Monday, September 3, 2012

All aboard - Make Polar Express train reservations now

Children are amazed by the Polar Express,
with the story, Santa & lights.

Grand Canyon Railway is now accepting reservations for its popular Polar Express - with more times available to ride this year!

Grand Canyon Railway will offer runs this year between Nov. 9, 2012 and Jan. 5, 2013 with matinees on Nov. 23 and 24 and Dec. 1, 8, 15, 16, 22 and 23, 2012. For those dates with two runs, departures are at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Matinees depart at 3:30 p.m.
New for the 2012-13 holiday season, a character from the book – “the Hobo” – will be available at the Railway’s Williams Depot for photos with passengers. The Railway has also increased the number of Christmas lights – many of them energy-saving LED lights – at both the depot and at the “North Pole," a Christmas light village.
Grand Canyon Railway recommends booking early for the best selection.

Closely following The Polar Express book by Chris Van Allsburg, this nighttime trip from the Grand Canyon Railway depot in Williams travels through the starlit wilderness to the North Pole and features a special reading of The Polar Express while passengers enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. The North Pole was extensively renovated recently with enhanced lighting and the addition of features such as storefronts, mailboxes and other structures to give the village a more permanent and three-dimensional look and feel. Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers are welcomed by Santa Claus and Elf Bernard before Santa boards the Polar Express for the return trip to Williams. Santa makes his way through the passenger cars, greeting every child and presenting each one with a special gift – a jingle bell signifying their belief in Santa Claus. The round-trip journey is a little more than an hour in length.

Most evenings the Grand Canyon Railway offers two trains. The “Christmas Eve Limited,” departing at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., includes special gifts from Santa that are not included during other excursions.
Individual tickets for the train rides other than the Christmas Eve Limited are $32 for adults and $20 for children ages two to 15. Rates for the special Christmas Eve Limited are $64 for adults and $40 for children ages two to 15. Matinee rates are $27 for adults and $15 for children ages two to 15.

The Grand Canyon Railway also offers a Polar Express Package including the roundtrip train excursion, a one-night stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and breakfast and dinner at the Grand Depot Café. The package price for two adults and two children starts at $350 and does not include taxes. Polar Express passengers also receive 50 percent discount on a future train trip to the Grand Canyon through the end of February 2013.

Polar Express reservations can be made by calling 1-888-848-3511 or by visiting For more information about the Grand Canyon Railway or to purchase other tickets or packages visit or call 1-800-The-Train (1-800-843-8724).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mountain Lion exhibit to open at Flagstaff's Museum of Northern Arizona this month

Mountain Lion! image: Photo © Robert Winslow

Over the last two decades, there has been a dramatic rise in large cat sightings on the urban fringes of numerous Western cities. We continue to be fascinated with the grace and power of these magnificent creatures as our communities grow, outdoor recreation becomes more popular, and we move closer to mountain lion habitat. 

Mountain Lion!, opening at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff on Saturday, September 15, 2012 through Sunday, August 4, 2013, seeks to create an understanding of the nature of these predators and their long history of relations with humans.

Known by many names—mountain lion, cougar, puma, panther, ghost cat, and catamount, depending on the region—these cats are solitary hunters at the top of the food chain, who rely on their camouflage, superb eyesight, and speed to survive. Mountain lions often travel 25–30 miles a day in search of a meal, with the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

Today, cougars are among the largest meat-eating animals in North America. Like other predators, they play a critical role in the balance of nature and contribute to biological diversity and a healthy environment. 

Mountain Lion! examines the history of these large cats, starting in the Ice Age, when they roamed this continent along with the giant North American Lion and Smilodon, popularly known as saber-tooth tigers.

Hunting techniques, habits, and physical features which have allowed them to survive for thousands of years are explored, along with differing cultural perspectives towards cougars, and changing opinions. This exhibit also delves into how to read cougar behavior and practical tips on what to do if you encounter a mountain lion in the wild.

Mountain Lion! was developed by the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, in partnership with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, to address the need for greater public awareness. The Museum of Northern Arizona is able to host the exhibit with support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, BBB Revenues from the City of Flagstaff, and Flagstaff Cultural Partners.

The Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, and is located three miles north of downtown Flagstaff on Highway 180. Admission is $10 adults, $9 seniors (65+), $7 students (with student ID), $6 American Indians (10+), and $6 youths (10–17).

