ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Photography, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Dallas Arboretum – My Breath of Fresh Air

TRAVEL HERE: An Oasis in the Pandemic

I love the Dallas Arboretum. My family has had a long term love affair with it that continues until today. I claim the credit for the original discovery. A friend invited me onsite to look around when it wasn’t even the Arboretum, yet. My mom takes credit for contributing the most to it, because for many, many years she was a faithful docent in the DeGolyer Estate. As my parents’ health deteriorated, she clung to that volunteer appointment for as long as she could, but finally, she felt she couldn’t abandon my dad for so long for such a selfish reason. I’m still a member, visiting as frequently as I can and dragging anyone who will go with me. During the pandemic it was a true respite from the oppression of the regulations designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The Garden is Closed?

I confess, we treat the Arboretum as if it were our very own garden. Most of the visits I make with my husband are part of the Sunday afternoon rambles we take together and we just happen to go there spontaneously. My bestie and I will make a little more effort in planning, but it’s usually more of a decision to go on a certain day, rather than at a certain time on that day. As a member, we never have to stand with the general public. We just flash our credentials at the members’ attendant and stroll into the garden.

For instance, I had visitors in January and thankfully we had nice weather, because I took them with me for a visit. Little did I know it would be my last for a while.

I may go several times in one week and then not go again for several months. It’s OK, it’s my garden. When I go, I love to be there for lunch on the patio, but then again, I may just take a walk down the Paseo and then be on my way. When Dallas shut down for the pandemic, so did the Arboretum and it was a shock to my system. It was like the death of a friend you didn’t talk to all that frequently, but you always knew they were there, until they weren’t.

Unfortunately, the shutdown began when the garden was at its best. Every year in the Spring, they have Blooms, a celebration of color. I try to find a reason to be there frequently, because it literally changes from day to day, and each day it gets more fragrant and beautiful. In 2020, it was closed during Blooms.

Timed Tickets

The next shock to my system was timed tickets. It is my garden after all! How could they tie me to a specific date and time? By then, however, I was learning to adjust to a lot of things that I didn’t like very much, so I went through the motions of planning a variety of specific visits – with my hubby, with my bestie, with whoever I could drag there.

And therein lay the next shock. The garden was virtually empty. The female statue above usually has people all over it, trying to get pictures. Professional photographers with all their gear, people with phones, all people with all kinds of equipment snapping shots around every corner. On a normal visit we complain at least once or twice about the crowds. On these pandemic visits we complained because we were all alone and because our favorite dining spots were closed.

The Visiting Statues

During the days of timed tickets, the Arboretum featured Seward Johnson’s “Celebrating the Familiar” Exhibit. Dotted around the garden were a series of very realistic statues. Were you not looking for them, you might have passed by them, assuming they were just another gardener or visitor, but on closer inspection you would discover a very clever piece of fine art. Here’s a gallery of some of the fun and surprising visitors.

Pumpkins and Partridges

When fall rolls around, it is time for Autumn at the Arboretum and that means it is pumpkin time. I’ve documented those orange-hued days many times over in my blog, here for instance. This fall I visited with a young friend and my cameras battery was low, so I didn’t bother with my phone, since I already had so many photos of the DABS during that season.

Even before the pumpkins are all put away, the staff starts setting up for the Christmas Holidays and they have so much going on, I don’t know where to start. There are Holiday Gazebos full of scenes from the ever popular 12 Days of Christmas and a European Village full of faux shops to visit. Usually, Mom’s DeGolyer Mansion is decorated to the max, but alas, during the pandemic season it was closed. The photo below was taken during a previous holiday when masks were not de rigueur.

So, another year of fun is behind me at the Arboretum. Blooms is in full swing, but I keep forgetting I need a timed ticket to go, so I haven’t been yet. Hopefully, soon!

I hope you enjoyed this whirlwind, year-long visit. Next, we’ll visit the Kimbell, over in Ft. Worth, so don’t miss that.

