Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hoover Dam

We definitely had to stop and see Hoover Dam on our way through Vegas to California. In fact we really liked Hoover Dam better than we have Vegas. It is impressive site for sure. We elected not take the Dam tour, or should I say the tour of the Dam.
It was $30 each which comes out to $210 for our family. No discounts for the kids either.
Most of the crew would not have been very interested in the tour, and those that were did not feel good about leaving the other parent with all the little kids for so long in the parking lot.

Still it is quite impressive to see the sheer size of this structure, to read about the those who died during the construction process and to analyze the various facts on the size and tonage of the most famous (not the biggest though) dam in America.

It is ...
-- 726.4 feet high
-- 1,244 feet across at the top
-- 660 feet thick at the base
-- 45 feet thick at the topIt ...
-- weighs 6.6 millions ton ...
-- can store up 2 years 'average' flow from the Colorado River ...
-- total storage capacity can be measured in 30,500,000 acre feet ...

-- about 16,000 men and women worked on the project...
-- about 3,500 people were employed at any specific time.
-- Officially ... There were 96 'industrial' fatalities. during the construction of Hoover Dam. This figure does not include deaths by other means including heat, heart problems and curiously, pneumonia.

We also got to see the newly opened bridge over Hoover Dam. Actually we drove Howard across it! It is a pretty site as it towers above the dam connecting Arizona and Nevada. It also has some interesting facts that might amaze you:

• The highest and longest arched concrete bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

• The second-highest bridge of any kind in the United States and 14th in the world.

• The world's tallest concrete columns of their kind.

But what sets the bridge apart most of all is the setting.

It is perched 890 feet above the turquoise Colorado River, wedged between rock cliffs that form Black Canyon, with commanding views of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oatman, Arizona

This Family Friendly Freebee happens to be an entire town. It is a small little metropolis with a thriving population. However, the population that is thriving is not entirely human. Actually, the humans in this town may just be outnumbered by the wild burros that also walk it’s streets. It is the town of Oatman, Arizona and it is well worth a visit, should you ever happen to be in the area.
It’s a very quaint town resting quietly along old Route 66 in the middle of the Arizona mountains, and from the looks of it, it hasn’t changed much since the time that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon night in it’s little hotel. The ride through the twisting, turning mountain roads is enough to make the trip into Oatman worthwhile, though I don’t believe I would want to take an RV or over sided vehicle through those turns too often. But the ride is not the best part of this trip.
The best part of this Family Friendly Freebee is that the donkeys that roam the streets are extremely friendly and love to be petted and fed. Bring a bag of carrots with you if you plan on making this trip. (Or, if you choose to spend the money, there are stores that also sell bags of donkey food for a mere $1 a bag.) The donkeys eat right out of your hand and will bring you ample opportunities for Kodak moments. Even the littlest baby burros enjoy the human attention, but don’t feed them. In fact, the town is so careful of it’s tiny donkeys, that they put little stickers on their foreheads warning you not to feed them. But they do love the snuggles and your family will love the experience.
Check out the town on it’s website before you head there though. They seem to have some of the most interesting things going on in town. They put on a gunfight in the main street a couple of times a day and while we were there, the town was preparing for it’s big “Bed Race”. It seems this town has quite a sense of humor and you wouldn’t want to miss any of the fun. For our family, the ride through the mountains on the Old Mother Road was too much fun. And the donkeys roaming the streets were a huge 5 thumbs up from the Martin boys.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Playing London Bridge under London Bridge

So we visited London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and we had to play London Bridge underneath London Bridge! So what is London Bridge doing in a desert in America? I have copied the relevant information below for all you interested parties!

London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, United States, that is based on the 1831 London Bridge that spanned the River Thames in London, England until it was dismantled in 1967. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, that was bought by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America, in order to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 along with a canal, and links an island in the lake with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

So yes a large part of the London Bridge was actually moved here!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Get your kicks on Route 66



Sorry, this mpost has been taken down because it is in our book detailing our trip across America!



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Calm at the Grand Canyon

Sorry, this mpost has been taken down because it is in our book detailing our trip across America!





Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Campground reviews - Meteor RV Park/Canyon Gateway RV Park

The next two RV parks are in Northern Arizona. It has been a bit cold and barren here, so perhaps our impression of these two parks is eschewed because of the weather. Still for just finding a cheap place with hook-ups, these parks worked for us.

