The Museum of the Horse Solider is a unique, privately funded museum dedicated to the U.S. Military’s mounted service. The horse soldier was actually an innovative part of our military expansion over many years involving the Army and the Marines.
When I learned this museum existed and was located in Tucson, I had to visit. My father-in-law was actually a horse soldier. We have a picture of him jumping his horse in his uniform similar to one of the pictures on display at the museum. The experience was as much personal as informative. I don’t want to forget the contribution of my father-in-law and all the others who pay the price of freedom we enjoy today.
Although the period of the mounted horse soldier ended in the late 1940’s, the years of mounted horse soldiers date back to before the Civil War. There were several overall innovations to the US Military because of the horse soldiers such as the unified need for procurement and improved quality. A quality improvement was the requirement of the soldier to humanely care for their horse.
The museum displays include uniforms, saddles, pictures, storyboards, weapons of rifles, handguns and swords, plus accessories, pictures and artifacts. Located at the Trail Dust Town on Tanque Verde, the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11AM to 8PM. The cost is only $3 and additional donations are appreciated.
Want to see a true representation of local art at its finest? Visit the Desert Artisans’ Gallery in Tucson. Art forms from paintings in acrylics, oils, watercolor and pastels, to sculptures in metals, glass and ceramics, jewelry in glass and metals, photography, pottery and more are on display at the gallery.
Thirty-two artists own the Desert Artisans’ Gallery. Their works are on display along with works from more than 30 other artists on consignment. The works embody the creative culture of the enriched Tucson region. The gallery stays fresh by replacing sold art and changes the shows quarterly. Artists frequently give exhibits and workshops so check with the gallery for a schedule.
The gallery is open seven days a week from 10AM to 5PM and 10AM to 1:30PM on Sunday. Located at 6536 E. Tanque Verde Road, the Desert Artisans’ Gallery is in the La Plaza Shoppes shopping center and has plenty of parking.
One of the artist owners work in the shop daily to assist with purchases and sharing information about the artists and the gallery. The art is a quality product, varied in scope and affordably priced.
The engineering and conceptual marvel, the Biosphere 2, is 26 miles north of Tucson and a ‘must see’ attraction to learn the history, the benefit and the future of this man-made ‘living’ structure.
Driving up Highway 77 North toward mile marker 96.5, looking for the Biosphere structure in the distant hills is to be expected. A large boulder with the words “Biosphere 2” engraved sits in front of a flagpole marking the turnoff. A two-lane asphalt road winds its way to the visitor parking area 2 miles off the main highway.
Signs in the visitor parking area direct you toward the Visitors Center. The entry is down the walkway to the left. A gift shop is through the door to the left, the ticket counter is straight ahead. A pictorial history of the building of the Biosphere 2 is to the right. Taking a few minutes to study the history will assist with further understanding of the Biosphere 2 during the tour.
Following the path down to the Biosphere 2 and the start of the tour will take you by several Casitas and natural gifts given to the Biosphere 2.
The magnificent views from the vantage point of the walkway are incredible. Not only views of the Biosphere 2 but of the surrounding region.
Continue the path to the open portal to begin the tour. Don’t hesitate…walk through the portal!
The start of the tour is an amazing video in a theater with interesting storyboards. Take a few minutes to read the information. The tour doesn’t come back through so this is the one opportunity. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and interactive, making the tour interesting and educational.
The Biosphere 2 experience was more than I anticipated. The educational experience alone was worth the price of admission but the experience of walking through the various atmospheres within the ‘living and breathing’ structure is memorable.
The living ocean is the first introduction to the environments you will experience. The internal area sealed under glass will awe and amaze. The other environments, the underground support system and the ‘lungs’ are all interesting, educational and inspiring.
Think about it for a minute – the level of knowledge, creativity, mechanical and overall engineering, especially for the time period, makes the success of the structure and the scientific discoveries an incredible accomplishment. This is a place everyone should experience. Find your own reasons but take the short drive out and spend part of your day exploring the Biosphere 2.
This is the best time of year to get outdoors and enjoy Phoenix, before it gets cold enough to require extra clothing and while it’s still hot enough to enjoy more activities and events. There are a lot of exciting events lined up for this weekend, so make plans for one last summer fling, or gear up for a bountiful fall calendar.
