Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Walking Tour of Broadway

Travel There – Just a Couple of Texas Girls in the Big City

As soon as we got our stuff stowed away we hit the streets of NYC. In just a few steps we figured out the Sheraton New York Times Square is the perfect place to stay. Don’t let them put you in the Four Points by Sheraton Times Square, that’s a whole ‘nother place and I am so glad a fought the battle to get where we wanted to be. We were right in the middle of everything without being in the insanity of Broadway itself.

Broadway, just a few blocks away, was insane and I am glad we had a buffer zone. They smoke pot everywhere in NYC, but on Broadway they smoke it a lot and they want to sell it to you. They also want to sell you fake designer bags. I could have done away with that whole vibe, but you just have to take New York City as it comes at you.

You also get mobs of people all the time. Later in the trip we’d be there on a weekend evening and we would really understand exactly how crazy it could get, but for our first day in the city, it was crazy enough.

We hadn’t scheduled anything specific for our day of arrival, because air travel is so unreliable these days. I didn’t want to have tickets riding on me getting there on time and we’re still stuck in the air somewhere. So the plan was to stroll Broadway and see what we could see…or eat.

Junior’s Cheesecake

Our first stop on our tour of Broadway was one of the best of the trip and we repeated it several times. I had read in my research that THE place to have authentic New York Cheesecake was Junior’s. I cannot speak to the authenticity, but oh my goodness, can I ever speak to how delicious it was. We both love cheesecake, but if possible we love Junior’s Cheesecake more than any other we’ve ever had. Deb liked it best topped with various fruits. I had mine plain, but there was nothing plain about it.

Our Key to the City

Broadway, Junior’s and a MetroCard. We were knocking it out of the park in the first few hours we were there. This was not Deb’s first NYC rodeo, so we decided we’d be brave and use the subway system. She had the app and I had the maps.

On our stroll down Broadway we dipped into the subway and purchased a MetroCard, loading it up with rides for the next week. We weren’t ready to use it, but we’d be getting up early the next morning to head to the Statue of Liberty, so we wanted to be ready!

The Biggest Department Store in the World

Confession, I am not a big fan of Macy’s. Well, to tell the truth, I’m not a big fan of department stores, with perhaps the exception of Neiman’s and Nordstrom’s – but I don’t even shop there. I just eat and browse. I am a bargain hunter, so most of my purchases actually occur at one of the stores at the outlet mall.

However, this is New York, the home of Macy’s, so I wanted to be able to say I shopped there. We’d timed our trip to attend a christening, so I planned on buying my gift at the famous store. It is big, ridiculously big, but just like the closest one at Firewheel Town Center, they are short-handed and you are going to have to help yourself.

We found the baby department and I found a darling pink cotton knit sweater with matching socks in the Ralph Lauren section. They were embroidered with the familiar logo in baby blue. They do not, however, have gift wrapping, so I ended up buying a gift bag and card a few stories up in the stationary department.

Deb and I went all the way to the top and rode all the way down on the escalators. Towards the top, they still had the old original wooden escalators. That was something to write home about.

Back Up Broadway

Our goal was Greeley Square and we made it. We tucked over to the Empire State Building just to say I’d been there. We saw Herald Square, Times Square and Duffy Square. We were ticking off the sites!

The evening had set in, but we were still full of cheesecake and the line at the Stardust Cafe was intimidating. So, we went back to the Sheraton, found the bar and celebrated our first day in New York at Happy Hour.

Here’s a few photos from our day. Come back next week and we’ll visit the Stardust Cafe.

Accommodations, Architecture, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Friends Make Everything Better!

Travel There – Our Last Night in Vegas

We are so fortunate in our friends. I can’t even imagine life without the wonderful people who populate our days. The Busches are people we don’t see often enough, but they couldn’t be any dearer to us. When we found out Ludger would be arriving in Vegas, just as we were rounding out our visit, we immediately made plans to see him.

Ludger goes to Las Vegas on a fairly regular basis, but not for fun. He’s there to work and this trip was no different. But he does know where to stay. I didn’t think much about it when he said the Mandalay Bay would be his hotel, but when we got there and started looking around, we wished we’d thought to ask his opinion about where to stay!