Attractions, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Real Estate Photographry, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

The Pandemic Blues

TRAVEL THERE: 2020 – A TRAVEL YEAR GONE AWRY

A Day at the Dallas Arboretum with timed entry and social distancing

When I got home from our great trip in Arizona, I actually had a year full of travel planned. In May I would travel to New York with my best friend and watch her son accept a diploma for his MFA from Pratt at Radio City Music Hall. I have another friend there I wanted to catch up with and we had lots of museums we hoped to see. Bestie and I were also planning to go to Ohio in August for her 50th High School Reunion. We were hoping to make it a road trip and squeeze in a few sights we hadn’t been able to see the last time we headed that way. Bill and I had plans to visit California to visit family and friends there, because we’d been offered one of those deals that you can’t resist. It didn’t happen.

What Did Happen

My husband and I have been very fortunate during this pandemic. Our health has been excellent and while we have mourned with many friends over their losses, no one in our inner circle of closest friends and family were lost or even suffered greatly from Covid. Sometimes they were inconvenienced by quarantine. Some because of exposure with no diagnosis, some with a positive test but no symptoms and a few who did experience mild symptoms.

Bill was more conscientious about following the protocols than I was. During the first days of the pandemic, I was locked down. He wouldn’t let me out of the house unless he was with me to be sure I followed every suggestion he gleaned from his intensive research. The real estate community was in a panic, so he was out every day, shooting listing photos, videos and drone shots, but he took elaborate measure with himself and our equipment. I wasn’t even allowed to help him unload the car, because everything, including him, had to be sanitized.

On another Arboretum visit Bestie Deborah visits with a faux gardener, another timed, masked and social distanced event.

My bestie kept me sane. We’d take walks, watch TV together or just do some scrapbooking, anything to give me a feeling of normalcy, while Bill monitored our plans to be sure we weren’t participating in any restricted activities, like shopping or eating out. Our first “normal” activity was church, but there wasn’t anything normal about it – no hugs and our seating had been rearranged so that we were properly social distanced, but it was better than watching it on TV.

Like everyone else, we watched the waves of infection. Some people used the downtime for travel, but Bill was having none of that. In our house, he felt as if he could maintain some kind of control over our circumstances. He had no hope of that in a plane or on the road. For awhile, I maintained hope that we might be able to take the trip out to California. I even planned out a road trip itinerary. Unfortunately, I ran into roadblocks. The Navajo nation closed themselves down, which took out most of my road trip plans. It also became apparent that if we were going to travel, California was the worst place to go, because they were virtually shut down. I planned that trip two different ways and didn’t get to use either itinerary.

Our day trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards via the Grapevine Railrooad

Then things got worse in almost every way possible. The whole election mess was a real downer and as Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, so did a greater number of Covid cases. I entertained myself with planning a holiday road trip, even made all the reservations, but that didn’t work out either. So I settled for a staycation, complete with local museums, a carriage ride through a well-decorated neighborhood and a day trip train excursion. More about that later.

What’s Coming Up!

I did enjoy a few short excursions during the year, so I will share a few of those with you before moving on to 2021. Then I’ll tell you about an idea I dreamed up on vacation and executed in the early days of 2021, which has little to do with travel, but a lot to do with scrapbooking, my other passion.

Being a senior citizen, I’ve gotten my first vaccination and have the second one scheduled next week, but that’s not going to make the pandemic restrictions go away immediately. So, there’s a trip I’ve never shared here – it happened before I started blogging – and I am going to pass it along here. However, it’s a bit of a departure from my usual blog. It’s a play I wrote based on a very difficult trip Bill and I took in the early days of our marriage, inspired in part by Greater Tuna. I’ll share it with you serial style and you should get a big kick form it. The travel frustrations I’ve shared here before can’t hold a candle to that trip. So stay tuned. Even though I haven’t traveled anywhere since February 2020, I have adventures to share.

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!!

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Schnebly Road in Sedona AZ

TRAVEL THERE: 4 WHEELING FUN IN RED ROCK COUNTRY

Turn up the volume and enjoy the ride.  We had a blast on our own self-guided tour of Schnebly Road.

