Digging through my old archives for additional community information I could use to populate this site, I came across this video I shot aboard the Standard Pacific Railroad at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in McCormick Ranch (Scottsdale). Hard to believe it’s already been two and a half years since I shot this, as I barely recognize the cast in comparison to their 2010 doppelgangers. Time flies when you’re chasing your children around the house with a fire extinguisher full of holy water. Looking for something to do with the munchkins this weekend? There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. Enjoy.
No plans for the upcoming weekend other than consciously staving off spontaneous combustion from the privacy of your own air conditioned home? You might want to check out the “Winter In July” event taking place this Saturday (7/17) morning at the Phoenix Zoo. Between the hours of 7 – 11 AM, the zoo will do its darnedest to make you forget that it’s hotter than molten lava sunscreen by importing 25 tons of man-made snow for kids (and the young at heart) to play in, and an additional 35 tons for the animals. Observe special feedings around various cold concoctions for the big cats (follow the link below for specific times). Watch the elephant get a hose-down courtesy of the Tolleson Fire Department. Witness with morbid fascination as marmots are cryogenically frozen and sold at the concession stand as otter pops (I kid, I kid. Don’t call PETA). A slip-n-slide will be in full swing, along with the splash pad and water cavern play areas.
Aside from We’re Going to Disneyland, All the Rock Candy You Can Eat and, possibly, No School Today, you won’t find too many phrases that resonate with the children of Scottsdale more than Mighty Mud Mania.
Held annually at Chaparral Park in central Scottsdale (just East of Hayden, between Chaparral and Jackrabbit Rds), Mighty Mud Mania was originally conceived as an advertising ploy by the good people at Johnson’s Wax for their “Shout” spray pre-wash product. Encouraging kids to navigate an appropriately mud-laden obstacle course, the idea was to demonstrate how the detergent could remove even the toughest stains from the 300 free white shirts that were provided to the pioneering entrants.
The kids and the Scottsdale mud proved more than a match for the product’s stain-fighting prowess. The idea stuck, however, as the city adopted the concept as a fun diversion from the dog days of summer, and now multiple sponsors help pull the event together every year.
Celebrating its 35th incarnation this year, Mighty Mud Mania has grown from its gimmicky origins to a spectacle that draws as many as 10,000 participants. Now including mud pits for children of all ages, shaded sand boxes, a stage with entertainment and participation performances, water slides, concessions and hose-down area (courtesy of a hose down from the local Fire Department) in addition to the ubiquitous obstacle course/steeplechase/sanctioned insanity that started it all, the fun has morphed from the means to the ends. Entrance and participation is free, though donations and canned food drop-offs (collected by the Vista Del Camino Food Bank) are encouraged. With the crowds that attend the event nowadays, parking has become a bit of a challenge. As such, overflow parking is provided at Mohave Middle School, with buses on hand to transport those in attendance. Admission to the public pool at Chaparral park is also reduced to $1 between 11 AM and 3 PM on the day of the event.
Of course, having a relative that lives half a block from the park is also a perk. We were fortunate to be able to park in the Crestwood subdivision (directly East of the pedestrian entrance to Chaparral Park on Vista Dr), and walk our boys over for this year’s fun. One day, and one day only, it took place this past Saturday, June 19th, between 8:30 AM and 2 PM. Here is a pictorial recap of the filthy carnage that ensued. (click images to enlarge)
Mighty Mud Mania: just one more thing that makes Scottsdale Scottsdale.
One of the great things about the Phoenix metropolitan area is the abundance of unique weekend destinations for both food and fun. While I love all that my home city of Scottsdale has to offer during the week, I like to load the family into the car on the weekend and visit one of the many attractions that the rest of the Valley has to offer.
The Farm at South Mountain is one of my favorite spots to enjoy healthy breakfast fare which consists of fresh local produce, herbs, citrus and dairy. I wolf down the Southwestern breakfast burrito with a medley of fresh vegetables on most occasions. Located right next to the organic garden, the outdoor seating area commands instant relaxation. Even if your eldest child is actively trying to stab your youngest with a fork.
The 12 acre expanse of The Farm includes three separate restaurants. The Morning Glory is, predictably, a breakfast cafe. The Farm Kitchen is the original restaurant, and primarily serves lunch along with morning snacks. With park bench seating under the shady branches of a pecan tree grove, you’ll forget that you are in the desert while enjoying a made-from-scratch treat. The Quiessence Restaurant and Wine Bar is what you think it is: upscale dining. Phoenix Magazine tagged it as “the best restaurant in Phoenix” in January, 2007. Contemporary American farm cuisine is the moniker given to the menu. I don’t know what that means, but the organic, locally produced dishes are amazing.
