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Musical vortex, quick beautiful sunset, steak send off: Girls trip to AZ Day five by Ann Treacy
October 20, 2021, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Arizona

On our final full day we hiked around Boynton Canyon Vortex. When we got there we heard the music coming from the vortex. Someone was playing a flute sitting on top of a rock formation. Or it was an apparition – who can say? (You can watch the video and decide for yourself!)

We hiked around for 7 miles. The terrain went from red rock to forest to beach and back again. Getting to the top felt like an accomplishment. (It was up but not steep, so even I could do it.) After the long hike, we trekked the quick trip to the vortex.

The vortex is a spiritual center; the Boynton Vortex is a balance of masculine and feminine energies stemming from the energy of a rock formation called Kachina Woman and the nearby knoll, which has masculine energy. I bravely walked to the outside of the formation, not to be confused with the top.

I’m trying to be open to the mystical nature, although that’s not always a good fit for me. I did make a wish like it was a birthday cake or 4-leaf clover; two things I feel I do understand.

We also caught a gorgeous sunset by the Mesa airport. And heading for a lovely steak dinner while we listened to someone play popular tunes on a guitar harp. We had a very lovely last night!

Super windy walking around the Grand Canyon: Girls trip to AZ Day Four by Ann Treacy
October 19, 2021, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Arizona

Turns out the Grand Canyon is just two hours (and change) from Sedona – so we went to visit yesterday. I say that like it wasn’t planned but it was. Most of the group went down toward the bottom on the Angel Bright trail. One of us walked around the Canyon because the trails down are too steep for me, especially as people pass.

But being honest, I had a super lovely day. It was chilly and windy but very sunny. I walked 10 miles from the Visitor Center to the Pima Point on the south rim. I think I was walking about three hours. Plenty of time to stop and take pictures and of course one video to show how windy it was. Then when the others were done with their hike, I just shuttled back.

I think it would be fun to spend a whole day walking the entire south side. I’m not sure if it’s the same set up on the north rim but I’d add that in too. It’s amazing to see how the shadows and sun impact the views. The walk is pretty easy and yet, I didn’t see very many people. There are places where you stomach drops if you’re afraid of heights but those are easily avoided. Honestly I was more afraid of being swept away that slipping!

Monica did most of the driving there and back. She has done most of the driving – and for that I’m thankful. Also I think the spirits around us rewarded her with caribou and elk on our drive out of the park!

Cathedral Rock climb and art in Tlaquepaque: Girls’ trip to AZ Day three by Ann Treacy
October 18, 2021, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Arizona

We started out a hike to the top of Cathedral Rock today – we quickly ended up with a hike around Cathedral Rock. A hike straight up will never be a good hike for me. I pulled the rip cord about 20 percent of the way up. And we decided to take a longer hike around the mountain (or rock or whatever we’re calling big hills here).

It was a nice 6-7 mile walk up and down. We found a river and a fun place for a photo shoot. It wasn’t as crowded and we dipped into and out of the shade, which was easy temperature control.

In the afternoon we checked out Tlaquepaque Village. It has tons of fancy shopping and lots of art. Some folks went shopping and got wonderful treasures; one person hiked all around and took pictures of art and got another 4 miles under her belt. It is a fun area – very touristy but not unpleasantly so.

For dinner we found a fun Mexican restaurant with a Flamenco band right outside. We even got in a little dancing!

Church on Hill in Sedona: Girls trip to Arizona Day Two by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2021, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Arizona

It’s a gorgeous day in Arizona. Sunny, as promised. Hot during the day, a little chilly at night. We drove from Phoenix from Sedona, which is a little bit of a haul. But worth it. We stopped by the Church on the Hill (Chapel of Holy Cross),which is the only thing I knew yet still a super favorite.

The Chapel is built into the side of the hill in Sedona. It was built in 1956. Marguerite Brunswig Staude got an idea in 1932 to build a church in Budapest inspired by the Empire State Building. It is gorgeous to look at it’s gorgeous to look from – it’s surrounded by the red rocks.

The crucifix in the church is spectacular too; it’s newer than the church itself. The whites of the eyes are stark and yet so imploring and pained.

After the church we hiked around. It was an easy hike – but from our hike we could see serious rock climbers traversing a huge rock or mountain or whatever we call them here. It made my palms sweat but they seemed to know what they were doing and we never heard any sirens so I’m assuming the best.

We also stopped at an art fair – where some folks made little purchases, someone is thinking about a major purchase (all beautiful) and one of us made a skeletal friend. And we had a very lovely dinner at Cucina Rustica.

Girls trip to Arizona Day One: Willie Nelson and the Outlaw Tour by Ann Treacy
October 16, 2021, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Arizona

Know what makes a few crazy busy weeks at work easier? Finishing the week with a vacation with friends. I’m in Arizona with Monica, Anne and Jennifer. They have planned almost all of it, which is definitely a gift to me. I just follow along. Except for the first night, but I’ll get to that.