Actors Theatre Presents: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs – September 21 - 23. Mike Daisey had long been known in reviewers’ circles for channeling his obsessions into electric, fiery monologues. An Apple junkie by his own admission, Daisey traveled to Foxconn, the factory in Shenzhen, China where most of the world’s electronic gadgets are produced. Barred from entering, he stood outside and waited to speak to any employees he could. His first-person retelling foreshadowed a wave of stories of worker suicides, pre-teen employees, and draconian workdays that have tainted the reputation of Foxconn and its high-profile tech clients — Apple most of all — in recent months. A harrowing tale of pride, beauty, lust, and industrial design, Daisey illuminates how the former CEO of Apple and his obsessions have shaped our lives, while following the trail all the way to China to investigate the factories where millions toil to make iPhones and iPods. Daisey’s dangerous journey shines a light on our love affair with our devices and the human cost of creating them. Herberger Theatre Center, times vary. Tickets are $31 to $47. 602-254-7399, atphx.org.
Stand Up Live Presents: The Wayans Brothers – September 21 - 23. The Wayans family is filled with talented members, so there is no surprise that the two youngest brothers, Shawn and Marlon Wayans, have followed in their family’s footsteps as Hollywood icons. These two comedic prodigies have accomplished a lot in their relatively short careers so far. Both Shawn and Marlon Wayans made their acting debut in 1989 in their brother Keenen Ivory Wayans feature film “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka.” Immediately following their feature film debut, they joined the cast of the Emmy Award winning comedy series, “In Living Color”, “The Wayans Bros.” sitcom, which Shawn and Marlon created and starred in, was the first WB show to be sold into syndication after heading up the WB network lineup for five years. The brothers have also co-written and starred in numerous blockbusters including: “Scary Movie”, “Scary Movie 2”, “White Chicks” and many others. These are two brothers you will not want to miss seeing. Show times vary. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $45 VIP tickets include reserved seating and meet and greet with the brothers after the show. Two drink minimum required. 480-719-6100, standuplive.com.
The Art of Recovery Expo – September 22. The Art of Recovery Expo 2012 is open to the public and offers education, resources and solutions for addictions and behavioral health. The emphasis of this event is on adolescent, young adult and family recovery. Phoenix Convention Center- South Bldg. Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Artofrecoveryexpo.com.
Classics 1: Sarah Hicks Conducts Beethoven’s Violin Concerto - September 22. Celebrate the triumphant opening of the 2012/13 Concert Season with guest conductor Sarah Hicks at Phoenix Symphony Hall. Sarah kicks off a concert season filled with the brightest and most exciting guest conductors to come to Phoenix in years. Join Maestro Hicks as she brings her versatile and vibrant musicianship to The Phoenix Symphony. Leading Symphony Magazine’s “Emerging Artist to Watch,” violinist Elena Urioste performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, the most difficult yet most magnificent concerto in the composers repertoire. Kick off the new season with two powerhouse women representing the next generation of the Symphonic world. Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets starting at $18. 602-495-1999, phoenixsymphony.org.
Toto – September 23. Talking Stick Resort hosts everybody’s favorite and enduring 80’s band, Toto. Originally formed in 1977, Toto has continued to create the synergistic sounds that made them superstars, with monster hits like “Roseanna,” “Africa,” and “I Won’t Hold You Back” in 1982. After nearly three decades, Toto still electrifies, offering a great performance at this up-close and personal venue. Sunday 8:00 pm. Tickets $45 to $95. Talking Stick Resort, 9800 E Indian Bend road Scottsdale. talkingstickresort.com
As the state of Arizona continues to celebrate 100 years of statehood, the events that shaped the history of Arizona are recalled in great detail. Long forgotten facts and figures return to the forefront, providing a detailed look back into the evolution of the state, and how it came to be. The tales of Arizona history are often violent, often amusing but mostly fascinating. As every city in Arizona began to take shape, they each contributed their own anecdotal history to the formation of the state as we know it today. Phoenix Arizona is certainly way up on the list when it comes to contributing fascinating and significant defining moments in the state’s history. That also happens to be one of the attractions to Phoenix, the rich and diverse history of this ever changing city, and the state capitol. Here are ten significant moments in the history of Phoenix. Moments that defined the city, and contributed to the history of the state.
The green valley that was to become Phoenix is irrigated by a series of complex canals and aqueducts that provide water from the Salt River. Created by the Hohokam Indians, the once sprawling area inhabited by the Hohokam people is mysteriously abandoned around 1450. It is believed years of severe drought caused the collapse and demise of the original inhabitants of Phoenix.
From the foot of the White Tank Mountains, Jack Swilling peers across the still green, yet largely uninhabited valley in 1867. Swilling seizes upon the idea of farming the fertile valley. Following the ancient aqueducts created by the Hohokam, Swilling begins irrigating the valley and the popularity, as well as the crops in the area, begins to grow. After undergoing several name changes, such as “Pumpkinville” and “Swillings Mill,” the ‘Lord’ Phillip Darrel Duppa came up with the name of the city. Depending on which version you hear, Duppa decided on the name when pointing out that the city was borne of the ashes of the Hohokam, and that the original people of the valley would rise again, in the form of the new city of Phoenix.