Detour to Hillside

Since Bill was into savoring on this adventure, I took advantage of it to get a few photos.  Just past Red Rock National Park, where the spectacular formations cluster, there’s a place called Hillside Sedona.  We were also looking for a snack, but in the middle of the afternoon, pretty much everything was closed.  We did, however, get these great shots.

From there we drove to Schnebly Hill Road and initially we were underwhelmed.  I was just another small road, unpaved but covered with gravel.  This was our 4 Wheel adventure?

Bye Bye Road!

Bill was not impressed and he wasn’t savoring it at all, but I showed him how the map indicated there was some normal road before the broken line that was “Schnebly Road Requires High Clearance Vehicles.,” so he decided to hang in there.  Good thing. 

To our delight, the road got worse and worse and worse.  Bill was in heaven.  Most of the vehicles on this part of the road were open-aired Jeep Wrangles with jacked up shocks, leaving them plenty of room to cruise over the rough spots.

We were in the more sedate Jeep Cherokee and that rental car might have hit bottom a time or two before we were over, but we were having a great time.  Here’s some of the road we tackled.

While some of you guys might consider this pretty lame 4 wheeling, we were having a blast.  We’re city folk and the biggest excitement we get driving around most of the time is an overlarge pothole in our flat Texas landscape.  Yahooo!  We were living large.

We kept on going on down the road until we came to a sign informing us that the rest of Schnebly Road was off limits due to it being out of season.  Drat.  We had to turn around and do it all again and some of it was more exciting heading back than it had been coming in.  Several open-aired jeeps passed us going in and coming out, but we couldn’t have had more fun if we’d been their passengers. This was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Oak Creek Canyon 

The gorgeous sky disappeared and sprinkling rain threatened worse conditions, but we were still in adventure mode.  I’d missed Oak Creek Canyon on the way to Sedona and now we had time to visit.  I consulted the map pointed took over driving from Bill.

The next time we head to Sedona, and I swear it will be sooner rather than later, I want to stay in Oak Creek Canyon.  Nestled in by high red cliffs on both sides, Oak Creek meanders along trading sides with the road about halfway along.  Cute little motels, cabins and campgrounds are sprinkled along the length of the canyon.  I imagine staying in any of them would be quite a treat.

Then you start to climb out of the canyon on a series of exciting switchbacks.  You can see from the GPS the twists and turns you encounter.  The ride was thrilling, which was a good thing, because when we got to our destination, the overlook, it had just closed and sleet was starting to come down.  We weren’t able to visit, but we were having fun.

The day was getting dark and with the weather getting messy, I was done driving. Reluctantly, Bill took back over and headed back to Sedona.  My job was to investigate possible meal opportunities.  Come back next week and see what we did. 

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.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

On to Sedona

TRAVEL THERE: REVISITING A FAVORITE SPOT

Sedona, AZ is famous as a uniquely beautiful place.  It also has a reputation as the location of energy vortices and some say it is a hotbed of alien activity.  I don’t know about all that.  I don’t see vortices and aliens.  I see something beautiful that God made and just being there brings me a sort of surreal peacefulness.  I believe there are just some places on earth where God showed off a little bit and I think Sedona is one of them.

Getting On the Road

As usual, I woke up very early and entertained myself with reading and crossword puzzles.  I was ready to get on down the road, but Bill was all about lingering.  Lingering aside, I needed to get me ready to go and all our stuff packed up by checkout time, which was 10 AM.  Finally at 8, I started the process and eventually Bill decided it was OK for me to start packing.  Bill waited until the very last minute to leave and that’s just about the time he got an inquiry concerning a possible photography shoot from a new client.  We missed checkout time by 5 minutes.  not that big of a deal, but par for the course.

Bill had a new mantra, “SAVOR.”  That’s a good mantra, but I can’t get very excited about savoring McDonald’s.  In fact, we’d already had a whole lot more McDonald’s that I’m used to on this trip, but here we were again to start our drive to Sedona.  I tried to modify my anxiety to get down the road while Bill savored whatever Mickey D’s breakfast he’d chosen.

