Holiday Magic at the Desert Botanical Garden

……Light turns the ordinary into the magical ~ Trent Parke

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Last night, we spent the evening wandering the Desert Botanical Garden’s, “Las Noches de las Luminarias,” in Phoenix.  The paths and trees were lined through out the garden with festive lights, giving a magical holiday feel to the desert southwest.

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To add to the fun, sculptures from Japanese artist, Jun Kaneko are on display amid the lights and thorny plant life. This colorful, large-scale form is one of six heads featured by this unusual artist.

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Even the saguaro cactus, symbol of the desert southwest, were illuminating the holiday spirit.

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Another piece by Jun Kaneko called a Dango. The sculptures will be on display at the garden until May 13. Here’s a link if you’re interested in his work:   http://www.junkaneko.com/

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This is how we do Christmas in the desert! We may not have snow, but with a temperature drop and a northerly wind, scarves and gloves were adorned by all.

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What an imagination! Called the six Tanuki, this group of whimsical raccoon-dogs hang out in the gardens Lewis Desert Portal section and by the looks on their faces, wondering how on earth they got there.

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The odd Boojum tree. Although it may look like an evergreen, it’s all thorns instead of leaves or needles. You wouldn’t have to worry about your cats messing with it. Ouch!

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There were many talented entertainers during the evening ~ from Folklorico dancers to musical acts performing Bluegrass, Classical, and Blues style holiday tunes. This group treated us to a soulful rendition of Georgia on My Mind.

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I called this piece, “the twilight zone.” The spirals remind me of the background to the infamous TV show. I’m not an art connoisseur, but these sculptures sure brought a smile to my face and made for interesting discussions throughout the evening.  And isn’t that what art is all about?

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Las Noches de las Luminarias (the night of the luminaries) runs until December 30 at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona. With glowing paths, hand lit luminary bags, twinkle lights in trees and some really wonderful entertainers, if you’re in the area, I recommend  checking it out.

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With the season upon us, I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and may you have a wonderful New Year filled with many adventures and interesting places to wander.

Sandra

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Exploring Pilot Rock Trail

Serendipity ~ finding something good without looking for it

Last week while hiking in SARA Park, I chatted with a Minnesota snow bird about another trail in the area. Based on Minnesota Mans instructions, I set out Wednesday to hike and explore the 7-mile round trip to Pilot Rock.

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Everyday starts with a sunrise, but it’s what we do before it sets that matters ~ K. McGraw

The sun rises late in Arizona, 7 a.m. actually, but the day is mine and as a slow-moving wanderer, I’ll need the hours to come full circle.  With plenty of water, snacks, and sandwiches in my pack, I’m good to go.

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If you come to a fork in the road, take it ~ Yogi Berra

Within SARA Park, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has numerous side trails, including paths for off-road bicyclists.  I am so grateful for the trail markers pointing the way, because without written instructions, my memory rarely serves me well.

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From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere ~ Dr. Seuss

I happened to wander off path and discovered  this circular pattern on the desert ground ~  in the middle of nowhere. I believe it’s water-created, but sometimes funny things just can’t be explained.

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Time flows away like the water in a river ~ Confucius

I’m hoping the sight of water means I’m getting closer! Pilot Rock was once used by steamboat pilots for navigation on the Colorado River.  At the end of the trail, there’s a mini lighthouse and BLM site that serves modern-day boaters.

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A cache of water for a thirsty desert traveler.

I took the signs word for it that there were water bottles below ground. With all the paths out here and the lack of signage, it is very easy to get misdirected. The good thing is most trails intersect; you just don’t want to run out of water with the extra walking.

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I want to live, I want to give, I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold ~ Neil Young

Minnesota Man mentioned an abandoned mine; a good sign that I’m going the right way.  The Arizona desert is full of old mines, and for safety’s sake, this one has been filled in.

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What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us ~ Henry David Thoreau

Resting above the mine is an old metal chute, left behind by a previous prospector. I can’t imagine working in the middle of nowhere, exposed to extreme temperatures. It takes a certain type of person to be a prospector in the desert.

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Wisdom from a rock ~ never take your life for granite :0)

I’m finding all sorts of interesting things during today’s journey.  As I went to take a step, the layout of the layers of sediment in this rock caught my attention. My niece saw a wolf in the pattern, and I see an alligator. I can only imagine the age of this rock.

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It’s better to burn out, then to fade away ~ Neil Young

Decisions, decisions ~ up and over a ridge or down the wash? I chose the easy wash walk and came upon what I think is an old oil can, bleached by the sun and tumbled by the dirt and stones. I’m sure stumbling across some interesting things today.

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When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say why me, say try me ~ Anonymous

You’ve got to be tough to survive in the desert. I did not notice the spine-laden camouflage on this prickly bouquet until getting up close and personal. Can you see the “teeth” in the flowers opening? I can almost hear them jeering, “just try me.”

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A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it ~ Ray Davis

Are we there yet, are we there yet? I can see the river, just not a clear path to get there. In the desert, sometimes choosing the easy path ends up being the inaccessible (but interesting) path.