From Paris to Myanmar

We left our tacky fake Paris, crossed the street to the Bellagio’s Renaissance splendor and rode the Deuce to the Mandalay Bay stop. Then I had no idea it was named after a Myanmar location, but the moment I entered the walled-in gardens, I knew I was someplace special.

In a place where almost everything is gaudy and much too far over the top, Mandalay Bay exudes understated elegance. If I ever go back, that’s where I’m staying. Even the casino is quieter and less hectic than the rest of the Strip.

Rhythms & Riffs

Our first stop was, of course, the M-Life desk. I had earned My Vegas Slots awards for both drinks and dinner. For drinks, Bill and I enjoyed the Rhythm & Riffs bar, where my first round was complimentary. That was when we started getting texts from Ludger that he’d be running late. Unfortunately, he missed the entire drinks portion of the evening, because sitting there in the lobby, enjoying a drink and watching the people go by was very pleasant.

Lupo by Wolfgang Puck

The time for our dinner reservation arrived and Ludger assured us he was on his way, so we went ahead and were seated at the restaurant. The understated, quiet part of the Mandalay Bay hotel did not enhance the dining experience. With a few lonely exceptions, we had not only the restaurant to ourselves, but that entire wing of the hotel, which should have been full of patrons for a variety of restaurants.

The total absence of patrons was a shame. I’d been eating and visiting all over the Strip for the last few days and nothing we’d seen or eaten compared to the experience we had a Lupo’s, but we were virtually all alone while enjoying it.

Thankfully, we had some of the best company we could have hoped for, sitting at our own table. We were able to relax and really chat about all the things happening in the Busche household – something we hadn’t been able to do when we saw him in Chicago in July. And we were able to do it while having a remarkable meal.

Bill tells me the price was remarkable to, in spite of one entree having been for free. I think Bill was most surprised by the cost of the bottled water. I confess, I had no idea that asking for bottle water rather than still water would break the bank.

Back to Paris

All good things come to an end. Ludger had early morning appointments, as well as work he still needed to do, so we had to say farewell and head back to our own accommodations.

Outside the Mandalay Bay the streets were empty. Had we disappeared between Ludger and our hotel, no one would have had a clue what happened. We were almost as glad to see the Deuce as we’d been during our Fremont Street Experience. The bus stopped at Paris and our Las Vegas adventure was almost over.

Come back next week and help us get to the airport. We’ll be Texas bound!

Architecture, Decorative Arts, DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Real Estate Photography, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – TRAVEL THERE: WORK & PLAY OUR WAY

Busy Business Saturday

We woke up with a to do list. Shoot a home in McKinney, pick up photos for a memory keeping project and then go home and pack. Two out of three ain’t bad – am I right?

The shoot went well. It was an amazing house and we were doing everything standard real estate photography for the MLS, drone work and videography. It took a long time, but it went smoothly.

There was a little time to kill between the shoot and the pick up, but no place to kill it. The locations were just around the corner from one another, but nary a Starbucks or a McDonald’s in sight. We were both a bit peckish since it was past our lunchtime, but we were forced to go from one place to the other without so much as a tater tot.

It was a quick handoff. Once the boxes of photos and memorabilia were safely stowed away, we started looking for food. We’d about decided we’d just go home and eat our leftovers when a Sonic came into sight. We pull into a stall, only to be told nothing was working. The food gods were not on our side.

The leftovers were back in play, until a Jason’s came into view. A Rueben for Bill and a Light Loaded Potato for me. Time to head home to pack.

A Hitch in our Get Along

So, it’s a little before 4. I’m driving us home and I take our exit off the George. As I go up the ramp to take the split for I-30 E, I realize there is something very, very wrong. The ramp is backed up to the split and the eastbound traffic is backed up as far as the eye can see in both directions. Welcome to the Rockwall Bridge!

Two hours later we’re being directed off the bridge at the DalRock exit to join the rest of the traffic trying to sort itself out. As we made our way across the 66 bridge, Bill decided Wayz would find us a shortcut. I am not a fan of Wayz. I have my little ruts I drive in and I like them, but I’m too tired to argue when he tells me to turn on Lakeshore. We made a few more turns and suddenly I am faced with the prospect of turning onto 205 without a light. I put ‘er in park and told Bill it was his turn.

