Saturday, February 18, 2012

Arizona Family

    When we started planning this trip it was so that we could go spend some time with Erik's parents in the Phoenix area. One thing led to another, and we added in several other places in southern California and Baja, making a big loop. We've really missed Claud and Michele since they moved away three years ago, and this was the second time we've been able to visit them in Arizona. They've come to see us a number of times as well, but it's just not the same as having them close! We want the kids to have lots of fun memories of visiting their Nana and Papa in the desert. 

Peregrine and his Papa out hiking near their home. Isn't it beautiful! 

The Superstition Mountains.

Giant Siguaro cactus. They are so cool!

Saying goodbye to Nana and Papa. This was before all the sadness of leaving. 

Walking on the desert path right behind Claud and Michele's home.  The January sunshine was sure a treat to our Pacific Northwest blood! 

Sister Love!

Peregrine built this radio tower as part of the Mojave Airport! 

Poppy hanging out in the sun.

Sunset from their backyard... amazing! The Superstitions look gorgeous in the light of the setting sun.

Another shot of the hikers! Peregrine will have special memories of desert hikes and birdwatching with his Papa!
A number of these pictures were taken by Michele. Somehow I didn't get my camera out as much as I should have while we were there. I'm glad you did, Michele! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Scottsdale Railroad Park

    While staying with Erik's parents in the Phoenix area we visited the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale one afternoon. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day, perfect for playing at this fabulous train park. On top of two wonderful playgrounds, there is a huge model railroad building, an antique carousel, train museums and exhibits, restored rail cars, two small railroads, and an arboretum. We spent a very happy afternoon playing, learning, and exploring this wonderful park. The kids all loved it, and Erik and I had a great time as well. The rides were reasonably priced; we spent about $25 and the kids and I rode the carousel twice, we all toured the museum and rail cars, and Erik took Peregrine and Poppy on the train ride. (Oh, and it was educational too!)  It's definitely a place we'd visit again, and highly recommended if you're in that part of Arizona.

Raphael was "sticking like glue" to me, and didn't want to ride on a horse. He did feel brave enough to ride in the covered wagon, but only with mama!

Peregrine and Poppy had fun riding the horses .  There's something about a carousel that's magic, and I was so glad to see that children still enjoy the simplicity of it. 

I had a couple of boys who were interested in this exhibit of tools used on and around old trains.

One of the two playgrounds was set up like an old western town.

Standing on the back balcony of the Roald Amundsen Pullman Car, where several presidents stood to give speeches! We were able to walk through the car, which has been beautifully preserved, and learn about how it was used to transport several US Presidents. It was kind of like the "Air Force One" of trains in its day. In the lounge area we saw several pictures of President Franklin Roosevelt spending time there. From the park website:
"The Roald Amundsen Pullman Car was built in 1928 for $205,000. As one of the last cars built by the Pullman Company, the Roald Amundsen is best known for its presidential travel. The car provided maximum security and was used at various times by every president from Herbert Hoover through Dwight Eisenhower. It was on this car in 1940 that President Franklin Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister W. L. McKenzie King signed the Ogdensberg Declaration, an agreement that provided for the joint defense of North America, now known as NORAD. The car was donated to the park in 1971 by Mr. and Mrs. Franz Talley. Click here to see a video."
Erik, Peregrine, and Poppy rode the Paradise & Pacific Railroad around the park.  Raphael was dead set against getting on the train, so I hung out with him and Pearl at the playground.

Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6, with a railcar that has been turned into a nice little museum, followed by the Roald Amundsen Pullman Car behind. 

Engine Number Six from the front. From the website:
"Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6
hauled copper ore from Superior to Magma, Arizona for 38 years. Built in October 1907 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, the hard working 2-6-0 engine served the mining railroads of Arizona for 54 years before being retired in January 1960.

Engine No. 6 was purchased by the Scottsdale Railroad and Mechanical Society in 1977 and is the only Arizona & New Mexico engine remaining in Arizona."

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Wild West: Goldfield Ghost Town

    Our next stop on the Apache Trail was Goldfield Ghost Town. We visited here two years ago and the kids were excited to return. Goldfield was a mining town that thrived for a mere five years in the late 1800s. It's a nice place to spend a couple of hours; there's lots of old mining equipment for the kids to play on and around, and beautiful views of the Superstition Mountains as well. 

An old mining rail cart.

Main Street, Goldfield Mining Town.

Peregrine and Raphael played on this old tractor for a long time. Peregrine was pretending it was a train engine and he was the engineer calling out "All aboard on the California Express!" 