County elections are held for the first time in 1871, electing Tom Barnum as the first sheriff of Maricopa County. During the election, two other candidates for sheriff; J. A. Chenowth and Jim Favorite, were involved in a shoot-out with each other that resulted in Favorite’s death and Chenowth’s inevitable withdrawal from the race. Phoenix’s youth began attending the first school in 1871, with classes conducted in the courtroom of the county building. About 20 children attended the first classes taught in the courtroom. By October 1873, a small adobe school building was completed on Center Street (now Central Avenue), a short distance north of where the San Carlos Hotel now stands. Miss Nellie Shaver, a newcomer from Wisconsin, was appointed as the first female schoolteacher in Phoenix.
After having to take a back seat to Prescott and Tucson, Phoenix was finally made the State Capitol in 1889 by the 15th Arizona Territorial Legislature. The city now has horse-drawn streetcars, and a population of over 2,400, a school enrollment of 379 pupils, an ice factory and a new brick sidewalk in front of the Tiger Saloon. Maricopa County conducts its first ‘legal’ hanging on November 26 of that same year.
With the railroad now arriving in Phoenix, the growth of the city explodes exponentially. The Salt River Valley Water Users Organization (later changed to the Salt River Project) is formed, paving the way for increased commerce, agriculture and modernization. Construction on Roosevelt dam begins in 1906, and on May 18, 1911, the former president himself dedicates the new and innovative dam, constructed to provide hydroelectric power as well as water for agriculture. The dedication of Roosevelt dam is considered the pivotal moment in Phoenix history, and the entire state as well, paving the way for Arizona to be recognized as a state by President William Howard Taft on February 14, 1912.
After only eight years as a state, Phoenix was not a little western town in the valley any more, it was now a bustling city of 29,053 people. By 1920, Phoenix Union High School had two thousand students in attendance. That year, a total of 1,080 buildings went up in downtown Phoenix. Among them was the first skyscraper in Arizona, the Heard Building. The 1920 were transitional for America, but this decade also brought to light a prevailing proclivity for corruption that would continue to plague the city for many years to come. Beginning with the $1,300,000 bond issue of 1919 to build a redwood pipeline from the Verde River to Phoenix, the pipeline was completed it 1920, but didn’t even work.
As Phoenix entered the 1930’s, it was far from immune to all of the ills of post industrial America. The great depression meant a major downturn in the US economy, while the size of Phoenix nearly doubled again with a 48,118 census count. With a public library sporting a collection of 51,000 books, and a police force of 70 men, the City of Phoenix pressed on. After the Redwood Pipeline scandal of the 1920’s, Phoenix gave it one more shot and another pipeline was built – this time constructed with 48 inches of concrete, which still carries Verde River water to this day.
The outbreak of World War II was another defining moment for the city, perhaps as significant as the completion of Roosevelt Dam. So much happened in Phoenix during the 1940’s to re-shape, re-define and re-establish the city that optimism and fear seemed to waver from one extreme to the other on an hourly basis. Before the start of the war, Phoenix seemed stuck at standstill, as both agriculture and product distribution had both gone as far as they could (at the time) neither growing at a significant rate, or showing signs of diminishing either. When America became involved in the war, Phoenix suddenly found itself thrust into a massive and emerging industrial city. Luke Field, Williams Field and Falcon Field, added with the giant ground training center at Hyder, west of Phoenix, brought thousands of men into Phoenix. Phoenix businesses flourished overnight, providing for the military and personal needs of the huge influx of soldiers.
After the war, many of the young men who were sent to Phoenix decided to stay, and many who passed through the state as a result of the war decided to return and become permanent residents. Thus began a post war renaissance like no other. The City of Phoenix in the 1950’s bustled with young mean eager to work, settle down and raise a family. Agriculture had reached its epoch, so manufacturing and technology poured into the city, building manufacturing plants, industrial centers, shipping and distribution. With such a young labor force, and completely new and innovative methods of manufacturing and technology suddenly thrust upon the city, plans were drawn up to accommodate this new lifestyle and changing face of America. Perhaps the 1950’s were a pivotal moment in the city’s history in both a good way and a bad way. Urban growth continued at an unprecedented pace. The farms that had defined the city were being paved over, with new, energy efficient suburbs to replace them. The city quickly drew up plans for what Phoenix would have to become in the next 10 years in order to meet the demands of the economic boom.