For further information, call 928.774.5213 or go to You can also find MNA on or at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Free fun: Flagstaff Children’s Music and Arts Festival


City of Flagstaff Recreation Services presents the Fifth Annual Flagstaff Children’s Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, August, 18th from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Wheeler Park (212 W. Aspen Ave.).  
Voted 2009’s Most Outstanding Cultural Event from Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, this family-friendly event celebrates the artistic potential of all youth in our community.  In addition to dance and music performances, children can make recycled arts projects, participate in the instrument petting zoo, make their own musical instrument, and learn to paint, draw and create sculptures.  
There will be a Kiddie Caboose, bounce houses, carnival games, Face Painting, Balloon Animals, Library Bookmobile, food vendors and other fun things to do.  Most activities are free!  A $3.00 wristband can be purchased for unlimited rides on the Kiddie Caboose and bounce houses.

For more information call 213-2300 or visit  

Free Activities include:
· Music and Dance performed by talented local youth
· Turn Trash into Treasures Recycled Art Project
· Create your own musical Instrument Workshop
· Learn to play a musical instrument @ the Musical Instrument Petting Zoo
· Carnival Games with Prizes
· Library activities including
· Clay creations
· Painting
· Face Painting
· Balloon Animals
· Puppets
· Informational booths

$3.00 Wristband includes unlimited rides on:
· Bounce House
· Kiddies Caboose

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Flagstaff's Annual National Night Out celebration planned for August 7, 2012


The 29th Annual National Night Out, part of a nationwide crime, drug, and violence prevention program, will be held at Wheeler Park on Tuesday, August 7, from 5:30-8 p.m. 
There will be free hot dogs, soda, and water available. Local agencies and groups include Target, Citizens Against Substance Abuse, the Flagstaff Governor's Alliance Against Drugs, Pepsi, the Flagstaff Medical Center, Northland Family Help Center, Office of the Arizona Attorney General, and other local organizations support National Night Out. There will be a location for donating non-perishable food for the food bank, winter clothing, and toys for the toy drive. There will also be informational displays about internet safety, fraud prevention, hands-only CPR, identity theft prevention, city ordinances on animal control topics, an update on the booster seat law, and many more.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Free Family Fun: Mormon Lake Lodge's Kids Fun Day

Just about 30 minutes from Flagstaff, you'll find free family fun on Saturday, July 21st at the Mormon Lake Lodge. Learn how to catch fish, play a scavenger hunt and more. Meet at the Mormon Lake Lodge pond by the store at 9:00 a.m. Loaner fishing gear provided on a first come - first serve basis. At 1:00 p.m. there will be a scavenger hunt - a fun learning event about Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics. Prizes for the winning team. Kids under age 8 must be accompanied by an adult.
More events at

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course = Fun, Confidence Booster for the Whole Family


Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course at Fort Tuthill County Park is an awesome experience for families to challenge themselves, mentally and physically, in the cool pines of Flagstaff. My daughter and I recently tried out their courses – she the kids course, me all four of the adult courses. Going into it I knew only 25-30% of people actually complete all four courses, so I was prepared for some fun and hard work. But I wasn’t prepared for how rewarding and proud of myself I’d feel when I climbed down the last course… nor was I prepared for the overwhelming sense of pride I’d feel for my daughter's accomplishments on the kids course. She beamed with happiness and excitement. She sung a little song as she made her way around the course again and again about how cool she was, what a great job she was doing, and how much fun she was having. It was great to be a part of. We both really bonded with our climbing experience.

Flagstaff Extreme’s adult course features four sections for folks 16 and up who can reach 5’11”– green, which is the lowest and least difficult but still fun; blue – a medium course; red- an advanced course that takes you high up into the trees; and the black advanced course that, frankly, might make you doubt yourself and your abilities, and have you call for help. But the staff is really encouraging and can help you get through all levels that you are mentally and physically ready for. Children who can reach 5’11” and are 12-15 years old can do the green and blue course (at the half adult course rate).

