In this blog, my husband and I traveled back to Phoenix to care for three of our grandchildren and spend time with family and friends. Watching grandchildren grow and achieve milestones brings us great pride and joy, and we marvel at how they become the best versions of themselves.
I also will share some of the adventures we went on while there, which I highly recommend you check out if you are in the Phoenix area.
A few months ago, I received a call from my son asking if my husband and I could take care of their three children while he and his wife were out of town. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time with them, so we jumped at the chance. Our daughter and her family also live in the area, making the time doubly memorable, and to top it off, my girlfriend and her husband joined us. She and I are co-writing a memoir, Are You Sitting Down, and this visit created a perfect opportunity to review our story.
As I researched the various places I thought we would enjoy visiting, I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors, Pat Conroy, "The most powerful words in English are, 'Tell me a story.'"
This is a thought-provoking statement and could be interrupted in many ways based on individual experiences. I believe it says we should capture those special moments with family, friends, and acquaintances by listening to what they say. Listening to what is going on in their lives, their activities, and their dreams for the future. Engaging and listening to stories create unique connections and foster personal growth, which is essential to me.
Once we arrived at my son's house, we were greeted by those long-awaited family hugs and tail-wagging dogs. Our attention quickly turned to the well-developed instruction sheet my daughter-in-law had prepared for us as they were leaving early the following day. The instructions outlined the family's routines, daily chores, times to arrive at multiple sports activities, daycare for the two-year-old, and caring for the two energetic dogs. My husband and I smiled, hoping to keep up, but the instruction sheet quickly guided us to a plan for the next five-day adventure.
The following day started rough because our two-year-old grandson missed his mom. Believe me; he was not happy! Fortunately, my husband came to the rescue and found the secret to starting the day with a smile; the Mickey Mouse Club. The show quickly flipped the rambunctious toddler's mood from sad to happy, so Mickey Mouse became essential to our morning routine.
Arizona Museum of Natural History
Our first adventure took us to the Arizona Museum of Natural History. The museum is designed so visitors can easily follow a commonly accepted Earth's progression of time up to the present day, but it also focuses on local Arizona history. This museum encompasses 80,000 square feet of fun for the entire family and offers various exhibits. It is an excellent place to learn about historical facts you may not know, but it also has numerous activities for children of all ages.
We were impressed by Jurassic Arizona Mountain because of its size and as a visual educational tool. The mountain ascends in time, displaying dinosaurs at the bottom to rams in its habitat at the top.
Our two grandchildren found a hiding place.
One of our favorite sections was the history of Arizona's inhabitants, starting with the native tribes up to the Arizona Gold Rush ( with gold panning activities). Our grandchildren are fascinated by history, so we lingered in the area, reading about indigenous people.
Next, our tour transported us back in time to the Lost Dutchmans's Mine, then off to the old city jail, where we commented how miserable it must have been to be locked up in those cells. We left the museum excited about what we learned, and everyone shared what we liked best about our trip.
Woven Baskets Lakota (Sioux) Saddle Bags Old City Jail Cell
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
The second site I would like to recommend is Boyce Thompson Arboretum. We were encouraged to visit this site by our oldest granddaughter. The site is breathtakingly beautiful, and we all agreed that the arboretum was our favorite adventure.
This desert oasis occupies 326 acres at the foot of the Superstition Mountains and has been described as Arizona's most comprehensive botanical collection. Close to 4,000 plant species can be seen, most from the Southwest and Mexico regions, but some from South America, Africa, and Australia. The site is 50 miles east of Superior, Arizona. I encourage you to watch carefully for the turn into the park because it is easily missed.
It is amazing how nature has the potential to bring out new levels of playfulness and freedom within the human spirit. We all felt that playfulness as we walked through the garden section that crosses an undeveloped desert where plants can be seen in their natural habitat.
There are no captive animals, but it has been reported that over 70 native species and 210 types of birds have been spotted within the property. We came across a few small desert dwellers and were in awe by the numerous Redbirds we observed as we walked the trails.
Along the trail, we came upon an old homestead. The tiny home is nestled against a rock formation made of stone and mortar. Robert Clevenger and his family of five homesteaded on the land in the early 1900s. He made their living by truck farming but left the area in the 1920s.
It was interesting to watch the reactions of our grade school-age grandchildren as they tried to imagine a family of five, precisely the size of their family, living in such a tiny space. It was a good experience for them to see how others lived their lives.
We spent over three hours walking down the well-groomed trails and did not see everything offered at this beautiful site. We left feeling like we got our steps in, learned so much about desert plants and species, and, most importantly, spent time together creating memories.
Our day worked up an appetite, so we headed to dinner at O.H.S.O.Brewery+Distillery, a popular spot in the Gilbert area, for dinner. It's a dog-friendly restaurant with inside and outdoor dining.
We ate outdoors in, The Park, a fun venue, and had a blast. Adults and kids alike can play ping-pong and arcade games in a green area that feels like a friendly backyard. They also hold live music events and cornhole tournaments and rent the space for special occasions.
In addition, our days were filled with learning new card games, R.C. car races, family meals, and many activities during our five days, all with memorable moments that will last a lifetime.
I also wanted to share one last quote to consider as you plan your summer activities.
"A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts..."
Quote by: Pat Conroy
If you have a beautiful memory you would like to share, post it in the comment below. I would love to hear from you.