Thursday, March 30, 2017

Arizona Renaissance Festival

  The Arizona Renaissance Festival, which has been a yearly event for 28 years, is held every weekend in February and March. It covers 30 acres and has 200 vendors, 13 stages and over 2000 participants. Everything is very well done with excellent attention to detail and workmanship on the buildings, stages, and human powered kid’s rides.

  Traffic causes a major backup along US 60 so arrive early. The crowds are large but there’s enough room so that it doesn’t seem cramped. Make sure to grab a map. Even with the map the festival layout is still confusing. Show seating fills up fast and it’s necessary to find a seat 1/2 hour before the popular shows start. We enjoyed the five shows that we managed to see - a combination of magic, acrobatics, juggling, slap stick, and corny humor. Even though we stayed about five hours we missed a lot and didn’t get a chance to try any of the food like bacon wrapped pork loin skewers :-P. We also wanted to watch the jousting but you really have to get there early to get a seat!

 

  

   The grounds are hard packed sandy dirt. Rolling around is easy but the area is large  and wheelchair users will get a workout. No accommodations are made for wheelchairs at the shows so wheelchair users must sit in the aisles.

  RV and oversized vehicle parking is close to the festival entrance.

Festival  33.32132, -111.43026

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Desert Botanical Garden

  The garden was founded in 1937 by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society, a group of Phoenix residents who wanted to save and promote desert plants. One third of the plants in the garden are native to the area, the rest are native to deserts in the Americas and around the world. We visited at a good time - so many of the cacti and other desert plants are in bloom!

 

     

   

The garden is very accessible. The trails are either paved or hard packed sandy dirt. The Sonoran Desert Loop Trail is paved but steep. Most of the other trails are fairly level. The layout of the garden is easy to follow with all of the themed loops branching off of the main loop.

The parking lot is very large but if it’s really busy RVs should be parked in the overflow lot.  Garden   33.46016, -111.94759

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Heard Museum

  The Heard Museum houses a large and impressive collection of Native American artwork with pottery, textiles, jewelry, sculptures and fine art from before European encounters up to the present time. One permanent exhibit gives an historic view of the good and bad aspects of life at Indian boarding schools. Another features artwork and information about the customs of each southwest Native American tribe.

 

  The museum is accessible. Some of the cases are high and it’s impossible to read the descriptive labels from a seated position. 

RVs will fit in the lot if parked through two spaces.  Museum  33.47317, -112.07318

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Friday, March 24, 2017

General Patton Memorial Museum

  During WWII General Patton was charged with finding suitable training grounds for troops on their way to the North Africa desert. He chose 18,000-acres of California and Nevada desert which closely matched the hot, dry conditions the soldiers would encounter. It was the world's largest army post with airfields, hospitals, supply depots and support services. Chiriaco Summit, where the museum is located, was Patten’s headquarters for a few months before he was called back to Washington and sent overseas.

  The museum contains many donated artifacts but very little historic information. Watch the movie to learn more about Patten and the training center. Tanks and other equipment are located on the grounds. The only remains of the camp are a few chapel walls built by the soldiers. Don’t miss the full sized wooden models of Leonardo’s Da Vinci’s war machines at the entrance of the parking lot.

 

        

  The museum is accessible.  The ground around the outdoor displays is hard packed and pushing is fairly easy.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV. If you wish to stay overnight a free, primitive camping area is located behind the museum. There are about two dozen marked campsites – no tables or other amenities but restrooms and food are within walking distance at the Chiriaco Summit coffee shop and gas station.

Museum   33.6616, -115.72254    Campground

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

  The San Diego Zoo is limited by its location in the middle of the city so in 1964 a decision was made to open a wild animal park where there would be enough room for the animals to roam. Its main purpose is species conservation and the breeding of animals. Most of the animals have very roomy, natural appearing enclosures.

   

  A general admission ticket includes four shows and a tram ride. Additional options, which include motorized tours through the African Plains or Asian Savanna, a chance to hand feed some of the animals, a zip line ride, and a rope climbing course, have added fees.

  The park is very hilly so a free companion pass is available for all paying guests who need assistance. The tram ride is not wheelchair accessible but the shuttle is. The additional motorized tours are accessible. More information can be found HERE.

   RV parking is available. We were not directed to the correct lot and parked with the cars. I think the RV parking lot is behind the accessible parking spaces which are on the flat level of the lot nearest the park entry booths. The accessible spaces fill so arrive early to get a space. There’s a fee for parking. RVs are charged more than cars.   Park   33.09816, -117.00247

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

          
This is a fantastic, not-to-be missed, free attraction. Born in France in 1930, artist Niki de Saint Phalle designed and built large colorful sculptures all over the world. She moved to San Diego in 1994 and began searching for a piece of land for her next project, a sculpture garden featuring nine large figures inspired by California's mythic, historic and cultural roots, all enclosed inside a circular wall topped with snakes. The city of Escondido contributed the land in Kit Carson Park and Niki de Saint Phalle supplied all of the materials and money needed to complete the garden.


  The sculptures are made of polystyrene with a urethane skin, fiberglass coating, and steel armatures. They’re completely covered with a mosaic of different types of hand cut glass, ceramic and stones that Niki de Saint Phalle collected as she traveled. Because of vandalism and natural deterioration, the garden is only opened on Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00 AM to noon, and on the second Saturday of each month, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It takes a bit of planning to go see the garden but it’s worth it!
     
    
  The garden is accessible but the sandy path from the parking lot is difficult to push along. If you don’t have a strong helper try calling to see if it’s possible to drive to the garden gate. 

 The parking lot is small. Vans and short RVs will fit. Large RVs can be parked in one of the lots along Castaneda Drive. Paved trails lead to the garden parking lot.
Garden  33.08139, -117.06219
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