During my adventure through the trees, I was in a group with Kathryn, the oldest woman (70 years old) to attempt the red course (check out this FB post on her). She was a firecracker of energy and excitement for the challenge and an inspiration for anyone of any age. Add to that, she was so encouraging during my final leg of the black course. I had an absolute blast! I hope to make a monthly visit to the course. When I first came down I doubted I’d do the black course again, but now, a week plus out, I actually can’t wait to try it again. I made time of under two hours, but generally I’m told it can take three hours or more to complete the whole thing. Some people take all day, taking breaks between sections – even having lunch on the picnic tables that are scattered around the park in between courses. Do note that if your children aren’t able or big enough to complete the adult course, they’ll have to wait for you and watch from the ground. Same is true for you while they complete their kids course.

The kids course is incredible. There aren’t many challenge courses with zip lines, ladders, bridges, barrels, net bridges and such for children to try their hand at in the world. That adds to the coolness of the Flagstaff kids course. It’s designed for children seven and up who have good manual dexterity, like adventure and who can reach to at least four feet, seven inches. Being there is only one kids course, participants are allowed to take several turns around.
My daughter was raring to go. She loves indoor rock climbing, so she loved the idea of this. When she got harnessed up and started on the first leg of the training section, I was amazed at how good she naturally was - and how brave. It was a thrill for her (and me to see her make her way around), each time getting better and better. She didn’t want to leave. I had to promise a return visit, which we will definitely make… repeatedly.

Passes to the adventure course make for a good vacation activity as well as a good birthday present – for kids and adults. I’m asking my mom and dad for a pass for my next birthday and my daughter said that’s what she’s asking for from her grandparents too. Not much better gift you can give then fun wrapped in confidence-building. You can make a cool gift pack via their website – with t-shirt, stickers and gloves plus gift certificates.

Check out the videos (below) of the kids course. (Please excuse the wind. We were there on a blustery day.) For more photos of the adult course, go to  Flagstaff Exrtreme’s Facebook page and website.

Passes are $25 for kids 7-11, $35 for the half adult course for kids 12-15 and $42 for 16 & up. Check the local paper Flagstaff Live for coupons or on the company’s website. They have 10% off for college students with ID. Folks in the 55 and up crowd also get 10% off.Seniors 75 and up get a discount of their age, so if you are 82, you get 82% off! If you are 90 and want to do the course, you are free with another paying adult.

All in all, Flagstaff Extreme is an adventure I’d do with my kids again (and again). We look forward to going back to the course often.

More info on their rules, pricing, courses at

Monday, June 4, 2012

Free Flagstaff Family Fun: NAU Theater's 'Josefina Javelina, a Hairy Tale, The Play'


As part of the Peaks Summer Theatre Festival by NAU Theatre, students will perform “Josefina Javelina, a Hairy Tale, The Play” and “The Three Little Javelinas” based on the books by Susan Lowell, adapted for the stage by Darby Winterhalter Lofstrand, and directed by Bob Yowell.  The free performance will be staged at Heritage Square, in downtown Flagstaff, June 8 from 6-8 p.m.
"Josefina Javelina" is adapted from Arizona author, Susan Lowell, children's book.  It tells the story of a little javelina with big dreams and her journey to make those dreams come true.  "The Three Little Javelinas" is based off the children's tale "The Three Little Pigs."  
The actors, talented performers from the NAU Theatre Department, will perform and then interact with the kids and their parents.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bubble Bum car seat perfect answer to Arizona's new booster seat law


