Phoenix's independent source of
local news and culture
Cholla is a sure bet, though, for exemplary dinners showcasing regional and Native American cuisine. This is one game we're guaranteed to win, feasting on roasted pheasant with Cabernet cassis, peppery elk tenderloin, pan-roasted Muscovy duck and "campfire" salmon with tomatillo-lime coulis.
Figuring that there's no tax charged on this Indian reservation, Cholla is in the only casino where we've ever come out ahead of the game.
Want to fly the friendly skies without the deafening engine noise? Take a spin in a sailplane. After you climb to the clouds behind a powered towplane, your instructor explains a few bells and whistles, then lets you take the reins. You'll even get an official pilot's logbook to commemorate your adventure.
On October 19, Turf celebrates its 35th anniversary by combining the usual rides and lessons with aerobatic demonstrations, fly-bys, a barbecue, live music and dancing. (Remember to show your Mile-High Club membership card to enjoy special promotions and discounts.)
Since Arizona has a large Mexican community, an abundance of Mexican restaurants and many occasions where you might be around a mariachi, we thought it would be only right for us to provide our readers with the following list -- to fit every mood:
If You Want to Break Up With Your Ex -- "Volver, Volver"
Sample lyric: "Return, return, return to arms again. I will arrive where you are; I know how to return. Return, return, return."
If You're Looking for a Mexican Version of "My Way" -- "El Rey"
Sample lyric: "With money or without money -- I always do what I want. My word is the law."
If Your Lover Is Out Loving Someone Else -- "Paloma Negra"
Sample lyric: "I am tired of waiting for you, and the morning is not here. I don't know whether to call down evil or cry for you -- black dove, where are you?"
If You're Broke but in Love -- "No Tengo Dinero"
Sample lyric: "I don't have money, and nothing to give. All I have is love."
Or If You Just Want to Hear the Best Feel-Good Mexican Song -- "La Negra"
Sample lyric: The words make no sense. But every mariachi plays it, and the crowds love it!
In the pest-control biz since the 1960s, Nedra and husband Al decided two years ago to share their global assortment of insects, arachnids and reptiles -- all pinned, caged and encased in exhibits named for Nedra's granddaughters.
Not drawn to a building full of black widows, snakes, termites, tarantulas and Happy the downhearted iguana? Say a quick prayer to Gratus of Aosta (patron saint for the fear of insects, duh) and face your phobias. Thanks to Nedra's knowledge and charm, the whole ordeal somehow avoids The Silence of the Lambs creepiness and becomes a pleasant educational experience. After all, this is the home of a turtle that nods hello and a scorpion about to birth 25 babies. How could it not be a place of joy?
One caveat this fall, though. As with much of Arizona, the drought has taken its toll on the plant life, so this autumn likely will be a replay of last year, when severe heat and dry conditions muted the colors.
As for the details: Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children 5 to 12. Children under 5 are free. The Arboretum is open every day of the year except Christmas from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is just about a half-hour east of Apache Junction on Highway 60.
Part of the Apache Gold Casino/Resort complex east of Globe on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, Apache Stronghold is probably best enjoyed by the under-10-handicap crowd. Not only is it long -- more than 7,500 yards from the back tees -- but just about every shot awaits a disaster of some sort. Lightning-fast greens drop away into trouble, and undulating fairways and hidden doglegs pull even the straightest ill-conceived shots into the high Sonoran Desert.
Expect at least five shots added to your score. But also expect the hurt-so-good pleasure of being beaten by a great Tom Doak-designed course. And if that's unacceptable, just enjoy panoramic desert views unhindered by Valley development, or the 5- to 15-degree temperature reprieve you get coming up above 3,200 feet.
The San Carlos Tribe offers stay-and-play deals throughout the year. Your best bet: Load up the car with three buddies, drive up, play 18, hit the casino and spend the night -- all for $79 per person.
In south Chandler, they'll allow you to play a Nicklaus Design golf course on a weekend for $9.
That's if you're willing to walk the short 18 at Bear Creek, which can be a bear in the heat. But just get there early and it's a piece of cake.
The Bear Creek short course is a maddening challenge for your short game. Nowhere in the Valley can so many sub-100-yard holes cause you so much trouble.
And because of the price, the Bear Creek short 18 is one of the best places in the Valley for a good golfer to bring his or her son or daughter. While you struggle keeping a short wedge shot on the tricky greens, kids can blast away and probably end up in equally good shape. This little course levels the playing field between parent and child, making the experience more enjoyable for the kid. And remember: If they have fun, that means you can continue to call a round of golf "quality time with the kids."