Friday, August 24, 2012

RonnieAdventure #0017 - Grandchildren Visit, Las Vegas, Nevada

What’s a fun place to go in the summer, even if it is 115° F?  According to the Grandkids -- LAS VEGAS!!! The grandkids are certain that Grandpa, Grandma, and "T" are high-rollers because they live in Las Vegas, so on school breaks they like to come for a visit and bring their list of “Things to Do” with them. Fortunately, "T" likes to spoil her nieces and nephews, plus she has more energy than Grandpa and Grandma, so they often get to go a lot of places and do a lot of things while they are in Las Vegas. "T" also has every toy and game imaginable at her house, plus a giant TV under the back patio that you can watch from the swimming pool, so there is no question as to where the grandkids want to stay when they are in town!

Grandpa and Grandma - As Envisioned by the Grandchildren
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Only two of the grandkids made the trip this time (not by choice of the Grandkids), but "T" still worked her tour-guide magic by starting with a visit to the world famous Las Vegas Welcome sign, moving on to a craft center where they painted their own pottery (The pottery was fired during the week, so they were able to take the finished artwork home with them.), a stop by the Bellagio Conservatory to look at the latest flower displays (The displays change 5-6 times a year.), and a visit to Fremont Street to ride the Zip Line (Starts from a platform 5-stories in the air, and then descends under the Fremont Street canopy before stopping.), watch the local spray paint artist make furturistic paintings, and view the largest gold nugget in the world on public display at the Gold Nugget (875 Troy ounces, or just under 62 pounds), and then ended up in "T’s" swimming pool to cool off. And that was just the first day!  Wow! I’m tired just reading this!

Welcome to Las Vegas
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Artistic Hand-Crafted Pottery
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Bellagio Conservatory Summer Display
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Getting Ready to Ride the Zip Line at Fremont Street
Zip Line Starts 5-Stories Above the Street 
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Down Toward the Fremont Street Canopy
Under the Canopy
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Made It!
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
Spray-Can Street Artist
World's Largest Gold Nugget on Public Display
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
What a Way to end the Day!

Over the next few days there was indoor Go-Cart racing, the movies, Pump-It-Up Fun Center (giant slides, air hockey, and bounce-houses), shopping for school items, bowling, a trip to see Mac King “King of the Afternoon” comedy magic show (now everyone is learning magic tricks), some mean games of Uno Attack, and swimming in "T’s" pool every evening. Between activities Grandma acted as a gourmet chef and cooked just about anything ordered (which included a lot of deserts and mashed potatoes and gravy), and everyone also managed to make it out for pizza, CafĂ© Rio, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and, of course, the buffets. The bad thing about the buffets is that there were too many choices of thing to try, so the desert line won out (Since their parents are probably reading this, I should clarify that they also had some wholesome, nutritious food.) However, by the time the Grandkids were on the second or third ice cream cone, it became popular to make faces in the ice cream before devouring it.

Young Race Car Divers 
Pump-It-Up Fun Center
(Photo Courtesy of "T")
What do you mean that you got a Strike? 
Mac King Magic Show
(Photo Courtesy of "T") 
"This looks too healthy - let's go look at the deserts." 
"I say we try one of each"
"Who does this look like?"
"I think my face is melting!"

After the two Grandkids went home, Grandpa, Grandma, and "T" had a long, long well-deserved nap!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

RonnieAdventure #0016 - Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona

You know that it is hot and humid when you still feel thirsty after drinking two quarts of water and it is only 11:30 in the morning. As I sat on a rock with sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes, causing a burning sensation, my shirt was so wet that it stuck to my back, and the bottoms of my feet felt like I had been walking on hot coals, I started thinking that something was wrong with this picture because this was the third time that I had been to Tucson this summer. Then, I had a flashback to last winter in Denver when I was fighting a blizzard and suffering from frost bite -- it occurred to me that maybe I had my travel schedule all mixed up. I needed to go to Denver in the summer so that I wouldn’t suffer from frost bite and then go to Tucson in the winter months so that I wouldn’t suffer from heat stroke. Oh well, too late for that now; so I had might as well have a RonnieAdventure.

