Fire Station Front
Driving by this building you think you've found an old-fashioned
fire station right out of a Norman Rockwell painting,
complete with a big red truck and a dalmation. On second glance you
see that the whole building is a front, a mural of eye-catching
realism. It's the old Thunderbird Fire & Safety Equipment building.
This shot was taken in March 2001. It looks like it's up for
sale. (go south on 32nd st. from Baseline, East on
Roeser about a quarter mile)
World's Largest Kachina
You'd be amazed how few Phoenicians know that they live so near
the world's largest Kachina doll. This giant is 39 feet tall and
looms over the entrance to the Tonto Hills community. To find it
drive north on Scottsdale road until it ends in Cave Creek, then
turn right (east) and drive six miles staying left, to the entrance
of Tonto Hills. You can't miss it!
World's Second Largest Sundial
Carefree is home to the world's second largest working sundial.
I hear that the largest is in India somewhere. This
is the largest in the Western Hemisphere anyway at 62 feet and it
stands as a reminder that not everything in the world makes
good sense. To find it, go all the way north on Scottsdale road
until it ends and turn right. Then take quick right into a
a small office and tourist area. The sundial is in the center of
the street at the intersections of Easy Street, Sunshine Way, and
Fifth Avenue Rose Garden
I came across this one night while out bar hopping. It's on
Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale just west of Goldwater Blvd. It's a
small rose garden filled with well-manicured rose bushes. I first
saw it in January when it was in full bloom and I was floored. This
shot from March is much less impressive and doesn't show the full
size because so few flowers were in bloom. But trust me, at the
right time of year take your sweetie here and you'll get all the
honey you want!
Squaw Peak Potsway
The pots on the Squaw Peak parkway are just about as goofy
as anything in this town. They line the noise abatement walls
along the south end of the Squaw Peak freeway (these south of
Glendale Ave.) The city got lots of heat for commisioning this
'art' for large amounts of taxpayer dollars. The entertainment
value has since subsided as has the local's prank of adding
toilets and shopping carts to the collection. But the history
and tackiness go on.
Sunny Slope Rock Garden
Before they had the internet, people did all their weird
artistic expression in hard cold physicality, in this case
with rocks. There's this old house in Sunnyslope in a run-down
neighborhood where you can see a man's life work. On my recent
visit to get my own pictures I got run off by a toothless
kurmudgeon and so I have to settle for these from a web site.
It's worth a drive-by if you're in the area (I don't mean
shooting, though that may be common there). Go north on Cave Creek
road from where it meets Dunlap, turn east on Cinnabar and then a
quick left (North) on 13th place.
The story of Mystery Castle is one of bygone Phoenix, when folks
could settle in a limitless desert and build more or less whatever
they fancied without thought of city codes or neighbors'
sensibilities. The 18-room, 8,000-square-foot castle was
constructed by Boyce Luther Gulley between 1930 and 1945 to
satisfy the fairytale fantasies of his young daughter, Mary Lou.
She still lives there, conducting tours and recounting how her
father filled the castle with antiques and, in the process of
fulfilling her dream, regained his health. As befits a fairy fortress,
the route to Mystery Castle is a little
obscure. Two miles south of the intersection of Baseline Road and
S. Central Avenue, turn east on Mineral Road--it will lead you to
the castle entrance.--Andrew Means
Deer Valley Rock Art Center
Here you can see bunches of old petroglyphs (ancient rock
drawings) up close. This little-known museum has a quarter
mile trail into the Hedgepath Hills where piles of rocks contain
well-preserved petroglyphs. The small indoor museum features a
video and information about the rock drawings. You can find it
about 5 mi. west of I-17 on Deer Valley Road. Admission is only
$4. Similar petroglyphs can be found "in the wild" around town
if you know where to look, particularly within South Mountain Park.
Photos from my visit 3/28/01.
Fountain Hills is home to the world's largest water fountain.
The centerpiece of the afluent Fountain Hills community northeast
of Phoenix rises dramatically some 560 ft. into the air for 15
minutes at the top of every hour (unless the wind is over 12 mph).
And every St. Patrick's Day, the plume is colored a brilliant
green! To find it, go to Fountain Hills either by driving up the
Beeline Hwy. 87 (north on County Club Rd. from Tempe/Mesa), or up
to Shea and then about 12 miles east on Shea. From Shea turn North
on Saguaro Blvd which is the first light west of where Shea meets
87 and drive a couple miles North to the park. Turn right at the
light onto Panorama Blvd. and park along the street. To view the
rainbow, park along Via Del Lago on the other side (south) of the park.
Photos from my visit 3/28/01.
Hole in the Rock
I love this spot because it's a great place to watch the sunset
and it's so close and accessible that I can recommend it to
anyone. Even if you have never hiked a mile or climbed on a rock
before, there's nothing to be intimidated about. Bring the kids,
dogs, and a bottle of good wine. If your great aunt Mildred is
in town and you wish you could show her the sunset from the top of
Camelback, this is a really practical alternative with a nice
payoff. To find it, go North on Galvin Parkway from Van Buren
(about 56th st. or so) and take the first right into the zoo and
Photos from my visit 3/29/01.
Tovrea Castle (pronounced toe-vray-uh) is one of Phoenix's
most visible landmarks. It makes the list because it is either
gaudy or is an achitectural wonder depending on who you ask, and
because it's had such an interesting history. It was built by
an eccentric, acquired by somewhat shady means by another
eccentric, and recently bought by yet another eccentric, namely the city
of Phoenix. It's currently being renovated
as a visitor center. You can find it on the North side of Washington
just across the street from the all nude 'Le Girls' and the
Castle (adult) Boutique. At night the building is lit with
Christmas lights so that it doesn't clash too badly with
the neon of the strip club :)
Largest Inflatable Dam
Until it pops, Tempe's Town Lake has the world's largest