We landed, dealt with all of the hassles of flying and getting a car and then headed to a lovely late lunch at Taco Guild. It is a gorgeous restaurant inside a Methodist Church built in 1893. The stained glass is amazing –  although it’s difficult to see in the picture because our heavenly hue got in the way. The altar bar would make any Catholic crazy jealous. And the food was delicious!

The we booked into the hotel and rested a bit because … and this was my *only* contribution to the planning … we had tickets to Willie Nelson and the Outlaw tour at AK- Chin at night! The lineup was great we saw the tail end of Gov’t Mule (pun intended), The Avett Brothers and Willie. It was an outdoor amphitheater that seats up to 20,000. We were definitely in the nose bleed section but it felt close – not front row close but definitely in the mix. The sound was great.

Turns out everyone knew more Avett Brothers than they thought and Willie was amazing. It’s pretty stripped down – Willie on stage with a guitar and some folks backing him up. (Sadly his older sister who often plays with him was missing.) His voice wasn’t as strong a first time I saw in at the MN State Fair probably frightening close to 40 years ago – but the guitar playing is still amazing and he never missed a beat.

First day of vacation – big win!!

MN State Fair 2021: Music, art, vegan food and fewer crowds by Ann Treacy
September 7, 2021, 3:23 am
Filed under: St Paul

We missed the Minnesota State Fair last year because of the pandemic. Most of us went this year, but in shifts. Dad (aka Grandpa) and I went in the morning. We had some yummy food like cheese curds and Sweet Martha’s Cookies. We walked around to the DFL booth, Education Building and some others. I’ve heard up to 200 exhibitors have backed out of the Fair this year. It seems like many, if not most of State Departments have ducked out. No calendars at the Education Building. No going inside the MN DNR. That and the light crowds were signs of the time. Even with the lighter crowds, we avoided certain areas and wore masks in buildings.

We had a break for a car wash cookout. (Where Billy has a BBQ at the car wash, which conveniently is where we park to go to the Fair!) Dad went home and Lily and Kate arrived. We found all (maybe not all) of the vegan options for them. We also checked out some art. It’s always fun to see the subversive seed art. I am going to try to create a subversive work for next year. (I am a seed art pro, at least based on the Zoom class I took during the pandemic.) We also went to the Fine Arts Building. They have some incredible artists and such a wide range. Plenty of art recognizing the year of civil unrest.

We also had some random treats like the giant rubber duck, bull riding and the cows. Lily was disappointed that the Miracle of Birth building was closed. (I was not.) She loves to see the baby animals. We were just in time for the parade and we got in plenty of steps. (Clocked in 13 miles today!) I also got a glimpse at the MN DNR Wall of Shame, which highlights animals that have been poached. I was on the look for a deer that we used to see down at Wita Tanka and we haven’t seen for a while. I didn’t see him, but I saw a few others.

Finally the music. I’m always amazed at the wide range of free music at the Fair. I stopped to see three acts (Mae Simpson, Yam Haus and Rosie Flores) and enjoyed each but also it’s just fun to see and see the music as you walk by various parks and bars.

I walked 40 miles – in 12ish hours at a FANS Ultra Race by Ann Treacy
August 29, 2021, 7:22 pm
Filed under: St Paul

I want this saved for when I’m old and no one will believe I could do it. Yesterday I did a 12 hour walk. I suspect I walked just shy of 40 miles. But because I walked home after midnight (so more like Friday night but technically Saturday) and walked (to get places) after the race, I absolutely walked 40 miles.

I joined a FANS Ultra Race, the proceeds go to college and career mentorship program for high school students, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Heather got me into the race. She runs all of the time. She ran the race yesterday. Here’s a glimpse of how it went for the novice first-timer.

The race started at 8am. The track is a two-mile loop around Fort Snelling Lake. I know that area very well. People come from all over the world for the race. There was a guy in his 80s who has run every one of these. There was a guy who was hoping to get a world record. The deal is you can walk or run for 6 hours, 12 hours or (wait for it!) 24 hours.

I mostly walked it alone listening to music. (Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Playlist for me – it was very helpful!)  If it hadn’t been for the blisters (turns out sock choice matters), I would have felt no pain. It was hot and sultry and there were reports of thunderstorms all day. But the path is pretty shaded. There were to stops for water and I got a cup at each at every stop. I think that was my key to success. I didn’t eat anything partially because I didn’t want to stop.

They weigh you and if you lose too much weight, they make you stop. My first hope was that this might happen. Can you imagine a better win-win situation? You get to stop and you’ve lost weight! (Going by my scale I lost just over a pound from Saturday to Sunday. Probably bad math to have this be my weight loss plan.) Also I thought they might call the race if it poured ran or saw lightning.  We got caught in huge burst of rain and lightning. But it cleared up before we really had a chance to quit.

One of the volunteers noted on my last lap that I looked exactly as I did the first lap, which was true. Except due to weather my hair was curlier. Walking is the best because it doesn’t beat you up. The runners were amazing to see. But then they were very sweaty and then there were painfully stretching and then some were laying flat out. God love those real athletes, but walking is where it’s at!