Pedal to the Metal

It was decided I’d drive to Sedona and that was fine with me.  I jumped in and drove as fast as I thought I could get away with.  It’s a gorgeous drive from the Sonoran Desert of Scottsdale to the Red Rocks of Sedona.  The weather had not been promising before we left Dallas and we had cancelled the four-wheeling adventure, because it sounded like we’d be facing a chilly damp day.  It turned out to be one of those days that has a little of everything in it, but as you can see from the picture above, as we neared Sedona, the sky was incredible.

If you’re taking this little trip, let me make a suggestion.  Do not turn off at the first exit for Sedona.  I completely forgot this advice myself, since I was driving rather than navigating and we entered the town from the south.  The benefit to the south entrance is that you arrive at some of the most spectacular Red Rock formations right away. The down side is you don’t start with Oak Creek Vista and for me, a few moments there, before entering the fabulous Oak Creek Canyon, is the best way to start a visit to Sedona.

Photography Heaven

The spectacular landscape just south of Sedona demanded we get out of the car and start taking pictures.  We drove from one trailhead to the next, using their parking lots to take jaw dropping pictures.  It was still a bit nippy at this point with some drizzle, so we were right to cancel the four wheeling expedition, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the scenery.  Let me share some of the beauty with you and then come back next week to find out more about our visit to Sedona.

 

 

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Photography, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

TRAVEL THERE: SCOTTSDALE’S GORGEOUS DESERT GARDEN

Just warning you!  I’m going to rave about the beauties of the desert again. Here’s another warning.  After looking at the map, I’m guess we lucked into arriving at the “Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve”, because the trail head had parking, potable water, restrooms and other facilities, while the map warns most of the other entrances have nothing.  Sometimes the travel gods just love you!

Sightseers Not Hikers 

Trying to locate the Desert Preserve, Bill found an open house he wanted to visit.  We’d visited another open house earlier in the day, one that would be in our price range and confirmed Scottsdale was not an option for us.  The open house close to the preserve as a million dollar beauty you’d get for closer to six hundred thousand here in the Dallas area.  We were definitely just looking.

Arriving at the Preserve, it was immediately apparent we weren’t counted among the usual visitors.  These folks took their hiking seriously.  They had on hiking gear that made us look like the amateurs we were.  They passed us without so much as a nod of the head or any offers to help people who obviously didn’t know where we were going or what we were doing.  We took advantage of the facilities and then headed out on a stroll of our own.

We definitely didn’t have on the right shoes.  There was a trail, but it wasn’t a nice smooth flat space.  It was laced with deep cuts, from rain water (I suppose) and strewn with pebbles and good sized rocks.   After we had gone maybe 50 yards we reevaluated our desire to hike.  It was just about dusk and since we had no idea what we were doing, we decided to just take photos in the picturesque area we’d happened upon.

Of course, the first thing Bill wanted to do was get off the trail and get up close and personal with some of the unusual flora.  Finally, a passing hiker took notice of us and let us know stepping off the trail was a not only a conservationist’s no-no, there was also a pretty strong chance we’d end up snakebit.  I’m not sure why the hiker thought the snakes knew the difference between the trail and non-trail areas, but the vehemence of her warning about the fauna convinced Bill to get back on the not-quite straight, but certainly narrow trail.

Not a lot else went on.  We took a lot of pictures, which I am happy to share with you and then we went back to our car.  Considering our choices for dinner, we decided we wanted to take it easy and use the kitchenette in our casita.  We found a grocery store and went for comfort food – pot pies.  Back at the resort, we put on our comfy clothes and just vegged. 

Now, while we take some down time, you enjoy the photos.  I’ll see you next week for our road trip to Sedona.

ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Music, Performing Arts, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Waterfront Wine & Art Festival

TRAVEL THERE: WHO KNEW SCOTTSDALE HAD A WATERFRONT?

Across the street from Fashion Square was a mixed use complex project.  My husband the real estate photographer wanted to go take a look.  Once across the street we saw signs pointing the way to the Waterfront Wine and Art Festival.  I was thrilled.  It had been on my wish list, but I didn’t have a clue where there was a waterfront was in Scottsdale or Phoenix.  Having happened upon it without a commitment to be anywhere at any particular time, we decided to check our the art festival.

