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Road Trip – Santa Fe, Colorado Springs and North Platte by Ann Treacy
April 2, 2018, 3:08 am
Filed under: Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska

Today we traveled for 12 hours. We went from Santa Fe to North Platte (600 miles) and a few stops. The stops started in Santa Fe. We checked out Canyon Road – a haven for top art galleries. Of course it’s Easter and it was 7:30 in the morning so none of them were open – but the area is covered in statues and other works for art.

Then we had a quick visit to the Cross of the Martyrs at the top of the Fort Marcy Park. It is a monument dedicated to the Franciscans killed in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. It was sort of the perfect thing to do Easter morning. Also it gave us a glimpse of Santa Fe. It was fun to see how different the houses are. Apparently the style is called pueblo style – they are low-slung, earth-colored buildings made of adobe bricks, which consist of a mixture of sun-dried earth and straw.  They are a little reminiscent of Whoville.

Our next stop was Colorado Springs. We stopped to see the Garden of the Gods – huge rock formations at the base of Pike’s Peak. We stopped at the visitor center, which had a great view of the peak. We saw some animals, much like we might run into if we were hanging in the wild looking for animals and then we drove around to see some of the rock formation – like the balancing rock. It was pretty cool.

Finally we landed in North Platte, Nebraska. North Platte is a rail road town and home to a home of Buffalo Bill Cody. We won’t see much of the town – but we had a nice dinner and the hotel feels pretty new and serves cookies. So it’s a winner. Oh and the sunset was very pretty. Gorgeous at Arizona is the sunsets there happen so quickly. It was nice to be back in the land of the long-lasting sunset – even if it means snow and cold.



Road Trip – Sedona to New Mexico by Ann Treacy
April 1, 2018, 4:43 am
Filed under: Arizona, New Mexico

After a few super fun days in Phoenix, we’re making our way home. This is when we’re most thankful for everything digital because we put in some long hours – especially grandpa, the driver. But we’ve had some fun along with the long drive.

We started in Sedona and everyone was a little surprised that I insisted that we go to the Chapel on the Hill there – until we got there. It’s awesome. It’s tucked into the red rock mountains. It’s the perfect place to stop and check out the scenery. Also the crucifix in the chapel is amazing. And of course there’s some family lore related to the candles in the chapel – but you have to go there to hear the story.

We had a super quick stop in Rock Creek Overlook between Sedona and Flagstaff. It’s an incredible view of the Oak Creek Canyon.

We also made a stop in Winslow, Arizona – such a fine site to see.

We had dinner in Albuquerque. We saw the area near the community college but I’d be hard pressed to say that I know Albequerque. With the university and various labs it does seem like a haven of techno-smart people in the middle of the desert. It is a gorgeous drive and fun to see the mountains all around. Driving it feels like you’re on the top of a plateau – so while it’s flat it feels high. Maybe because my ears were popping the whole time!



Hiking in Arizona – saguaros, chollas and prickly pears by Ann Treacy
March 30, 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Arizona

We’re not gone yet – but tomorrow we start the road trip home, I thought I’d get a jump on the archive of the trip. We’ve had a great time. First – it’s snowing back home and I’m sitting in an air-conditioned house with 90 degrees outside.

Second – we got in a lot of hiking. Aine, Grandpa and I made two trips to Tonto National Forest; both times to the Sears Kay Ruins, which are a pretty easy but high walk to the peak of a mountain. The ruins include a village, homes and fortification of Hohokam – an ancient Native American Tribe, who “may be” ancestors of the Pima Tribe.

The location is beautiful but it’s amazing to think that people would choose to land here – high up in the mountains with limited access to water. The village isn’t built on the side of a cliff as we were used to seeing in Ireland but it’s slippery enough. You can definitely see the where the rooms would be in the building of the ruins. It’s pretty cool to see. We also like see the rock formations that look like a strong wind would take them down. (Though none toppled while we were looking.)

On one visit we made a detour to see Lake Bartlett – a reservoir for much of the water used in the area. Pretty and huge.

Aine and I spent about 30 minutes climbing Piestewa Peak. It’s a much more difficult climb, many more people and it was a super-hot afternoon. I can’t tell you what the top of that peak looks like. I’m sure it’s not as nice as the Sear-Kay Ruin.

We three also went to the Botanical Gardens. The big highlight was the butterfly pavilion – and some of the art. It also gave us a quick 101 on cacti. We learned about saguaros, chollas and prickly pears. I think my favorite part of visiting Arizona is the fact that you’d never mistake a drive through Minnesota’s Superior National Forest with a drive through Tonto National Forest.



Musical Instrument Museum – country to country history of music in Phoenix by Ann Treacy
March 30, 2018, 12:41 am
Filed under: Arizona

Aine and I are in Phoenix visiting Grandpa. I’ll do a post on our visit and hiking and saguaros and maybe Aine’s steak, lobster and caviar dinner – but the visit to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) seemed worth its own post.