The Pima Air and Space Museum is close to the airport and one of the many items on my bucket list, so this seemed like the ideal time for a quick visit. Unfortunately, with over 300 aircraft spread-out over about 80 acres of land, in two hours it is not possible to do more than a quick walk-though, and that does not include a tour of the “boneyard.” This will obviously be a repeat visit in one of the cooler months!

Entrance to Pima Air and Space Museum

SR-71A Blackbird

 A-10A Warthog

Bumble Bee

 B-17G Flying Fortress

B-24J Liberator

 L-049 Constellation

B-377SG Super Guppy

B-36J Peacemaker

B-58E Hustler

MIG-17F Fresco C

Various Fighter Planes

OV-1C Mohawk

Various Helicopters

VH-1 Buzz Bomb

Sunday, August 12, 2012

RonnieAdventure #0015 - Pueblo Grande Ruins & Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

Probably one of the most overlooked National Historic Landmarks in Phoenix is the Pueblo Grande Ruins & Museum. At 4619 East Washington Street, Pueblo Grande is located close to the Phoenix downtown area and is one of the last surviving urban architectural sites of its kind in Southwestern United States.

The Hohokam site was occupied between 100 and 1450 AD and artifacts found at Pueblo Grande indicate that the site was heavily influenced by trade contacts with Mexico. The site contains a Central American style ball court and a large masonry platform mound surrounded by caliche-brick dwellings, which is similar to sites found farther to the south. To support the large number of Hohokam people that lived in this area, an elaborate canal system was developed to irrigate crops from the Salt River. The canals are an engineering marvel and were aligned and developed so efficiently that when pioneers settled the area they were able to use the existing canals with almost no realignment of the ditches to provide efficient water distribution to the fields. The canal system is still used today to support farming in the area.

The main platform mound at Pueblo Grande contains numerous rooms and has not been completely excavated, but some of the walls have been reconstructed and stabilized to help visualize what the site looked like when occupied by the Hohokam people. Of particular interest are the replicated houses that have been furnished with items that would have been used during the Hohokam time period. There is also an excellent museum on site that contains Hohokam artifacts and examples of items created by other native people and more recent craftsmen. The museum also provides interpretative programs, museum lectures, and educational classes. This site is definitely worth visiting when in Phoenix.
 Entrance to Museum and Pueblo Grande ruins

 Rendering of what ruins may have looked like when occupied

 Artifiacts in museum

 Examles of pottery in museum

Examples of crafts in museum

Room configuration on top of mound

Unstabilized room walls on top of mound

Stabilized room walls on top of mound

Replicated square building

Interior of replicated square building

Replicated rounded building

Interior of replicated rounded building

Ball Court

Sunday, August 5, 2012

RonnieAdventure #0014 - Petroglyphs, Pima County, Arizona

I always enjoy visiting new petroglyph sites and viewing the different designs, so I was excited to recently visit a private ranch outside of Tucson that contained some very unique and rare petroglyph designs. Time for the next RonnieAdventure!

Although the site is not well known, the Tohono O'odham people that live to the north are familiar with the site because historically their ancestors passed by this site on their way to the annual feast day at Mission San Xavier del Bac. The petroglyphs are believed to span a long period of time from about 450 A.D. to about 1450 A.D. Archaeologists know that some of the images are very old because there are signs of desert rock varnish forming on the petroglyphs. Although there are no written records, archaeologists believed that the Hohokam people who carved most of the petroglyphs are descendants of the Huhugam (Huhugam means something that has disappeared or has been used up; thus, the Huhugam are the people who have disappeared.), so the terms Huhugam and Hohokam are sometimes used interchangeably.

Because the Hohokam kept no written records, no one really knows what the petroglyphs mean or why they were carved throughout the Southwest. However, the Tohono O'odham people ask that the sites be respected and not damaged. My favorite image a this site was the "man-in-the-maze" petroglyph that is rare, but also reported to be scratched into the plaster of an interior wall at the Casa Grande ruins (the ruins can not be entered by the public) and another site near the Mexican border. Located in this area are also mortars holes in the bedrock that were used for grinding mesquite beans that grow along the area washes. This was a great place to spend an early morning, even during the summer months.










"Man-In-The-Maze" Design