Admission With and Without Wine  

Bell made from copper fire extinguisher

Following the signs we wandered around until we found the Waterfront.  It cost only $3 a person to get in, if you didn’t want wine.  Bill didn’t want wine.  Had this been a girl’s trip, Deb and I would have ponied up the extra $10 for wine tasting, but I was happy enough to enjoy the art sans the tasting.  What an entertainment bargain it proved to be!

This was a completely different show than the Celebration of Fine Art we attended a few days before.  Like the Celebration, this was a juried show, but the jury for the Celebration was a lot tougher.  Instead of a studio setting, this was more of a retail opportunity with lots of hopeful artisans lurking at the edge of their awning.  In spite of the lurking artists, we enjoyed the visit. 

Worth the Time

Most of the wine was on one side of the canal and most of the art was on the other.  Shortly after we arrived we made our way to the artsy side.  I will confess, while most of the pieces on display were interesting, they didn’t pass the I’d-hang-it-on-my-wall test.  We don’t collect art.  We can’t afford to.  But often we stand in a gallery or at a festival longing to take something off the wall and carry it home with us.  That happened a lot at the Celebration of Fine Art.  Not so much at the Waterfront Wine and Art Festival.

Periodically, there would be musical acts or various things to eat or drink.  We were still very full from our late morning breakfast buffet, so we weren’t interested in the comestibles, but the entertainment was appreciated.  This violinist was among our favorites.  Bill took many pictures trying to capture her pure enjoyment of her own music.  This is as close as he got.

Up Next?

After a sojourn at the festival, it was time to satisfy another of Bill’s requests.  Yes, we made a potty stop at McDonald’s and enjoyed a little hydration break, but that doesn’t count.

Bill wanted to see some desert scenery.  There had been plenty at the golf course the day before, but he’d been otherwise occupied.  I’d hoped to go to the Desert Botanical Garden, but by the time we were ready to see it, there wasn’t much of the day left, so we doubted we’d get our $15.00 worth.  We opted for the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve.  Come back next week and enjoy it with us!

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

What Now Scottdale?

TRAVEL THERE: SIGHTSEEING BY THE SEAT OF OUR PANTS

Bill was loving the pace of this vacation.  We focused on one big thing for each day and then stuffed a few things around the edges.  I’ll admit we were having a great time, but now we had a full day with no primary event to build around.  What would we do with ourselves on our last day in Scottsdale?

Museum Girl vs. Adventure Boy

Were Museum Girl in charge of the world, I’d start each day at the entrance of a museum, historical home or palace about 10 minutes before opening.  For variety, I would visit gardens.  How long I spent there would depend on where I was.  It took all day to visit the Chicago Institute of Art and I would have been happy to go back the next morning and give it another shot.  My visits to the Dallas Arboretum last 2 or 3 hours, but I go frequently. Bestie and I can hit multiple venues in one day, going from bright and early to evening openings.

Adventure Guy likes to wake up slow.  He doesn’t mind sharing my cultural venues, but he likes to mix it up with golf games, shopping and perhaps a boat ride – stopping for coffee and ice cream when it suits him.  He saw everything he was interested in seeing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in about an hour. He really doesn’t want to plan out a whole day.  He just likes to ramble from one thing to the next and take naps from time to time.

Adventure Guy sometimes acknowledges this laid back approach to travel requires more research and planning on Museum Girl’s part than he even wants to know about, but he prefers to luxuriate in the fantasy that it all just comes together magically.  I’ve endeavored to make him interested in my more structured approach to travel, but after 26 years I know one thing – if Adventure Guy ain’t happy, Museum Girl is going to be miserable.  So, I’m in charge of seeing that everything goes the way he wants it to.

While I like some structure to my travel days, I learned one very important fact on the Anniversary Cruise. Seven days of 10.5 hour shore excursions do not make for a pleasant trip.  We’re trying to find some sort of balance between our two styles, because my style could be called Death by Vacation and his Loosing While Snoozing.