Where did it begin? When did it end? It’s hard to say precisely, but the boom of the 1950’s would cast a pall over the city for many decades to come. Still blinded by the unparalleled economic growth and success of the previous decade, Phoenix began demolishing much of the old city in order to make way for what was perceived at the time would be the city of the future; with new, space-age architecture and skyscrapers to rival that of any major metropolitan city that also happened to be an economic hub. Phoenix of the 1960’s through the 1980’s was far more than a city in transition. It was an eager and often overzealous city, where corruption would be vanquished one day, only to return on another, the cycle repeating over and over. A city where progress would be maintained at all costs, regardless of whatever happened to be in the way. Phoenix of today is a vast tapestry of contrasts, a city still eager to continue in its forward momentum, yet reserved in its approach after the painful lessons of the past. A city incorporating the best of what is new, while tenuously embracing its vanishing past.
What are you looking for in your next vacation? Are you seeking a brand new adventure or mysterious exploration into the past? You want to go where everyone is going but you want to get away from it all at the same time. Phoenix has what you are looking for in abundance. The oft visited landmarks still provide the sense of personal discovery, while the new and cosmopolitan experiences feel like catching a popular trend just as the first wave is beginning to swell. The vacation hotspots in Phoenix are more than the places everyone is going to; they are the experiences everyone wants to have, again and again. Here are some places to visit in Phoenix that will provide just what you are looking for, a retro escape into a time long ago, or an immersion into the latest innovations and accommodations.
Let’s start with a round of golf. No matter what generation you are from, the Maryvale Golf Course provides a nostalgic trek across urban greens much like they were 40 years ago. Through the years, this city course has retained its space-age, early 60’s charm and kitsch while providing a full day of golf for all levels of experience. In just minutes you can travel back to the future, arriving at the Raven Golf Club just on the edge of South Mountain. One of the newest courses in Phoenix, the course incorporates all of the modern amenities with a day of mountain golf amidst Georgia pine, tree-lined fairways and multi-tiered greens.
For the ultimate blast from the past, head to Big Surf Water Park water park in Tempe, less than a mile from the edge of Phoenix. This groovy, surfin’ 70’s hold-out has been going on strong since the day it opened way back in 1969. Boasting “The Original North American Wave Pool” the water park features slides, rides and the best waves for surfing. For something newer but just as thrilling, Castles and Coasters is only 11 miles from the heart of downtown Phoenix. In operation since 1980, the park offers attractions such as roller coasters, go-carts and miniature golf, all set within a Taj Mahal/middle eastern theme.
When it comes to places to stay in Phoenix, pick the era you want to revisit, among the mementos and memorabilia. Or boldly step into the future, surrounded by pristine, automatic elegance and chic. Of course the haunted Hotel San Carlos is way up on the list for the time traveler. The moment you step into the lobby of this downtown Phoenix landmark you are transported to another time and calm, easygoing Phoenix just on the cusp of becoming a major metropolitan city. For a journey through time and history, murder and mystery, visit the Hotel Clarendon just north of downtown. With its psychedelic swimming pool and glass-walled waterfall, the hotel Clarendon has maintained an eclectic clientele. The hotel is also a shrine to Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, who died after a bomb exploded under his car in the hotel parking lot back in 1976.
The newer Downtown Phoenix Hotels continue to inch ever skyward, with skyscrapers sporting the latest modern accoutrements, architecture and amenities. Inside, fixtures glisten and sound-proof glass silently presents the splendor of the city. The brand new luxury hotels of Phoenix are quickly becoming the hottest spots for a weekend stay or just an evening in the lounge. Rooftop pools are often open to visitors for an afternoon of swimming and the most breathtaking sunset vistas in the evening.
Sports fans can enjoy an easy afternoon of baseball the way they always remembered, or be surrounded in major league opulence. Just on the very edge of Phoenix, across from the Phoenix Zoo and Papago Park resides the Phoenix Municipal Stadium and the spring training facilities for the Oakland Athletics. Fondly referred to as ‘Phoenix Muni,’ the stadium was built in 1964 and underwent major renovations in 2003. Only 8 miles to the west, Major League Baseball is enjoyed at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. Opened in 1998, the retractable-roofed stadium is home of the Arizona Diamondbacks as well as Concerts, Monster Truck Rally’s and Motocross Racing.
The vacation hotspots of Phoenix provide something for everybody; from a leisurely stroll down memory lane, to in intense and fast-paced whirlwind weekend of sights and sounds. Offering a peek into the past, while embracing the best of everything new and now.