It’s 6:30 now. I have a load of texts to answer and photos to send to the editor, but I’m not even home yet. How exactly am I supposed to pack for our trip? The short answer is that I wasn’t.

The hitch in our get along stayed with us through the next morning. My phone was blowing up. A lot had to do with our accommodations in Galveston, but there were also new appointments to book, which is not usually the case on a Sunday morning. It’s a bit difficult to pack when your phone is going off every 3 minutes.

Long story short, it was noon before we got away from the house. We were hoping to get away earlier, because Bill wanted to get some of the shots out of the way for the rental property we’d be shooting. Some of the interiors for instance, where we’d be spending our time or perhaps the twilight shots. But of course, that’s not how it turned out.

Going to Galveston

This trip had its inception at a Polka Dot meeting back in the summer. A friend with a short term rental in Galveston was making some changes to her property and wished Bill would shoot it, because no one down there had his eye. I told her if she’d put us up at her place, we’d be happy to shoot it for her. She said it would probably be September and that was cool.

September passed and so did October. By November it had fallen off our radar completely. So, when she texted me on November 29th letting me know the property was ready, we were taken by surprise. While December is traditionally a slow month for real estate photography, there is a lot on our calendar for the holiday. Also, we needed good weather, for a good shoot – especially since drone work was involved.

We checked the weather and our social calendar to discover December 4-6 would be the optimal dates for those two entities to cooperate. So we booked it. We just didn’t know they were going to close the Bridge down on December 3rd.

My weekend reports are usually a one day read, but I’m just getting started. Come back tomorrow and we’ll go to Galveston!

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Getting Into a Groove

Travel There – Caesar’s Forum and a Luxor Lunch

It’s hard to believe this guy is smiling at me. So far it’s been as if someone should have done more than give us a free trip to Vegas. They should have paid us for our time, trouble and trauma. Seriously! We’re starting our third day in Vegas and the most fun we’ve had so far was getting our id cards and tickets for public transportation.

We headed out to McDonald’s. I was dying for one of those famous breakfast buffets, but Bill just couldn’t face that much food so early in the morning. He was being very patient with this disaster of a vacation, so I wasn’t going to make him go anywhere he didn’t want to. We waited a bit for the Deuce, but decided to walk when it didn’t come immediately. It was too chilly just standing there.

Along the way we came to the Flamingo and decided to step inside and see the Wild Life Habitat. It was a pleasant little garden, but honestly, not worth a mention in the guidebooks. Then onto Mickey D’s. We were becoming regulars.

Fun at the Forum

I’ve got to be honest with you. Things had been so bad on this vacation I was regretting we’d won it. The day before, the Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian had not been very entertaining, so I felt a bit of trepidation about heading to the Forum, but what the heck else were we going to do with ourselves – gamble? We’d rather stand and throw our money in the Bellagio Fountain!

Though I can’t exactly tell you exactly why, we enjoyed the Forum a lot more than we did the Grand Canal. Perhaps it was because it was fairly quiet that morning and the Grand Canal was bustling. Maybe we like classic Roman architecture better than Renaissance Italian. Maybe I was finally feeling better. Maybe it was the softer lighting and higher ceilings of the Forum. I don’t know. We just had fun.

One of the things that really helped us enjoy the Forum was a marvelous curator at one of the art galleries. Bill asked her a few questions and suddenly he had a new best friend. We were there for a long, long time.

Then there was the big grandiose fountains in the Forum. The Venetian had fountains, too, but they more like waterfalls and the fountains in the Forum made you feel as if you actually were in one of those faraway places I love so much.

Of course, like all things since Covid, we were supposed to wear masks and the stores would only let in a certain amount of people at a time. So places like Versace and Louis Vuitton had a roped off area in front of the store with patrons waiting to get in. Without the ropes we might have strolled in, but we weren’t going to wait. No loss to them I guess, because I’ve been carrying the same old Coach bag for years now and will probably be buried with it!

