arizona attractions, date nights

Ballet Under the Stars

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Sunset over the White Tank Mountains
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Downtown Phoenix

While driving to visit our new friends, we were listening to the radio. (Driving is a new part of our lives since we lived on church/school property back in Indiana. I love spending this extra time with Stephen as we commute everywhere!) On the radio, we heard an announcement for a free ballet performing in a Phoenix park on the approaching Saturday night. What was so incredible about this announcement was that Stephen noticed it! šŸ™‚ What a thoughtful man I have.

We had never been to a ballet before, so this would be the taste test to see if we were interested in sitting through an entire ballet in the future.

However, we made a date out of the entire day on Saturday. After discovering that Saturday was Museum Day, when particular museums across the country open their doors for free to the public, we went online and picked out a few museums in the area that looked intriguing.

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Our first stop was the Challenger Space Center. Apparently several other families and school groups found out about the free admission since the place was crowded. move 411cropped

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Frankly, we were disappointed as the learning center seemed to be outdated with no major exhibits–except for the traveling planetarium which was not free. move 416cropped

We were however, able to view the Sun through telescopes with special light filtersĀ  and attend a talk on the “Nature of Light.”

Undeterred we set out for the Arizona State Museum which was a huge treasure trove! This is the perfect destination for a couple wanting to learn about the area to which we’ve just moved. The exhibits were informative, attractive, interactive, and family-friendly. Arizona is the home of many famous individuals including Barry Goldwater (US presidential candidate), Erma Bombeck (humorist), and Bill Keane (Family Circus cartoonist).

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This is Bill Keane’s overview of the state of Arizona.

Our favorite exhibit was the “Routes-A Moving Experience” exhibit move 424cropped

explaining the development of transportation from the early wagon and dirt road days, to the first automobiles with bags of water hanging on the front for those overheating radiators in the desert,

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to the current interstate highway system which was only just completed in AZ in the 1990’s. (By the way, interstates are not known to the locals as “I-10” and “I-17,” but rather they are called “the 10” and “the 17.” In fact all major state routes and highways are called “the” something or the other–like “the 101.”) move 425

This Routes exhibit had lots of kid activities like dressing up as a geologist, creating a license plate, and even driving this vehicle made from 4 different decades of automobiles!

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The rest of the museum sported eye-catching exhibits with lots of hands-on activities (such as branding a cow–don’t worry, no animals were involved).

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My favorite part was learning just how much Arizona was affected by WW2.

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You don’t necessarily view AZ as a state impacted by the World War since it’s in the middle of the desert, but that exactly why it was impacted. Several German POW camps were located here, as were Japanese American Relocation Camps.

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In fact, the whole state was divided by a great line running east and west. Japanese Americans who lived south of the line had to evacuate to relocation camps. While those north of the line could stay in their homes, they were prohibited from crossing the line. Since this line passed basically through the center of the city of Phoenix, farmers who sold to customers south of the line took a loss in profits as they had to hire someone else to take their goods to market. move 445cropped

The state of Arizona also contributed its land for bombing ranges and its Navajo Native Americans to be Code Talkers for the war effort. These men used their native Navajo tongue to encript messages to be sent from one military post to another.

The final exhibit we visited, “Desert Cities,” looked like the main street of a 1960s town with businesses and homes on either side of the “road.”

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The best part about this museum is that admission is free the first Saturday of every month, and kids 12 and under are always free!

After supper at home, we then headed to Steele Indian School Park for Ballet Under the Stars. At around 90 degrees with dew on the grass, we were very comfortable as we spread our blanket on a knoll near a pond in the midst of a crowd of our new neighbors. We were thrilled to be out in our new community!

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The first act was from Swan Lake and the second from Don Quixote. That was my favorite as it was so delicately beautiful and so typical of what I’ve dreamt ballet to be. We left before the program was over to beat the rush of traffic.

What a beautiful night under the stars!

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