The tales are often tall and sometimes terrifying; the hotel rooms you have stayed in during your vacation and the accommodations and service you have experienced. It’s time to try something different and a vacation rental is just the something you should consider. Perhaps the cost of a rental has been a concern, or maybe the length of your stay didn’t seem to warrant staying in a vacation rental. You want to easily check in and quickly check out, keeping things as simple as possible. This can all be done just as easily by renting a vacation property, with the added benefit of getting much more for your money. However, you need to always ensure that you triple check references and contracts when working with a property manager.
Now is the time to consider a vacation rental over a hotel for several reasons. In a vacation rental, you can relax by a private pool instead of the crowded one at the hotel. You can cook your dinner in a large, functional kitchen instead of the tiny kitchenette you would often have to pay extra for in a hotel. Enjoy a homey, comfy feeling as you spend your vacation in comfortable and personal surroundings, garnering the full, easygoing experience of a permanent resident. While these are just a few of the things to consider when deciding on a vacation rental over a hotel, here are five factors that are often overlooked when trying to decide between the usual, tried-and-true hotel route or going with a satisfying and rewarding vacation rental.
In a Big Country: The wide open spaces.
Stretch out and enjoy the roomy expanse of a rental property. This is not just a tiny space barely big enough to accommodate you during your stay; this is a furnished home or condo. People already enjoy living here and fortunately, you have the opportunity experience this as well by staying here during your vacation. Many of the vacation rentals listed by the owner can comfortably accommodate a whole family and even several friends. Take your time and call around for the most square footage that will suit your needs. This is ideal when traveling with family; since everyone stays together, you won’t be split up into several different rooms.
Help support a small business.
Why should those huge hotel chains get all of your money? Let the ‘mom and pop’ have a shot at making your vacation memorable while you support a local business. When you start to consider where you would really like to stay, your imagination will run wild; a cabin in the woods, a tiny villa on the beach, a luxury condo in the heart of the city. Call your vacation rental company and see what they have. Chances are they have just what you are looking for at a price you’ve had in mind. Every day, people just like you are turning their second homes into your next dream vacation. As you flip through the travel magazines, you can turn past the hotels and standard accommodations. See your destination as you have always wanted to experience it. Make your next adventure unique; tailored to your schedule among the accommodations you desire the most.
One of the hardest things to do is leave your dog behind while you go on vacation. Kennels are expensive and dog sitters are often hard to find. Few hotels offer pet friendly accommodations and when they do, they are often at a very high price. One of the greatest benefits of choosing a rental property over a hotel room is the increased opportunity to bring your pet with you on vacation. Many of the rental property owners have pets of their own, so requests from visitors to bring along their pets are not unusual. Not all will take pets, but the ability to locate a pet-friendly rental is much easier and much more negotiable.
Practical, personal, memorable.
Experience your vacation in a very personal way; tailor made to match your expectations and accommodations. The weekend at the beach side resort is more than a visit to the coast. The fresh seafood you bought at the local market is prepared by you that very evening in your spacious kitchen, complete with all of the amenities you need to make it the experience you have always dreamed off. Ride your bikes around town and keep them with you. Your choices for transportation will suddenly expand into ways you never considered; saving you money while opening new doors for adventure. When staying at a hotel, much of your schedule has already been determined for you with all of the shuttle schedules, complimentary dining hours, check-ins and check-outs. Often as a result, several limitations have been indirectly placed on your vacation plans. Put your vacation plans back into your own hands by staying at a vacation rental. Make your own schedule!
Be a traveler, not a tourist.
There is nothing wrong with being a tourist, and sometimes we prefer to stick with the schedule and stay with the tour. A vacation rental provides the perfect opportunity to do both, easily accommodating the opportunity to flex from one extreme to the other. You know you’ll be spending most of the day on the tour bus with the other sightseers, but when the tour is over, relax in your vacation rental, recalling the afternoon in the comfort of your private, spacious accommodations while planning your evening. Meet new people and explore a whole new aspect of your vacation you may not have even considered. Sit outside with your family and enjoy an evening the way the local residents do. Take in all the sights a tourist would while experiencing your vacation as only a local can.
Phoenix is a rapidly expanding, burgeoning and bursting city. Development is so rapid in downtown that the cityscape seems to change overnight. Progress is inevitable and historic preservation is enviable, yet the balance between the two always seems to remain elusive. Phoenix has had a rather dismal track record of historic preservation. The desire to continually grow and expand was not tempered with a concurrent concern for historic preservation. In some cases, entire blocks of original structures were leveled in a day, with the lots remaining empty for years, in anticipation of future development. There are many nationally registered historic structures in Phoenix, most of them offering tours. There are also several business that have been continually operating in Phoenix, many have been around for several years. These businesses have been around so long, in fact, that it is almost expected that they will always be there. They are iconic and symbolic. They are part of the landscape. I always make a point to visit these establishments because they represent a part of Phoenix and the country itself that is beginning to disappear. They represent a method of consumerism that we as a society no longer pursue. A style of décor that is no longer de rigueur. A form of entertainment that was once the norm, but has now become niche. Here are five things to do in Phoenix before these icons of Americana vanish forever.