Other attractions on The Farm include:
The Retreat: Straight from their website, The Retreat invites (by appointment) patrons to “Deeply relax and rejuvenate with massage. hot and cold stones, shiatsu, vibrational essences, facials, tea ceremonies, intuitive readings, healing sessions and more.”
The Artist Studio: Also according to their website, “The Artist Studio at The Farm is a new cultural/educational center working to promote creativity while connecting with deeper values in the natural environs of The Farm. Visit The Cottage, home to ever changing art mediums featuring the fine art of Artist’s in Residence. Relax and enjoy shopping for original gifts created by local artists. In The Studio we offer art classes, writing workshops, educational lectures, youth home school classes, field trips and staff retreats.”
The Doctor’s Office, likewise by appointment only, is home to a resident practitioner of naturopathic medicine.
Maya’s at The Farm is the organic garden which produces many of the fresh vegetables and herbs used by the three restaurants. Named for Maya Dailey, who tends the garden, Maya’s holds a farmer’s market every Saturday between 9 AM and 1 PM. In adjunct to the garden is a greenhouse and the chicken coup (my boys’ personal favorite). Watch those little fingers, though, as the chicken wire enclosure is electrified!
The Farm is a magical place to visit for special occasions as well as laconic Sunday mornings. I have been fortunate to enjoy birthdays, Easter brunch and just-because mornings within its friendly confines, and have never left in a bad mood.
Private parties and weddings are available for booking as well.
Whether you are new to the area, visiting for the season, or one who simply doesn’t often venture outside of your comfort zone in Scottsdale or Paradise Valley, I urge you to make a trip to this special place. The coffee is good, the mimosas are great, and the setting is out of this world!
Paul Slaybaugh with Realty Executives is your guide to Scottsdale Real Estate. A Scottsdale native, Paul has been selling homes in Scottsdale, Phoenix and Paradise Valley since 1999, and selling the virtues of Arizona living even longer. If you are looking to buy or sell in the greater Scottsdale area, or just wondering where to get a decent cup of coffee and an omelet, Paul’s your guy.
The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has been a staple of Scottsdale, AZ since opening to the public in 1975. The 30 acre park sits on land that was donated to the city in 1967 by the Fowler McCormick family. The jewel of the park is the 5/12 (5 inches equals 1 foot) standard Paradise & Pacific Railroad. The train runs year-round, with rides available to visitors every 30 minutes on weekdays, and continuously on weekends during park hours. With assistance from former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, the train was actually constructed by the United States Marine Corps as part of a training exercise.
In addition to the fully operational railroad, the park features a variety of additional attractions including a carousel, playground, Western Town play area, authentic railroad exhibits, ramadas for parties/picnics, designated birthday party train cars, stage for evening performances, xeroscape arboretum, railroad museum, eating areas, live steamers (miniature train for small children), model train clubs and more.
The park is not just a paradise for the kids, however. It is awash in history for the adults. Exhibits include the 1907 built Magma Arizona Railroad Engine No. 6, which hauled copper from Superior to Magma, AZ for 38 years.
The Roald Amundsen Pullman Car was built in 1928, and used for maximum security travel for every president from Herbert Hoover to Dwight Eisenhower. The Baggage Car which currently houses the Railroad Museum was built in 1914 as a sleeping car. It was converted to carry baggage during World War II. The Merci Train was France’s “thank you” to the goodwill of the American public. Following WWII, Americans donated goods and materials to fill 250 railroad cars, which were then delivered to war- ravaged France. France commissioned the Merci Train to return the favor. 49 so-called 40 & 8 boxcars (could hold 40 men or 8 horses) full of French treasures were delivered to America as a gesture of thanks. One of the boxcars is proudly on display.*
The Railroad Park hosts a series of events over the course of the year including Railfair, a free summer concert series, holiday lights, and more. Follow the link below for the full calendar of events.
Paul Slaybaugh is a Realtor with Realty Executives in Scottsdale, Arizona. An Arizona native, Paul was raised in McCormick Ranch. He loved riding the Paradise and Pacific Railroad as a child, and he still visits the park every week. Only now he rides with his own little ones.