First on is Meteor Crater RV Park near Winslow, Arizona.

Nearby attractions - 8 - Extremely close to the Meteor Crater and Flagstaff. Lots of Route 66 sites close by and several national parks within an hour away.

Staff - 7 - Professional, but not personable.

Natural surroundings - 7 - Great view of the San Francisco Mountain peaks, a few trees on the sites. Interstate 40 close by but we could not hear anything.

Value - 8 - We paid $24 a night for two nights for electric and water only, pull-through site.

Bathrooms - 8 - Nice bathrooms. Had to let the hot water run for quite awhile, but it does eventually turn hot.

Roominess - 7 - Sites were a little short and a picnic table at each site. Had to squeeze the van in.

Facility fun - 4 - Very small playground. Clubhouse with large TV and foosball table.

Cleanliness - 8 - Decently maintained.

Facility usefulness - 8 - Expensive laundry facilities, no library, wifi was OK.

Overall - 7 - This park worked well for us because it was decent, moderately priced and close to the Meteor Crater and the Petrified Forest National Park. It was too cold to play outside. We did see an amazing sunset here.

Next we stayed at Canyon Gateway RV Park in Williams, Arizona. Very nicely priced and less than an hour from the Grand Canyon.

Nearby attractions - 8 - Grand Canyon and Flagstaff both pretty close. Grand Canyon Railway is in Williams if you are so inclined.

Staff - 8 - Didn't charge me extra for our kids and manager helped me get the cable set up to watch the Bears get clobbered.

Natural surroundings - 6 - A few trees and some decent views of mountains. Interstate and train are nearby but not overly loud.

Value - 8 - We paid $22 a night for three nights with Passport America.

Bathrooms - 7 - They were warm, a little on the downslide.

Roominess - 8 - Park was not crowded at all, but during summer I am thinking it will be. Still our pull-through site was plenty long.

Facility fun - 1 - Nutin to do here!

Cleanliness - 7 - Seven is slightly above average.

Facility usefulness - 7 - Nice and affordable laundry facilities, smokin' wifi was very good.

Overall - 6 - With Passport America the only cheaper place to stay nearby would be the national park, with no hook-ups. Plus we didn't have to take the RV off of Interstate 40, saving some gas.

Monday, January 24, 2011


This post has been deleted because it is in our new book describing our adventures across America entitled Napkin Dreams!

Tanner Explores Petrified Wood in 2002

Patsy and Blake at Painted Desert in 2002

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Campground Review - Distant Drums RV Park

We found a nice little RV Park called Distant Drums in Camp Verde, Arizona, not far from the Sedona area. We found out that sometimes clean and tidy gets in the way of functional and convenient!

Nearby attractions - 7 - Very close to Montezuma Castle and Sedona. Flagstaff less than an hour away.

Staff - 7 - Very nice at first, but if you want to take a shower late or get your laundry out of the dryer at 8 pm, you might hear a sweet but unmistakable rebuke.

Natural surroundings - 8 - Great mountains all around. Interstate very close by.

Value - 9 - We paid $18 a night for three nights.

Bathrooms - 8 - What to say about the bathrooms. They were immaculate. Here's the catch though. You have to ask for a key, because they clean every time someone uses them. That way they know when to clean them. This means you can only take showers during office hours. The office was supposed to close at nine, so I got there at 8:10 and the lady said she guessed I could take one, but it would be hard on "the guy." My wife got the third degree about how many were going to use the shower when she went as well. Personally I felt like a third grader asking his school marm if he could go to the potty.

Roominess - 9 - Plenty of parking room and a picnic table at each site..

Facility fun - 8 - Heated pool and hot tub. Exercise room but no playground.

Cleanliness - 10 - This is the cleanest park I've seen yet.

Facility usefulness - 9 - Nice laundry facilities, swapping library, wifi was very good. They sell propane, small store, we had a back-in site since we were Passport America, but they have lots of pull throughs.

Overall - 8 - This is a very well kept park. They even sweep the small rocks every morning in between the sites. Just be careful of the bathroom key nazis.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sedona and Red Rock State Park

Sorry, if you want to read this post, please buy our book on Amazon



Montezuma Castle National Monument

We had never heard of this little national park south of Flagstaff until we stayed in nearby Camp Verde. We were staying in this region to visit the Sedona area and we saw signs and grabbed a brochure for Montezuma Castle. The main attraction are some ancient cliff dwellings still very well preserved.

