Phoenix Flora

The desert is not as bleak a place as most people imagine.

Uncle Sam's Pizza

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by weeblewobble46 on March 31, 2008

Uncle Sam's sits in front of a shopping center just off "the 101" at Shea Blvd. The red, white and blue decor strikes a casual note and the pre-requisite TV's hung all around keep you entertained if the conversation should lag.

The pizza is delicious. You have several choices for your toppings - including artichoke (which disgusted my daughter). They also have calzone and white pizzas. Salads and wings are also available.

The service was spotty. (We were seated in the back corner due to the size of our party, and I don't think the server knew that his table had been seated.) Once he took our order, he served up the drinks quickly, but the pizza took much longer than we thought it should have. I realize that this was not the fault of the server, but he didn't come back to check on us for drink refills while we were waiting and that made the wait seem longer.

If you are in the Scottsdale area - or need a meal as you travel on 101 - stop at Uncle Sam's on Shea Blvd.
Uncle Sam's Pizza
3217 E Shea Blvd
Phoenix, Arizona, 85028


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by weeblewobble46 on March 31, 2008

If you want a large sandwich, a robust pizza, wings of fire, Italian Wedding Soup to die for, or a salad and stuffed mushrooms, just head for Oregano's. There are several locations throughout the East Phoenix area, one in Tucson and one in Flagstaff.

I ordered the Veggie Wedgie baked sandwich and had enough left over to have for lunch the next day. It is full of fried eggplant (tender), sauteed portobello (meaty), fresh spinach and tomato (crunchy) and several cheeses (smooth). All of this is located on a slab of foccacia. Yum!!!

Hubby ordered the Meatball sandwich (he refused my offer to split it with him which is why I ordered the Veggie) and he handed half of it over to son #1 to take for lunch. A full sandwich is 4 HUGE meatballs sauce and cheese baked on a roll that is the equivilent of a loaf of bread. The meatballs were as tender as they were huge. He loved it! At least what he could finish of it.

Son #1 ordered a salad and the stuffed mushrooms from the appetizer menu. It was a very satisfying meal and looked great. (He didn't share any with us)

Daughter-in-law #1 got the Wings of Fire. They are her favorite item on the menu and she loves the garlic ranch dressing that comes on the side.

Daughter #4 ordered the Oregano's Favorite salad and the aforementioned Wedding Soup. She proclaimed the honey vinaigrette the best ever! This salad was overflowing with roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and more. It was truly a meal on a salad plate.

Try Oregano's for a great meal. And don't be surprised if there is a wait! It seems to be a very popular restaurant.

328 N. Gilbert Ave
Gilbert, Arizona, 85234
(480) 882-9336

The Fry Bread House

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by weeblewobble46 on April 1, 2008

This small restaurant is located in a business section of the city rather than in a shopping center. Don't be put off by the bars on the front door. The Fry Bread House is a friendly fast food place - local edition.

Fry bread, for the uninitiated,, is the local equivilent of "funnel cakes". It is precisely what it says it is...fried bread! You can get your fried bread with different toppings or plain. I chose the cinnamon and sugar - yum! The bread is large. It covers the whole paper plate. Great for a meal, or share it for a snack. That's what hubby and I did. Son #1 and wife split a powdered sugar fry bread. Also, yum!!!

The Fry Bread House also has other items on it's menu. We saw some families having tacos and they really seemed to enjoy them. These are homemade, individually crafted from fresh produce.

Try it for a change of pace if you are in the area. even if you're not, it is worth the trip for some fresh fry bread.
Fry Bread House
4140 North 7th Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona, 85013
(602) 351-2345

Phoenix Zoo (The)

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by weeblewobble46 on March 31, 2008

The Phoenix Zoo is more than the normal zoo. It is also a sanctuary habitat for the animals that live there.

The paths meander beneath shading trees - keeping you cool as you wander from exhibit to exhibit. For a nominal fee you can also take a tram around the main loop. They will let you off at the lion/tiger exhibit and at the monkey exhibit. You can reboard another tram about every 30 minutes or so. This way you can see almost everything without having to walk all the way around.

