Friday, May 8, 2009

Road Trip!

Monday we started our trip back to Illinois. The first step was to close the house, and pack the car. Very different precautions have to be taken when you are leaving the house for a summer, where temperatures inside will reach over 100 degrees (38 C). Any food left behind, and all the candles were stored in the refrigerator. Precautions were made to prevent water from the traps from evaporating (plus the neighbors will look in). All furniture was covered and/or stored. All the windows were covered. The washer/dryer were covered. All linens were clean.

When all these items were taken care of, we all got in the van... and it wouldn't start. The battery was dead! Fortunately, the neighbor had jumper cables, and the repair shop, 5 minutes away, replaced the battery in less than 15 minutes. So our family motto "Off like a flock of wild turtles!" was even more appropriate than usual.

We had decided to take State Road 60 through Arizona and New Mexico, and it was a lovely choice, if not a fast one. At one point we had to cross Snake River, which is in a canyon.

You can see the river in this picture; we already crossed it, and climbed up out of the valley this far already.


We passed mines, both working and abandoned. We passed little towns that were squeezed into narrow valleys, and others that stretched along the road for a couple of miles.

We passed the VLA


and stopped for the first night in Socorro, New Mexico. We made a tactical error the first night, though. We did not stop to eat until after 9 PM, and tempers (several) were getting frayed. I am very happy to tell you that we learned from our mistakes and did not make that error again. Each subsequent night, we stopped to eat around 5 to 6 pm, and then continued for an hour or two to our resting place.

We stayed in Comfort Inns 3 nights: Socorro, New Mexico; Weatherford, Oklahoma; and Litchfield, IL.

In Socorro we joined up with I-40, which plays hopscotch with Rt 66 the whole way.

We saw "the World's largest Cross":


We saw the buried Cadillacs:


(By the time I got my camera out, this is the best picture I could get, out the back window of the van.)

We passed this:


My mom assures me it was built this way on purpose.

We passed within 2 miles of the house we lived in when I started kindergarten, in Amarillo, TX. We saw the remnants of the Air Force Base my dad worked at there.

We stopped at a rest area in Texas that was like a palace. This mural was in the lady's wash room:


We found out that Rt. 66 was built to connect the Mid-West with the West Coast, in the days before interstates.

The first day we stopped quite often, the second, a couple of times, the third only for rest stops. I think everyone was getting eager to be home. The only time we stopped in Missouri was to have supper. I wanted to see the arch, but I wasn't At All interested in going to the top of it (claustrophobia, you know), so we just shot pictures as we passed.


We reached home around 1 PM on Thursday. DD met us for lunch. My parents were touched that she went out of her way to see them. Then they departed for Michigan, and we went and picked up our dog from the friend who watched him while we were gone.

Friday night we went to see DD, SIL, and grand-kids, and hand out the loot.

And so ends our "Big Adventure."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Family Time

On Friday morning my parents showed us around their hangouts in Phoenix. DH and I decided that You would really have to work at being bored in Sun City. There are clubs for every interest, wood-working, jewelry, glass making, metalwork, computers, knitting, sewing, music, dancing, golf, tennis, miniature golf, and on and on.

Mom has a some of my work in her house here. My sister started this sampler, and I finished it; it is an echo of my antique sampler. I did the lower half, with all the figures in it.


This is a Drawn Thread sampler called "Real Roses." It came in a kit with all the silk floss, and was really quite reasonable. It was a joy to stitch.


On Saturday we did take an hour or two to go to the Heard Museum West shop; they had a lot of fun stuff, and a lot of it was quite reasonable. I had seen displays like this in several other places, but this one I could afford. I really like the baby half hiding under her skirts. I'm showing the other side too, so you can see the pattern of the rug she is working on.


In the late afternoon on Saturday we went for snacks and chat to see my mom's two sisters who were in town. For a while, all 5 of the sisters were spending the winters in Phoenix, and they really enjoyed being able to see each other; one sister had already returned to the north, and the other had not been able to travel this winter because of health problems.

This is my mom's youngest sister and her husband, Flossie and Jan.


This is my mom's oldest sister, and her husband, Marsha and George. They married recently, and this was the first time I had met him.


There was even some time on this Saturday to stitch. I'm sorry this picture is over-exposed, it is not my usual picture set up. This temari is for a class I am taking, 32 centers, and 3 layers of stitching. It is called "Grandmother's Star." I got the final set of instructions for it today, so I will be stitching tonight.


I did very little stitching on this trip. I had library books along, and read all of those. I had my iPod along, and was intending to finish listening to "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" but the last several chapters had not loaded; I read those as soon as I got home. I did finish the the advent calendar page 14, Ruth and Boaz, and started on David and Goliath, but I will save those pictures for Christmas.

It was nice to have a restful day, and the next day, Sunday, was even more restful (i.e. nothing to write about).

