Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What To Do With Holiday Visitors?

    As sure as “mistletoe and holly” now decorate our homes, this season also brings us another annual sign of winter – our out-of-town family and friends arriving for some Arizona sunshine.  Just look at the weather map across this great nation and it is easy to see why our homes are a favorite destination.  Now the big decision – what close to Anthem can you do with them once they have arrived?
    Here is a listing of some of our favorite destinations that can be completed in a single day from Anthem.  With the exception of the “wine tour” all are appropriate for the whole family to enjoy.

For those who love animals…
    The Phoenix Zoo is exceptional!  But there are three other outstanding zoos/parks near Anthem that can delight and educate us all about the amazing animals with whom we share the earth.  The Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium, www.wildlifeworld.com/, in the northwest Valley specializes in getting you up close and personal to the animals.  The newly opened Butterfly Wonderland, www.butterflywonderland.com/, in north Scottsdale is a delight for anyone fascinated by these most beautiful and delicate of nature’s creatures.  And the Out of Africa Wildlife Park, www.outofafricapark.com/, near Cottonwood can be a daylong thrill as park visitors ride the zip-lines above the animals.  
    And if you just want to spend a lazy day fishin’, the AZ Game & Fish Urban Fishing Program, www.azgfd.gov/h_f/urban_fishing.shtml, in downtown Phoenix is a great way to spend a warm winter day fishin’ in the sunshine! 

For those who enjoy the arts…
    Museums dedicated to the arts make for a wonderful way to spend a winter day.  The Desert Caballeros Western Museum, www.westernmuseum.org/, in nearby Wickenburg is a world-class museum dedicated to western art.  Another unique museum of western art is the Basha Gallery of Western & Native American Art, www.bashas.com/OurCommunity/BashasArtGallery.aspx, located in the corporate headquarters of the Bashas’ Grocery in Chandler.  The art collection found here is fabulous even though the museum’s location is not typical for an art museum.
    The Musical Instrument Museum, www.mim.org, in north Phoenix has become world-famous in the short 3 years that it has been open.  And, if your guests enjoy street art, the Roosevelt Row Art District, www.rooseveltrow.org/about/roosevelt-row-arts-district/, will give any visitor a great way to explore the central part of Phoenix while discovering the alleys and small business walls covered with impressive, murals of urban street art.
For those who want to hike and/or mountain bike…
    Central Arizona is ideal for hiking/biking during the cool winter months.  Spur Cross, www.maricopa.gov/parks/spur_cross/, in nearby Cave Creek has an interesting series of trails through the desert environment.
    Maricopa County Parks, www.maricopa.gov/parks/, all offer great places to spend a day hiking in the Sonoran Desert.  We are lucky that Cave Creek Regional Park is only a ½ hour drive away, but the trailheads of McDowell Mountain and White Tank Regional Parks are within a 2-hour drive.   
    The hiking trails found in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve, www.scottsdaleaz.gov/preserve/trailheads, are second to none and all of those trailheads are less than an hours drive from Anthem.
    If your guests are interested in some real Arizona history, the moderate, 4.8 round-trip hike to Weavers Needle, www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/peralta-trail, in the Superstition Mountains is a classic outing that can be completed within a day.
    The red-rock trails of Sedona are less than 2-hours away and this link, www.greatsedonahikes.com/, will give you and your guests all the information needed to pick a red-rock trail.  Be sure to check out the weather forecast before hiking during the winter in Sedona. 