The Glendale 9 Drive-In
Driving past the Scottsdale 6 drive-in every night, and glancing into the void just to the west of the 101 freeway, one would see movie screens illuminating the darkness, offering a tiny teaser of the movie that was playing. The welcome sight provided a brief respite and a glimpse of humanity. The Scottsdale 6 is closed now, and the dark empty space it once illuminated seems so lonely. The Drive-in is simply a vanishing slice of Americana; we just don’t go to the drive-in anymore, we no longer watch movies this way. The drive-ins are vanishing all across America and now, only one remains open in Phoenix: The Glendale 9. With 9 screens playing there is a movie for everyone. But there is more going on at the Glendale 9 then catching a movie for $6.50, as the drive-in fills with carloads of families, friends and film fans all looking for a place to get outside and be around other people. The area takes on a block party atmosphere with children playing, and moviegoers having dinner in their cars. Most of the patrons are oblivious to the screen; they can certainly say they saw the movie, but most are there for the atmosphere, as the screens fill with light while the crimson Arizona sky melts into a deep blue and eventually darkness.
Bill Johnson’s Big Apple
This iconic eatery on Van Buren street has been serving big ‘ol breakfasts, lunch and dinners to Arizonans since 1956, and the Johnson family assures everyone that they are here to stay. Just pulling into the parking lot and seeing the enormous neon sign out front, complete with a glaring steer and the words “Let’s Eat” fills anyone with nostalgia for the golden age Phoenix; when ‘Cowboys’ were the sixth ‘C’ of Arizona commerce and people flocked to the state to enjoy the experience of living the western life. The restaurant, complete with all of its kitschy, rustic splendor has been a symbol of resiliency and longevity in Phoenix throughout some of the harshest adversity. As Van Buren filled with motels in the 1960’s, some offering fine dining right there at the motel, it seemed the family steakhouse all alone on the corner of 35th and Van Buren would become absorbed and eventually annihilated in all of the progress. Most of the motels are gone now, but Bill Johnsons remains. Into the 90’s, just naming the street it was on elicited jokes and knowing giggles, as the reputation of the once thriving Van Buren street and the area itself fell into disrepair. Still, the restaurant remained. Stepping into the gaudy and goofy interior today, one still can’t help feeling a tinge of concern for the Phoenix landmark, as the old buildings around the restaurant are demolished daily, and massive developments sweep over the entire block. Set aside one morning to spend at Bill Johnsons, even if the western style, family eatery isn’t your thing. Say howdy to the western garbed, pistol packin’ waitress and get your original AZ grub on. There’s history displayed on the walls and whispering within the walls; in every booth and at every table. While the new Phoenix bustles and booms just outside, take a moment to remember what it was like in Phoenix, as modern living and western life melded into an odd and easy union of Formica and farmers, silicon and sidewinders, saguaros and satellites.
Phoenix Park ‘N Swap
The Park ‘N Swap webpage prominently states “Park ‘N Swap Is Not Closing,” providing a necessary reassurance in light of all of the other regular swap-meets that have closed recently. Again, it is the method of consumerism that is fading, not the venue. Covering 50 acres on the corner of Washington and 40th street, the Phoenix Park ‘n Swap has been operating regularly in the same place since the 1960’s. Just to the south, the empty Phoenix Greyhound Park looms in the distance; closed and empty after over 50 years of operation. As the light rail whizzes past and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport encroaches ever closer, the trampling of progress and development seems to thunder through the canopied shopping plaza. 2 bucks gets you through the gate, where you can easily spend an entire day just looking around. Low-rider oldies blast from one booth while at another, shoppers pick through tables covered in tools. The aesthetic and style of shopping has remained the same for many years, while the items and displays seem to change constantly. Get there super early on Saturday morning for the items being sold out of truckbeds, and spend the rest of the day beneath the misters with the regulars. Venture up one row of vendors and down the next; enjoy the view of downtown, appreciating the throng of visitors in this giant parking lot, as the city slowly surrounds the shoppers.