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Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost ~ Erol Ozam

Although my attempt to find Pilot Rock was unsuccessful, in the end I was rewarded with a view of a hidden cove with rippling water and a graceful natural arch.

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Sometimes the best paths we take are wrong turns ~ Jay Long

With dwindling water and tired feet, I decided to head back to the car and head home. I’m determined to return next week and find Pilot Rock, this time with written directions and a trail map.

Although I got off-track today, my detour yielded unexpected discoveries. After coming across some pretty cool stuff, I think that today, my best path was a wrong turn.

The Historic Railroad Trail ~ Lake Mead, Nevada

We are not makers of history. We are made by history ~ Martin Luther King

In 1930, 30-miles of railroad track was built connecting Boulder City, NV to the outskirts of Hoover Dam.  In the 80’s, the tunnels and pathway were nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and in 2015 it was designated as a National Historic Trail.

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Pair of boots and a sack of clothes…..free and easy down the road I go ~ Dierks Bentley

Keeping with my desire to “experience” my birthday, I was treated to dinner and a nights stay at the Hoover Dam Lodge. Of course my real motivation was an early morning stroll on the historic railroad trail,  which was accessible below our hotel.

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Make your heart like a lake, with a calm, still surface, and great depths of kindness ~ Lao Tzu

I set out early, hoping to complete the 7.4 mile round trip walk before check out time. The trail is easy with a beautiful view of Lake Mead. Don’t be discourage about the mileage; with cool October temperatures and a flat trail, it’s do-able.

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Let my steps stay on your tracks so my feet will not stumble ~ Psalms  17:5

There are five tunnels along the trail, approximately 300 ft. in length and 25 ft in diameter. The trails signage notes that they can be home to bats, but I was spared a visit.

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Every exit is an entrance somewhere else. ~ Anonymous

Here’s a clearer inside view of one of the tunnels; it was so cool to walk through them and experience this bit of history.

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Happiness is a simple walk along a lake ~ Anonymous

My goal was to make it to the dam, but after walking for 3.5 miles, I discovered the trail lead to a parking spot. Not once, from the trail or the highway, did I get a glimpse of the Hoover Dam.

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Life is a journey worth traveling ~ Anonymous

With an 11:00 a.m. check out, this was end of the road for me. Don’t believe the signs that say “your almost there” ~ you’re almost to the visitor parking lot, not the dam.

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Don’t believe everything you read!

If you’re interested in touring the Hoover Dam, I suggest you drive your car to the facility. Well, it looks like if I want to explore Hoover Dam in depth, I will need to return. With time on my side and the comfortable fall weather, I’m up for a return trip.

 

 

 

 

Drive all Night

“well I, swear I’ll drive all night again, just to buy you some shoes…” ~ Bruce Springsteen

I grew up in the era of Springsteen, but I don’t remember ever hearing this song. It’s melody and mood caught my attention this morning as I was driving home from my early morning walk. Although it’s more of a love song, I took a little different take on it.

The line about shoes made me laugh, because living in a small town, there’s not many choices for much of anything, hiking shoes included. I’m in need of a good pair of hiking shoes/boots and the closest REI is in Henderson, Nevada, two hours away.

A few month’s ago, I  took a chance and purchased a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator’s online.  Big mistake for a large-footed woman, who should really be fitted in person. My second oversight was not to read the return policy before testing the boots outdoors. Wearing the boots outside, even once, rendered them used and non-returnable. Darn.

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If anyone is interested in a pair of women’s, size 11, Moab Ventilator’s, gently worn once, let me know.  You can have them for free, but will need to pay for the shipping costs.  If you normally wear a 10 or 10.5 shoe, they should fit.

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As for me, it looks like I may have to drive all night, or at least a few hundred miles, just to buy me some shoes. Sigh….

 

 

Cathedrals of Time ~ Sunset Crater & Wupatki Nat.l Monuments, Arizona

“Ruins are the cathedrals of time” ~ Marty Rubin

Winding up our summer travels with the grandson, we set out for one last hurrah to Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument before returning him to his Mama in California.  We originally planned to RV in Sedona, but 25 miles out, our A/C failed. Naturally, with triple-digit weather, we returned home and made plans to visit Flagstaff.

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Advice from a volcano and a Grandma: go with the flow and have a blast!

 

Sunset Crater Volcano was decreed a National Monument in 1930 by President Hoover after a Hollywood film company planned to detonate explosives on it exterior for a movie. Thank goodness for public outcry and a concerned president for saving this beautiful, historical and interesting land.

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Each time a volcano erupts, life begins anew ~ NPS

Sunset Crater is located just outside of Flagstaff and is the youngest in a string of volcanoes related to the nearby San Francisco Peaks.  I’ve passed the exit for this monument many times during my I-40 travel and never thought to stop and visit.  

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Exploring the 1-mile Lava Flow trail

Due to severe erosion from past volcano-climbing visitors, you can no longer climb to the top of Sunset crater, but you can climb the nearby Lenox Crater and Doney Mountain cinder cones. We considered the 1-mile Lenox Crater trail, but with extreme humidity and a steep ascent, we opted to explore the 1-mile Lava Flow Trail instead.

