Arizona Treasures

IMG_1144Are you coming to Arizona for a visit, or do you live in Arizona and need a new place to see?  This past week we had more guests at our home.  We have had pretty much non-stop guests since Thanksgiving.  We are still new to this city and state and don’t know all the great places to take guests.  One place that is always on our list, is a hike at the trails of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park.  The park is a five minute (if that long) drive from our home.  This hike gets our guests directly in the middle of the desert, and surrounded by cactus of all sizes and types.  We took our guests on an almost five mile hike.  We stopped at various benches along the trail, so one could catch their breath, and also time to take in the amazing views.IMG_1163IMG_1153

One of the new found places we went was the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale.  I had never been there, and had no idea what to expect.  I am not a very musical person, IMG_1100knowing very little about musical instruments, so I expected to be quickly bored, and ready to move on.  How wrong I was.  This is a most fascinating museum.  It is divided by continents of the world and the instruments from those area.  We are given a headset when we pay our admission. As we go to a display, one can see the instruments, some printed information, and then on a monitor is an individual or group playing these particular instruments, and the sound comes through the headsets.  As I moved from area to area, the headsets pick up the music of whatever I am standing and looking at.  At one point, I IMG_1099did not have my headset on, and I realized how silent the space was.  No one is talking much, and they are moving about listening through their own headsets to the music.

I will need to return as one cannot do this museum in one day.  There is so much to see and to hear.  Some of the instruments are very unique, and show ingenuity of the people of a region who may not have the technology to make what we would consider a modern musical instrument, but music seems to be universal, and they find a way to make an IMG_1104instrument that plays music to their ears.  I enjoyed seeing instruments from countries where my ancestors were from, finding some countries a bit more musical than others.

I spent most of my time in the U.S./Canada room, and Europe.  I need to return to get the other continents fully.  I loved the two rooms where I spent the most time.  I could have stood at the European classical music section for hours, had they had recordings for that long!   The instruments were so diverse, and some even puzzling and hard to believe.  One of the most interesting type instruments were ones that reminded me of bagpipes, but were made from animal carcasses.  The strangest was the “Ziqq” from Malta.  The instrument is a calf carcass, although I sure thought it looked like the neighbor’s dog!  A horn was attached to where I suppose the neck of the animal was, with a reed of some type to blow in to at front foot.  Just so odd and strange.  Unfortunately, the video did not show anyone playing it, so I have no idea what it sounded like.

There were five of us together, although we wandered throughout the galleries alone to our own pace.  At one point I received a phone call to meet downstairs in their restaurant for quick lunch.  It was a nice break.  Having just recovered from the flu, my ears were aching with the constant music—I guess I wasn’t yet totally healed.  For some of us, it felt like a musical overload.  Even so, it was a wonderful experience.  I plan to return soon to wander the galleries and marvel at the ingenuity of humankind around the world to find ways to make music to “calm the savage soul.”  It truly is a discovery of what all mankind has in common, the ability to create, as we are made in the image of God, who is the ultimate creator.

Another great place to explore was the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I am not sure what I expected this place to be.  I think I thought I would walk through some fields and look at trees, and plants, and in an hour be out of there.  That was also a wrong assumption.  This place is located in the southern most part of the Tonto National Forest in Superior, AZ, just east of Phoenix.  The path through the arboretum wound around the mountain.  There was a small lake, and then, winding paths with rock walls.  The plants and trees were exquisite.  It is another place where I need to return and just go ever so slowly and take in everything.  It also was sensory overload of God’s beautiful and unique creation.

I saw trees that I have never seen before, and cannot imagine what a forest of them would look like!  It looked like many of the plants were getting ready for a bloom I the next month, and a return visit is going to have to be on my calendar.  This  very odd looking tree reminds me of artwork in a Dr. Suess children’s book.  I missed getting its name and any history of the tree.  I must go back, if just to learn more about this tree.

Last but not least, who would think a pizza joint would be a must see destination, but we IMG_1139had dinner one evening at a place called Organ Stop Pizza.  (Bring cash—they don’t take plastic).  The pizza is actually good, and the entertainment is unusual and really fun.  Center front of the dining room is a huge ornate theater pipe organ.  The pipes are all around the front walls, along with percussion instruments, that are electronically connected to what the organist is playing.  He plays a variety of music and takes requests.  People are eating a rows of tables, and some are singing along, or clapping, or cheering.  The little ones may be in the aisle dancing along.  This place is tasty and fun for those from one year to 100 years.  It is the last thing you expect when you go to a pizza restaurant, and definitely a must see for anyone visiting Phoenix.

Now, I am resting up from the two full months of our revolving door visitors.  I wouldn’t have traded these weeks for anything.  All of them were so much fun, and we loved showing them our new city.  As we stay longer, we will learn of other great places to visit.  So, you all come!  Get away from the snow and ice that is hitting the midwest and east coast.  Make yourself a plane reservation, and come enjoy the sights and sounds of the southwest.  By the time you come, I may have found some other great stops for you to visit!IMG_1283


  1. I have a distant cousin from Moab, Utah, who is bicycling with friends in McDowell Regional Park just north of Fountain Hills Ariz. He’s posting pictures that greatly resemble yours, including some very convoluted cacti or trees (I’m not sure which).


  2. So happy to hear you enjoyed the MIM. It is one of the places we like to visit and we see and hear different things every time we go. So happy you are enjoying and exploring the state.


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