Sunday, May 26, 2013

Visiting Arizona

Sean is a big Angels baseball fan.  He's mentioned that going to Spring Training to watch the Angels would be an ideal vacation.  Realizing how close Mesa was I surprised Sean by saying, Let's do it!  We made arrangements with my cousin Karina to stay with her family and we took a long weekend to enjoy some baseball.

One of the big draws of going to Spring Training for Sean was the small stadium, where pretty much any seat is a good one.  Combine that with super cheap tickets means that Sean had his pick of where to seat.  He picked his perfect seat which wasn't too bad since the owner of the Angels sat in our section.  Sean loved being able to see the players up close.  We would not have afforded these seats if they were in Angels stadium.

We did two games, one by ourselves and one with my cousin and a couple of her kids.  Both days were great.  The weather wasn't too bad and the Angels won both games.

Sean knows how important it is for me to visit temples and to take pictures of them so we made sure we visited the ones we could.  I've been to the Mesa temple before but it has been years and I needed to get my picture in front of it.  We also stopped by the Gilbert temple which is nearing completion.  This temple is only a couple of miles from my cousin's house.  It would be so great to have a temple that close!

Since I love to explore the history of an area we made a special trip out to Tonto National Monument which was about a 2 hour drive to the north east of Mesa.  This was a very special trip because recently at work I processed ceramic vessels that came from this area.  It was really neat to see the environment and learn more about the natives that created the art I've seen.  Tonto National Monument is a cliff dwelling of the Salado people.  We visited the lower dwellings.  The upper dwellings required reservations and we weren't able to make time for that visit.  We started in the visitor center where we watched a 20 minute video on the area, people and dwellings.  Then we followed a 1 mile path up to the dwellings.  They were really impressive.  They approximate about 8-10 families lived in this dwelling.  Being in a cliff it was a natural fortress.  The dwellings were protected from the rain and since it was facing the east, it received the warmth from the sun early in the morning.  Surprisingly these dwellings probably only lasted for one hundred years.  On our way back down the trail we ran into a Gila monster making its way across our trail.  There was a ranger coming up the other direction.  We pointed out the lizard and the ranger got super excited saying it was pretty rare to see one.  It was sort of cool to see such a large lizard.  On our way home we stopped at a viewing spot where I took a picture of the upper dwellings.  Needless to say, those dwellings are much more impressive.
Lower Cliff Dwellings
Lower Cliff Dwellings from the main road

Gila Monster-North America's only poisonous lizard

View out of the dwellings 

Remnants of a second floor

They would have fires inside.  The doors were low so the heat would stay in.

Can you believe that this wood could be 700 years old?

View of the front rooms of the dwelling

View from the dwellings

View from the walkway towards the dwellings
Compare the lower dwellings to the  . . . .
Upper Dwellings.  Much more impressive!

We stopped in one of the small mining towns on our way back to Mesa and enjoyed some small town mexican food.  It was so tasty!  We knew it was a local joint when we saw the only cop car in town parked out front.  
The salsa was in a squeeze bottle, unique but tasty!

 My cousins stake was having a softball game on one of the nights we were there.  It was a dream come true for Sean!  He misses playing baseball so much!  He did really well and got several RBIs.

 There was a bad car crash where a truck flipped off the road on our way back to Valencia.  We were dead stopped for about 20 minutes.  Lots of people were getting out of their cars.  I had to take a picture of it since it's something that doesn't happen too often.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Indiana Jones, the Exhibit

I'm a little behind (and out of order) with my postings.  

My birthday fell on a Sunday this year and we decided to celebrate the day before.  There was an exhibit in Santa Ana called, Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology.  It was at the Discovery Cube and I made Sean take me.  Sean's not as keen as me when visiting museums so I try to find exhibits that would sort of pique his interest too.  The last exhibit we went to was the Cleopatra exhibit and he enjoyed that one.  I thought Indiana Jones would be another success.

I was right.

I thought this exhibit would be more about archaeology and less about the movies but it ended up being about 30% archaeology and 70% movie information.  We had a really cool guide that not only provided audio but also video information.

They had a great interactive activity that you could participate in throughout the entire exhibit.  In the beginning you swiped your handheld guide over a symbol on a short obelisk.  It would then bring up information on your device.  You picked an artifact (it was a cartoon pottery vessel) and were told that there are 10 pieces throughout the exhibit that will complete your broken vessel.  So as you went through the exhibit you had to look for the short obelisks and swipe your guide to be given your task.  When you completed a task you received an additional part of your vessel.  The tasks varied from being easy to complicated.  They also were not the same for each person.  Sean and I never had the exact same task.  The simplest was a matching game.  There was a picture of the holy grail in three sections and each section was a different style and you had to swipe each section until the entire goblet was the same style.  The tricky part was that you had to be smart enough to match it with the goblet that was on display.  The more complicated ones used readers in the walls where you had to swipe your device over the wall to get the right clue or information.  One of my favorites was going into this angular room where on your device you were given a map of the room.  There were artifacts attached to the walls and you had to go swipe your device over the artifact that is showing up on the map on your device.  It was fun watching people walking around the room trying to complete the task because many of them were not reading their maps right.  Another twist was that they went in different orders for each person which frustrated the individuals who just copied each other.  Sean got really into this game.  I thought it was brilliant, entertaining adults and kids!  We found all our pieces and were able to complete our vessels. 

This was the completed vessel!

It was fun to see props and costumes from the movies.  They also had lots of behind the scene information.  One tidbit I liked was that for the third movie the German blond (cant remember her name) didn't have a problem filming with real rats (you remember that sewer scene?!) because she loved rats.  She had no problem having them crawl all over her.  I would!  Also, I liked how Cate Blanchett picked her outfit for her character.  She apparently was very opinionated on what her character was like which really pleased the director/producers.  There were some interactive activities at the end of the exhibit that reflected scenes from the movies like pulling yourself up on a rope and figuirng out the weight of a gold statue.

Overall the Cube is geared only towards kids.  Sean enjoyed the small hockey exhibit but the only reason we were there was for the Indiana Jones exhibit.  We saw a lot of adults that were there for the same reason.  There were several older guys with buddies and a couple of people even dressed up in hats and whips (yes, these were the adults).  As soon as we got through the exhibit Sean expressed how much he liked it.  I was a little taken aback because usually I have to ask him first how and what he liked.  He must have really enjoyed it!  Win-win! 

Afterwards we went to Red Lobster for a tasty dinner.  The following day was when Sean made my cake (I still made the frosting, he hasn't mastered Seven Minute Frosting) and I opened gifts.  It was the perfect birthday!