The worst part of being there during Covid was that they’d changed the schedule for The Fall of Atlantis attraction – instead of hourly every day, it was only on certain days at certain times. Wednesday wasn’t one of them!

Buffet Lunch at Luxor

It was awful! That’s all you really need to know. Here’s a serving of beef brisket from the carving station. Yuck!!

So, I knew breakfast was your best bet and I also knew there were better choices than the Luxor. I shared my information with my traveling companion, but we had My Vegas Slots rewards at the Luxor and Bill was interested in seeing it.

Now I stayed at Luxor a number of years ago and it was a wonderful experience. I also enjoyed a couple of different buffets, one in the lobby and a bigger one downstairs – but that was pre-Covid.

The last buffet standing was the one downstairs and I had remembered it as a bright bustling place full of eager tourists, busy employees and delicious food. That was no longer the case. We were almost alone in the establishment. The employees were begrudgingly shoving food onto the buffet tables and the food was nothing to write home about, unless it was to complain.

I tried to make the best of it. We were going bogo – right? Only it really was awful and for Bill, the brisket was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He actually went and found a manager to complain to – who gave us a coupon for a free meal on our next visit. Are you kidding us? I think Bill had hoped for a refund, but we wouldn’t be coming back to this place EVER!!

It was time to take another Deuce bus to Paris and get ready for our really big evening! Jane and Bill are going to stay out late in Vegas. come back next week and stay up late with us.

Accommodations, Architecture, Attractions, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Aria & Lemongrass

Travel There – The Cool Kids

Given the opportunity to do this whole trip again, instead of suggesting we stay at Paris, I would have suggested one of the newer, cooler places, like Aria. Like Paris, it’s right in the middle of The Strip, but unlike Paris it has a hip, edgy feel. Had Paris had the romantic Montmartre vibe it had when visited before, I would have been happier, instead it had become a sort of warehouse for slot machines with little to no atmosphere whatsoever in the lobby or our room for that matter.

Aria, Vdara and other newer hotels were where the cool kids were staying, but I’ve got to tell you, even there, where Rolex watches and flashy diamonds were the moda, everybody was still so casual I wanted to scream. I get it if you don’t want to be required to wear haute couture gowns every time you walk out of the room, but I’d like it if you’d look like you were out of your room on purpose, instead of being caught out in your pajamas, lingerie or jeans you were about to give to Goodwill.

Even though Las Vegas ain’t what it used to be, I refused to succumb to the general atmosphere of uber-dressing-down. It was as if the worse you looked the more points you got. Keep your points. While I wore jeans during the day, at night I dressed up and I had more fun that way. I’ll be so glad when sloppy becomes so yesterday.

Going Through the M Life Motions

All we really had to do to get to Aria is cross the street. The signs took us through the Crystals Shopping Opportunity, which was OK with us, because we wanted to see everything. This was our first real encounter with a plethora of exclusive high end designer shops, but by the end of the trip, they didn’t feel quite so exclusive, because they are virtually everywhere you look in Vegas. However, the high end prices remained the same.

Once inside Aria we were as awestruck as the next guy. They have got some amazing architectural touches throughout the public areas. We walked around with our mouths opened as we searched around for the M Life desk. The Aria M-Life personnel were ever so much more accommodating than the surly bunch down at The Mirage. I was allowed to feel more like the smart traveler I thought I was, instead of being the cheapskate the other guys’ behavior suggested.

Lemongrass – The Hidden Restaurant

There used to be a comedy routine about “the booth in the back in the corner in the dark.” That might be a good way to describe Lemongrass, except it wasn’t dark. You had to wander around a bit to find it, but once you did, it was a very attractive space, perhaps a bit crowded, but otherwise quite nice. The waitresses were dressed in Asian-flavored uniforms, which matched their ethnicity. While the menu was big, it was somewhat limited in this American’s opinion.

Along with being required to make a reservation, you were instructed to inform them you were using an M-Life award. Then when you arrived, you were required to remind the hostess about your M-Life status. I really think they should just stamp something across your forehead. That might be less humiliating than some of the hurdles they throw up. Just think, some guy sits in an office somewhere and it’s his job to make using the My Vegas Slots award so inconvenient and humiliating that people won’t use them. Perhaps his title is Discourager in Chief.

