An Awesome Day Exploring Downtown Phoenix

Posted by on March 22, 2013

Warning….SUPER-DUPER long post ahead…

We spent yesterday doing the last of the ‘touring’ we have planned for our visit to Phoenix.  We both really enjoyed the day but were super tired when we finally got home about 8:30 pm.

Our first stop was to the very south side of Phoenix in the South Mountain foothills.  We visited the Mystery Castle that was built from 1930 – 1945 by Boyce Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou.  In 1927, Boyce found out that he had Tuberculosis and up and left his home, job, wife and daughter in Seattle.  He ended up living longer than he expected and finally died of cancer in 1945.  Mary Lou and her mother never heard from him again until a lawyer contacted them to tell them that he had died and left her a home in Phoenix.  She and her mother moved into the home shortly after and she lived there until she died in 2010.  She started giving tours of the home in 1948 and continued until she passed away.

The Mystery Castle

The Mystery Castle

The view of Phoenix from outside...

The view of Phoenix from outside…

...and from inside the breakfast room

…and from inside the breakfast room

The living room & dining room

The living room & dining room

One of Mary Lou's friends was an artist and painted rocks into the likeness of animals...there are quite a few around the house

One of Mary Lou’s friends was an artist and painted rocks into the likeness of animals…there are quite a few around the house

There are also lots of stuffed animals and dolls around the house...many of the stuffed animals were given to her by a friend

There are also lots of stuffed animals and dolls around the house…many of the stuffed animals were given to her by a friend

A cat lover, there is lots of cat memorabilia throughout the 18 room home

A cat lover, there is lots of cat memorabilia throughout the 18 room home

The sunken guest room

The sunken guest room

The guest room was built around this Saguara cactus skeleton as the Boyce didn't want to disturb it

The guest room was built around this Saguara cactus skeleton as the Boyce didn’t want to disturb it

The house has a chapel that hosted several weddings.  There is a note with these shoes that says, 'In the chapel, If the bride leaves one shoe, then forever will the groom be true' - you'll notice that some left 2!

The house has a chapel that hosted several weddings. There is a note with these shoes that says, ‘In the chapel, If the bride leaves one shoe, then forever will the groom be true’ – you’ll notice that some left 2!

When Mary Lou inherited the house she had to keep it for 2 years before she sold it and she could then open the locked  trap door downstairs.  When she opened the trap door she found, a photograph of her father, gold ore, two letters, a valentine and a billfold with two $500 bills.

Beneath the alligator is a trap door.  When Mary Lou inherited the house she had to keep it for 2 years before she sold it and she could then open the locked trap door downstairs. When she opened the trap door she found, a photograph of her father, gold ore, two letters, a valentine and a billfold with two $500 bills.

The HUGE lock that was on the trap door

The HUGE lock that was on the trap door

Boyce was an artist and used any medium he could find…especially those that were free or cheap.  He used concrete, sand, rocks, brick rejects, car parts and depression glass dishes and their lids.  The place is what Michael and I described as ‘creepy cool’…and has a magnificent view of Phoenix.  The cost per person to enter was $10 per person…perhaps a little on the steep end but one of the tour guides, a woman who’s been giving tours of the place for 30+ years, is full of information and stories about the place and Mary Lou…so that helped lessen the blow a little.

The second floor holds Mary Lou's bedroom.  We were not allowed to enter this part as her beloved cat, Cleocatra is still in residence.

The second floor holds Mary Lou’s bedroom. We were not allowed to enter this part as her beloved cat, Cleocatra is still in residence.

A picture of Cleocatra is on the refrigerator

A picture of Cleocatra is on the refrigerator

This picture was taken from one of the 'patios' which is also the roof of the 'pub'

This picture was taken from one of the ‘patios’ which is also the roof of the ‘pub’

Boyce was a man ahead of his time....In the floor/roof above the pub are 'skylights' that are the main source of light for the pub

Boyce was a man ahead of his time….In the floor/roof above the pub are ‘skylights’ that are the main source of light for the pub

Skylight inside the pub

Skylight inside the pub

Reject bricks that were then free...and now considered 'art' and very expensive!

Reject bricks that were then free…and now considered ‘art’ and very expensive!

Windows made from the wheels of Boyce's Stutz Bearcat

Windows made from the wheels of Boyce’s Stutz Bearcat

We drove a few miles north to downtown Phoenix to visit several sites.  We parked on a side street and then walked to the remainder of our destinations.  As we were walking we noticed a bunch of news vans parked outside the Maricopa County Superior Court.  We got to thinking and realized that they were all there to cover the Jodi Arias Murder Trial.  Sure would love to have listened to part of what was going on!

Waiting for the scoop!