The monkey exhibit is one where you can walk among the critters (all named for Star Trek characters if I remember correctly) and have them within arm's reach. The caged critters swing around you and seem to fly by. Don't touch though! They are not tame!

Most of the animals sleep through the heat of the day - as well they should - so go early if you want to see the most animals. The lions and solitary tiger that we saw were hidden in the shade by 11AM. The giraffes and rhinos, in contrast, seemed to enjoy the desert heat and strode around their enclosure while grazing. The elephants tried their best to stay in the shade of their barn - we only saw one come out to graze.

Go early, take water and wear comfortable shoes. Take the tram and listen to the commentary of the driver. You will come away with a new appreciation of zoos and sanctuaries.
Phoenix Zoo
455 North Galvin Parkway, 64th Street Between Van Buren & Mcdowell Roads
Phoenix, Arizona, 85008
(602) 273-1341

Desert Botanical Gardens

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by weeblewobble46 on March 31, 2008

The desert is not quite as barren as most people imagine. In fact, go to the botanical gardens in the spring and see an array of blossoms on the otherwise prickly cactus. The softness and transparancy of the flowers are in stark contrast to the strong spines and quills of the cacti. Each variety is labeled for easier identification. Who knew (besides those who live around them) that there were so many cacti? Teddy Bear, Pipe Organ, Beaver Tail... names that describe and inspire. These are just a few of the hundreds on view in the gardens.

There is also a Butterfly Exhibit (for a small extra fee) that is housed in a screened enclosure. There are about a dozen different varieties of butterflies in this enclosure, but not all of them are easy to spy. One problem is the sheer number of human bodies - even though the numbers are limited at any one time. People just stood and would not move to allow a traffic flow from one end to another. It took a lot of "excuse me" and "pardon me" phrases to get from one end of the enclosure, around the pond and gardens, to the opposite end and the eventual exit. Photographing these colorful critters is easy since there are so many of them and no where for them to go. If you have been to the butterfly exhibit at Calaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, this one will be a disappointment, but if you have not, then this one is one that you will enjoy.

The gardens also have display areas set up to show the historical lodging and daily lives of the local native population. Wikiups and roasting pits sit near ramadas and cooking tools. It is interesting to see the similarities and variations in shelter designs that were used by the desert peoples.

The main path through the gardens are of brick and very easy to walk. To see the majority of the garden, however, you must leave the brick path and take to the sandy/gravel mix that forms the paths through the desert displays. Wear good walking shoes that will not pick up the stray pebble. Wear a hat with a brim and don't forget the sunblock. The sun can be intense - even in the winter. The air is quite dry, so take water along. There is a snack bar at the rear of the gardens (along with restrooms) if you don't want to tote something from "home" (or forget).

The gardens is next to the zoo and both can be viewed in the same day if you start early.
Desert Botanical Gardens
1201 North Galvin Parkway (southeast Of Mcdowell Road & 64th Street)
Phoenix, Arizona, 85008
(480) 941-1225

Arizona Science Center

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by weeblewobble46 on March 31, 2008

This is a "Hands ON" type of museum. There are several areas set up for you to experiment and observe others doing their own experiments. We had the most fun in the area devoted to the human body and the one devoted to building (both on the main floor). We had a great time building, leveling, creating and connecting in the building section.

The "Titanic" exhibit was also there during our visit. It cost extra, but was worth it. Everyone is given a "boarding pass" as they enter. It bears the name of one of the actual passengers and you can check the roster at the end of the exhibit to see if "you" survived the sinking. The one thing that surprised me the most was that the majority of the spectators were SILENT through the whole exhibit. If there was any talking, it was done in hushed whispers. The somber tone and the quality of the artifacts made you realize the enormity of this disaster. It was amazing to see the sumptuous surroundings of the first class stateroom. It cost the equivilent of over $25 thousand of today's dollars to have a first class berth. That is steep in anyone's book.

There is also a "Heritage Square" outside that has several shops and re-creations from the turn of the century.

This is a very worthwhile trip. Parking is available in a garage next to the Science Museum and cost about $10. Get your ticket validated when you pay your entrance fee and the parking fee is reduced.
Arizona Science Center
600 East Washington St
Phoenix, Arizona, 85004
(602) 716-2000

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