I never know what to order in a Thai restaurant. People rave about Thai food and how spicy it is, but every time I go to one I end up with something resembling milk-toast. I did a little better this time, but in truth, it was more like Kung Pao chicken than the spicy dish I hoped for. I think Bill felt much the same way, but at least the bogo meals didn’t break the bank.

And Now for the Really Big Shew

For all my efforts to see and do everything, sometimes the best things are serendipitous. After our meal we wandered around the hotels in the area for a while longer and then headed back to our hotel. Suddenly, people were running across our path and weaving in between cars. The Bellagio Fountain show was just beginning and we got to enjoy every bit of it. We hadn’t planned it that way. It was just the way things worked out.

Except for our thwarted coffee break and the run in with the kiosk, we’d booked a pretty good first day in Vegas. We arranged for reduced fare transportation throughout our stay, gotten our M-Life cards and enjoyed My Vegas Slots awards for lunch, a drink and dinner. So far, so good.

Day two was not quite as successful. Come back next week and find out why.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

A Gastric Disappointment

Travel There – Chicago’s Millennial Park

The Bean

As I’ve mentioned before, Bill and I travel differently. I have my list and I want to check stuff off. Bill likes to meander. It’s not that I don’t like to meander. It’s just that I want to meander around something on my list.

At this point I wanted to meander over to Millennial Park and eat at Park Grill, but Bill just wanted to meander. He had no clue about where he was, what he was looking at or what was missing that might be more enjoyable. He just wanted to meander. So we did – for a while.

A Gastric Disappointment

One of my favorite memories from a previous visit to Chicago was lunch at the Park Grill in Millennium Park. Bill had been in a training class, so he had not joined me, but the memory of that lunch stuck with me. Yes, the burger had been good and the service attentive, but the real treat had been sitting in the middle of everything, watching it go by.

I’d done my homework and according to their Facebook page, Covid had closed down the Park Grill, but it was supposed to open just in time for me to share it with Bill. Not only was I getting hungry, but the meandering had not exactly offered up much in the way of entertainment. We finally turned towards my destination.

But wait, what’s this! I could see Millennial Park across the street but we had happened upon Chicago Cultural Center. As much as I wanted to get over there and find Park Grill, I took a deep breath and agreed we should go in and look around the Cultural Center. It is a remarkable building with beautiful architectural feature. Should you go to Chicago I think you should take a look at it, so I was not going to deny Bill a peek, just because I was anxious about what was next.


Awestruck by what we’d seen, we finally headed across the street, but there was no Park Grill. Their Facebook page had promised they’d opened a few days before, but there was nada. Now, I felt as I did when we stood at the empty showroom at the Merchandising Mart. Had I made a mistake about where it was? I didn’t think so, but just like at the Merchandising Mart NO ONE was there to help us. Of course, there was an app for the Millennial Park, but it told me less than I remembered from my previous visit.

The schism continued. Bill was still in meander mode. He hadn’t been to Park Grill, so he didn’t know what he was missing. He also wasn’t hungry yet, so he he wasn’t suffering in any way. I was desperate to find any food, but in particular I wanted the damned Park Grill to appear before me. Instead we discovered all the lovely sights below.

Bill was happy to wander all over Millennial Park and to watch the fountains forever, but finally I made him understand I was about ready to start chewing off my own flesh, if he didn’t feed me – and soon. Using good old google, we located a Shake Shack across the street and went for it.

Now, you may be a big fan of Shake Shack and probably don’t even have to look at the menu when you walk in to get your burger fix. Well, we didn’t know our way around and the wall full of icons and pricing didn’t help us one bit. We stood there lost as we had been for most of the day.

I am a Texan. I grew up in Dallas and now I live out in a teeny town on the edge of suburban Rockwall. Down here, we keep an eye out for one another and if someone looks the least bit as if they’re not sure where they are, someone offers to help them out. As I’ve noted elsewhere, Chicagoans don’t seem to have a ready eye to help anyone. Their eyes are glued to their phones. They don’t even look at each other. They may have to walk around you to get by, but they are still not going to talk to you. Heck, they won’t even look up from their phone!

