Jan 21st – Jan 27
We backtracked from Yuma to Tempe Az. We wanted to check out the Tempe, Pheonix, Mesa area. We’ve decided to postpone our trip to New Mexico to another season – we just couldn’t get excited about cold days and freezing nights when we’re in summer sun in Arizona. So there’s a change in itinerary – because we can!
Our Tempe camp spot at Apache Palms RV in Tempe was a very city location. We aren’t far from downtown and there was a Metro Stop right down the street. The park is kind of hidden away but right off a main street. We got the spot next to the pool and hot tub. How nice was that?
Arizona Museum of Natural History
Our first trip was a visit to Mesa’s Arizona Museum of Natural History. It’s not a huge museum but has a great variety of stuff in it. There were sections on fossil, dinosaurs, rocks and gems, space, and even a room to celebrate the movies made in Arizona. There was a 3 cell jail there (yeah, we keep finding those) that was in use from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. It was well put together, interesting and a little bit quirky – just up our alley! My favorite was the dinosaur near the ORIGINS sign that is apparently doing the Hokey Pokey. I loved a sign that read “Does this crest make my head look big?” that went on to tell all about crested creatures. I love a museum with a sense of humor!
The Musical Instrument Museum
Our next trip was to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. It’s one of the top 20 museums in the US and boasts 10,000 musical instruments and music from all over the world. We spent the whole day there and still didn’t get it all in. It would be hard to describe all the clever and elaborate displays – all accompanied by the music they represent (you wear a headset that automatically starts up when you are in front of the display screen in each exhibit). Every kind of music and musical instrument you could imagine.
JP’s favorite was the Johnny Cash exhibit. What made it stand out was the video. Johnny Cash singing “Hurt” as June looked on. June would die three years after filming, and Johnny seven. You can find the video online, just in case you need a good cry.
The Belle of the Ball though was APOLLONIA the 25 foot, 2 ton dance organ that plays 2 songs twice daily. It was loud and brassy and a crowd pleaser!
My favorite was the clown automaton that had a face on the sole of his shoe. It’s music played and the clowns eyes opened and closed while the shoe face stuck its tongue out. The masks hanging from the clown’s hand had moving eyes, eyebrows, mustaches and tongues too! It was in pristine shape for an oldie but goodie from the late 1800’s!
My other favorite was the exhibit from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If you missed it in 2008 like I did – you might want to look it up on YouTube. The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony – 2,800 drummers! A sight to behold!
It truly was an experience and since we didn’t actually see EVERYTHING and because there are exhibitions and displays that rotate through, I am sure we will come back again!
Our next tourist stop was the ODYSEA Aquarium in Scottsdale. It was awesome! ODYSEA was beautiful and the folks that work there were upbeat to say the least! There was a sloth named Squidney. I know! Not an aquatic creature but more of an ambassador, although with his schedule of sleeping 22 hours a day he doesn’t have much time for schmoozing with the crowds! That’s him in the little swing and his stuffed version snuggled up to JP.
When you first enter the aquarium, they send you directly to the restroom – because instead of mirrors above the sink counters – there is a SHARK TANK! Yeah, wash your hands while you stare into the face of a shark! They won the 2017 America’s Best Restroom in the US. Come on! How could they not with 5 different species of sharks and a grand master that measures 10 feet in length!
The aquarium had a carousel auditorium what rotated to the different tanks so you could see the full tank and all its inhabitants. The displays were beautiful!
After lunch we headed to Old Towne Scottsdale. It was sunny and the streets were busy with foot traffic. There were lots of Galleries and shops but I love it when the art is on the street!
By the end of the day I think JP was about done! He was a great sport though!
We spent our last tourists day back in Old Town Tempe. The Tempe Municipal Building is an unusual inverted pyramid-shaped structure. It was created from 1969 to 1971 by Michael Goodwin and Kemper Goodwin. It was designed as a structure that would shade itself in summer but let sunlight heat it in the winter. Pretty cool and a little ahead of its time!
Tempe is a nice college town with red brick streets and a ton of cool places to eat with odd names.
There is art on the recycling bin and some fun statues around town. JP found a couple of places to try some local beers but I held out for lunch later at the Wildflower Bakery and Restaurant. So worth the wait!
The week went by in a flash! Being tourists was fun! Next leg of the trip will be a change of pace. A little off the beaten path near Safford AZ. Roper State Park – here we come!