Sundays are my Saturdays. So sometimes it's hard to find stuff going on because all the festivals and special events are usually Saturdays. :\ I have easily allowed many a Sunday to go by without having anything to show for it except a butt print in my sofa. Yesterday as the clock struck one, I said "Damn it, I will not waste the afternoon by watching whatever crap TV is on." So I heaved myself off the papa san and decided to go out--but only doing stuff that was free of charge.
Stop #1: Rio Salado Audubon Center
I have never been here in all my years of living in Phoenix. For some reason, I always thought it was super-far. Turns out, it's only a couple miles from the heart of downtown. It came to my attention through my friend Taz. Walking around here, you do feel removed from the city despite being able to see the high rise buildings in the distance. The center houses photos of flora and fauna native to the Southwest, a learning area for students, a gift shop and other displays. Outside, you can navigate an interpretive trail or read up on fish and plant life around a habitat. It's definitely bike-friendly and they offer a lot of free programs.
For more info: http://riosalado.audubon.org/
Stop #2: Micro Dwelling (For more info: http://microdwelling.net/)
At the bottom of my purse, I found a flyer I got the day before at the Arizona Local First! Festival. A man in his 80s was handing them out and my friend Jim thrust one into my hand. What stuck out in my memory is that this was free.So, from the Audubon Center, I drove over to 50th Street and Camelback. About 10 "micro dwellings" or homes smaller than 600 square feet are on display through the end of December behind the Shemer Art Center. These sustainable structures are truly impressive. They are all partially constructed of material from the scrap heap. Some have furniture so you can see that they could be liveable spaces. The most popular by far was this wooden micro dwelling that also serves as the most awesome treehouse.
There's actually a section on the lower half that contains a chalkboard for kids to draw on. This was crawling with children a short time before I took this photo.
The idea for this entire show came from Patrick McCue, a Phoenix firefighter who loves to build stuff in his spare time. He had been pitching this idea since 2000 but it's only come together for the first time this year. His brother Terry, also a firefighter who builds, helped him organize and build one (a firefighter named Terry...yay!). This is theirs:
Patrick and Terry said they plan to move this into a warehouse after the show and use it as a place to meet with clients, visitors, etc.
When I first arrived, I saw that elderly gentleman who first gave me the flyer. Turns out, he's Pat and Terry's father, LOL. Gerry and his wife Marge have been longtime advocates of historic preservation in Phoenix. They are also an entertaining pair in their own right. In fact, after talking with them, I got an idea of something to add to my next travel story. :) After speaking with them, I got to chat with Terry and Pat. Pretty soon it was time for the show to close for the day. As I got ready to go, Pat and one of the artists, Hector _ who also works part-time at Pizzeria Bianco _ invited me to join them for dinner. So, this would lead to an impromptu stop #3...
Stop #3: The Garage
The Garage bar and restaurant, which is at the corner of Bethany Home Road and 16th Street, used to be an actual automotive garage before it became a place to dine. I found out Pat actually did a lot of refabrication of everything from old signs to old tires to a plane propeller for the restaurant's decor. So, everyone in a management position there knows him. Pat got there last because he was saying hi to people. As soon as he got to our table, he didn't even say hello. He said "How would you like to go to the men's room with me?" I thought he was making a weird joke but no. Pat beckoned me and Hector. He said he had something to show us. We go into the restroom and he starts pointing out all these framed metal objects he refurbished and how he did it. The best part: A poor innocent guy walks into the restroom to see all three of us gathered by the sink gazing intently at the wall. I tried to explain but five words in, the guy just said "It's no problem. I can go anyway" and shuts the stall door behind him. If I wasn't red, I should have been.
Show and tell didn't end there. Luckily, the wait for our food was hastened by Pat having us stand in the center of the restaurant so he could point out other stuff on the walls and even one of the columns. The whole thing was pretty interesting. I'll never look at The Garage the same way! LOL. Once we started eating, I got to hear all kinds of funny stories about his firefighting--one of which involved horse urine. Anyway...it was a great conversation that also yielded some future stories I'd like to pursue. I can't help but think this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't decided to go be more exploratory. Here's the lesson kids...it never hurts to get out more.