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Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, AZ.

Louise Speaks:  Today being a holiday we had an impromto trip to the Phoenix Zoo.  I had made a list of what was left to do in Arizona, that might be good for our blog and also when we scrapbook, what would be a good thing to say about Arizona.  The zoo of course made the list.  Turns out on of our friends has a membership and we could get in early and get in free today, so off we went.

I got to thinking.  All my kids were born in Phoenix so I know as children I have taken them to the zoo.  But since my youngest is 40 years old it has to have been about 35 years since I was here.  Many of the things look the same, but they have added so much.  The zoo grounds seemed to go on forever, and they have different displays and exhibits spread out.  Each of these displays have a different admission, but very affordable.  Today there was construction going on so we know there is more coming.

After walking around, you come to the realization that a zoo is a zoo.  Everyone still seems to have all the same animals and you can’t control their behaviour.  Since it is still hot in Phoenix, and since we arrived at 8:00 A.M. many of the animals were either still sleeping or taking cover from the heat.  But the main ones were visible, and some even posed for photos…or at least it seemed like they were posing.

We managed to see the entire zoo, didn’t do any  of the private exhibits and we were in and out in 4 hours.  However, to me, with temperatures in the high 90s, 4 hours was plenty.  I’m still glad we came today.  Glad to have an Arizona attraction off the list, and the state of Arizona is almost complete.  I keep saying, how is it that we live in this great state and yet we have completed other states before this one?  I guess maybe because there is just more to see in Arizona.

I’m not sure if I would come back to the zoo unless I was bringing young children.  Like I said before, a zoo is a zoo.  I would prefer seeing animals that are not the normal ones, like Polar Bears, Koala Bears or Panda Bears.  Although rare, they are in many zoos, but to see the usual lions, tigers and elephants, I’ve had my share of zoos.  That being said, the Phoenix Zoo is one of the cities biggest attractions, so our blog or our photo albums would not be complete without a trip here.  If you haven’t been here, it is worth a trip, at least a C rating; but expect to see the normal zoo animals…nothing out of the norm.

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Blazin’ M Ranch, Cottonwood, AZ

Louise Speaks:  Blazin’ M Ranch is less than 1 mile from the campground.  It was suggested we do this as one of our outings, so we picked our farewell dinner to visit the ranch.  16 of the group attended so it really was a great time.

The Mayberry family has owned the ranch for about 50 years but the Chuckwagon Dinner Show has only been around for about 20 years.  In 1994, before the dinner ranch opened,  there was a fire at the ranch, and that’s how they got the name Blazin’ M Ranch.

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Once you arrive at the ranch, there is plenty to do before dinner.  We were greeted by a wagon train being pulled by a tractor.  You get on board and they take you on a tour of the ranch.  Once you get back they drop you off in front of the Copper Spur Saloon.  The saloon, offers a variety of drinks where they  all  have “specialty names”.  They do offer a description and a comparison of the drinks, such as a Sassy Pink Lady is the same as a Strawberry Daiquiri.  It was fun just reading the names, and the drinks were pretty good.  With drink in hand you are able to enjoy the Western town featuring a museum, Old-Tyme photo studio, shooting gallery, ropin’ lessons, tractor pull,  and many Western shops that line the boardwalk.  There are plenty of tables and chairs outside so you are comfortable while waiting for the dinner bell.

At 6:30 p.m. the chow bell rings and you are invited to sit inside the climate-controlled barn for a western-style chuckwagon dinner.   The tables are in long rows and you are escorted by table numbers.  For as many people as there were, the lines moved very quickly.  We were able to have free beverages of coffee, tea, water, or lemonade while waiting.     As you get to the front of the line you grab a tin plate and head through the chuckwagon where we  were  served tender BBQ chicken and pork ribs, baked potato, cowboy beans,  biscuits and the best prickly pear cole slaw I had ever tasted.  What was most unusual about the dinner was that the servers were constantly walking around the barn serving out seconds.  I mean seconds of everything including the best ribs I had ever tasted.  If you want more of anything, you just raise your hand and they bring it right to you.  A person cannot leave here hungry.  After dinner, they was even dessert.  Apple Carmel Crisp topped with vanilla ice cream.  And for only $35.00, the meal was divine, and we haven’t even seen the entertainment yet.

