Arizona Museum of Natural History Vacation VisitAugust 25, 2010 1 Comment
Day 5 of our Arizona Grand Resort vacation
On Wednesday August 25th, our family decided to spend a couple of hours just before lunch at the Arizona Museum of Natural History. We had been staying at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix since Saturday, and this was our final full day of vacation. My sister, her husband, and their kids didn’t have a car because they flew in from their home in LA. My wife and I, on the other hand, drove to town with our 10 month old son, as did my parents who were also staying at the Arizona Grand Resort luxury villas. The museum was only about 15 minutes away from our hotel, and our two SUVs were able to accommodate all three families comfortably.
We did run into a small snag on the way out. After piling into our cars we realized there was a problem with my wife’s car battery because there wasn’t enough juice to turn it over. I was puzzled because no lights had been left on and the car had started just fine the day before. We were fortunate enough to have jumper cables handy, and were on our way after getting a jump start from my parents vehicle. We found out later that our old battery had been on borrowed time and needed to be replaced. The extremely hot Phoenix temperatures had given it the final knock-out blow!
Kudos to my brother-in-law for convincing us to visit the Arizona Museum of Natural History. It was a big hit with the kids and adults alike. As soon as we entered the lobby and registration area, we were greeted by a fossilized mammoth skeleton on display in the center. It was a large and very impressive creature with its long and curving tusks. There were also a few other extinct creatures on display in the lobby which made us all the more eager to pay our admission fees and continue on. Children under 3 years of age were admitted free. Children 3 to 12 were $6, and adults were $10 – a bargain for what was sure to be an entertaining and a great learning experience.
There were many fascinating exhibits to see during the 2 hours we spent at the Museum. One of the first fossils we saw as we entered the first room was the jaws of the Carcharodon Megalodon, a whale eating shark conservatively estimated to be 40 feet in length! They lived in the North American oceans between 6 and 23 million years ago. Each tooth was the size of a dagger!
The children were wide eyed with excitement to see all the various dinosaur fossils including a fully assembled adolescent triceratops from the Jurassic period. There was also an Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus), a large herbivore with its long neck extended high above all the others. On display just under this monster skeleton was a real Apatosaurus femur (thigh bone) with a sign encouraging people to touch it! I noticed these types of relaxed policies throughout the museum making it extremely kid friendly! As we proceeded through our tour I also noticed different puzzles for children on each floor we visited. These were the large wooden type puzzle pieces that could easily be assembled into various historical creatures by children of all ages. We even passed an “Exploration Station” designed especially for young children.
There were several other types of fully assembled dinosaur bone fossils, but perhaps the most famous was that of the Tyrannosaurus Rex posed in what looked like an attack position. Our son is too young to appreciate these amazing displays, but my niece and nephew had that look of wonder and excitement everywhere they went. One display worth mentioning was the flash flood exhibit which looked like a re-creation of the movie Jurassic Park, with various types of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures and plant life. The exhibit stretched up a hill that was three stories high, and it had a dry and rocky river bed cutting through the middle. The dry river bed emptied out into a small water filled lake at the foot of the exhibit. At one point we witnessed a simulated storm with lightning and thunder followed by rushing water that quickly turned the dry river bed into a gushing flow of rapids.
There was a wealth of knowledge to be uncovered about Arizona history in this artifact rich museum. The Territorial Jails, also known as the Mesa Jails, were among my favorite exhibits. These were the actual jails built in 1883 that were used to house thousands of criminals. There were never any successful escapes from these jails while they were in service. In fact, they were considered so secure that the Federal government would use them to lock up dangerous federal prisoners while travelling through the state of Arizona. It was very unsettling to walk through those cramped metal rooms. I don’t know if it was my imagination or not, but I’m pretty sure they even smelled a bit like urine!
Another one of my favorite exhibits was the Lost Dutchman Mine. These were very life like re-creations of the old gold mines in Arizona with underground shafts just big enough for us to push our baby’s stroller through. There were several corridors with artifact display cases along the way. Among these were old Spanish weight scales and scissors, picks, shovels, leather bags, and other miner’s gear used back when these mines were active. Some believe the actual location of the Lost Dutchman Mine holds rich treasures that many people in Arizona continue to seek even to this day.
There were many more interesting historic artifacts and exhibits at the Arizona Museum of Natural History that I can talk about, but I’ll leave that for another article if time permits. After about two hours of soaking in all those wonderful pearls of Arizona history, we drove back to our hotel at the Arizona Grand Resort. Our car had to once again be jump started, and we stopped at Pep Boys on the way, where we bought and installed a new car battery. It only diverted us for about 20 minutes so we were back on the road and at our hotel in no time.
Our son Christian was still sick and needed some rest, so we let him sleep in his pack-and-play crib and ordered room service. It was almost 3 pm by the time we finished our meal, and my wife was kind enough to let me go hang out at the Camel Back pool at our hotel while she stayed with Christian. My brother-in-law and his kids, and my dad, joined me at the pool where we once again played Marco Polo and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.
Flemings Steakhouse in Chandler (905 North 54th Street, Chandler, AZ 85226) is where we chose to dine on our last night in Arizona. The restaurant was only about 10 minutes away from the Grand Resort, and the hotel was kind enough to provide my family with door to door shuttle service. My wife and I consider Flemings to be one of our favorite restaurants. We regularly visit the one located in Manhattan Beach about 12 minutes from our home in Redondo Beach. As expected, the food and service at the Chandler Flemings steakhouse was absolutely superb. I won’t go into too much detail on our evening, but I would be remise if I did not discuss how pleased I was with my particular dish. Normally I order the Porterhouse steak, but on this night I decided to try something new and I went instead with the Peppercorn steak. This medium rare prime New York strip was very tender and juicy, and I just can’t say enough about their proprietary “F17” steak sauce which they served on the side. I normally like my steak without any sauces, but this surprisingly great tasting sauce just rocked my world! This dish has moved up to number one on my list of favorite Steaks at Flemings, and it’s half the price of the Porterhouse! What a great conclusion to our Phoenix family vacation at the Arizona Grand Resort. We will definitely be back again in the future!