Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain | A Desert Gem

I was born in raised in Phoenix and in the 30 years I spent there had never come across a desert gem like the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain and that is saying something because Arizona has many beautiful resorts to choose from. Set just outside Marana, AZ (just slightly north of Tucson) this luxurious resort preserves the peace and beauty of the desert in the way you would expect from the Ritz-Carlton brand.

ritz carlton dove mountain arizonaOur drive from downtown Phoenix was an easy 1 1/2 hour drive down the I-10, including stop time in Casa Grande for a rare In-N-Out Burger treat these days (side note: Denver, really, you need to get with the In-N-Out program). You could fly into Sky Harbor in Phoenix or Tucson for a stay here. We flew into Phoenix and spent one night at the Hotel Palomar downtown before driving down the next morning.

We arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain just in time to see the Native American Flautist serenading the sunset perched upon the mountain. This would happen each night of our stay. Anytime I hear a flute playing now I fondly remember that 30 minutes each night to slow down and reflect on the day. The fire pit or pool area gives you the perfect vantage point to both see the flautist, the sunset and feel the music bounce off the surrounding mountain. One of the things I miss in Denver are my beautiful desert pink sunsets. So this time of day was soul restoring for me.

beautiful arizona pink sunset at ritz carlton dove mountain

We spent the next two nights frolicking about the orange groves and playing Bocce Ball, having drinks out by the fireplace, relaxing in the jacuzzi, and eating wonderful food. The surrounding mountains are the perfect size for a 1-2 hour hike.

drinks at the fire pit ritz carlton dove mountain

My son had no issues with wheelchair accessibility at all at this resort. The terrain is mainly flat in the resort area, well paved, and elevators are in all the right places. Our wheelchair accessible room was plenty big enough and had a beautiful roll in shower.

Staff here were lovely. Everyone we met was friendly and attentive. Just what you would expect to find at the Ritz.

Things to know before you visit Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain:

  • The resort restaurants are great but you are just a short drive down to Tucson for authentic Mexican food galore. We really liked El Charro but ask the valets for their take on Mexican food. They have a lot of great ideas.
  • 3 nights would be my “sweet spot” for a stay here.
  • Try the Buffalo Tacos and a Margarita at Ignite sitting outside by the fire.
  • The gym has everything you need but is smallish….get outside and hike! Bring a Camelback!

Want to read more of our travel adventures? Try any of these:


Top Roadtrip Apps for Moms

This month we have spent every week on the road. Like, literally, have been on a major trip every week of August. My Samsung Note 3 and I have never been so close. We’ve spent a lot of long hours together watching the pavement pass.

roadtrip apps for mom

So how did my phone save me from certain death by boredom while on these fabulously scenic roads? Read on for some roadtrip apps for moms that will make your phone your next BFF.

Top Roadtrip Apps for Moms

instagram app iconInstagram. I mean what’s more fun than sharing boring pictures of the road, right? Well, maybe sharing all those quirky little road stops would be. Probably Definitely more fun is seeing what all your friends are up. Instagram is the ADHD’s  busy moms Facebook. Your kids are on Instagram taking a million pictures of themselves making duck faces. Go look. Nothing is more fun that looking at ten million selfies of your adorable kids. Make sure to like all their pictures. They really appreciate that. Especially the teens.


candy crush app iconCandy Crush. It’s addicting. It’s annoying. It’s a puzzle game with a social twist that let’s you endlessly beg your friends on Facebook for extra lives and new levels. The good news is that unless you are willing to pay it cuts you off after 5 lives thus providing a built in addict filter. I may have paid a few times on this last trip. Don’t judge. I’m on level 169 people.


yelp app iconYelp. I just recently made Yelp Elite. Oh, yes, I think people care about my opinion that much. But really, when you are staring down the only place to stop for 200 miles (I’m looking at you Kearney, Omaha) you NEED to know where to stop. Food poisoning or people dressed in Jason masks could be anywhere in these towns. Yelp will help you avoid the pitfalls. Just keep in mind that most reviews are written by locals. They may not know a Gyro isn’t supposed to be served with cheddar cheese and sour cream. Just saying.

magisto app iconMagisto. This magic movie making app takes all your gallery photos and videos and prepares them into magical little videos for you to share with graphics and music. Put all that road time to work and post them ALL on Facebook. People will love them even more than the duck face selfies and photo of your whole family in front of a giant ball of twine on Instagram.