Arizona recently passed a law that goes into effect in August requiring kids to stay in boosters until age 7. That means many parents will be looking to go back into booster seats, when they thought they'd graduated. I am among this group with my 6 year old, tall daughter. She is tall enough to sit properly buckled sans a booster. We actually bought a new Pruis because we didn't need three car seats anymore. But now we've found ourselves needing three seats again. So I started looking around for the narrowest and safest booster seats - that's when I came across the relatively new Bubble Bum.
Bubble Bum is listed on the Best Bets list by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (They also have great information on how ANY booster should be used properly too.) That caught my eye. Add to that - the Bubble Bum is under 13" wide. Perfect! I watched their video on how it works and had to try it. Bubble Bum kindly sent me a seat to test out and write about. I was in love right away, as were my kids. So much so that after a few days use, I bought another Bubble Bum for my almost 5 year old daughter to test out too right next to the first one. They both wanted to sit on the super soft airy PURPLE cushion. And I wanted to see if it would make a difference in space.
The Prius is surprisingly roomy, but three seats is still a tall order. But with one Cleck backless booster, one Bubble Bum and one SafeGuard Go Hybryd 5-point harness car seat - all three of my kiddos fit. Though my 6 year old, who sits in the middle was still a bit crammed. Good thing she's skinny! Then I took out the Clek and put in the second Bubble Bum when it arrived a week later. Both girls have more space and both report they are more comfortable. My six year old in the middle loves not having her sister's seat arm rests running into her.
My six year old has no problems with the Bubble Bum. She sits down and buckles herself in quickley and properly. I keep the shoulder belt and first red lap positioner attached. She then pulls the belt across herself like normal and buckles it in. She then slides the belt through the second red lap positioner. That's it. With three seats in place in our Prius, it is a little hard for her to find the car buckle to snap her belt into, but it is easier with the two Bubble Bums and one other seat than it is otherwise. In our Jeep, which has one inch more per child's seat, she has no problems.
My five year old has a little bit of difficulty. She finds it hard to get the seat straps through the red buckle positioners. Otherwise, she likes it. My six year old helps her out by sliding the belt through the positioners. Both girls now have their seat belt properly place in their shoulder area. With Bubble Bum's positioner, they don't fiddle with them like they did before.
Another nice feature of the Bubble Bum... they can easily deflate for storage or travel! That means next time we visit my mom and sister in Texas, we won't have to borrow boosters or bring bulky ones that are such a pain. These will go right in the kids luggage. That is awesome!
Whenever my son is old enough and tall enough to move into a booster seat with buckle, I'm going to buy another Bubble Bum for sure. (He even likes the purple color of the Bubble Bums - but I'm sure when he's older he'd rather have a blue one. They're supposed to be made in other colors soon.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Free Flagstaff Fun: Summer Concerts in the Park Roadshow


The City of Flagstaff's Recreation Services is taking you on a tour of Flagstaff's park system, while combining great music, activities for kids, and food vendors all summer long.
The Concerts in the Park Roadshow runs Wednesdays from June 6 through July 25 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (special extended concert on July 4th)  All of this fun is free!
This year’s performers include:
•June 6th at Wheeler Park (212 W Aspen Ave): Summit Dub Squad (reggae)
•June 13th at Bushmaster Park (3150 N Alta Vista): Wade Lashley & The Rounders (Original Americana & Classic Country)
•June 20th at Wheeler Park (212 W. Aspen Ave): Muskellunge Bluegrass (bluegrass)
•June 27th at Bushmaster Park (3150 N Alta Vista): Brian DeMarco & The Big Idea (Bluesy/Folk/Rock)
•July 4th at Wheeler Park (212 W. Aspen Ave): Extended show from 12pm-7pm
  • 12pm: Stylus (classic rock/r&b)
  • 2:15: Vincent Z (world music)
  • 3:30: Porchlights (folk/bluegrass)
  • 5pm: Dave Logan Band (Folk/Rock/Roots)

•July 11th at Bushmaster Park (3150 N Alta Vista): Anam and the Boys (Bluegrass/Folk/Americana)
•July 18th at Wheeler Park (212 W. Aspen Ave): Northern AZ Celtic Heritage Society Day with the Knockabouts, Bagpipers and Celtic Choral Groups
•July 25th at Bushmaster Park (3150 N Alta Vista): Chuck Hall Band (blues)

For more information contact City of Flagstaff Recreation Services at (928) 213-2300 or visit

NAU Theatre family-friendly performances June 2, 3 & 8


NAU's Peaks Summer Theatre Festival has great family-friendly entertainment for the summer months.
NAU Theatre students will perform “Josefina Javelina, a Hairy Tale, The Play” and “The Three Little Javelinas” based on the books by Susan Lowell, adapted for the stage by Darby Winterhalter Lofstrand, and directed by Bob Yowell.  
The performance will be staged at the Studio Theatre on the NAU campus, June 2 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and June 3 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.  - suggested donation of $10 for a family of four or $5 for an individual.
It will also be staged at Heritage Square, in downtown Flagstaff, June 8 from 6-8 p.m - for free.
"Josefina Javelina" is adapted from Arizona author, Susan Lowell, children's book. It tells the story of a little javelina with big dreams and her journey to make those dreams come true.  
"The Three Little Javelinas" is based off the children's tale "The Three Little Pigs."  The actors, talented performers from the NAU Theatre Department, will perform and then interact with the kids and their parents.

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