The state capital of Arizona is Phoenix, so we stopped here to visit the capitol building. The visitors museum occupies the original 1901 building that was the capitol until they moved to the additions. It is only open 10-2 on Saturday’s. It is four stories tall so we started at the top where there is a chronological history of the state of Arizona and the construction of the capitol building. It was a great view of the rotunda floor. The third floor gave us an opportunity to sit in the gallery of the House of Representatives. They still have the original furniture from the 1920’s (they moved to the annex in the 60’s but left this for visitors). This is the 48th state and the last state in the contiguous states to enter the Union. On the second floor we were able to walk around the House of representatives, this is the first capitol building that didn’t have this section roped off. The 2nd floor had a really neat LEGO rendition of the state flag consisting of 114,006 LEGO bricks which is the total square miles in the state. Impressive even if you aren’t a LEGO fan. The first floor had memorabilia from the USS Arizona. This really meant a lot to us since we have been reading about WWII and just remembered the Pearl Harbor attack a few days earlier. Three years ago they put this stained flag on display here at the capitol building. Those stains are oil-fuel spatter from the USS Arizona, which was bombed at Pearl Harbor more than seven decades ago.
As we continued our tour we stepped outside to a wonderfully manicured lawn with a lot of memorials. The most impactful was the USS Arizona memorial that had the names of all the men killed. That’s the blue and silver display you see in the picture montage.
College visit #7 Arizona State University. The football stadium is literally cut right into the mountain, surrounded on both sides. ASU is ranked #1 most innovated college for the last 3 years. Abby said she didn’t want to go here because they are the ‘sun devils’ and she doesn’t want to ever have to cheer for the devils.
Arizona Science Center
I wasn’t that impressed with this science museum especially the price. The ticket prices are highest than any others we’ve been to and the customer service was the lowest.
The girls enjoyed it, so that’s a positive. There was a great body section with life size organs you could enter and really be inside them. The weather and geology areas aligned great with our schooling goals. They could have stayed and played in the water table all day.
The Heard Museum is a Native America Art museum that features perserved art pieces from history by native American’s and has galleries displaying current Native American artists and their pieces. At the time we visited the museum, it had an exhibit from artist T.C. Cannon. They had a whole room after the gallery for children with 4 stations to rotate through. We visited on a weekday so the girls were the only children in the museum. There is also a very impactful permanent exhibit about the Indian Boarding schools, which is rarely talked about in the history of the US.
Tonto National Monument and Forest
We had learned that Arizona has real Indian Cliff Dwellings so we sought out somewhere that was open to the public that we could do this. Tonto National Monument, in the Superstitious Mountains, was the place to go, they have 700 year old cliff dwellings that are very well preserved. They have two sets of them, the Lower and Upper. It said you had to call about seeing he Upper ones. I was excited to find out that the ranger leads a small group up once a day from November to April. The ranger said that it is a tough hike and asked several questions to be sure we were up for it and then took our names for the reservation. It started at 10:00am so we had to leave at 8:00am, yes I was willing to drive two hours to see them. This is the only way to see them, through guided tour for preservation. Everything we go to see is somewhere from 1-2 hours drive. It was an amazing drive through the mountains. We arrived in plenty of time. The tour took 2 hours to get up to the top of the mountain through several steep switch backs. The views were stunning. But the history and preservation of the cliff dwellings was impressive. There are corn cobs, quid (700 year old spit wads made from chewing agave stems and spitting out the fibers) (new scrabble word for you) and pieces of pottery just laying on the ground. Of course we didn’t touch anything but the ranger pointed it all out to us. We had lunch in a little cave near the dwellings. Eric, our ranger guide, was very informative. We learned such much about many of the Indian tribes in the area. We were free to go back down at our leisure, I had to pee so it only took us 30 minutes to hike down to the bottom (it’s all open desert and I wasn’t sure if it would be okay to pop a squat). After the potty break, a snack and the 15 minute NP video, the girls finished their junior ranger books. They received really nice wooden badges this time. Normally they are plastic. Some parks also give patches or patches instead of badges. The girls like both. They are putting them in the plastic clear view pocket of their camel back scout backpacks that their grandparents gave them for their birthdays this year (they sure are coming in handy!). Notice in one of the pictures, a butterfly hitched a ride on Abby’s pack during our hike. We haven’t see many butterflies out here in the dessert and figured it was hoping her bright colors were flowers. There’s a natural spring that runs down the mountain so we saw woods covered in Arizona sycamore (white bark), pines, and walnuts. It was a great contrast against the cactus filled dessert ahead.
After we rested we hiked up to the Lower Cliff dwellings which aren’t as large but this one is only 1/2 mile and the hike is paved. There is a ranger at the top to answer questions and to protect it but you can walk up on your own without a reservation and is open all year.
Found grass at Riverview park
This park, right outside of Phoenix, is huge. They have several playsets, 4 rope climbing zones and a splash pad. It is surrounded by grass and sits right next to a lake. It was a pleasant break from the desert scenery. Can you tell I like greenery?
A jewel of a town. This was 5 minutes from our site. We didn’t even know this place existed. We were out in the middle of nowhere so to look over and see this huge fountain shooting up in the air miles away was so interesting. Chris and I had seen one 12 years ago when we visited Switzerland so we were very intrigued. We turned the car around and tired to head in the direction where it was coming from and discovered a quint town of Fountain Hills. The fountain uses 7,000 gallons per minute and at its full height it reaches 560 feet in the air. It is the tallest in the world. If you are there for St. Patrick’s day, they will dye it green. We decided to grab a bite to eat at a small little restaurant near the lake. Once we walked closer to the fountain we discovered a wonderful playground with musical instruments.
We stayed at Eagle View RV resort in Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. We were east of Scottsdale, near Four Peaks, right on the Verde River. We were able to swim, walk to the community room and have juice breaks on our bike rides. We had a nice corner lot with lots of space.
Next and final stop in Arizona is the Grand Canyon! Stay tuned for Christmas on the road.