NFL Mobile App from Verizonnfl mobile app icon. This mama loves her some football. Thank goodness the app kept me up to date this month on all the preseason happenings. Without it I may not know who has concussions, who’s benched for bad behavior and who just plain out is in for a sucky season. With this app on Verizon you can watch live games from anywhere. My nephew beat me by 1/10 of a point in last years Fantasy League. Not happening again buddy. You may be 12 but I show no mercy. #GameOn

pandora app iconPandora. I am just going to get this out of the way. Pandora is a data hog. We had to change our plan twice on the road due to our Pandora use. Thankfully we get those little notifications from Verizon. But if I had to listen to one more country song available on the FM stations in the midwest I would have cut someone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country music but hours and hours of Florida Georgia Line and Hey, Bartender (Lady Antebellum) gets really old. Maybe we should have just invested in XM but I just don’t feel the need when this many roadtrips are not our norm.

I feel the need to state the obvious here…don’t use these apps while actually operating a motor vehicle. I wasn’t driving and Instagramming. My husband doesn’t let me drive on roadtrips….something about wanting to not have a heart attack, blah, blah, blah.

You can find the above apps in either your Apple App Store, Google Play Store or Windows (not all may be available in Windows).

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Verizon #VZWBuzz social media team. While Verizon compensates me to be a part of the team, anything I choose to mention is my opinion and choice. 



Jet-setter Update

After just returning from Texas, I am setting off for a weekend in Detroit. While both trips have very different goals-Texas was for Carter’s health and Detroit is for work, they have one thing in common-I am pulling my hair out trying to stay organized in the air, on the road and inside my suitcase. Which is good news for you. I have picked up a few more tips and tricks that may help make your upcoming holiday travel a little bit easier. While I am not really jet-setting, I do feel like I am hitting the road hard lately and from how sick I keep getting, it is hitting back.

lg g2My Phone

Holy Moly y’all (my new Texas word) I did it. I cut the iCord. Verizon sent me the new LG G2 and I fell in love. Of course the love may have been helped by my new loathe of iOS 7. I’m sorry, but ever since Steve Jobs has passed Apple just cannot stay competitive in my mind. Where they were once an innovator, nowadays it seems like all they are doing is playing catch up to the Android market. The G2 uses Snapdragon technology (don’t worry, its just a fancy word for fast) to make everything load so much faster and multitask between all my social networking. Google Talk makes Siri sound like my Mother (whoops).

I plan to fully test it this weekend, not going to lie, I am a little scared to not travel with the trusty iPhone. I just think this will be so much better in the long run. Do you have tips for me on using an Android? Apps I have to have? PLEASE tell me in the comments. To be fair, I will trade you some traveling with jewelry tips that may save you a major heartbreak….

Getting Smarter With My Jewelry

I’ve been working with Jewelers Mutual lately on a campaign for their Perfect Circle  here in Denver to teach people about tips and tricks for traveling with jewelry. I have always traveled with a few sentimental peiecs but avoid taking anything expensive. In fact, I have costume jewelry that I just have set aside for trips that go with everything. With the following tips I may start carrying my better pieces with me. Here are some things I have learned.

  • Choose wisely. Pack light and take only the jewelry you’ll wear while traveling and at your destination. The 4-carat diamond ring you save for special occasions? Probably not. The pearls that go with everything? Definitely.

  • Make a list. List all the jewelry you’ll take with you. Make two copies. Take one copy with you and store it separately from your jewelry. Leave the other copy at home. Also helpful: take pictures or a video of your jewelry.

