Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Changing it up

Arizona one more time

Our favorite mountain biking trails in McDowell Regional Park

It has been a while since our last post since we have been stationary in Arizona and have shared most of the hikes and sights in past posts. This life we are living is constantly changing and after 5 winters in Mesa, Arizona, it is time for something new even though we have loved our time in the desert.

 People on motorized scooters riding crazy and homeless people sleeping on the paths along with the increased traffic and people with Alzheimer's driving made the riding our bikes on the paths and streets a little more precarious. As the population of Phoenix continues to grow, so does the air pollution and number of hazardous air quality days. It was time to rethink returning for long stays in the future.

A stop for coffee on our ride to Tempe.
 Three years ago, I thought that I was ready to retire but changed my mind wanting to return to work in Mesa at the hospital part time for 3-6 months of the year. I loved the flexibility of being able to return and work part time. There was always great satisfaction in taking care of my patients and the paycheck wasn't so bad either. This time when we returned, we realized that it was time to move on and explore other opportunities after we finish these last few months.

Dia de Los Muertes

Dia de los Muertos honors the dead with festivals and lively celebrations on November 1, a typically Latin American custom that combines Aztec ritual with Catholicism, brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores.

We made a stop at the Mesa Art Center which has its own celebration every year.


The dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life (have a party). Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones.

Heard Museum

 There are several ways to avoid breaking the bank and have the opportunity to see some interesting museums. Maricopa County libraries have a cultural pass that can be checked out and used to visit museums or theater shows for free. Phoenix also has free "First Fridays" a trolley will take a person to numerous museums in the downtown. We made a stop at the Heard museum after taking the light rail downtown on a First Friday. We didn't make it much further since there was so much to see at there.

A snack in the courtyard before starting our tour was quite nice while listening to the music.

The Heard presents the stories of American Indian people with exhibitions that showcase the traditional and contemporary art. The contemporary art was especially interesting to us. The docent gave us some good in sight as to the artist's intentions.

Scottsdale's Trolley Tour

 The second Saturday of each month, Old Scottsdale offers a free Trolley Tour. We made reservations and started the tour at the historic Old Adobe Mission. A private docent talk and tour of this historic structure was given before we boarded the trolley. Built in 1933 by volunteer parishioners, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Old Adobe Mission served as a symbol of community togetherness, pride and hard work. Restoration of the mission began in 2005 and the building is in excellent shape to this day.
The history about the Mexican laborers in the area made me sad. They were brought in when no one else would do the work of picking cotton and given land that no one wanted. Once the town became a success, they were moved on down the road except a few that made successful businesses of their own.
Next we boarded one of Scottsdale’s trolleys to see the downtown. It took us by the Arts District, Southbridge, the Waterfront, and also Hotel Valley Ho. It was a way to learn about Scottsdale’s  history, culture, and art, as well as a way to direct us where to find the local restaurants and boutiques. Mostly, encouraging us to patronize the area. It was free...

The trolleys run during the day for free without a tour daily.
After our tour, we headed over to the Rusty Spur Saloon, the oldest of Scottsdale bars, 60 years.  It was Scottsdale’s first ever saloon. The building is an officially registered historic landmark that used to be the Farmers’ Bank of Scottsdale. Now the money’s gone and the vault’s filled with liquor.
Over the years, we have had the fun opportunity to explore much of this area. 
Things are blooming as we hike again our favorite trails. Now it is time to find some new trails and places.
We look back and are so glad to have met so many good friends but are also very excited about volunteering this next year at Oregon and Texas State Parks.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

La Posada

What's a "Harvey Girl"?

 I had read about the "Harvey Girls" and thought La Posada might be an interesting stop on our drive through Winslow, AZ. A drive that we take a few times a year. Besides, a nice brunch was calling our names.

Fred Harvey's Last Great Railroad Hotel
 The story of Fred Harvey “civilizing the west” by introducing linen, silverware, china, crystal, and impeccable service to railroad travel.

 Fred Harvey frequently traveled by rail for his work and was dissatisfied with the service he found He began a restaurant chain to change this. Harvey saw his restaurants as the most refined restaurants in the American West. The rowdiness of his male wait staff created a problem. To help him succeed, he hired independent, hard-working young women instead. Newspaper ads offered well-bred ladies a fair wage, steady work, uniform, a place to live, and a ticket to ride! The thousands that answered came to be known as "Harvey Girls" at the many Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe Railroad.

 Harvey girls were young, single, intelligent women who were also of “good character,” and had the sort of sense of adventure that took them to unknown territory in the 1880s to work as waitresses.

This is the last standing Harvey House. The railroad had planned to tear down the building but it turned out to be too expensive to demolish the four foot thick walls. At the peak of Harvey houses,there were 84 across the country.
We had brunch in the Turquoise Room while watching trains pass by.

A map of the railroad and Harvey Houses on my placemat.

Watching the trains passing by.

There are many artists in the southwest. Throughout Posada their works were on display.
La Posada has its own art gallery that I could have spent much more time rxploring. Tina Mion, a contemporary artist had some interesting selections. At first I would look at the paintings and think "OK?". But that would change once I read the explanation and looked again. Most of the time, I would then "get it". 

James Cagney, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Stewart, Roy Rogers, Carole Lombard, Amelia Earhart and John Wayne were just a few of the people that have visited La Posada.

The courtyards were made in a U for protection for the frequent winds through Winslow.

The place is an art gallery but also a gallery of history with stories on the walls.

The hotel rooms were elegant with a southwest artistic flair.

More of the peaceful gardens.

It was a good end to the great six months of travel and adventuress as we made this stop along the Historic Route 66 on our way to Mesa Arizona for a much needed rest.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Plaza Blanca and Echo Amphitheater

More New Mexico

In the last post, I said we were leaving Abiquiu Lake but I was wrong. I was having problems with Blogger. It erased this part of the previous post and posted it before I was ready. I am sure it was Blogger not my fat little sausage fingers hitting the enter button too many times.
 Abiquiu Lake was down about 15 feet due to the low snow last winter in the Sangre de Cristos. I almost cut off the top of the Cerro Pendernal. I guess my camera which I lost, was acting up too.

More sight seeing and hiking were a short drive.

The red and yellow cliffs kept our attention.


Echo Amphitheater

The entrance is about 17 miles west of Abiquiú and four miles from Ghost Ranch. Echo Amphitheatre is part of the Carson National Forest Recreation Area and had a free 9 site campground No one was there.
It  is not a real hike but a nice paved sidewalk that has stairs as you get closer to the end. Our voices would echo off the walls as we spoke to each other.

According to legend the curved stone cliff wall now known as Echo Amphitheater was the site where a group of Navajo took some settlers to the top of the cliff and killed them, their blood running down the cliff wall and permanently staining it. Another story says that years later a number of Navajo were in turn murdered in the same spot, once again staining the cliff wall with their blood.

Now the natural echoing caused by the site’s geography is said to be the voices of the unquiet dead. 
There seems to be little truth to the tales, but the colorful sandstone may have inspired the myths.

Our next stop in Abiquiu was Plaza Blanca.
The rock formations are on the grounds of the Dar Al Islam mosque and Islamic education center.  The Center welcomes visitors to their land and no prior arrangements are required.

There is a retreat center for almost every religion in this area. The Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert is 13 miles south of the highway on a dirt road. It is open to the public for day or overnight visits. We did not head down that road but did see several of the monks at Bodes (the gas station) in Abiquiu having lunch.

We only hiked a few easy miles but enjoyed the early morning all by ourselves.


Walking up the creek bed we entered a slot canyon.

We have had a great summer but it is time to move west.

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...