There's a little church at the top of Main Street. Someone actually holds services there on Sundays. 

Windmill, Goldfield Ghost Town.

This ol' timer was sitting there fiddling, so we wandered over to listen. He introduced himself  as Garbanzo, and proceeded to give us a litany of bean-themed jokes. He has a wife called Chick Pea. After fishing in a little pouch he handed each of the kids a handful of dried beans and told them that now they're "Has Beans" like himself. And that he only gave those out to nice "Human Beans", and they could plant them, grow some more, eat them, and be "Full of Beans". Then he asked them each their name in turn and sang a little ditty about them, and how they like to eat buttered beans. 

The Superstition Mountains as seen from Goldfield. You can see the narrow gauge train that runs around the outskirts of town. We didn't take it this time, but last time we were there we did. These mountains are so beautiful! Erik's parents live on the other side of them and have a lovely view from their back yard.

Again, there were so many green things in the desert; it was really beautiful!

The entrance to the mine. We decided to take a tour, and descended the staircase to where we took a rickety feeling elevator down to the first level of the mine. As we walked through the tour guide told us the fascinating and sometimes horrible history of the mine. I'm not sure it was all true, but it gave us all insight into the life of a miner during that time period. Raphael really disliked being down in the mine and I had to hold onto him and keep telling him it was okay. To be honest I didn't like it either; being 35 feet below the ground in an old earthen tunnel was pretty unnerving. But I was glad we did it. There is nothing as educational for the kids as running around these places and experiencing as much "living history" as they can. 

Pearl and Raphael playing around some of the old mining equipment.

The Wild West: Tortilla Flat

While visiting Erik's parents in the Phoenix area, we ventured out one day to the historic town of Tortilla Flat, population six. It began as a stage stop on the Apache Trail, and has retained its wild west character. 

We enjoyed walking along the boardwalk and taking in a bit of the town's history.  We even got to enjoy some world famous Prickly Pear Ice Cream! 

Poppy - back in the saddle again! 

The walls of the restaurant are covered with dollar bills, signed by generous guests from all over the world.  Along with money, there is all kinds of interesting memorabilia that make it a fun place to visit. 

The view from Tortilla Flat.

Driving through these rocky desert hills one can easily imagine oneself in the wild west! The landscape is beautiful and wild, and it's easy to picture bandits, gold miners, and cowboys riding over the next hill!

I was surprised at just how much green there was in the desert in January!

Erik had to keep stopping to take more pictures. It was so different than what we're used to in Oregon.

A lovely day at Tortilla Flat! 

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Grand Canyon

    When we first planned this trip I'd hoped to include the Grand Canyon. Then, plans changed, and we didn't think we could fit it in. Then, as so often happens, things changed again and it worked out beautifully. I had visited the Grand Canyon, or the Big Ditch as Erik likes to say, when I was fourteen, but that's been a few years now. I was really excited to take the kids there. When we were packing Erik told me there'd be snow on the ground at the Big Ditch, and I argued that it would be cold, sure, but that didn't mean there would be snow. Well, my husband was right, there was snow. And it made an already amazing place even more beautiful! 

All the kids enjoyed the beauty of the Grand Canyon. I was glad for the safety rails! 

I like to take pictures of Erik taking pictures. And I like how he looks like he's standing on top of the world in this one!

Pearl's first taste of snow. I know there's pollution and all, but I still think no childhood is complete without eating a little snow. And my kids have very few opportunities, so this was fun. They've probably never seen so much snow on the ground at one time!

Raphael was a tired little grump and wouldn't look at the camera. 

Must eat snow!
Beautiful and cold... my Poppy girl!

The Hopi House.

We were excited to spot some deer by the side of the road while we were in the park.

The fireplace was designed to reflect the strata of the canyon.

Icicles! I let the kids eat those too...

The day's last light, sun setting in the west. It was a glorious day!

    I was so happy to share this beautiful place with my family. While in the gift shop we purchased Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry.  It was a great read aloud book for the rest of the journey. Both Peregrine and Poppy really enjoyed the story, and it made the history of the area come alive for them. We're not into buying a lot of souvenirs, but have decided that wherever we find the penny smashing machines we'll let the kids get a souvenir penny. They're small, lightweight, and only cost 51 cents! We also bought them each a patch to sew onto their backpacks and let them pick out a couple of postcards. Our other purchase was a small Arizona inspired Christmas ornament that will be brought out and hung on our tree each year. We enjoy having a tree full of memories and stories of places we've been together! 

    Stay tuned... next we travel south to spend several days with Erik's parents in the wild west!