Waiting for the scoop!

Getting the scoop??

Getting the scoop??

Our first stop in downtown Phoenix was at the Phoenix Police Museum…took us a while to locate it but when we did we found it in a small portion of the Old Courthouse, a very pretty building.  The museum was small but interesting to see the old memorabilia.

The Old Courthouse hold the Phoenix Police Museum

The Old Courthouse hold the Phoenix Police Museum

Old Timey police car

Old Timey police car

The original Phoenix jail

The original Phoenix jail

From there we walked through a small courtyard and across Washington Street to the Wells Fargo History Museum…we both loved it here!  Another small museum but full of ‘hands on’ activities…2 different photo opportunities where they email you the pic and also hand you a printed copy, a simulated stagecoach ride, an activity for you to fit 18 people and their luggage into a stagecoach, the opportunity to send telegraph messages between 2 terminals, a chance to talk on 2 old-fashioned phones connected to each other and you can even ‘pan for gold’ via a video game!

Wells Fargo History Museum

Wells Fargo History Museum

Trying to fit 18 people and their luggage into a stagecoach

Trying to fit 18 people and their luggage into a stagecoach

Sending a telegraph message to me at another telegraph terminal!

Sending a telegraph message to me at another telegraph terminal!

Panning for gold!

Panning for gold!

Actual gold nuggets on display!

Actual gold nuggets on display!

Self portrait!

Self portrait!

We walked several blocks east so that we could visit St. Mary’s Basilica, which was named a minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1985.  Both the inside and outside of this church are very pretty….nothing ornate…just simplistic beauty.  While inside we both lit candles in memory of our parents that are gone (my mom & dad and Michael’s dad).

St. Mary's Basilica

St. Mary’s Basilica

Inside the basilica

Inside the basilica

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While we were in this area there were 2 Munzee‘s to capture…which we did!  We started our trek back to the truck…making sure to got past the Hard Rock Hotel to grab a virtual Munzee.  Just across the street we found the Blue Moon Club which made us think of our son, Zack, so Michael deployed a Munzee there in his honor.

Yellow House Attic Munzee

Capturing the Yellow House Attic Munzee

Michael deploying the 'Blue Moon' Munzee

Michael deploying the ‘Blue Moon’ Munzee

We got to the truck and before leaving downtown Phoenix for good we stopped at Wesley Bolin Memorial Park to see the Mast & Anchor of the USS Arizona that was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  We found this park to more than just a place that held relics from the USS Arizona but a memorial park honoring men & women of all services, nationalities, religions etc.  It was AWESOME!

The anchor from the USS Arizona

The anchor from the USS Arizona

Memorial to the Navajo Codetalkers of WWII

Memorial to the Navajo Codetalkers of WWII

Operation Freedom Memorial

Operation Freedom Memorial

By the time we were done ‘touring’ we were hungry!  We stopped at Red Lobster on the way home and found that they had new menu offerings…for $15.99 you get a 4 course meal (soup, salad, entrée & dessert).  You have 9 entrees, 3 salads, 3 soups & 3 desserts to choose from.  It was awesome, we were both stuffed and since we had a gift card our total meal cost was $16.00!!

Garlic Grilled Shrimp

Garlic Grilled Shrimp

Wood Grilled Tilapia

Wood Grilled Tilapia

Key Lime Pie & Chocolate Brownie A La Mode

Key Lime Pie & Chocolate Brownie A La Mode

Wow!  I’m pooped…how about you??

 

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to An Awesome Day Exploring Downtown Phoenix

  1. Donna Rogers

    If you ever get to Wisconsin, do go to The House on the Rock. It is in the same vein as the Mystery House (which I do remember from our visit to Phoenix) and you and Michael would really enjoy it. I have seen the Arizona anchor at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Now I am wondering which one was actually pulled from the harbor, that one or the one you saw. Did it have two anchors? Let’s see who can find the answer first!

    • Kelly

      Hi Donna!

      If I’m ever in Wisconsin?? LOL! I’m from Wisconsin and lived in Dodgeville (less than 10 miles from House on the Rock) for 10 years and visited House on the Rock several times.

      The USS Arizona had 2 anchors, 1 is displayed in Hawaii and the other in Arizona. http://www.doney.net/aroundaz/arizona.htm

      • Donna Rogers

        You win! I forgot you were from Wisconsin. We meet so many people on the road it is hard to remember who came from where! I love your blog. You are the type of vacationer Ted and I are when we go some place new. I always tell people it doesn’t take much to amuse us. We are home now but heading to Kerrville for a week in April. We won’t hit the road for summer until mid-June. We hope to see Stella and Jay in July in Michigan. Travel safely.

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