First – it’s huge. When you check in, they give you headphones. As you walk through the galleries, the headphones pick up the music being played at each station of the exhibit. The theme is musical instruments throughout the ages. The rooms are broken up by continent, then mostly by countries. There are 200 stations.

The docent suggested we start with Africa since so much music stems from there. Then follow the trail – which is shaped like a j. (I assume he meant the letter – but I’m not that great at shapes.) Each station includes a number of instruments, maybe some costumes, masks or other regalia and a video that includes music from the featured area. I am tempted to post the 100 or so pictures I took. But I will keep it to my very favorites.

It’s kind of amazing to see types of instruments that you find everywhere – drums for example. Or scrapers, which were my favorites. Instruments where you just scrap one things against the other – be it fork across a cheese grater or Cheshire cat with the bamboo mohawk. I loved the bowed lutes, which I feel I don’t see around now. The closest thing I can think of is Paul Metzger playing banjo with a bow. There are also lots of variations on bagpipes – the creepiest, yet coolest, was the one made from calf skin. You can pick is out below – it looks just like it sounds.

I decided that if ankle rattles count as musical instruments that maybe I could learn to play or I’d maybe try a belt rattle – but maybe not the one made of goat hooves.

After the geographic tour (and partially in the US rooms) there are a number of famous people instruments. Highlights include – guitar and suit from Johnny Cash, bodhran signed by the Chieftains, Glen Campbell’s suit and guitar, Ravi Shankar’s sitar and Tito Puente’s drums (timbales).

I thought we’d be lucky to get two hours in at the museum – we went for almost three and then came back for a while after lunch!



Grand Canyon & Zion National Park: Two good bucket list additions by Ann Treacy
November 18, 2016, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Arizona, Utah

I had never been anywhere near the Grand Canyon – well I guess I’d been to Sedona but that’s not really very close. So we went and had a great time.

We flew to Phoenix and drove from there. We stopped in Sedona for lunch and to see the Church on the Rock. It is kind of amazing. What I remember most about the church is that you can pay to light a candle – like most churches. But it turns out that they over sell. I heard a few people complain that they paid their money and then no available candles. They weren’t problem solvers – unlike my mom who had that same issue 15 years ago.

We spent two nights at the Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah – otherwise known as Little Hollywood. It is the area where they have filmed Westerns for decades and the Parry Lodge is where the Hollywood hot list stays. OK, stayed. It’s a nice place – set up like a motel but with a swimming pool, resort like restaurant and an out building to show movies. It feels like it was once pretty no-nonsense swanky. Bacon was definitely star quality!

In Utah we went hiking at the Zion National Park. It is gorgeous. They have a nice setup where you park and they drive you to various stops throughout the park. And it’s kind of crazy the difference in temperature based on access to the sun and/or water.

We were able to climb up some of the cliffs and down to the river. In retrospect (after seeing the Grand Canyon) the park seems pretty accessible and close. I’d go back there and other parks in the area in a heartbeat.

But last week we had bigger Canyons to see. En route we stopped by the Navajo Bridge, which his 435 feet about the Colorado River AND I walked over it. It’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s not a rope bridge or anything. It used to be *the* bridge. And we stopped by a place called Cliffdwellers, which had a few stone-made houses structures. It was a bonus to walk around and find little chunks of quartz.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon just before sunset. We were able to start at the welcome center, which is a tower built but Mary Colter, who had previously been a school teacher in St Paul. Her work is very good; she draws from local cultures to create something that seems pretty authentic.

Our first night we saw a baby deer with its mama. The deer are not afraid of people! But the baby had been separating and we could hear it whimper. I have never heard a deer make noise before. We ran into it a few times on the trip.

The Grand Canyon is really breathtakingly awesome. It’s just so huge. And gorgeous with the layers of red, deeper red, streaks of black and sandstone color. Although I would never want to take kids there. It’s just too high. I nearly had a heart attack watching an adult who wanted to stand out on the edge.

We stayed on the South Rim, since the North Rim was really closed for the season. What’s really cool is that we stayed in the park, a short walk from the edge of the Canyon. There are a couple of lodging options in that area. The main lodge was built in an upscale European lodge style. Lots of dark wood and dead animals on the walls. There’s an upscale restaurant and we enjoyed a very nice, very old school dinner there.

We watched the sunset and the sunrise. We walked to Hermit’s Rest and Powell’s Point and lots of other places in the Canyon I didn’t know about before. Mostly I’ll let the pictures speak for them selves. It was interesting to see the impact of the sun on the colors. And to see the layers of the Canyon – it felt like we should be able to count the layers like counting the rings of a tree to figured out the age.

We didn’t climb down the Canyon – mostly around, which suited me since I don’t want to stand very close to the edge. That being said I got a lot closer to the edge than many people might guess.

For better or worse we were gone Election night. We thought we’d check in at some point, confirm what everyone was predicting and move on. But like everyone that wasn’t the case. We found a dive bar just over the border in Arizona. (Home to the longest continuous bar in fact!) Our only saving grace is that they refused to discuss the Election.




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