Eventually, we did figure out something to order. I really wanted to try one of those Shake Shack Shakes, but Bill believes all fast food should be consumed with free tap water. I thought that after watching them go by during our entire meal, he might be tempted to share one for dessert. I may have even suggested it. He probably said, “Maybe next time,” which in Bill speak is, “Tough beans. I’m never darkening the door of a Shake Shack in my life!”

To start the day with dreams of re-living my Park Grill experience with the man I love and find myself at Shake Shack without the hope of a shake is a long way to fall in one day. It was time to meander back to our car, find our way to the airport and play that game. By the end of the day, we were home.

Come back next week and see where we are headed next!

Architecture, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Mari Vineyards – The Oak Island Winery

Thanks to the Curse We Had a Great Experience

Yep, I’m a fan of The Curse of Oak Island, but Shad, who did all the planning, is not a Lagina Brothers groupie. When he sent me an outline of what he intended for us to do, I did some poking around on the internet. It’s there I saw Mari Vineyards on an attractions map outside Traverse City. I knew this was one of Marty Lagina’s many enterprises and it would not have any direct connection to the TV show I loved, but I still wanted to go. Our host accommodated my desire.

WOW! Is This It?

Fresh off our visit to Black Star Farms, we were hoping for something a bit more, shall we say, engaging. While a covered porch and adjacent farmyard has a certain allure for some people, it’s not exactly my scene. Mari Vineyards suited my taste to a tee. To begin with, the winery sits on a gorgeous piece of real estate, with a commanding view of the area. Even if wine is not your thing, you can’t help but love the view.

As you can see from the first photo, the architecture and accoutrements are also much more upscale. The patio was particularly inviting. I loved the exterior so much I never made it inside, but according to the others, the restroom facilities were nice and the staff was pleasant.

Honestly, however, the wine was not outstanding. I’d give the wine honors to Black Star, but if I was looking for a great way to spend an afternoon, Mari Vineyards would win hands down and I’d probably bring a picnic.

Traveling with Kids

So, I don’t do kids. I like to see them at church and I enjoy my great niece and great nephews in very short spurts, if they can be returned to their parents after a bit, but I don’t dote on them the way some people do. That being said, these kids were pretty great. Major kudos to the parents in both cases. Hannah and Daniel are both obedient, intelligent and respectful.

Hannah is a sweetheart all the way around, perhaps a bit of a Daddy’s girl, but who could blame her Dad when she works so hard to please him.

Daniel is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, a real cut up and slightly naughty. Catching him for a photo was a hit or miss thing. He seemed to know just when to make that face or strike a pose to highlight the imp inside.

Hannah, who is older, can sit quietly and needs little supervision, with or without her ipad. Daniel can sit quietly forever, if he’s playing a game, but once the electronic devise is ripped from his hands, one needs to keep an eye on him and should you fail to do so, he’ll find a way to get your attention.

Wineries are not exactly kid-friendly, so after our second one, we took another tack, visiting the Old Mission Lighthouse. Come back next week and check that out!

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Gardens, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

TRAVEL THERE: ARTSY FARTSY MORNING

So, I admit I love shopping, but what I love best is buying bargain clothes and shoes.  My favorite price is $9.99.  It’s like a game with me to find gorgeous things that the stores want to give away at ridiculous prices.  There are only a few people I buy for when I am traveling and while I enjoy that, I don’t usually hang out in retail establishments.

Bill is a lot more likely to shop on vacation.  He loves consignment stores and will wander around a shopping mall just to see the architecture.  Since we’re not going to buy anything, I sort of see it as a waste of time, but I accommodate his desires.

When we are in Sedona that all changes.  We both love Tlaquepaque with a passion.  We can’t afford most of it, but we want all of it.  Come along with us.   

What’s Not to Love?

So, to begin with, Tlaquepaque is in Sedona.  We pretty much love everything in Sedona.  Even when we have a pizza and think the crust was way too thin, we enjoy it and look back on it fondly.  Maybe there is something to that whole vortex thing.

