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Petrified Forest near Holbrook

(Courtesy photo National Geographic)

(Courtesy photo National Geographic)













Walking around the Petrified Forest, it’s hard to imagine that the fossilized stones once used to be gigantic trees. It’s just another unique aspect of nature and unique site in Arizona.

The Petrified Forest attracts visitors from all over the world, from paleontologists and geologists to archaeologists and historians. While many travel thousands of miles to see this rare and beautiful place, for us, we only have to take a short road trip.

The forest is located near the city of Holbrook that boasts an abundance of history stemming from prehistoric times and early frontier days when cowboys and cattlemen made the city their ranching community. The city also was a stop along Route 66 and in the 1950s, which boosted the city’s business with travelers coming from across the nation. Today, Holbrook is the embarking ground for travelers and explorers looking to discover the natural beauty of the area in the nearby Petrified Forest, Painted Desert and Monument Valley.

The Petrified Forest National Park is open year-round and travelers can explore and participate in many recreational opportunities, including backpacking, hiking, and horseback riding.

Pipe Spring National Monument


Come visit the Pipe Spring National Monument, located in Fredonia, where American Indians, Mormon pioneers, plants, animals, and many others have depended on the life-giving water found at this historical spring. Learn about pioneer and Kaibab Paiute life, dating back to more than 140 years ago, by exploring the museum, or visit a remarkable fort and the historical cabins preserved on the property, or take a stroll through a garden and orchard located near the Ridge Trail.  Visit with rangers, ranch animals, and attend living history demonstrations and talks.

Whether you’re on a time crunch or you’ve come to visit for the day, stop by and check out the visitor center and museum where you can learn about the Kaibab Paiute Indians and Mormon pioneers, take a 25-minute tour of the Winsor Castle tour (offered every half hour), or stretch your legs out by walking the half-mile trail a bit and enjoy beautiful desert views and endless blue skies.

Sabino Canyon


Located near Tucson, Sabino Canyon tours offers a narrated, educational 45-minute, 3.8 mile tour into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The trams have nine stops along the tour with several restroom facilities and picnic grounds located near Sabino Creek. The tram turns around at Stop #9 and heads back down to the Visitor’s Center, at which point riders may remain on board and hike back down. Trams arrive on average every 30 minutes.

A variety of trails are available along the way for hiking that range from easy to challenging. The main road, one of two routes on which Sabino Canyon Tours operates its Sabino Canyon tram route, is mostly flat and paved. It can be easily navigated by visitors of all ages. The main road ascends from 2,800 to 3,300 feet and crosses Sabino Creek over 9 stone bridges. It is a favorite route for both hikers and bicyclists.


To find out more information about the different trails offered, visit:

Bird Cage Theater

01 Birdcage

The Bird Cage Theatre was opened on December 26, 1881, by William “Billy” Hutchinson and his wife Lottie. Its name apparently referred to the fourteen “cages” or boxes that were situated on two balconies on either side of the main central hall. These boxes, also referred to as “cribs”, had drapes that could be drawn while prostitutes entertained their clients. The main hall contained a stage and orchestra pit at one end where live shows were performed.

Its name was briefly changed to the Elite Theatre after it was acquired by Joe and Minnie Bignon in 1882 before being changed back to the Bird Cage Theatre.

The Bird Cage Theatre operated continuously – twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year – for the next eight years. It gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in the country, prompting The New York Times to report in 1882 that “the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” More than 120 bullet holes are evident throughout the building.

Aside from Lillian Russell, many other famous entertainers of the day were alleged to have performed there over the years, including Eddie Foy, Sr., Lotta Crabtree and Lillie Langtry. In 1882, Fatima allegedly performed her belly-dancing routine at the Bird Cage Theatre.

The basement poker room is said to be the site of the longest-running poker game in history. Played continuously twenty-four hours a day for eight years, five months, and three days, legend has it that as much as $10 million changed hands during the marathon game, with the house retaining 10 percent. Some of the participants were Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst. When ground water began seeping into the mines in the late 1880s, the town went bust, the Bird Cage Theatre along with it. The poker game ended and the building was sealed up in 1889.

The building was not opened again until it was purchased in 1934, and the new owners were delighted to find that almost nothing had been disturbed in all those years. It has been a tourist attraction ever since, and is open to the general public year-round, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.

The theater is said to be haunted and has been featured in the paranormal investigation shows Ghost Hunters in 2006, Ghost Adventures and Ghost Lab in 2009, and Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files in 2011.

Titan Missile Museum

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Bomb shelters, the Berlin Wall, weekly tests of the Emergency Broadcast System, the piercing sounds of air raid sirens, and the Space Race. These are the hallmarks of the “Cold War” era.