Fashion Square Art

Our Slow Start

I try to sleep in on vacation, but it just doesn’t work.  I’m doing good if I’m not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5 AM.  On this particular morning I woke up and tried to get my thoughts organized.  We’d hit all the must-dos and had really enjoyed ourselves, but in researching for this casual approach to our vacation, I had found a whole lot of other things that I wished we could do, including some repeats, like Taliesin and the Desert Botanical Garden.  I prepared myself to present the potential activities in the most unbiased way I could, but I was really hoping for a peek at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Though I was up early, we didn’t walk out of our room until 11.  We headed over to Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Cafe for what we thought was going to be Sunday Brunch, but come to find out, said brunch had been replaced by a fairly expensive breakfast buffet.  We had a $75 gift certificate we needed to use, but who would have guessed it all went to breakfast.

Of all the things I offered up to see, Bill opted to start at Fashion Square.  To be fair, I wanted him to see it.  Mom and I had visited when we came through in 2003 and it had been a great experience – upscale people-watching in a beautiful shopping mall.  I’ll be kind and say it just wasn’t what it used to be.  It’s still a gorgeous place, but all upscale people go somewhere else and the downscale people weren’t there either.  The caliber of stores had nose-dived since my visit, also.

That behind us, we decided to walk a little bit and come to find out, the travel god were with us – or at least with me!  Come back next week and we’ll visit the Waterfront Wine & Art Festival.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Dove Valley Ranch

TRAVEL THERE: GOLF IN ARIZONA

Bill loves to play golf – especially when the weather is nice and Scottsdale in February is very nice! However, rates at Scottsdale Golf Courses caused a severe case of sticker shock.  He wanted to play, but there was a limit to what he was willing to pay.  He did a little research and found exactly what he was looking for.

Just a Little Way Up the Road

Though I provided him with brochures, websites and other tools, I left it up to Bill to find where he wanted to play golf.  Left on my own, I would have either booked him something at our resort or over at the Phoenician.  He looked a little further afield and what he found made for a delightful day.

I love to ride along when Bill plays – not every time, but when I do it, I love it.  Bill chose a golf course about 45 minutes north of the resort.  The drive took us through some lovely desert landscape so we thoroughly enjoyed the commute.

Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club is a public golf course in Cave Creek AZ.  For a public course, it was very accommodating.  Everyone was very nice and eager to be sure you were going to enjoy your game – and the course itself is gorgeous. 

We were assigned to a threesome that seemed to play together often, but they didn’t resent being stuck with this Texan and his ride along wife.  There was a lot of friendly chatter and no one seemed to be much worse or better than their companions.

The New Camera 

My 2019 Christmas present was my own Canon Rebel camera.  Phone cameras just don’t cut if for me, primarily because I enjoy using an old-fashioned viewfinder, rather than trying to see an LED screen.  Bill, of course, has some fancy, expensive, heavy camera for his professional pursuits, but I wanted a camera of my very own.  I’d taken it for a test drive or two since I’d gotten it, but this Arizona Adventure had been its first bit of travel.

Bill and his golf buddies did their golfing thing, while I drove the cart and took pictures – both of which I enjoyed immensely.  The course, as I have said, was lovely.  Bill was having a good day of golf.  I was thrilled with the beautiful blue sky and all the amazing flora and fauna.

I’ve said it before, I love the desert.  It has a calming and soothing effect on me, but at the same time it just makes me happy.  To me, cactus is both regal and funny.  I think about how long it takes it to grow and wonder at how little water it takes to keep it healthy.  Then I look at the odd shapes it chooses to grow in and I just want to laugh.

As far as fauna is concerned, there was plenty – rabbits, chaparrals, quail and ground squirrels, just to name a few of the animals we saw.  Instead of raving about it all, I’m just going to show you some of the gorgeous pictures I took.

After the golf game, we made a visit to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  More gorgeous desert scenery, so be sure to come back next week.  In the meantime, enjoy this gallery.