Next up, Tlaquepaque is visually appealing.  You do not have to enter a single store to enjoy it.  Wandering among the archways and courtyards, listening to the splashing fountains, smelling the delicious food cooking, people watching…it’s all good.  The architecture is part Spanish colonial, part southwest –  tile roofs, black rod iron ornamentation, brick walkways, desert foliage…all the stuff we like – all gorgeous.

But what’s more, the shopping in fun.  It is perfectly OK to wander around for hours, stopping into shops, some multiple times and not buy a single thing.  Maybe they’re lonely.  Maybe they’re just nice.  Whatever it is, everyone is thrilled to see you.  They greet you and chat you up.  They do not hover over you as if you are about to steal the whole store or try to sell you everything you linger at.  They want your opinion on the goods they are unpacking or will ask you if a particular wall is a good place to hang something.  They will let you try on every ring in the case without huffing or puffing and won’t be the merchandise monitor limiting you to one item at a time.  Here – try them both on, go show your husband, step out in the courtyard to see it in the light.

Some of the stores are also studios, so you can watch someone do whatever they do.  Or there’s a partially finished something that allows you to see how they arrive at finished products.  You smell clay and leather and paints.  You’re just as likely to smell magnolia blossom essential oil, patchouli perfume or burning incense.  

How It Went This Time

Bill made friend in one of the first shops we entered.  He didn’t so much love the merchandise as he discovered the proprietor goes to Egypt every year – so Bill being Egyptian, they had a lot to talk about.  So much so that I had time to discover the bargain of the day – a pair of blue topaz earrings set in silver – but it was that blue topaz that is visually interchangeable with aquamarines, which are my birthstone.  They were quite a bit more than my $9.99 price, but a steam nonetheless.  So much so, that Bill bought them for me!

Then we wandered – for hours.  We barely scratched the surface.  We strolled without any particular pattern.  We had a marvelous time enjoying all the things I just described to you above.  About halfway through, I found a cute shop with unique hand-blown wine stoppers – not cheap, but reasonable.  I’d found the gifts I wanted to buy.

The weather was a little gray and a little nippy, so it didn’t beg us to linger outside or take photos.  Sorry about that.  Bill did fall in love with these pieces in one of the galleries, but they didn’t come home with us.

We could have gone on for hours more, but we had a plane to catch.  El Rincon Restaurante Mexicano was wafting amazing aromas into the courtyards.  We followed our noses and had an amazing meal before heading out to the airport.

Home Again

The drive back to Phoenix was without incident.  We returned our rental car with ease and the shuttle bus delivered us to our terminal without a hassle.  The Southwest plane was on time and the flight was fine.  Our car was right where we left it and we got home with no trouble.  See we can go on a trip without a single hassle.

What’s next?  Right this minute I don’t know.  It’s July as I blog about this February trip and our lives are dominated by the pandemic.  I tried to plan another trip out west during December, but there are so many unknowns right now that I finally gave up.  Stay tuned, though.  You know I won’t be able to stay home!!

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, TRAVEL, United States

Adobe Village Inn

TRAVEL THERE: IN THE SHADOW OF BELL ROCK

This was the view from our window.  Though not immediately identifiable from this angle, with the trees in front of it, the formation to the left is Bell Rock.  On the right is Courthouse Butte.  We were very happy with our accommodations!

It Looked Good and Got Better 

When the GPS told us we’d arrived at Adobe Village Inn, we patted ourselves on the back.  It was located right smack dab in the middle of the most awesome scenery.  From outside, the inn was a lovely adobe home with gardens.  Fountains, a tile roof and various statuary said this was going to be good.  We were greeted by a gentleman who looked like he belonged in a setting just like this and he welcomed us into the home.

We should have taken more pictures.  The living room was spectacular.  Expansive view, tile floor, lovely patio, charming decor and more and more and more.  We were so excited we were almost giggly.