The Titan Missile Museum, located in the town of Green Valley, showcases the dramatic vestiges of the Cold War between the U.S. and former Soviet Union and provides a vivid education about the history of nuclear conflict-a history of keeping the peace.

Visitors enjoy a journey through time as they stand on the front line of the Cold War. This preserved Titan II missile site, officially known as complex 571-7, is all that remains of the 54 Titan II missile sites that were on alert across the United States from 1963 to 1987.

Able to launch from its underground silo in just 58 seconds, the Titan II was capable of delivering a 9-megaton nuclear warhead to targets more than 6300 miles (10,000 km) away in about 30 minutes. There is no other place in the world where visitors can get this close to an intercontinental ballistic missile in its operational environment. This one-of-a kind museum gives visitors a rare look at the technology used by the United States to deter nuclear war. What was once one of America’s most top secret places is now a National Historic Landmark, fulfilling its new mission of bringing Cold War history to life for millions of visitors from around the world.

Flagstaff Aquaplex offers much more than a pool


The Aquaplex in Flagstaff is a multi-generational, multi-scheduled community recreation center with affordable community fitness and fun for everyone!

Recreation, fitness and leisure activities are an essential part of a healthy, well-balanced life, and the Aquaplex offers a full spectrum of programs, drop-in activities and events to help you keep yourself and your family healthy.

Boasting an 8,643-square-foot pool area, there are plenty of aquatic activities available. Take a float down a lazy river current channel with vortex, or slip down one of two body slides that exit and re-enter the building, or take the kids to a splash area with a zero depth entry. Looking for water fitness? Take some laps in the 3-lane lap pool.

But don’t let the name “Aquaplex” fool you – there are plenty of other amenities available as well, such as a birthday party room, meeting, banquet and celebration spaces with the availability of a catering kitchen, and a babysitting area for young children and toddlers

Get fit in the multi-activity gymnasium with state-of-the-art cardio workout equipment and weight room, or participate in the fitness and aerobics rooms with more than 1,715 sq. feet of space, take care of arm and core strength on the two-story climbing wall, or take a jog on the indoor walking and running track.

Whether you’re looking for some fun aquatic activities during those icy winter months, or need a place to keep a healthy lifestyle, the Flagstaff Aquaplex has you covered!


The “Thing”

The thing_southern AZ_7.28.14

Signs relentlessly bombard travelers on the highway in an attempt to lure them into the random flea markets and tourist shops that dot along stretches of road, advertising Native American jewelry and trinkets, or to snag a bottle of “the best bar-b-que sauce in the world.” While there are times where the lonesome stretch of road can seemingly go on forever, the billboards at least help bring comfort that civilization is not too far off.

The least subtle of these roadside campaigns, stretching all the way from California to Texas, is the bright-yellow series of billboards calling attention to “The Thing.” The teasing, taunting billboards stretch for miles, building up the curiosity and suspense: “The Thing? A Wonder of the Desert” – “The Thing? Mystery of Arizona” – “The Thing? Have You Seen It?” – “The Thing? Don’t Miss It!”

Every day, hundreds of visitors passing between Benson and Willcox give in and take Exit 322 to discover just what this enigmatic Thing really is.

Finally, through a mysterious doorway, following the faded yellow feet painted on the floor, past hand-carved figures both miniature and life-size and the gold-dust scales and cracked pottery—you see it. Encased in cinder blocks and guarded by what can only be described as Emperor Bigfoot Horsehead, lies the end to your anticipation. The mystifying …THING. What is it? Is it real? Where did it come from?

As you contemplate what you’ve just seen, true satisfaction comes with the realization that knowledge of The Thing brings the empowering ability to irritate your friends, to withhold its secret until you can goad them into an unwitting road trip

Oatman Burros

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Should you decide to take a leisurely drive along Historic Route 66 and down through Oatman, nestled between Kingman and Lake Havasu City, don’t be surprised if your journey comes to a sudden halt thanks to a certain roadblock. No, not from construction – due to some stubborn mules who like to hang out with the town folks and passersby.

Certainly, Oatman’s got a gold-mine tour, Wild West shootouts and an annual egg-frying contest, but it’s the braying beasts of burden everybody comes to see. The burros, though they’ve gotten quite comfortable among humans, are actually wild. It’s estimated there are about 600 feral burros meandering in the area, and about a dozen of them enter Oatman on a daily basis. They come down from the Black Mountains of their own accord and invade the town as though commuting to work. When the shops begin to close and the tourists start to leave, they head back out again.

