) to figure out earth issues for use by other scientists, students, and policymakers. Back in the 1990’s, there was a group of 8 scientists who spent two-years sealed inside the giant glass buildings creating a self-sustainable world. They grew their own organic vegetables and herbs, caught fish from their ocean, and collected drinking water from moisture produced by plants. There’s so much more to tell but if you want to find out more about this place, see biosphere2.org.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
March 21 we visited the Casa Grande Ruins in Coolidge. Research indicates that this large 4-story structure was built during the 1300’s by the Ancient Sonoran Desert People. It was located along the Gila River, part of a community of settlements, and linked by a network of irrigation canals. An interesting detail was that they built holes in the walls that align with the sun and moon for different events in time!
Alyssa was flying back to Boston for a month to job search and visit family and friends. Before heading to the Phoenix Airport, we took a detour to explore Scottsdale’s Main Street Arts District. But the real destination was Sweet Republic for ice cream to spend the gift certificates that Bob gave me for Christmas. We all enjoyed some delicious sundaes! Alyssa’s flight left at 11:20 p.m. and she arrived safely in Boston the next morning. Bye, bye Alyssa! Enjoy your time in New England.
Back in Benson
We decided to head south and visit with our SKP Saguaro friends again for the weekend. We enjoyed music in the clubhouse on Saturday night and the Fish Fry dinner on Monday night.
We reserved tickets ahead of time to go to Kartchner Caverns which is voted Arizona’s Best Attraction. Last time we were in the area, tickets were sold out for days so we purchased a week in advance to make sure we got in. There are two sections that you choose from, and after reading some online reviews, we decided to visit the Rotunda/Throne Tour. We will save the Big Room Tour for another time. We were guided through the pristine caverns while hearing the history of how two men discovered the cavern in 1974 and kept it a secret for 4 years before telling the property owners of it. The cavern featured soda straw stalactites, totems, helictites, and a huge 58′ column called “Kubla Khan.” Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside. No one was allowed to bring anything with them (no phones, backpacks, or bags). That is how they continue to protect and keep the caverns pristine. However, inside the Visitor Center, they recreated an 86,000-year-old Shasta ground sloth whose skeleton was discovered while exploring the cave, so I got a photo with that!
Next up … New Mexico!