Category: Holiday


Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary

Yesterday’s adventure was an early morning trip to the Herpetological Sanctuary. It is just a short drive away from our house. The Sanctuary is home to over 1500 animals. More than half are desert tortoises, many have been surrendered once people got tired of them as pets. They also take injured animals in for care and rehab. They also have a collection of alligators, crocodiles, venomous and non-venomous snakes, and a variety of lizards. There was also a raccoon and some otters, but clearly the focus is on reptiles.

The Sanctuary is located in a rural neighborhood. The house is surrounded by pens and buildings housing the various animals.

The newest attraction is a couple of capybaras. These very large rodents are native to the Amazon (the jungle region, not the one with occasional Prime Delivery), but some people have them as pets. They are legal in Arizona. They are cute, but most of us don’t need a 170 pound rodent who likes to poop in the pool! Generally very friendly, the sanctuary has two capybaras (given to them by a family in Tucson who no longer wanted them), but one of the two was in time-out, because he was grumpy. We were able to interact with “Tater Tot,” He was very interested in receiving the pieces of fruit and veggies. Some photos of Tater Tot:

Tater Tot is about 15 months old. He will continue growing and can reach 170 lbs. He and his brother “Spud,” look like large Guinea pigs.

After everyone else fed Tater Tot, he decided to come over and snuggle with me. He put his paws on my legs as he tried to climb in my lap. Their hair is a wiry texture, and surprisingly, they don’t smell bad. He is cute, but I will pass on a 170 pound rodent pet. After all, we have Stitch 😊

Obviously, the Herpetological Sanctuary is about much more than a couple cute capybaras (but they do bring people in for visits and donations!). We saw hundreds of desert tortoises. They vary in size from very tiny babies to big old guys and gals. The sanctuary has hundreds of Sulcata Tortoises. These are native to Africa, but were introduced to Arizona as pets. They are very cute when little, but people don’t realize they live for more than 70 years, and can grow to as big as 200 pounds. The sanctuary provides a home for the tortoises when given up, or when they are found injured in the desert. They do try to re-home the animals, sometimes to zoos or wildlife parks. It isn’t difficult to see why some might be attracted to the Sulcata tortoises as pets. They come right up to you when they see people, looking for a veggie treat – red bell peppers were popular.

The sanctuary had several different types of tortoises from around the world, including a few big Galapagos Tortoises.

I believe this is a very large Sulcata Tortoise – he was carefully tracking all the food givers

After learning about tortoises and capybaras, we moved on through the sanctuary. There was a surprising variety. Lots of iguanas and different types of lizards:

The snakes are kept inside, and we entered with trepidation 🤨. There was no need for concern, as the snakes were inside glass cages, and the particularly mean ones had an extra layer of glass protection. Andrew said we were safe, as long as the caretakers had remembered to lock all of the cages!

Warning, some snake photos coming. These are just a few – they had so many species including rattlesnakes (many different kinds!), cobras, pythons, and so many more. They had a couple of rattlers who were there because their owners got careless, and met their demise from their “pet.”

Inside the snake building was a classroom where kids were spending time learning about the sanctuary animals. Of course, some were more interested in Mario Baseball 😀

We then toured the alligator and crocodile section, and we were all impressed with how many different species they had – from all over the world.

As we finished up the tour, Andrew shared some animals from the nursery area:

We spent almost two hours going through the sanctuary, and everyone enjoyed the tour. We had a private tour, and our guide was Andrew. Andrew was very knowledgeable about the animals, and clearly loved what he did. He told me he grew up in Phoenix, and kept a rattlesnake in a box under his bed (which his Mother did not know about!). He enjoyed Louie’s questions and general knowledge about the animals – kindred spirits, I think. All in all, another successful adventure.

Thanks for joining us on our tour of the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary. Not sure what other adventures are in store, as the week is coming to a close, We will be visiting downtown Cave Creek for a little shopping and a Mexican lunch, for sure.

Stay Safe!

Louie’s Blog


Today we went to the Natural History Museum of Arizona.I like that they had many stuff to look at but I would like if it had more details and history in some sections.What I like the most was the big mountain that had so much history and the animals/prehistoric nature.👍

Louie wrote the above for his blog about the trip to the museum – he typed it directly in the blog with no adult interference 😊. Thank you, Louie. Here are some photos to go with Louie’s story:

And some more:

Stay Tuned for more adventures.

A Fun First Day

Whew, fell asleep before I was able to post Monday’s adventures. We had a good day. Pool time, a trip to Walmart, and then we left Louie to his own devices as he did a project for me.

We are fortunate – the weather is surprisingly cool early in the week – highs in the 80s and low 90s, with a nice breeze. It is supposed to warm to triple digits by the end of the week.

Chrisie and Louie enjoy the pool.

I have a collector’s Lego set that I got to commemorate my favorite game (remember Aloy, my favorite archer huntress who must save civilization in the Horizon games?). The Lego figure is a Tallneck – this is a mechanized robotic giraffe that features in the game story). The background isn’t all that important. I hesitated to start putting this piece together – there are 1222 pieces, and it looks quite complex.

I first asked Louie if he wanted to work on a Starwars Lego set we have. Then I showed him the Tallneck, and he immediately picked that one, pointing out that he should start on the more complicated Lego in case he needed more time. I asked if he thought he could complete the Tallneck puzzle. His answer, “Do birds fly?” OK, confidence is not an issue.

Louie entertained himself all afternoon and he actually completed the Tallneck before dinner. Some photos of the process:

And here is the finished product:

Many thanks to Louie for adding to my collection of gaming memorabilia. We finished the evening with a bar-b-que steak dinner, prepared by Lou and enjoyed by all. The major item on Tuesday’s agenda is a trip to the Arizona Natural History Museum. There are rumors about dinosaurs having invaded the great halls of the museum.

Stay Safe!

Holiday Fun Continues

We are getting ready to head back down the mountain. We have made some progress packing up, but not as much as we planned 😂. Somehow, packing and organizing during Christmas isn’t all that much fun. But, no worries – we will be back next week to finish up.

Once back in Northport, we can really celebrate in style – yep, more organizing, cleaning, de-cluttering, and packing. We have routinely questioned our sanity during these past weeks, but I am sure it will all be worth it.

We have not yet picked out a house in Arizona. Probably best to wait until Northport sells, but we are scanning the market daily. I was ready to jump on this one …

Unfortunately, the house did not live up to the yard.

Stay Safe!

It was time …

2 years and a few weeks was long enough for the cabin tree to be up … it made it through 3 Christmas days. Of course, taking it down today was bittersweet, since the contract on the house is supposed to close on Jan 11th. If not for that, we might have tried for another year 😂

Lou made great progress packing up his stuff. I have to catch up with him tomorrow.

Stay Safe !

Merry Christmas

We have been in total chill mode the last few days. We have had low temps, high winds, snow, rain, and more snow. We did venture to the local grocery yesterday, but that is it.

Once again, Christmas portraits were a bit of a bust. Stitch was happy to cooperate, but the Princess was not having it. It actually makes a better photo this way – much truer to life.

Lou worked his magic with a standing rib roast, and it was delicious. We will certainly enjoy it tomorrow as well.

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season as we head into the New Year.

Stay Safe!