They’re direct descendants of pack animals that were once used in local mining operations. When the federal government shut the mines down in the 1940s in response to the war effort, workers simply let the burros go.  These days, the burros willfully amble among Oatman’s small collection of storefronts, planting themselves along the shoulders and walkways. They persistently beg for handouts, which come in the form of carrots sold in many of the town’s shops. The animals aren’t subtle about it, either. They head-butt their way into car windows and wander directly into the shops to get what they’re looking for. Tourists who neglect to have treats on hand are sometimes chased down the street. Those with an ample supply quickly find themselves outnumbered and drowning in donkey slobber.

Oatman insists the burros are friendly, but still advise visitors to beware. The more zealous of the bunch have been known to mistake fingers for carrot sticks. Kicking isn’t unheard of, either. In fact, the locals recommend you leave the pets at home, as some of the pack tend to see dogs as furry soccer balls.

Aspiring, Achieving, Accelerating: Avondale Unveils New Brand








Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers unveiled the city’s new logo/brand during her State of the City Address on May 8.

The launch of the new city logo was the result of a year-long process that involved considerable input, engagement and extensive research regarding Avondale’s identity from more 2,000 citizens from the community.

“Avondale is a community where people share a deep sense of pride in what has been accomplished and how far we have come today,” Mayor Rogers said. “In Avondale, there is strong belief that the blending of cultures comes from a true sense of harmony throughout the community, not mere rhetoric about diversity.  In Avondale, people and businesses are welcomed with open arms and supported in a way that exemplifies a progressive, intelligent and driven city.”

The fresh new look of Avondale’s design keeps up with the tempo of the city’s up-and-coming growth in population and businesses, and is, in a sense, a reward to the hard-working citizens of the city who strive to maintain Avondale as an “aspiring, achieving, and accelerating” city, as Mayor Rogers said.

“The new brand is flexible and multi-faceted, and reflects all that is positive about our community,” said Dan Davis, Economic Development Director for Avondale. “The new brand celebrates Avondale’s most powerful assets: its people, diversity and sense of optimism.”

Mayor Roger’s office has said that the city will ensure fiscal responsibility, and use a phased-in approach to implement the new brand over the next few months.  The focus is on launching the logo through digital communications and incorporating it wherever possible in public outreach and marketing materials, which are already factored into the current city budget.

Avondale will also work with a variety of community  solidify and reinforce a strong and positive identity, “to build a brand which sets us apart from other cities in the region and country and contributes to community pride, appeal and economic prosperity,” Mayor Rogers said.

For more information, visit, or . Also, take a moment to view the new video, which shares the Avondale Story from the view of our residents and businesses.

May is Water Safety Month

water safety monthThe summer months are here. And as tempting as it might be to keep cool in the pool or hang by your favorite lake, stop and remember to watch those around water who may be susceptible to drowning. Since January 2014, Arizona has had 19 drownings, 8 of which were children. As temperatures in Arizona go up, let’s keep the statistics down!

While there are several ways to prevent water hazards, here are some main points to keep in mind:

1. Staying close, being alert and watching children in and around the pool

  • Never leave a child unattended in a pool or spa and always watch your child when he or she is in or near water
  • Teach children basic water safety tips
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
  • Have a telephone close by when you or your family is using a pool or spa
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors

2.  Learning and practicing water safety skills

  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
  • Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency

3.  Having appropriate equipment for your pool or spa

  • Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use  self-closing and self-latching gates; ask your neighbors to do the same  at their pools.
  • Install and use a lockable safety cover on your spa.
  • If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool,  install door alarms and always use them. For additional protection,  install window guards on windows facing pools or spas.
  • Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers, and ask your pool service provider if you do not know
  • Maintain pool and spa covers in good working order
  • Consider using a surface wave or underwater alarm

Additionally, take a look what various cities and community departments have provided in order to heighten water safety awareness:

  • City of Scottsdale: Offers several tips, including CPR class opportunities here.
  • City of Casa Grande: Some great tips, resources, and informational video on water safety is provided here.
  • City of Maricopa: The city has released some great tips on water safety. Take a look here.
  • City aquatics departments: SRP Safety Connection partners with city aquatics departments in Maricopa County during the summer to sponsor free or reduced-price swimming lessons at selected Valley public pools. This year, SRP will sponsor free swimming lessons through the city of Mesa’s Making Waves program and reduced-price swimming lessons through the city of Phoenix’s Kool Kids program.
  • City of Yuma: With several facts and statistics, Yuma illustrates the importance of water safety and provides several resources and tips as well, here.
  • City of Tucson: Provides the “ABC’s” of water safety with helpful pointers on supervising children around water, here.
  • City of Chandler: With their slogan “Eye to Eye to Supervise,” Chandler rallies water safety through helpful videos and tips here.
  • Salt River Project: Here is a special video provided by SRP on water safety and how to use life-saving techniques in the event of a water incident:

Let this month serve as a reminder to always practice water safety – no matter what time of year it is!