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Winter In July At the Phoenix Zoo – Sat, 7/17

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.


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Sweat your way through another Saturday if you like, but that’s on you, bub.

For additional information, schedule of events, directions and more, visit the Phoenix Zoo online.

Hope to see you there.  I’ll be the guy throwing snowballs at the Komodo dragon while my kids gleefully club each other unconscious with giraffe-shaped icicles.  Good times.

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Mighty Mud Mania In Scottsdale AZ

Mighty Mud Mania In Scottsdale AZ

Mighty.  Mud.  Mania.

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.

Oops.

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.

Look forward to seeing you there next year!

Search Home For Sale Near Chaparral Park!

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Break the Chain!  Echo Coffee in South Scottsdale

Break the Chain! Echo Coffee in South Scottsdale

Recognizing that one has a problem is the first step towards overcoming addiction.  Recognizing that one harbors a chemical dependency on roasted caffeinated goodness … not so much.  I am a full-blown, pull-my-hair-out-by-the-roots java junkie.  I don’t need help, I just need a double espresso with a finish so smooth it could be mistaken for a shot of liquid chocolate pudding, with just the gentlest punch of bitterness to let me know it was there.

Navigating the streets of Scottsdale as I attend to the affairs of an artificially tireless Realtor, I often find my vehicle caught in the tractor beam of a certain coffee franchise.  The telltale logo of the not to be mentioned chain exerting some jedi mind trick that compels me to add a cup of coffee to the itinerary, whether truly needed or not.  We have all had our brains thoroughly washed.  The convenience of a store on every corner and a known commodity effectively overriding the inherent appeal of a true coffee house: the attention to unique local roast, the vibe, a menu that goes beyond pre-packaged food choices.

We have willingly exchanged quality for convenience.

Echo Coffee Dining AreaWhat if I were to tell locals to the South Scottsdale and North Tempe area that you can have both?  Boasting a locale that has screamed for just such a new neighbor, recently opened Echo Coffee is the brainchild of Steve Belt, formerly of Realty Executives.  Anyone who knows Steve will attest to the fact that he doesn’t do anything half-way.  From the scrutiny of the individual beans to the roasting techniques utilized, he has managed to create several distinguishably unique brews (including the flagship “Titus” blend) that overwhelm any lingering desire of this self-professed coffee snob to return to the barren confines of the brand that rhymes with “Tarsucks.”

Echo Coffee is not  my new favorite Scottsdale coffee shop for the product alone, but for the ultra modern atmosphere that buzzes with technology enthusiasts, professionals, students, etc.  As techie as they come (hence the superb attention to minutia that makes the joint shine), Mr. Belt has crafted an environment that encourages a connoisseur to bring his/her laptop, tap into to the available Wi-Fi and comport the virtual dealings of the day.

Echo Cofee Pour Over BarWhile just about every confection you have been hooked on by the big guys is available at Echo Coffee, I am a black coffee kind of guy.  I highly recommend chasing a shot of espresso with a cup of the Titus blend while nibbling on the absurdly delicious Mediterranean Tuna sandwich (an amazing tuna fish creation with cannellini beans, olive oil, vinegar and challots on foccia bread with no heart-attack inducing mayo).  It’s an organic menu to boot, if you are into that sort of thing.  Think locally and give an upstart a shot.  My hunch is you won’t be tempted to return to the soulless purgatory of the coffee Borg anytime soon.

Echo Coffee is located at the NW corner of Thomas Rd and 68th St. in Scottsdale, AZ (85251).  Let me know when you’re going and I’ll meet you for a cup!

Please visit Echo online for hours, directions and additional information. Echo Coffee logo

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