 

Everything moved so quickly that you didn’t realize they were clearing the tables to get ready for the entertainment.  After dinner there is a musical show featuring The Blazin M Cowboys.  For one hour these talented musicians share their musical skills mixed with cowboy poetry and a dash of humor.  It was really quite entertaining.  It seems like everyone had a part, and some changed outfits and were different characters.  They end the show with singing the song, Riders on the Storm, and there is a real horse and cowboy that flash by the glass windows with lighting to make it appear likes it’s a ghost with lightning.  At first we thought it was all done with lighting, but it was a real horse and cowboy riding by.  A great way to end the show.

After the show, the shops remain open so you can go back and do last minute shopping or just wonder as the crowd thins out.  There were actually 4 bus loads of people attending from Phoenix, and the parking lot was full.  To think they do this every night, shows why everything ran so smoothly.

The entertainment does change so you can always go back.  This is definitely not a one time only visit.  It is also a great place to bring Arizona tourist.  I can hardly wait to have company from another state to bring them here for dinner and a show.  The Blazin’ M Ranch gets an A rating.  I had a great time and would do it again.


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Quirky Sites, Boulder City, NV

Louise Speaks:  On a recent trip to Las Vegas, we realized there were several stops along the way that we seem to have overlooked over the years.  So this is the trip we decided to stop and see them all.

Boulder City, Nevada is the last town you go through before Las Vegas when you are traveling from Arizona.  Along the main highway is Hemenway Park, which is home to some Wild Bighorn Sheep.  The park is host to what seems to be a residential home to a wild herd of bighorn sheep.  The sheep come down from the hills to graze on the manicured lawn of this city park.  The herd varies in size from small lambs all the way up to huge horned rams, and there are sometimes as many as 60 animals roaming the park.  The sheep are so common that residents in the area refer to this park as “Sheep Park”.   The park also offers views of Lake Mead, a picnic area and a huge playground.  In fact today, as the sheep were roaming the park there were children playing at the playground and walked around the sheep like they were a common fixture of the park.  The sheep were in bunches at several different areas of the park, so they literally are “everywhere”.

Once you are back on the highway, just about a mile up the road, you turn left into the downtown area of Boulder City.  Our next Quirky Stop was Area 52, an alien book store and coffee shop that also sells tequila shots.  Many of the books in the store are rare and out of print.  There is an alien who meets you at the entrance and talks to you as if you are invading his planet.  The store probably has the largest collection of UFO books, figurines, and Star War collectables I’ve ever seen.  There are games, stickers, and just “stuff”.  Not really worth a stop, but it was on our list.

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Boulder City must be a pretty artistic community.  There are sculptures and pieces of art along the sidewalks and in front of local business throughout the small town.  The one we were looking for was the “Toilet Paper Hero of Hoover Dam”.  Alabam was a Hoover Dam worker who cleaned and restocked the outhouses.  The bronze statue depicts him as he often looked in life; with rolls of toilet paper draped over his shoulders.  He also totes a broom and other cleaning supplies.  The statue is right on the corner of the busiest intersection in town…what an honor.

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We were very disappointed that our last stop is no longer visible.  A restaurant in town was suppose to have a “Giant Whisk” on the roof of the building.  We searched through town and finally stopped and asked at the Chamber of Commerce.  Turns out the restaurant has gone out of business and the whisk is in the cities historical storage unit.

We visited the sites and we can now check them off our list, but unless you have another reason to go through Boulder City, none of these attractions are worth stopping to see.