May 13, 2013 at 5:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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It was supposed to be a week in Mexico, but airfare from Anchorage was prohibitively expensive.  So, Michele traded it for a week in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I had never been to AZ at all, so it was a new experience.

driving Mingus Mountain

The first place we went was Jerome.  We headed north on Route 17, got stuck in standstill traffic a couple hours… finally got moving again.  Turning west on Route 69, through more desert [and Prescott] and then climbed up through the trees to the mighty Mingus Mountain!  Something like 200 turns in 12 miles.  Here is Michele negotiating a blind curve in our rented VW Beetle.

jerome street

Jerome is a funky little town that was a 19th century mining town, then later was nearly abandoned.  Today it’s a mix of full time residents and accommodations for tourists [B&Bs, wine bars, shops and galleries].  Steep switchback streets and buildings clinging to steep rock cliffs.  Totally charming.

We went back on our last day.  Next trip, maybe we’ll just stay here [Scottsdale was nice, but it’s a little rich for my blood].

sedona rock form

A rock formation near Sedona.

hammond B-3 at MIM

One of the newer museums in the area is the MIM [Musical Instrument Museum] in Scottsdale.  We were overwhelmed by it.  Lots to see — too much, really.  Built by the former CEO of Target, it is a first class facility.  It’s organized by continents, and runs through a musical history of the world with displays and accompanying video clips.  Here is a Hammond B-3 organ.  You’ve heard this in a lot of popular songs, even if [like me] you didn’t know what it looks like.

turntable mixing board

Custom turntable and mixer from the Hip-Hop section of the MIM.



taliesin west tour start

The beginning of a 90 minute tour of Taliesin West.  This was my trip highlight.  It was all I’d imagined and more.  I really appreciated the perspective our tour guide gave to Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, work and character.  All the anecdotes and stories — priceless!  He was, and continues to be an outsider — designing against the current and the European tradition.

FLW's fire breathing dragon

Most of Wright’s art collection isn’t on site anymore, but there is this dragon.  I almost wanted to come back for the evening tour so I could see it spit flame!  It was funny to think of the old man and some Hollywood actors hunkered down watching movies in one of the theaters there in the 1940s.

taliesin west bldg


first day of indian school

We went to the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix.  An amazing place.  Loved how they have integrated modern galleries without changing the classic exterior.  There was a whole world of native artifacts and some contemporary exhibits too.  This shot is from an installation about Indian boarding schools, in all their ghastly horror!


shade tree

The development pattern in the greater Phoenix west valley is kind of shocking — a low scale pattern of strip retail, large lot residential and high speed arterials spreads out for miles and is still under construction.  But I noticed that in 50 to 75 ft deep buffer zones along the arterial roads there is still a functioning desert environment with all kinds of plant and animal life.

cactus flower


michele cameraman glasses

Michele at the Desert Botanical Garden.  I like this photo for the atmosphere, even if it isn’t the greatest portrait and has a blown highlight.

a real tree

There’s nothing like getting out of Alaska once in awhile!  I always stop and marvel at large trees, because in Southcentral we really don’t have any.

cosanti and michele

Another highlight was Cosanti, the home of architect Paolo Soleri and the place where wind chime bells and other handcrafted art pieces are produced.  This was really worth seeing!  Next trip, I will go to Arcosanti!


My old co-worker, friend and real estate guru Peggy tipped me off about Cosanti.  I had a nice lunch with her and caught up.  And she gave us some great tips on restaurants.  We had a grilled artichoke and I had a ‘Macho Salad’ at Bandera in Old Town Scottsdale.  Man, was that good!  Wow.

AZ route 69

So long, AZ!  I had a great time and will be back!

Biking the Burke-Gilman Trail

August 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Posted in biking | 1 Comment
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Completed my second full day of biking around Seattle — starting out from near Mill Creek, a long trek down 527 to Bothell, and then onto the end of the Burke-Gilman Trail [found after a search].  Seattle has a lot of nice trails, bike lanes and most of the other features a guy could want [racks; parks with well-maintained restrooms and drinking fountains].

I rambled around Ballard, Discovery Park and Green Lake.  Really impressed at how the Burke-Gilman threads the urban fabric.  Well done!

I don’t cut the figure of classical middle aged serious biker — I refuse to wear cycling clothes, and I am only going medium speed on my compromise bike.  I stop to look at views and to pick blackberries along roads and trails.

On the Burke-Gilman, which was fairly crowded but flowing along smoothly, I tried to make eye contact and smile at every person coming the other way.  In Anchorage on the Coastal Trail, probably seven out of 10 would respond in kind.  Here, maybe seven out of 100, at best.  Sorry Seattle — I still adore the city, but Anchorage is much friendlier.  Some popular reactions from Seattleites [usually a combo of two or more]:

  • no response at all
  • looking away
  • eye roll
  • looking down
  • short, bug-eyed leering
  • quizzical, or vacant stare
  • fish lips
  • wounded look, as if to say, ‘who gave you permission to look at me?’.

One man I smiled at, who was standing drinking water at a trail wayside gave me the bug-eyed leer and then hopped and gestured with both arms!

Another cyclist near UW took it upon himself to direct traffic.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m driving I follow the rules, but I don’t necessarily do what cyclists and pedestrians tell me to do.  Maybe if they wore a police uniform I would pay attention.

About half the riders on the Burke-Gilman were guys my age, give or take [not many women in this club, for some reason] who were so much alike it was like a uniform — newer road bike, skin-tight cycling jersey and shorts on their fit body, wraparound sunglasses.  “Passing on the left!”, they announced as they zoomed around me.  About half of them coming the other way had strobe lights on the handlebars, in the middle of the afternoon.

A disc golfer in a park on the north end where I stopped to rest and fill up my water bottle greeted me before I even saw him.  Kind of surprised, and just kind of mumbled, “Great, thanks.”

In Bothell on the return leg, right after the trail ends the way to 527 is over a narrow bridge and into a little downtown area.  A bus passed me right after the bridge, driving slowly around me in part of the other lane.  And then a gray-haired, spandex-clad road biker zoomed around me, and with a wild careening, swerving dive around the tail corner of the bus, raced up and confronted the bus driver.  He looked up into the bus, shaking his fist and yelling, “HEY!  You CUT ME OFF, asshole!  You gonna CALL THE POLICE?”  [No.]  “Oh, yeah?  Well, FUUUCCK YOU!!!  YOU ALMOST CUT ME OFF!!”  And then he rode off, slowly in the middle of the road.

On the more positive side…

A homeless man near Fisherman’s Terminal in Magnolia was laughing so hard, I started laughing too.

And the best part of the day was when a twenty-something woman who was playing a wiffle ball game with an older woman, on a narrow street between the trail and houses along the lake looked up and said, “Way to go, good job!  Biking is way better than a car!”.  This woman was very wise!

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