Botanic Garden and Chihuly Exhibit

One of the first things we planned for our visit to Phoenix was a trip to the botanic gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit. I didn't make it to the exhibit in Chicago in 2005, so I was very excited to see this one. The tickets were purchased a couple of months in advance, and were limited in time to 4 to 9 PM; they sold way too many tickets! The gardens were so crowded you could hardly see the plants, much less the glass, and it got worse as the evening advanced.

After that complaint I do have to tell you that it was worth it. The glass was amazing, and the plants were beautiful. Again, I took many more pictures than I can show you here, they are all on my Flickr page, if you are interested.

This was at the center of the entry plaza, called "The Sun." I thought that was very appropriate for a garden; none of this would exist without the sun.


I couldn't decide between taking pictures of the glass or of the plants, so I did both. I was amazed by the color of this prickly pear, and the flowers are so beautiful!


This glass mimics the shape of ferns. You don't see too many ferns in the desert, but they still seemed to fit.


This sculpture is called "The Moon."


This one was just a couple of steps away, and is the only one you can see from outside the garden. It is very tall. The tubing that makes up the sculpture is neon, and it lights up; it was very striking in the twilight.


These are my parents. I think we wore them out. My dad is having his 80th birthday this summer, stay tuned!


Sunset in the desert. The weather was lovely the whole time we were in Phoenix. We liked it so much we are considering retiring there, at least part of the year. I don't think I could live that far away from my kids and grand-kids all the time.


This was the exit area; the most difficult thing was trying to get a picture without people in the way. The shape mimics the Agave plant you can see silhouetted in front of it, but much taller.


The gardens were lovely.


I mentioned yesterday that at one point on the road Saguaro cacti appeared; it was pretty cool, the hillsides were just covered with them.


Thursday night, when we reached town, we all got dressed up and went out to a Steakhouse to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. It saved having to cook, and was very relaxing. It was actually the day before our anniversary, but we were going to be busy on Friday (see the next post).

I didn't take pictures of people or buildings in my mom & dad's neighborhood; I was too intrigued by the flowering cactus. This is a prickly pear.


This is an ocotillo bush. The flowers are a lovely orange color.


I'm not up on cactus nomenclature, but I think this is a type of barrel cactus. The flowers are just lovely! (But don't touch.)


This is a saguaro cactus ready to start blooming. The buds all come out in sort of a crown arrangement at the top of each branch/arm.


On Friday we drove down-town Phoenix and caught sight of this new public sculpture. For being in a desert town, it looks remarkably like a fishing net, but it represents a cactus flower. I think it would take quite a bit of work to get a lovely picture of it.


These are mosaics on the outside of one of the sports stadiums in town. There are a lot of them! I think this is a baseball stadium (if the pictures are any indication) but we also saw the football and ice hockey (!) stadiums as well. Plus, every time you turn around there are baseball spring training centers for 1/2 of the teams too.


We were on our way to the Botanic Gardens, but there were too many pictures, so I split the posts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona

Okay, Monday was the train, Tuesday we arrived in Flagstaff, Wednesday we went to the Grand Canyon, and Thursday we went from Flagstaff to Phoenix by way of Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. I mentioned my parents were very excited about our visit and planned the most beautiful routes for us.

This picture is a little hard to see, but you can make out the road we would be traveling in 3 different spots. The first one is going from left to right, the second from right to left, and the third, lower down again, is from left to right. I the ten miles or so it took to drop down into the canyon, we lost 3,000 feet of altitude. It was beautiful!


Oak Creek, the cause of the Canyon ran along side the road for a long way. The vegetation was pretty typical of mountains, lodge-pole pines, quite a few fruit trees which had been cultivated there, and at the top of the canyon, this cactus growing on the rock and blooming.


It was a shock of "We aren't in the Midwest any more."

The lower we went, the warmer it got, as well. There were many places to camp, and there seemed to be communities branching off the road, but all of a sudden we came around a corner, and we were in Sedona. This pictures shows the red rocks, the vehicle we were traveling in, and DH taking one of the 900 pictures he took on the trip.


It was gorgeous! This picture gives you a good idea of Sedona. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery. There's a lot of "old time" cowboy stuff, there's a lot of tourist stuff, and then there's all the new age stuff. It seems that in or around Sedona there are a male and a female vortex that come together. (!)


As a result of the touristy stuff, there are a lot of fun shops. DH found a pair of cowboy boots, and I found a couple of thimbles and spoons.

For lunch we went to the top of one of the buttes to the airport. You can't see it in this picture, but this is the runway. We ate on the patio of a small restaurant; most of the cars in the parking lot had Arizona plates, which made us feel this was a real Sedona place.