The nice gentleman who looked like he fit right in was actually the manager, not the owner, but he gave us a nice tour and let us to our room.  Our room was great – if not perfect.  There was a fireplace, but it was crowded into a corner.  The only way to get cozy with it was a love seat, crammed into the same corner.  On the other side of the entry was a huge space that was a sort of dressing room/closet combo with bathroom.  I would have preferred more space around the fireplace, but they didn’t ask me.  I’m thinking many of their patrons do sporting things and the big closet space is for storing their equipment.

Further in the room, past the storage/bathroom there was a large piece of furniture, like a sideboard with coffee and such.  On the facing wall was the TV and other electronics.  Then the room opened up to embrace a king-sized bed.  Theoretically, you could watch the TV from the bed or love seat.  In reality, you weren’t there to watch TV and it wasn’t great viewing from either spot.    

They get an A for hospitality.  Snacks were available, the fire was going and nice music was playing.  I gave it a 9.5.  We retrieved our luggage and got settled in.  There was a patio, but the sign said we weren’t supposed to go out there.  Another window, next tot he bed gave us the view above.

In our discussion with the manager we discovered the Inn really was a village.  Besides the several rooms in the home, there were several casitas just up the hill a few steps away.  Wedding ceremonies are often held on the lovely patio and the wedding party stays in the casitas.  Up from the casitas are other full size homes and several of them belong to the inn to be rented out by larger groups.  I highly recommend this facility for a wedding or family reunion or even your next getaway.

The day was getting warmer and the sky was clearing of any threatening clouds.  We climbed back into our Jeep for our next adventure.  I’d seen something on the map that had caught my attention, “Schnebly Road Requires High Clearance Vehicles.”  Our guided 4-wheel expedition may have been cancelled, but we were going to see if we couldn’t find our own adventure. 

Please join us next week for some fun and sun! 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Going to the Chapel

TRAVEL THERE: CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS

Hopping from trail head to trail head, we soon found ourselves at a favorite attraction in the area – The Chapel of the Cross.  Come along for a visit.

A Little Savoring Side Trip

Confession, while I may not need to hone my skills at savoring a Mickey D’s breakfast, Bill is right that I do not savor enough.  I want to see everything right now and I want to see all of it fast

As soon as we caught sight of the chapel, I was ready to zip right up there and take it all in.  Mr. Bill was busy savoring things.  First, he savored a few more trail heads.  Then he drove around a residential neighborhood just below the chapel.  Though I was antsy at the beginning of the process, I did manage to slow down and begin dancing to the beat of his drummer. 

Visiting the Chapel

When you have a favorite place, you keep it pasted on the walls of your brain to retreat there whenever the desire arises.  When you go back to visit in reality, sometimes they have dared to change things.  Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.  At the chapel it was a little bit of both.

The experience of arrival was pretty similar.  I think they may have moved the angel statue I was so fond of, but the elevated walkway was much the same and the exterior of the chapel was as it had always been.

However, when you actually entered the chapel things had changed drastically.  A huge life-sized crucifix has been placed inside, dominating the view of the valley from the interior.  I had fond memories of standing inside the chapel, close to the huge windows, looking down on the valley.  Am I allowed to say that I loved the sculpture of Christ on the Cross, but I didn’t like what it did to the chapel?

Instead of being allowed to appreciate the incredible view spread out below the chapel, you are now separated from it.  First, by tables of candles and then by the statue itself.  For some, this might make the chapel a more holy place, but for me, surveying the creation of a man, over God’s creation was a disappointment.  I don’t know how to tell them to fix it.  The copper sculpture needs to be inside to keep the beautiful finish, but the space is really to small for it.  I couldn’t get far enough away from it to really appreciate it and the barricade of candles before it ruined the truly awesome view of the valley.

On other visits I’d had a difficult time dragging myself away from the chapel.  This time, I was in and out in moments.  Once outside you became aware of something else that had changed – the view outside the chapel.  See that enormous house just to the left of center.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  Overly ostentatious and very distracting!

So, I’ve decided to retain my memories of the chapel before these latest additions.  The sculpture and the house will stay and other distractions may be added, but I’m just going to keep my old memories intact and go to the old chapel in my brain.   

After we finished with the chapel we decided to check into our Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Adobe Village Inn.  Join us next week and discover this delightful place to stay.