  • Carry it on. Never put jewelry in checked baggage. Instead, wear it or stow it in your carry on bag. If you wear it, take extra care by slipping a pendant inside a sweater or turning your ring so only the band shows.

  • Keep it with you. Put your jewelry in a favorite bag you’ll carry while traveling. Don’t leave your jewelry in an unattended car or suitcase. When checking into your hotel or condo, don’t hand your jewelry bag to hotel staff. Carry it personally.

  • Use the safe. Always store jewelry in the in-room safe when you’re not wearing it.

 So, two ways I am getting smarter. What about you? What are you doing to make travel easier on yourself this holiday season? Any tips on keeping my immune system stronger on the road too? 

I will update on Carter shortly. I just want to get a few more pictures. You guys will not believe the difference the SPML surgery made on his leg.



The New Disability Plan at Disney Parks

People keep asking me what I think of the new changes to the guest assistance card at the Disney Parks. I first reported about it when the new disability access pass was just a rumor for Traveling Mom and watched as the uproar among the special needs community commenced. It’s been ugly. People are upset about these new changes. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

disney epcot family poseI guess people consider me a leader in the spina bifida world or disability travel world and maybe that is why I keep getting asked why I am not up in arms over it. Mostly it is because I was one of the people who asked for change. Remember our trip last Spring when Disney World hosted us for a week? And all I saw was abuse after abuse of the wheelchair system? Yeah. That. That is why I am not upset.

Look. Disney has to do something. I don’t know that I think this new plan has it right. But I don’t know that any plan will have it exactly right at this point. This is what they have told us the new plan will look like:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Changes to Disney’s Guest Assistance Pass

How will the new Disney program work?

The Disability Access Service Card will offer Guests a return time for an attraction based on the current wait time. Guest Assistance Cards will continue to be in effect until Oct. 9. We look forward to sharing more information as we get closer to implementation.

Did Disney receive assistance in developing the Disability Access Service Card?

Yes, Disney is engaging disability groups, and Autism Speaks was instrumental in providing feedback as we developed this new process.

Why is Disney making these changes?

Given the increasing volume of requests Disney receives for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process beginning Oct. 9 so that it creates a more consistent experience for all our Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities.

Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?

Our goal is to accommodate Guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).

Will Guests on wish trips also use Disability Access Service Cards?

No. Guests who are visiting through wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program.

What should Guests do if they have concerns?

Guests should contact Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.

It is vague and it doesn’t address the need for quiet spaces and shorter lines that many special needs guests need. I think they are purposely being vague. Why would they want to lay a road map out for all the people just looking for the next way to game the Disney disability system?

While we have always enjoyed shorter lines because that is the way the system is designed, people with mobility issues alone don’t necessarily need shorter lines. We are happy to be treated just like everyone else. That is how we want to live our life anyway. But a lot of traditional entrances, especially in the old part of Disneyland, can’t accommodate a wheelchair. That is why different lines exist. And the new lines that are specially made for wheelchair users like this one are not really made solely for the purpose of making life easier on the wheelchair user.

Special lines like these reduce the wait time for everyone. Does the general public really want the line stopped each time a wheelchair user boards? I am guessing not.

My guess is that Disney is going to send people renting chairs and scooters through the traditional lines but people like my son, who can’t easily get out of the chair he uses full time, will still use one of these special entrances. Again, it’s not really about him. It’s about their load times and making the experience better for everyone at the Parks.

I am also guessing the new system will look a lot like the way Universal Studios does it. Which I personally have always liked much better. I’ll write an article on how it works at Universal next week so you can see. I can’t see the rumored part about going back to a queue each time you want a “fast pass” working since it would exhaust any guest at the Park, let alone a wheelchair user who can’t tolerate heat for too long.

I’m worried and a little sad for October 9th (the day the changes go into place) to roll around. I think there will be a lot of people there that just want to see what sort of stories they can make about what a mess this will be. I ask you to keep that in mind when you read the ones sure to come out. There will, also, be a lot of good people trying to figure it out that will have issues we can all learn from.

