A Family Visit in September

Dear Students,

My sister Kathy came to visit me from Pennsylvania this week. My boys loved to see Uncle Mickey, Aunt Kathy, KK and baby Abby.

KK is 2, she popped in and out of our tiny doggy door like a puppy!

I played tour guide and drove them around the Valley.

We took the Apache Trail to the Tortilla Flat.

Phoenix is very different from Harrisburg, PA.

Max, KK and Brady at the Tortilla Flat. We liked the money on the wall, the saddle seats and the snakeskins–don’t forget the funny bathrooms!

I came back on Wednesday and shelved books in the library and hung up posters for the Book Fair. Are you excited for the book fair? It is next week!!

Book Fair next week in the gymcafetorium! We use the Gilbert family business A plus books to help us run our book fair. Shop local and support your library!

Then I went back to playing tour guide.

On Monday we visited the Lost Dutchman State Park and hiked the Treasure Loop Trail. We did not go the whole loop. We walked to the Green Rock and then walked back. KK and Max were good hikers!

Do you like to hike? I took my family to my favorite places near our house. Where are your favorite places to visit with your family?

It is still very hot here for a hike in the desert. We left the house early in the morning, brought plenty of water and wore comfortable shoes. Stopping for snacks along the way helped too!

Baby Abby is two months old, so she was old enough to go on a hike too.

The parking lot for Papago park is hidden inside the zoo parking lot, Turn into the zoo and then take a quick left to Papago park. We drove around a bit before I found the right lot.

We took her to Papago Park to Hole in the Rock for a super easy hike. It is only 1/8 of a mile long with a dramatic pay off. Perfect for that newborn attention span.

Interior of Hole in the Rock. Fun to climb around the inside!

At the top of KK’s wish list was Organ Stop Pizza and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

The ice cream stand and the grocery store were the biggest hits with KK. What do you like to do best at the Children’s Museum?

My mom placed an order for olive oil, so we had lunch at the Queen Creek Olive Mill. Max and KK played tag in the olive grove. We saw pomegranates, a bird’s nest and lots of olives!

Can you tell me what kind of bird made this nest?

Do you like pomegranates? The story of Persephone is a good one to read if you like the fruit.

KK found a pomegranate on the tree

After running around the olive grove and eating prickly pear gelato, KK fell asleep in the car. If we took her out of the car she would wake up.

Everyone fell asleep. So I drove them to Casa Grande National Monument because I am good like that.

Are Uncle Mickey’s eyes rolling up to the top of his head?

Casa Grande is a great place to play hide and seek. Don’t forget to look for the two owls that live in the canopy over the Great House. We noticed on this visit that the visitor’s center is enlarged and has a new theater. Casa Grande is free on 9/29/12 for Public Lands Day.

I know it looks like I took my family out in the sun all week. That is exactly what I did. They are pretty tired!

After our hikes, we went swimming and made s’mores on the patio.

Here are 50 more s’mores recipes. What kind will you try?

Halloween is just around the corner! This is my pick from the 50.

My favorite part of the visit was snuggling up with new baby Abby. She just ate, slept and smiled.

The next time we see Abby, she will be 11 months old and on her way to walking. It is hard to believe!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!!

Mrs. Kenney

Papago Park: Hole in the Rock Hike

Dear Students,

Every time I drive to the Zoo, my eyes wander over the prominent buttes that form the “Hole in the Rock, to the left of the Zoo.” To me, the non-hiker with two little boys, it looked like an impossibility.

Because I don’t know anything about Arizona yet, we parked at the zoo and walked over where I saw the dedicated parking area…c’est la vie

This weekend we had mild weather, we were in the Zoo parking lot, I said on impulse, let’s walk to the Hole in the Rock. And so we did.

We didn’t know if we would walk to the back of the rock and see technical climbers with crampons and ropes. We hoped there was a manageable way to reach the top.

Mr. Dreamy walked with Brady and I walked with Max.

Max was eager to climb, he left the well marked trail and took off vertically

The path was graded and had steps cut into it at spaced intervals. I corralled Max and we caught up with our family

by now we are three minutes into the hike and three minutes from the summit

We rounded a corner and lo and behold, Hole in the Rock hike is 1/10 of a mile long and an elevation of 200 feet. Dead easy. I saw pregnant woman walking littles in flip flops. This is my kind of hike!

The hole reveals itself in stages, it is bigger than it looks

We entered through a smaller oval in the rock, certainly big enough but it opened to yield a cavern in the rock and a larger hole facing the zoo. People streamed in and out continuously, posing for pictures, enjoying the view, children climbed the rocks in the interior.

This is the reason we aren’t going to the Grand Canyon for a long time

Telling Max when we reached the top “Look at you! You climbed a mountain!” and the reward of his beaming face makes this a million dollar hike. I know he traces mountain ridges with his hands and tells me how he would walk along the top if only I would let him. Today, he got his wish.

we had our own turn at a group picture and then we were off to feed the ducks

My verdict on the park: The Hole in the Rock¬†hike makes my roster for “out of town¬†guests”, it’s so easy nearly anyone can do it. It’s a thrill to do it the way we did it, totally unaware of how easy it was and how pretty the view would be. This will be fun to share with my out of town guests. Do you bring family to the Hole in the Rock? Have you watched the city lights and seen the sunset?

From the Peak of Papago,
Mrs. Kenney

If you visit the park: All gated roadways and trailhead parking areas are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the park located east of Galvin Parkway. Trailhead parking west of Galvin Parkway is sunrise to sunset or 7 p.m. whichever, comes first. Though gated parking areas including restrooms and ramadas will close at 7 p.m., the trails remain open until 11 p.m. Don’t overlook the nearby Nature Trail, .25 miles long and begins at the ranger’s office. It has signage for the desert plants. I’m sorry we missed it. (Links to all 4 trails in the park)