Kallie walked a few of the last laps with me, which was a huge help. Really though I wasn’t super hurting. The last part of the race they have us on a smaller track. And it was nearly dark and the fast runner are trying to eke out every last mile they can. While some of us turtles wonder what the heck we’re doing. Remember Vacation, “look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.” That’s what it felt like – and there was no way to get off at that pint. Luckily that was only for 10 minutes and then I was done. And gotta admit it, I was proud of myself.

And an hour later I was at the Icehouse watching Happy Apple!

Help Monica and Ann Eat with the Pioneer Press at the Minnesota State Fair by Ann Treacy
August 8, 2021, 11:44 pm
Filed under: St Paul

The Minnesota State Fair is having a contest to win a trip to the Fair with Eat editor Jess Fleming as she samples her way through the 2021 new foods. I think Monica and I are the perfect walking companions to offer our opinion on the best the fair has to offer!

First, we are the best walkers for touring the Twin Cities. Last year, we walked a whole marathon in a day. Two years ago, we led a nighttime walk with Governor Walz and Lt Governor Flanagan to meet people experiencing homelessness. Often we grab our pickers and pick up trash walk on the shores of the Mississippi at Wita Tanka and folks seem to enjoy our #whatIsawonmywalk posts.

Second, we are huge State Fair fans. When my daughters were little, I started a tradition of creating a scavenger hunt each year for the Fair. That morphed into a big Treacy Family tradition of three generations wearing matching shirts and competing with the annual scavenger hunt. Last fall, Monica and I lit up the State Fair with the Love Vote Rise message.

We’re brave, we’re opinionated and like a diversity of food! And we’ve been walking all over the Twin Cities building up an appetite.

So how can you help? It seems like part of what the Pioneer Press would like to see in a contest winner is someone (or people) with a little social media muscle. And between now and the contest deadline, we will be posting periodic messages about how awesome we would be at the Fair. On Twitter and Instagram we’ll use the tag: #getustothemnstatefair and/or you look for posts on Facebook (from me or Monica). If you wouldn’t mind taking a second to like or comment on a random post, it might help!

Last day in New Orleans: a ghostly good time! by Ann Treacy
June 25, 2021, 4:04 pm
Filed under: New Orleans

I’m always slow getting the last vacation post online – especially if the vacation ends with a bumpy flight home. The amazing thing about our time in New Orleans was the little rain we saw. Given that there were predicting a tropical storm a few days earlier – we got lucky. We spent the day walking. The girls like to shop and see voodoo museums. I’m happy to just walk. So that’s what we did with most of the day.

We did a walking ghost tour at night. The tour guide was very good – very enthusiastic and she knew so much. I should make the girls type up the stories for me; they remember them so much better than I do. I know it was our second time hearing some of the stories and still I barely remember. New Orleans is/was very Catholic. It’s interesting to hear how often that’s a factor. The church has so many rule and then so many rules to get around the original rules but mostly designed to keep comfortable people comfortable and keep other people keeping them comfortable by basing laws on race, color, gender and religion. We heard stories of immigrants working as domestic help being tortured mercilessly and a woman being dying naked and cold to convince her boyfriend to marry her. (He got drunk and forgot that she was out on the roof proving her point.) So many sad stories in a town where the live between living and dead seems so blurred.

New Orleans Day One: Familiar places, Brazilian food, Frenchmen Street and people on the streets by Ann Treacy
June 23, 2021, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Louisiana, New Orleans

We are back. The girls love New Orleans. I love any walking city. Kate is very happy with the vegan options. The girls took me to a lovely Cuban-Brazilian restaurant last night and it was very tasty. We have a fun lunch at the French Market.

We are all happy with the people watching and music everywhere. We are staying in a really nice place near the French Quarter. Also apparently conveniently near to Bourbon Street, since the girls seems happy to walk by in any time day or night.

We have popped into shops and voodoo places and today we might do some tours but honestly the girls regale me with what they remember from past tours as we walk places. I feel like they could be the guides at this point.

Kate, Lily and I walked down Bourbon late at night to Frenchmen Street to bars that are more music than party-focused. We saw some awesome music, as you can see the in the videos below. I snuck a video of the girls and talked them into letting me post it on the promise that they would be happy to see it in 10 years time. And they will!

While we love New Orleans,  it’s hard to say anything without a nod to the huge number of people experiencing homelessness. Lots of people sleeping outside. I saw a young woman asleep in a doorway holding a mean looking dog last night. Many folks will know that I’m terrified of dogs and subsequently don’t like them much – but it seemed like a solid move to get a dog if you’re sleeping on Royal Street. There’s almost a romanticism of young people living on the streets. There’s clearly a community among people. Even from a distance you can see camaraderie and concern for each other. That romanticism does not age well. I noticed a couple of old men, on benches, shoeless with feet that were painful to see from a distance. They were altered – maybe drugs, maybe mental health, likely a combination of both. Makes me wonder where that tipping point is. What is the Ven Diagram of substance, mental health, having fun and finding yourself in pain and on the streets. And the better question, how can we support people into healthier transitions for the long term?

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