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The grandson checking out a hornito, or spatter cone alongside the trail.

Spatter cones are one of the main types of volcanic type landforms and are made from lava that was ejected from a vent [worldlandforms.com]. Don’t I sound scientific, ha, ha! We just thought it was cool.

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“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek” ~ Joseph Campbell

Oh, darn, access denied! At one time this ice cave could be visited, but it closed after a partial collapse of the lava tube. I’m discovering Sunset Crater National Monument is quite interesting and educational.

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“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure” ~ Rumi

Keep driving the 35-mile dual park loop and you will reach Wupatki National Monument. Wupatki is abundant with ancient dwellings dating back to the 1100s, including the above Wukoki Pueblo.

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“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens” ~ Carl Jung

Surprisingly, you are allowed to walk upon the ruins. The short door ways are more for protection and don’t depict the occupants height.  For me personally, these are the largest and most well-preserved relics that I’ve ever visited. I’m so impressed with this park!

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“A storm was coming, but that’s not what she felt. It was adventure on the wind and it shivered down her spine.” ~ Atticus

The day turned stormy and humid; but the thunder and lightning did not deter us from continuing our travels. While the hubby opted to stay in the car, the grandson and I had no qualms about getting wet or dodging the lightening ~ it was an adventure on the wind.

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Wupatki Pueblo

The park was named after this antiquity, the Wupatki Pueblo. Thought to have housed over 100 people, these remains are one of the larger villages dotting the parks massive landscape. The Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo are descendants of the original dwellers.

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“Modesty is the citadel of beauty” ~ Demades

Atop the Citadel Pueblo. The lightening was getting a little too close, so the grandson headed back to the car. If you take the time to look,  you can see an array of pueblos in the distance from the Citadel.

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The landscape in the park is so diverse; we walked through pine trees at Sunset Crater, then desert at Wupatki.  In the distance are San Francisco Peaks, which are on my must explore list.

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Regrettably, I ran out of battery prior to arriving at the Lomaki Pueblo and left my spare at home.  Lomaki has a .5-mile walking path that leads to multiple dwellings sitting above a dry box canyon. It’s desolate, but I really got a feeling of community here.

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I truly underestimated the wow-factor of Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monument.  Many times we bypass those little brown signs on the side of the freeway directing us to the lesser-known monuments or historical places of interest for the more renowned national parks. If you’re ever in the Flagstaff, AZ area, stop and check out these monuments, it is worth your time.

Something of Marvelous…….

In all things of nature there is something of marvelous ~ Aristotle

A road trip wouldn’t be complete without a few snapshots of the countryside. I’m more of a passenger, than a driver and I’m always on the look out to capture mother nature’s “something marvelous.” Hope you enjoy the photos.

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The guard tower at Manzanar  WWII Relocation Center

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Some colorful hills off a scenic byway

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Tufa’s from afar ~ Mono Lake

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The eerie waters of Mono Lake, Highway 395

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Somewhere on Hwy 395 near Bridgeport, CA

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Mt. Shasta from the back roads, Highway 89

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California’s golden hills, Interstate-5

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Coming home to monsoon skies

 

The Best Things in Life…….

The bests things in life are the people we love, the places we’ve been, and the memories we’ve made along the way ~ Anonymous

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“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.” ~ John Muir

As a kid, I had so much fun spending time outdoors with my family – traveling, camping, and hiking. I hope my grandson will look back on this time with fondness and remember hearing the waterfall sing.

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Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experiences. ~ Paulo Coelho

Spending the day at the Jackson County Fair in Central Point, OR. The kids loved holding the gator……my daughter looks a little worried. My brave babies.

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“Rivers know this:  There is no hurry. We shall get there some day” ~ A.A. Milne

We were on our way to the coast and stopped for lunch and a dip in the Smith River at Jedediah Smith State Park. Kids are like rivers….they’re in no hurry.

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Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly ~ Van Morrison

Letting their spirits fly……dodging the waves in Brookings, Oregon. Remember when kids didn’t need anything but nature and a few friends to have the best time? Good times.

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When was the last time you did something for the first time?

My youngest grandson experiencing the ocean for the first time ~ he was so fascinated with chasing the waves and playing in the sand. In nature, life can be so sweet and simple.

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“It’s a party. It’s a celebration of another year of life..” ~ Kim Etheredge

Celebrating my youngest grandsons 3rd birthday with Mama, Big Sister, and cousins. That blonde hair and baby blues sure run in the family. Who needs Chuck E. Cheese when you can spend the day at the park with family.

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“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard….” ~ Winnie-the-Pooh 

It had been two and a half years since I saw my girl and grand-kids; I’m so grateful to have the means to spend time with them. Although, I love exploring nature and experiencing the beauty of the outdoors….. nothing can take the place of spending time with my family. It was hard to say goodbye.

Goodbyes are not forever ~ Goodbyes are not the end ~ They simply mean I’ll miss you ~ Until we meet again ~ Anonymous