For those who like a little wine & a little history…
    Arizona’s Verde Valley Wine Trail, www.vvwinetrail.com/, is only 1½ hour away.  The tasting rooms are open most days.  Other daylong Verde Valley outings could include visiting the historic ghost town of Jerome, www.azjerome.com/jerome/, riding on the Verde Canyon Railroad, www,verdecanyonrr.com/, out of Clarkdale, or visiting the Native American ruins of Tuzigoot, Montezuma Castle & Well National Monuments, www.usparkinfo.com/State/az.html.
For those just wanting to taking a drive…

    Maybe all your winter visitors only want to spend most of their days just riding in the car.  A drive up the Apache Trail, www.arizona-leisure.com/apache-trail.html, from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake is an Arizona classic outing and will leave your guests talking about this adventure for years to come. From Roosevelt Lake you can return to the Valley by way of Globe and paved highways.
    A partial drive up the Apache Trail will bring your guest to the Dolly Steamboat, www.dollysteamboat.com/, where they can enjoy a scenic cruise on Canyon Lake and then catching a late lunch at nearby Tortilla Flats, www.tortillaflataz.com/
    Another great daylong outing is to discover and photograph “Rocky”, Arizona’s loveable roadside amphibian.  Located just 1½ miles north of Congress, AZ and across Highway 89, www.usroute89.com/us-route-89-roadside-diversions-rocky-the-frog, from the Arrowhead Bar and Grill, this 16 foot, 60 ton green, rock frog landmark has been thrilling travelers since 1928.

     So when those out-of-town guests show up this year, get out and enjoy the many and varied day-long adventures close to Anthem.  They are guaranteed to make their trip this year to Arizona one they will always remember!      

#1 & #2 – Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium
#4 – Out of Africa Wildlife Park
#10 – Musical Instrument Museum
#18 – Verde Canyon Railroad

All the rest of the pictures belong to us!  Happy Holidays!

Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium

Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium

Butterfly Wonderland

Out of Africa, Cottonwood, Az

Urban lake near downtown Phoenix

Desert Caballeros Museum, Wickenburg, AZ

Basha Museum

Basha Museum

Musical Instrument Museum

Urban Mural Project

Urban Mural Project

Weavers Needle

Verde Valley Wine Tasking Trail

Verde Canyon Railroad

Dolly tours Canyon Lake

The famous Apache Trail

Famous Fish Creek Hill


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Of Monarch Butterflies and Elepahant Seals

     We just completed a nine day journey over to the Pismo Beach area of California to photograph monarch butterflies and elephant seals for future Live Science stories.  Here are some of our favorite pictures of our December 2014 journey.

The pier at Pismo Beach, CA

A camera mistake turns into a unique Christmas Tree

The over-wintering Monarch Butterflies of Pismo Beach, CA

The Pismo clam as a turkey

The Pismo clam as Rudolph

Autumn leaves of Pismo Beach

A real poinsettia

The cliffs of Pismo Beach, CA

 More Pismo Beach cliffs

Virgin of Guadalupe in Guadalupe, CA

Elephant Seals just north of San Simeon, CA

Young males practicing the fighting technique

That's a face we could all love

Practicing that beachmaster roar

Most interesting face

View from the Cambria Shore Inn, Cambria, CA

The boardwalk along the ocean

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, CA
Gypsy explores the succulent garden

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"The Last Full Measusre..." - Veterans Day 2014

     Arizonans long ago formally commemorated the sacrifices made by thousands of its citizens during the ten plus years of conflict in Vietnam with the dedication of the state’s official Vietnam Veterans Memorial on November 9, 1985.  Located near the state capital in Wesley Bolin Plaza, this moving memorial is the work of famous sculptor Jasper d’Ambrosi.
    Here on this small plot of Arizona “holy ground” are engraved on 10 columns of polished black granite the names of 613 Arizonans who “gave their last full measure” or who were missing in action in Vietnam.  The ten, tablets of honor encircle a larger-than-life statue of three struggling, American soldiers who exemplify the brotherhood and courage that bond all Vietnam War veterans.
    The non-profit In-County Vietnam Veterans Association sponsors an annual Vietnam Remembrance Day at this memorial the last Sunday of April close to the anniversary of the 1975 fall of Saigon.
    The Arizona Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of thirty-two monuments found in Wesley Bolin Plaza which acts as Arizona’s “national mall”.  Open every day of the year, Wesley Bolin Plaza is where the monuments to Arizona’s heroes reside for all citizens to walk among, learn and remember.

Vietnam War Memorial at Wesley Bolin Plaza