Many of my kids over the years have participated in sports of some kind. Most of them tried this sport and that sport and enjoyed learning new things + the comradery of a summer league team or school pride.
But several of my kids have self-propelled themselves into a more elite level of competitive sports because of their internal drive and love of that particular sport.
Of note, Beatrice chose team gymnastics at 5 years old and never looked back. She was advanced to Junior Olympic training, and the higher the level of training she attained, the farther afield we traveled for competition.
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That travel was such a gift for the rest of the family, as we got to see different parts of the country and experience outings that we would not have chosen on our own.
One of our trips was a fun gymnastics meet in Arizona. We stayed with my Aunt Jeanette and got to do some day excursions from her home in Scottsdale. I almost always extended our trips beyond the actual days when Beatrice was competing and I would research things to see and do with the kids. In February of 2008, I had 3 kids at the time (including Beatrice) and we had so much fun exploring.
One of the places we saw is not a common site on people’s itinerary, but I was so glad we checked it out. Tuzigoot National Monument is a site that preserves a “smallish” 2-3 story pueblo ruin. It is above the Verde River basin and is a long complex of 110 stone rooms. The central rooms are higher than the others and appear to have served public functions.
Tuzigoot is Apache for “crooked water,” from Pecks Lake, which is a cutoff path of the Verde River. The pueblo was built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400 CE. It’s the largest and best preserved of the pueblo ruins within the Verde Valley. Tuzigoot was excavated from 1933-1935 and then prepared for public access, along with a museum of the artifacts that are preserved.
We REALLY enjoyed our visit there. The drive out was easy, but interesting. Landscape was different from what we are used to in the Pacific Northwest. There were varied elevations and a lot of landscape and views, though much browner and full of different vegetation than we are accustomed to. There is also an old mine in the area and I recognized tailings from their mining days as we drove through the landscape.
The museum was interesting to Beatrice and Clara and myself.. But the 3 year old, Freddy, was eager to get outside, so we didn’t get to explore the museum as we would have liked. We could have easily spent an hour or so inside to check out everything. Keep that in mind if you go with younger children — figure out how to keep them engage with something so you can explore inside, too.
Once we were on-site, it was good. There was a climb up to the ruins, but the area has great paved pathways, so it was a good space for the little one to run and easy to navigate. We kept up with him and still managed to explore rooms and views and read up on the history. They had information boards spread out around the site. There were very few people there, as it is not a big tourist destination (at least, not in February). But we REALLY enjoyed it… the pace, the education, the views and the weather.
All of my foster/adopt kids are Native American from several nations. None of the 8 that I have adopted are from SW tribes, but they all feel very much included when our travels include history of the First Peoples on this continent.
After every trip, I ask the kids what they thought of each outing and whether they’d ever like to go back and if they would invite friends to go with them (the best kind of recommendation for family travel, I think). Beatrice and Clara both said, at 13 and 9 years old, that they REALLY want to bring their friends back to Tuzigoot someday.
We’ve never been back, but the pictures and memories as I write this are making me itchy to go!