I am still planning on taking the family to Mesa Verde this spring where we can walk through the cliff dwellings, but this was still a cool and educational stop, even if we could just view them from a distance. The junior ranger program here was so simple compared to Saguaro, where it took forever to complete the program.

It is pretty amazing to consider how these ancient peoples built this adobe home on the side of a cliff using no power tools, cranes, or even iron tools. I am sure it took an incredible amount of skill, patience and teamwork to see the task finished. Some of the very same character traits I am trying to teach my kids.

Most of these photos are courtesy of our resident photographer Blake.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stuffington Bear Factory

Did you know there are only two working stuffed animal factories left in the United States? I guess we get most of our stuffed animals and teddy bears from cheap labor overseas. The Stuffington Bear Factory in Phoenix, Arizona is one of the two left standing! Our family made a stop here on our way out of Phoenix.

I will admit Blake was slightly less than thrilled, but he agreed to help us with the younger guys. Tanner on the other hand collects stuffed animals and was quite excited about stopping in to see the factory and use some of his money to make his own teddy bear.

The tour was the prefect length for toddlers and early elementary aged kids. Not only did they get to go back into the factory, they got to touch fur, eyes, thread, fluff and even have an air gun shot on their arm. There are nice blue tiles marking where to stay during the tour and they also got to see a bear stuffed.

Afterwards we had some lunch in their back parking lot and then Tanner went in with mom and made his bear. You not only get to stuff your bear, you can bathe and comb it as well as pick out some ribbons for it. Tanner went with the most affordable bear for only $10. It is a pretty good deal because it is so well made. He named his bear Jonathan! If you don't buy a bear, there is no cost for this tour!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Organ Stop Pizza

Just to let you know right up front, this post is one great big advertisement. I am not ashamed of it, nor will I apologize. This place is just too good to keep to myself.

Out of all the foods that I serve to my children, the one thing that every single person in our family enjoys eating is pizza. So, last night, when our family decided to meet another family that is currently living on the road and my husband suggested a pizza parlor we all agreed. The place he picked is a place in Phoenix, Arizona called The Organ Stop Pizza.

Now, I had never heard of this place, but my husband told me that they had a big pipe organ that they played while you ate. I had visions of an old pizza place I used to go to when I was a kid called Shakey’s Pizza. They used to play a player piano as you dined. My fond childhood memories did not prepare me for what awaited my eyes. First of all, this place was two stories tall. Second, the entire dining room was covered with musical instruments. They were mounted on the walls, ceilings, and even balcony railings. As I stood looking around the room, I wondered where the organ was. There were pipes running all over the place, but the actual organ itself was not in evidence. Then, we sat down and I looked through the window at the front of the room.

The room beyond the window was filled with large padded boxes. As my gaze traveled higher along the windows I saw pipes. Massive pipes, tiney pipes and every size in between. Then looked back around the restaurant, I realized that this entire dining room was one massive instrument and we were sitting right in the middle of it. I figured they must hire someone to walk into the windowed room and play the organ while we ate. The only thing I couldn‘t see was the actual keyboard for the organ.

Finally, after waiting about 10 minutes, I saw a little man walk through a door near the organ room and I got the boys ready to listen to some fun music. Suddenly, I saw the padded boxes in the window begin to quiver and shake. They were the bellows pumping air into the massive organ. The lights began to dim and the opening bars of “Oh Canada” began to play as a Canadian flag was dropped from the ceiling. A gorgeous organ rose up out of the center of the stage. Then the song switched to our National Anthem, the American flag was flown and the lights blazed forth as we all stood with our hands over our hearts and spot lights lit up Old Glory. I had to choke back a few tears as the sound swelled around me.

As the rest of the evening continued, I just sat amazed. Most of the time, it sounded like we were listening to an entire band. If the organ played a march, the drums mounted on the walls started playing along. There were bells, cymbals and even xylophones that came to life and started to play. From time to time, there were also other little surprises along with the music, for instance, the enormous disco ball hanging in the center of the room lit up and began to spin, and they blew bubbles from the ceiling during the song from Little Mermaid. My little boys favorite was when the stage curtain came up and little cat puppets were dancing along to the song that was being played.

