Week 1 in Phoenix: Terrific!

We have a long bucket list for Phoenix – things we want to do and see while we’re here, but we quickly realize that the list is longer than the number of days that are available.  So we prioritize and schedule our outings on the calendar, leaving a day open here and there for other activities that will likely emerge (plus time for laundry).

Musical Instrument Museum

First up is the Musical Instrument Museum, having learned about it from friends Rhonnie and Bob, who surmised that it might be of interest to a couple of former music majors.  Well, they were spot on!

Many moons ago, I took a required college class called Sociocultural Influences of Music on Behavior, or something like that.  As I recall, it was mildly interesting but didn’t leave a lasting impression about the value and rich diversity of world music.  If, however, I had connected the content of that class with what I learned at this museum, I might have changed my major to ethnomusicology.  This place is fabulous – easy to understand why it’s Trip Advisor’s #1 tourist attraction in the Phoenix metro area.

Carol & Bill at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Carol & Bill at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

The MIM, which opened less than a decade ago in 2010,  was founded by Robert J. Ulrich, former CEO and chairman of the Target Corporation.  It features 7,000 musical instruments and related objects from over 200 countries representing every inhabited continent.  The total collection includes another 10,000 items not currently on display.

The museum set-up maximizes the visitor experience.  There are five geographic galleries – Africa and the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, Latin America, Europe, and United States/Canada.  Within each gallery, exhibits are organized by country, and for each there is 1) a map showing the location, 2) a brief description of relevant music styles, 3) a display of multiple instruments used to make music, and 4) associated items such as clothing and ceremonial costumes.  The highlight of each country’s exhibit is a brief video of actual performances by local musicians playing native instruments.  Visitors wear headphones, and the video is activated automatically when you stand in front of the screen.

I took way too many photos.  You can learn the name of an instrument by hovering over the photo with your mouse.  You can also click on an individual photo for a larger view.  Here are some favorites:

Horns, Winds & Hybrids
And my favorite – the Recycled Orchestra!

Under the guidance of founder and conductor Favio Chávez, members of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura – all children – play musical instruments made from items collected from a local landfill.  According to Wikipedia, the group from Paraguay has performed internationally, including appearances with Stevie Wonder, Metallica and Megadeth.


Display of instruments from the Orchestra of Recycled Instruments of Cateura, Paraguay

We spend the entire day and complete only a small fraction of the exhibits.  Plus there is so much more than the geographic galleries!  Learn more here: Musical Instrument Museum. 


The 30,580-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve lies within the Scottsdale city limits and offers 215 miles of hiking trails in a pristine desert setting.  For free.  Our designated day for this excursion is perfect hiking weather.  We opt for the 4.5 mile Marcus Landslide Interpretive Trail – not too steep and not too long – as our first hike since last October.  It’s a leisurely pace, with plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with the flora, which are very different from what we see in Colorado (duh!).

We also learn about the geology of the terrain courtesy of a series of informational plaques along the trail.  We try, but to be honest, it’s just not very interesting.  To us anyway.

Dinner and Symphony Concert

Highlight #3 during Phoenix week #1 is a social and cultural event – dinner and Phoenix Symphony concert with friends – Rhonnie and Bob, Liana and Ken.  We are the lucky recipients of tickets that belong to another couple (whom we don’t know) that has a conflict and can’t use them.  Thank you, Joan and Maynard!

Our first trip to downtown Phoenix is wonderful, starting with dinner at the District American Kitchen and Wine Bar and followed by the symphony concert featuring conductor Stuart Chafetz and guest vocalist Matt Doyle in a high energy performance of (mostly) Broadway tunes.

Chafetz, whose regular gig is Principal Pops Conductor of the Columbus Symphony, is engaging and entertaining in his own right.  Doyle is a young (age 31) and rising star with an already long list of roles in Broadway and off-Broadway productions, as well as TV and films.  If ever you have a chance to attend a performance that features Chafetz, or Doyle, or both, say yes and go.  You will love every minute of it, just as we did!

A Situation at Home

Three days after arriving in Phoenix, we receive an urgent text message from a neighbor at the condo – there is a water leak in their garage that is apparently originating in our unit directly above. We need to have our plumber Andy check it out ASAP.

Our ‘lock and leave’ plan isn’t working out exactly as we had hoped, especially since we neglected (actually, we just forgot) to leave a key with my parents or anyone else who lives within 500 miles.  To make things more interesting, the situation is truly urgent, as the neighbors removed all the insulation around the pipes in their unheated garage when they searched unsuccessfully for the source of the leak, and the temperature is predicted to plummet below zero within a couple of days, which means that all of our pipes could freeze and wreak even more havoc.

So it’s off to the nearest Ace Hardware in Tempe to make an extra house key ($4.00) and overnight it to our property management company ($52.00) so that Andy can get inside and turn off the water posthaste (cost TBD).

The situation is still evolving.  As of now, Andy has isolated the source of the leak to a one square foot area in the bathroom.  The next step is to find out when our handyman Jeremy can find time in his busy schedule to remove tile and wallboard in the affected location.

Stay tuned – there’s more to come with this story.  In the meantime, we are looking forward to another week of new adventures in Arizona!

Categories: ArizonaTags: , , , ,


  1. Good to hear you are exploring Phoenix! We find the geology of land and formations fascinating (thanks to Dan who encouraged me to take a Geology class at KU…back in the day!). Hope your water leak is an easy fix and clean up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mary – thanks for your comment. It’s easier to appreciate a topic when you know a little something about it. Who knows – maybe I’ll get an urge to learn about geology someday. If so, I know who to call!


  3. Carol and Bill, I love reading your blogs! I love the idea of visiting so many places in the US thatI haven’t seen, or would like to go back to! The southwest, and especially this time of year, is a favorite! While we miss you in the hood, it’s comforting to hear of your adventures – well maybe not the leaky pipe one!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If you get a chance, take a day trip to Arcosanti in Cordes Junction. The SF folks know about arcologies and Paulo Solari (who lived in Paradise Valley – don’t know if his home is still open to tour after he died or not.) They also have a foundry and make lots of brass bells (like the ones we gave you years ago.)

    Liked by 1 person

%d bloggers like this: