Arizona, Gratitude and Joy, Travel

Day 288 – A Year of Gratitude and Joy – Rewarded Patience

I am not a patient person. I love spontaneity and am too filled with curiosity to wait for anything. But I have come to recognize that once you have the tickets for something, waiting and planning can be fun … and the trip or event at the end of the wait is the reward.

Such was the case when the date finally arrived for our visit to Tovrea Castle. It is notoriously difficult to get tickets to the Phoenix landmark. You have to enter a lottery for a Friday, Saturday or Sunday tour during the fairly limited tour season. When you enter, you choose date options and ask for a specific number of tickets. If you win, you pay in advance. You can cancel your purchase, but it’s an all-or-nothing deal. The lottery is only open twice a year for a couple of weeks. IT IS OPEN NOW THROUGH OCTOBER 15. So, the restrictions can be seen as a bit daunting.

Tovrea Castle can be seen from the nearby Route 202/Red Mountain Freeway.

I’ve entered the lottery twice a year for a couple of years, so when my name came up this spring for a fall tour date, I was thrilled! I paid for the two tickets, put the date on my calendar and waited patiently for yesterday to arrive. 

The open air vehicle stands near the entrance while the castle beckons from the hill beyond.

The tour includes a narrated ride to the castle through the grounds. You learn about the original owner and his plans to build a boutique hotel in the desert … and how they were foiled by the Great Depression.

Our tour guide offered to snap a pic of us on the front steps.

When you arrive at the structure, a welcome bell is rung by a tour volunteer, before the small group heads inside to don shoe coverings ahead of a walk around the main floor. Artifacts and period pieces tell the story of the three families who owned Tovrea Castle before it was acquired by the city of Phoenix and declared an historic site.

You hear the story of how the property was built, repurposing many local items like a bank vault used for a wine cellar. You learn how the castle was built without blueprints and the bricks used were made on-site from local materials.

I was fascinated by the ingenuity of repurposing a bank vault as a wine cellar.

Following a visit to the main floor, you head down into the basement for a short film about the restoration of the main building and ongoing efforts to preserve the rest of the property. You have free time to wander the more museum-like space and marvel at the ingenuity of its builder.

Before the building opened to the public, visitors could tour the grounds.
Original artifacts ensured the renovations were authentic.

From there it’s back onto the open-air, golf-cart-like tram for a driving tour of the extensive cactus gardens and outbuildings on the grounds.

The tour lasts just over an hour and is well worth the challenges of the ticket lottery. A little hint: if you decide to give it a go, choose a time when you can end around lunch and pop into the nearby historic Stockyards Restaurant, which not only gets rave reviews, it harkens to the time when castle owner E.A. Tovrea used the land surrounding the area to bring his cattle to market. At the time, it was one of the largest stockyards in the country. We didn’t time our tour that well and have already put a date on the calendar to dine at the Stockyards.

The third owner of Tovrea Castle was a cattle baron who could oversee the stockyards from his home.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see this historic property. The city’s dedication to preserving its past is admirable and brings me joy.

There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Be patient, it’s worth the wait.

© The World A to Z, LLC 2022 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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