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Local Treks

Monday, 31 December 2007

Casa Grande

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The ice and cold and dark right now are getting to me, so I thought I'd write about a good trip I took with the baby a couple summers ago, to a place that was dry and hot and sunny:  Arizona.

If you head south from Phoenix on I-10 for about 40 minutes, then take the 387 west towards Florence, Arizona (which incidentally is the name of the mother in "Raising Arizona"), you'll come to the Casa Grande Ruins National Historic Site.  (The ruins are in the town of Coolidge; don't go looking for them in the town of Casa Grande.) 

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The "Big House" itself is the centerpiece, but the site encompasses a number of Ho'hokam ruins that are interestingly easy to see against the sere desert.  9-12 year olds may enjoy learning about the Hohokam culture and the history of the ruins (used as a stagecoach stop, etc), and learning about how the O'odham tribe still venerates the site.  All kids (and many adults) will enjoy seeing the ground squirrels and quail and lizards that populate the site.  The snakes that you may see sunning themselves are gopher snakes and are basically there for the ground squirrels - they are harmless.  If you are lucky like we were, you may even see Great Horned Owls and their owlets in the rafters of the shed over the ruins.

After an hour or two at Casa Grande, we headed west from Florence on Hwy 60 towards Superior to get to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  This is an absolutely stunning location and easily a full day of hiking.  The arboretum is at the base of a magma ridge, which you can hike all the way around (only with older kids; ain't no way I was hauling the backpack-riding baby that far in the heat). 

The Arboretum kept the baby interested with plenty of different plants and birds to see, although the lake and the lizards were his favorite bits.  My favorite was the hummingbird in her nest that the staff had put where visitors could see her.

This probably goes without saying, but the Arboretum and Casa Grande are OK for strollers but not optimal.  And whenever you have the kids outside in the AZ summer, make sure to keep them hydrated and wearing sun protection, including sunglasses.  Don't forget to reapply the sunblock!
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Posted in All Ages : Americas : Infant by Raq W. at 6:03 PMPermalink

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