This WILL be a mess. Disney will make mistakes and people will be right there to point them out. Change is never easy. I think people in the autism and autoimmune disability groups will be hurt the most by the bumps in the road that are sure to happen. Remember, we belong to both of those as well so I understand the challenges that will be faced.  But change has to happen in some form or another because the system is beyond broken thanks to the greediness of people that gamed it.

I just believe at the heart of it all Disney is trying to do what is right and we all have to understand the intention is good but the execution may take some time to get right.


Camping at Snow Mountain Ranch

This summer was sort of lame in that we didn’t get to travel too much due to Carter healing from the surgery he had in May. That is OK. We still had a great summer with tons of family time AND we still were able to go on our annual trip camping at Snow Mountain Ranch.

I love this camping trip. Each year we go with 9-10 families to Snow Mountain Ranch right outside of Winter Park, Colorado. Of course, we stay in a lodge, Indian Peaks to be exact, in a wheelchair accessible room.

What? It’s camping! There is no TV for goodness sake. We have to bring our iPad’s and stream our home cable apps over their wi-fi just to watch Iron Chef! That’s as primitive as I get people.

What’s great about camping at Snow Mountain Ranch though is that our friends that do choose to rough it in a tent have that option in the Hopi Campground area, or you can rent a yurt, or a cabin. Really, there are a ton of options for where to lay your head at night so it works out perfectly for a large group of diverse families.

But I love staying at Indian Peaks because right outside our room is this:

Playground outside Indian Peaks Lodge at Snow Mountain Ranch


To the right of that is a huge playground for the kids. During the day, all the families split up and enjoy the activities offered at Snow Mountain Ranch. Some go zip-lining, some swim, some do arts and crafts. We like to go hang out at the horse stables and make new friends like Pearl and Babe, drafting horses on a break.


drafting horses at snow mountain ranch


And look for moose in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. We took off one morning at the spur of the moment and decided to make use of our National Parks Access Pass.


moose sighting Rocky Mountain National Park


At night we all come back, watch the sunset, cook dinner and enjoy the gigantic fire ring as the kids play.


fire ring at indian peaks snow mountain ranch

My friend Suzanne took this photo. You should check out her photography at


We even take photo’s, cause you know? That is what bloggers do.


sunset at snow mountain ranch

Susan took this awesome photo of Kia taking a photo. They are awesome people that happen to blog as well. Check Susan out at and Kia at


A little travel advice if you are going to go camping at Snow Mountain Ranch or any place in the Rockies the first week of August? Pack your patience. The ride up the I-70 is painful. It took us over 3 hours to get from the opening of the Rockies to Idaho Springs. I was so thankful to have a tote bag full of goodies. State Farm had provided me with the Road Trip Emergency Kit for this camping trip and it ended up proving to be the saving grace as we sat, and sat, and sat in the parking lot known as the I-70.


state farm emergency road trip kit


The kit contained all sorts of useful things I would not have thought to pack:

  • an external battery pack to charge many types of cell phones.
  • a real map (so great when the GPS on my phone wouldn’t pick up where we were)
  • Fruit snacks <–THIS, this silly thing I never buy turned my cranky family around
  • Clif Bars- <-OMG, 3 hours stuck in traffic? Seriously saved my hungry guys
  • Crystal light individual drink mix packs. I was DYING for a Diet Coke. Thankfully I had these to mix in a bottle of water to get me through my ‘emergency’. I am weird in that I don’t like water plain.

Besides, it’s super pretty! But that is besides the point, huh? Emergency kits are important. Even if they just get you through a long, unexpected road trip delay. Do you have one? If not, I put together a post on how to make an emergency road trip kit for you.

I would like to thank State Farm for sponsoring my families road trip through a campaign with Traveling Mom and She Buys Cars. We had a great, safe time and left with another year of fabulous memories.

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