Phoenix Police Museum
Not only is the Phoenix Police Museum NOT going to close, it just celebrated its grand reopening in its new location at the original, newly renovated city hall. So why mention this attraction with such urgency? After seeing all of the other Phoenix/Arizona history museums close unexpectedly. Phoenix history is getting harder and harder to find. You really have to work for it now; it is being developed, incorporated, replaced and erased. The massive Arizona Mining Museum near the state capitol has been closed since May of 2011, with plans to reopen in November 2012 as the “Arizona Experience Museum.” The proposed new attraction is slated to celebrate the “5 C’s of Arizona.” For now, the building remains closed. The Phoenix Museum of History has been closed and shuttered since June of 2009, the archives and artifacts unavailable to anybody desiring to learn the fascinating history of the City of Phoenix. At the enormous Burton-Barr library, the Arizona Room proudly dominated the north side of the fourth floor, where researchers would pour through the priceless collections in quiet and comfortable expanse. Now, the entire collection is squeezed into a tiny, second floor corner of the library. With the current track record of Phoenix history collections, the apprehension that followed the closing of the Phoenix Police Museum was not unwarranted, and it was to great relief when it reopened at its new location at 17 South 2nd Avenue. Go to a history museum, any one of them; be it the Hall of Flame or the Tempe History Museum. See the archives and touch the history of the city, before it is packed away in boxes, the windows shuttered and the padlocked door sadly stating that the museum is closed, indefinitely.
Go downtown, deep downtown, to the fenced off, boarded up relics of the past. The empty brick and mortar sentinels silently clinging to the city’s history while somberly awaiting their imminent demise. Many of the old buildings are not listed on any historic register or guidebook. Often, it is up to you to discover their history. See them while you can. Photograph and remember them while they still stand. Preserve the once majestic and domineering edifices as they become dwarfed and eventually annihilated in the shadow of progress.
As Friday rolled around, the hands of the clock seemed to tick slower and slower. Worse even, they seemed to be moving backwards! A day without end approaching a weekend without a plan. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Your family patiently waiting for you to get home to begin a thrilling weekend of yard-work and household chores. Suddenly the phone rings, the voice on the other end is mysterious but serious and you listen intently at first, and then incredulously. The caller informs you that you have inherited a fortune, but before you can claim your windfall there is one provision that must be met: you must travel to Phoenix, Arizona and experience what could only be described as ‘the ultimate Phoenix vacation’ within the next 24 hours. Should you fail; all of the money will go to your mysterious benefactor’s pet cats. In a flash you are out the door, and in a whirlwind of planes, trains and automobiles, you suddenly find yourself and your family smack in the middle of Phoenix Arizona. Where do you begin? Hold on tight, for you are about to embark on The Ultimate Phoenix AZ vacation.
Don’t panic, everything is there right before your eyes. You can do it all, you just need a strategy. Head downtown to Central and Washington. This will be the epicenter from which the exciting shock waves of fun shall emanate. Go west for 4 scenic blocks and enter and explore the Arizona Science Center and all of the fascinating exhibits it has to offer. Right off the bat there will be plenty of fun for the entire family. Outside in the courtyard, explore historic buildings from Phoenix’s colorful past in the Heritage Square. Take a short 1 block walk south of the square and you are standing in the shadow of Chase Field. Go inside the ballpark and watch the Arizona Diamondbacks as they battle it out with your favorite baseball team. You’ll want to hang around with all of the other baseball fans after the game but time is of the essence, there is so much more to see and do, and millions are at stake.
Head north now, towards the Phoenix Convention Center and see what’s going on. The twelfth annual bottle cap and pog collectors’ convention is in town. What a coincidence! Moving on, less than 20 yards away, the Phoenix Symphony Hall has a show going on that you could only see during a whirlwind vacation like this. Now get ready, ‘cause were going to kick it into overdrive. After the show you just attended at Symphony Hall, go out the lobby doors and head west on Adams Street. Go inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel on your right, take the elevator to the top and go inside the only revolving restaurant in downtown; The Compass Restaurant. To make it official, complete at least one, 360 degree revolution. Now go back down to where you started on 2nd street and Adams. Head west again two blocks to the intersection of Central and Adams. Wait for a fresh ‘walk’ sign from the traffic signal. The second it is time to cross, walk to the middle of the intersection, stop and turn to the right (facing north) and now you are standing in the exact same spot Janet Leigh sat in her car as her boss crossed the street in a famous scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960). Cross the street safely to the west side of Central. Walk one block north and enter the historic and haunted Hotel San Carlos. You’re guaranteed to photograph lots of supernatural orbs and entities, depending on how filthy your camera lens is.