There is a lively artist community in Sedona as well, along with everything else. And what do artists need? A place to sell their things, of course. There is an upscale "mall" called Tlaque Paque with high end shops that we spent some time perusing. Art glass, clothing boutiques, a bead shop, a bronze sculptor's studio, where you could order one of the statues based on the clay model, and an oriental carpet shop with beautiful rugs. I think I could have spent all day there. There was a Christmas shop, and I got an angel made from corn husks:


and another arpillera made in Peru:


This one is quite a bit larger than the farm/village scene I got last summer in Michigan. I love Bible stories, and all the animals in Noah's Ark are fun to look at.

We stopped at Montezuma's Castle, which has no actual Montezuma, but it is a cliff dwelling.


After the hype and glitz of Sedona, it was a lovely, quiet, and real part of the history of Arizona. I didn't think I was going to enjoy it, but the setting is so beautiful and quiet that it was a real oasis in the day.

After that we settled down and pushed on to Phoenix. At one point, all of a sudden, you started to see saguaro cactus. I am amazed by all the different landscapes in Arizona.


DH and I both love to shop. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is he doesn't complain when I shop, and he is willing to go to stores. The bad thing is that some times it feels like we are in a car with two accelerators and no brake.

That said, we had a lot of fun on vacation shopping.

In Albuquerque where the train stopped to be serviced there were booths set up up and down the train platform. DH bought a couple of sets of earrings with tiny turquoise nuggets. I bought a bracelet and a small basket.

I mentioned the little trading post we stopped at on the way to the Canyon. I found a purse made out of felted Pendelton blankets, and a poster showing natural dyes made from plants.


They had shadow boxes with real weaving and plants also, but they were smaller, and this poster is as much for information as for show.

The prize at this store, though, was a weaving:


This is a "Tree of Life" type of design, with a corn stalk in the middle, and the little birdies representing life. The weaving is beautiful, and the colors are lovely. There is a tag on the weaving with the weaver's name and town. I'm not sure yet where I'm going to put it, but it is the nicest thing I got on vacation (also the most expensive).

Unlike DH, my father dislikes shopping. If something takes longer than 10 minutes, he gets impatient. Our trip was a great frustration to him.

We shopped for souvenirs up and down Arizona and all along the highway on the way back. I got 10 thimbles, and 1/2 a dozen spoons for DD, and some clothes for Isabella, and books for P, and some jewelry supplies for DD, and refrigerator magnets, and had a great deal of fun doing it. I don't have pictures of these things; I did get a couple of nice things, related to fiber arts, that I will mention and show in the appropriate post.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grand Canyon

We had a beautiful day to see the Grand Canyon. The sky was clear in the morning, with puffy white clouds.


Approaching the canyon, you would never guess it is there. The landscape is flat and boring. At Cameron, where you turn west to reach the canyon, there is a small settlement. We stopped by chance at one of the shops there, and hit the jackpot. The items they had were real; jewelry, pottery, and weavings. They also had a case of Pendleton blanket things, notebooks, journals, purses and bags. And they had supplies to make jewelry (turquoise and other beads and silver findings) and weavings (the yarn was skeins from the Brown Sheep company, from Nebraska). DH tried on some cowboy boots, but didn't find any that fit. I found several items that fit, but I don't have pictures. I will post pictures tomorrow, before we continue our trip.


Then, as you travel west, you start climbing again, and you start seeing these gouges in the ground.

When we reached the gate to the park, the ranger was very jovial. My dad has a national pass to enter all the National Parks for free. (Anyone can get one after the age of 62, with a handling fee; my dad has had his for over 15 years.)


When we asked, he recommended Desert View and Moran Point. I have tons of beautiful pictures of the canyon; you can see them on my Flickr site if you are interested.

I want to try "stitching" them together and getting a panorama, if I can.



This is rapids on the Colorado River. I don't think you would be able to see a boat if there were one in this picture. That river is far away!


This is me, walking down the trail into the canyon. When I was at the Canyon when I was 8, I distinctly remember wanting to do more than look at it; I wanted to get into it. This time I got my wish; DH, my dad and I walked about a block down into the canyon. The warning at the head of the trail says you should be in good enough shape to run a marathon if you planned on going down to the camping area.


This is the same trail I am on after it winds around the wall for a while and switches back and forth a couple of times.


I left this picture full size so you could see the trail across the green plateau. Even the little bit of the trail I was on was nerve wracking. I was definitely hugging the inside edge.

The burros were coming up the trail. They only had packs, no riders, but I was glad we could get off the trail before they passed us. One of the burros was named Jake; we knew because they were yelling at him. Our dog's name is Jake, and he gets yelled at all the time too, so we felt right at home.


After this we left the park and drove back to Flagstaff, enjoying a nice soak in the hot tub before we left the next day. If you get any chance to see the canyon, make sure you jump at it! It is amazing.