But, one of the most amazing things to my family was the fact that they were allowed to make requests for certain songs. So, which song did my family pick? Well, I’ll tell you the theme song from Sponge Bob Square Pants was their second choice, but the ultimate first choice was…..Star Wars. So, it was with joy filled hearts that we listened to the first few notes of the Star Wars Theme Song. As the organist played through each of the musical themes of the show, my little boys’ eyes opened bigger and bigger, until finally one of them exclaimed, “Mommy, he even knows the Darth Vader song!” Oh Joy! Oh Rapture! OK, so maybe you aren’t a big Star Wars fan, but I have to say that sitting there feeling the very walls vibrate with the sounds coming from all around you, you can’t help but get caught up in the moment. The only thing that would have been better for me is if he would have played the opening theme song from The Phantom of the Opera. Oooohhh, I get chills just thinking about it.

Now, I do have to admit that the idea of meeting a new family and getting to know each other over pizza was a little bit hampered by the fact that none of us could hear each other, but it was definitely an experience that we all enjoyed. However, we remedied our inability to speak by going into the parking lot and talking inside Howard our RV for a little while. So, if you are ever in Phoenix, you have got to check this place out, but don’t plan on doing much talking while you are there. Just sit back, eat, and enjoy the music.

To check out more about our fellow traveling friends with triplet teens check out their blog - The Coast to Coast Trips! Thanks to their daughter Kimberly for these great photos!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Campground Review - Adventure Bound RV Park

When in Tucson or Pheonix Arizona in January with kids, one can not be picky about the RV Park one stays in. While we loved Tucson, we had a hard time finding an RV campground that would accept kids (or Patsy and I for that matter, not being over 55). We lucked out with Adventure Bound Tucson RV Park, otherwise known as Cactus Country RV Park (what the sign says). It was a bit pricier than we are accustomed to paying since no parks in the Tucson or Pheonix area honor half-price clubs in the winter. They did let us have the 10% discount.

Nearby attractions - 7 - Tucson close by, Tombstone 60 minutes away. Decent amount of stuff to do.

Staff - 9 - Very nice folks who did not get mad when we decided to stay an extra day and forgot to pay!

Natural surroundings - 9 - Amazing views, lot of birds and trees and cacti. A good 20 minutes from the edge of Tucson. Good and bad.

Value - 6 - We paid $38 a night for four nights.

Bathrooms - 7 - Nice bathrooms, slight odor that only the picky noses in our family smelt.

Roominess - 8 - Our lot was 45 feet wide. not bad. Not all of them are this wide though.

Facility fun - 8 - Heated pool and hot tub. Small playground. A few activities we did not take part in.

Cleanliness - 9 - They really worked hard at keeping the park clean and well manicured.

Facility usefulness - 8 - Two laundry facilities, lending (not swapping) library, wifi is not very good. They sell propane, small store, we had back-in site. Clothes-line to save money on laundry!

Overall - 8 - Everyone in our family enjoyed Tucson and this park helped make our stay fun!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tucson Zoo

The primates in the video below were so cute, all our kids loved them!

We visited the Tucson Zoo on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after watching the Bears beat up on the Seahawks. Great day it was!!

This zoo was on our reciprical membership and it is a nice little zoo that took us a couple of leisurely hours to walk through. Besides the guys in the video our favorite animal was the tiger who was pacing and rubbing his back against the glass just in front of us. Later he was growling and howling.

We also enjoyed the river otters who were playing, chirping and barking, a new lesson in zoology for our family.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kitt Peak Observatory

Sorry, if you want to read this psot, please buy our book on Amazon



50 McDonalds - Arizona

Another state means another McDonald's in our 50 state quest. This stop was in Tucson. For some reason this area of Arizona has a resort town feel. A little like Orlando. Maybe it's the palm trees or the spring like weather in the middle of January. It also is fairly well kept and groomed, and this McDonald's was no exception to the Tucson standard. A nice new restaurant with a nice playland and free wifi. We had some internet work to do so the boys played while Patsy wrote and posted to her blog. We did have some screaming children to deal with at first, and this spilled over into the behavior of one of our guys, but we nipped that in the bud which seemed to pressure the other parents to do the same with their kids. This resulted in a much more pleasant stay.

Chase looks so excited here, I think he just got out of timeout!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...