Exit the east doors of the Hotel San Carlos and walk north on Central one block to Van Buren. Having arrived at the northbound Light Rail Station, purchase your light rail pass from the convenient, automated ticket kiosk. Get on the train and take a seat. No, a seat. That large flat space just by the door may look like the luxurious play area of an early Pullman car, but this is where the passengers stow their bicycles. When you arrive at McDowell and Central, exit and mosey over to the Phoenix Art Museum. Take it all in, as much as you can. Now get back on the light rail and continue heading north, but don’t get too comfy. In fact, just go ahead and stand in the bike storage area if it means so much to you. Next stop; Encanto and Central for a visit to the world famous Heard Museum.
The phone rings; your mysterious financier wants to know your progress. You can sense the dander rising in the angry felines as you read off your impressive list. You can now call it a night, and get an early start on your ultimate vacation tomorrow. Your inheritance is in the bag; for in the morning there is a round of golf at any one of first rate Phoenix Golf Courses you have to choose from. The kids have had enough and would like to spend the day at one of the amusement and water parks around Phoenix. Perhaps they just want to spend the day at the Phoenix Zoo. You’re barely getting warmed up as your frustrated executor informs you that you have met all of the provisions of the will. A feeling of deep satisfaction, accomplishment and adventure overwhelms you, as you hang up the phone to the sound of ringing cash registers and hundreds of angry cats.
The Fourth of July is over. Nothing to do now but clean up all of the celebratory fireworks debris from the city parks and get ready for another fun and exciting weekend in Phoenix. If you have remotely considered taking in the Phoenix art scene, but were waiting for the right time to get downtown; no more procrastination! Now you have the motivation. First Friday Artwalk in downtown Phoenix is this Friday, July 6, 2012. While there really is no official start time, the Artwalk usually runs from 6pm to 10pm. This is by far the best time to experience the Phoenix art scene, as most of the galleries are open in the evening to display the work of local artists, as well as several special engagements, installations and presentations in the galleries and some spaces rented just for First Friday. There is plenty of free parking at the Burton Barr Library, and a short, 1-block walk south will take you to the Roosevelt Row art district. You won’t need a map as you dive right in, discovering different galleries as you venture down Roosevelt. If this scene just isn’t happening for you, flag down the free ‘Ollie the Trolley’ and hop on. Tell the guide where you’re headed and they will take you to several other different Artwalks on their route, including downtown and the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural center. Or, head west to the galleries and night spots of Grand Avenue. This is the weekend you’ve been waiting for, experience Phoenix First Friday! For maps and a listing of venues, visit artlinkphoenix.com
Along with the First Friday Artwalk, there are several other events lined up for a great weekend of sports, music, art and science in downtown Phoenix. Among some of the highlights:
Math geeks; stand and be recognized as the Arizona Science Center opens it’s latest interactive exhibit MathAlive!, a highly entertaining, interactive traveling exhibition that allows visitors to experience math in action. MathAlive! will open Sunday, July 8, at the Arizona Science Center and it will be the first West Coast stop of the exhibitions 15-city tour. Presented nationally by Raytheon and sponsored locally by JPMorgan Chase and APS, this featured exhibition will be located in the Sybil B. Harrington Galleries. The 6,500-square-foot exhibition brings to life all the various types of mathematics at work, whether in design, application or use, and behind the things kids love most – video games, sports, design, music, entertainment, space and robotics. The exhibition uses immersive and innovative technologies to create fun experiences that help visitors understand how math is used in countless ways. Highlights include a downhill race in which visitors literally ride snowboards and a photo stage on which visitors can capture their own image in a 360-degree freeze action photo, in the style made famous in contemporary action movies. Free for members, $5 for non-member adults, $4 for non-member seniors and $3 for non-member kids. For info: 602-716-2000. www.azscience.org
There’s no better way to continue the vibrant, patriotic feeling of Independence Day then spending the weekend enjoying Americas favorite pastime. Head over to Chase Field and watch the Arizona Diamondbacks take on the Los Angeles Dodgers for a four game series beginning July 5th and wrapping up on July 8th. History could be in the making during this series, as the L.A. Dodgers have just slipped into first place. Tickets are $8-$135. 602-462-6500. www.dbacks.com
For a most definitely memorable music experience this weekend, check out the Crescent Ballroom this Sunday, July 8th as Latin Grammy and ‘MTV-Latin America award winning artist Mala Rodriguez takes on Phoenix during the Dirty Bailarina Tour. Rodriguez won ‘Best Urban Song’ for her single “No Pidas Perdon” at the 2010 Latin Grammy Awards. Guest artists include Shining Soul, Flamenco Por La Vida, Musa Mind and DJ Melo. Already legendary in Spain, Rodriguez’s brand ‘flamingo music’ inspired hip hop has made her a mainstay in the Spanish music scene since the late 1990s. Don’t miss your chance to see this Latin Queen perform in Phoenix. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. 602-716-2222. www.crescentphx.com