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mermaidcamp

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#WeekendCoffeeShare Elevation

June 24, 2017 8 Comments

soda pop crash

soda pop crash

soda on the road

soda on the road

Globe, AZ

Globe, AZ

If we were having coffee this morning I would have to serve you motel breakfast….I am on my third cup of coffee because I had to come to the lobby to make contact with the WiFi this morning. I don’t bother with the food at motel breakfast because powdered eggs and Danish pastry is not my style. In a couple of hours we will proceed to the Show Low, AZ farmer’s market when it opens at 9 am. I will find some tasty cuisine that suits my vegetarian fresh food habit.

Motel Coffee Today

Motel Coffee Today

We left the heat in Tucson for a couple of days of relief.  The drive up here included two detours/delays caused by traffic accidents.  In Oracle, AZ the road had been blocked to clear a crash, so we had to drive around the incident.  The route took us through San Manuel. a deserted town that used to have an underground copper mine.  These copper towns belong to the companies, so when the mine closes, the entire town closes.  It is eerie to see the remains of what was once a center of industry.  I was particularly struck by the “country club”, an 18 hole golf course that has been abandoned for about 10 years.  Large dying trees and expanses of dust where there once were golf greens are a strange echo of the past.  There is still an airport in San Manuel, which only existed so copper executives could fly in and out of the place.  From that ghost town the winding roads we traveled took us through several copper mining towns with open pit mines still in operation. These isolated towns owned completely by copper companies are the present day versions of Tombstone and Bisbee.  The abundance and wealth produced in them does not tarry very long in that place.  Miners do dangerous hard work and have to live in a town where the company owns the only place they can even buy groceries.

When we started to leave Globe, AZ we were advised that the road to Show Low, our destination, had been closed to clear a crash.  We decided to drive back to town and discover Globe rather than get stuck in a line of cars waiting for a wreck to be cleared.  That was extra fun.  We cruised the neighborhoods on our way to the old downtown.  I loved the old homes and the old downtown is in good shape.  There are chain restaurants and stores on the main hi way, but individual shops, galleries and eateries are thriving in the downtown.  We ate a really good lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and lingered trying to wait out the problem on the road.  It was a good call because we did have to wait about 20 minutes at the site of two semis that were scattered on the road and the mountain.  It was not clear how it happened, but both large trucks were full of soda pop, which has been collected.  We saw the giant tow truck pull the overturned semi back onto the road.  The crew was expert, and still had hours of work ahead of them when they let our lane of cars drive through to Show Low. I was happy I had neither been in the soda pop truck or the cars stuck in the beginning of this wreck.  Compared to what..right? A few minutes delay on a day with no plans is not a big deal.

We will drive to Snowflake, AZ later this morning to discover a new part of the White Mountains.  The lavender festival awaits.  I have read that the area contains sinkholes and unusual geological shapes.  The sinkholes have been use by Native Americans as well as the Mormons for amphitheaters.  The Petrified Forrest is close, but I refuse to go back down in elevation because the heat actually followed us up here.  All the days last week and next week have been and will be a high of 85, which is dreamy .  However, both of our days up here the temperature will reach 97….There is air conditioning, and we will use it.  We are still very pleased to get out of Tucson and see all the amazing geology and botany on this drive. It is gorgeous, if a little bit too hot.

If we were having coffee at the Best Western Pony Paint Motel in Show Low, AZ, I would invite you to come along with us today.  If you are too busy to tag along I will update you next weekend about the events of this weekend. My writing is going well.  I am really enjoying the tea review posts more than I expected.  I now have infinite material for my Tuesday posts.  I will never run out of teas.  I am listening to a book Bread, Wine, Chocolate, The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, which is fascinating.  I am being influenced heavily by what I am learning about our lack of biodiversity.  I recommend it to anyone who eats or drinks. We all have a part to play in saving biodiversity on earth.  Some of us do it by careful consumption of the foods we want to save.  The author’s detailed and accurate descriptions of flavors have inspired me to expand both my vocabulary and my sensitivity.  This is helpful in developing my tea language.  I am enjoying it.

Bread, Wine, Chocolate

Bread, Wine, Chocolate

If we are having motel coffee this morning I would promise a much more gourmet selection of digital beverages next week.  Coffee is one of the subjects covered in this book.  If you are a real coffee lover you might like to learn more about it by reading ( or listening to ) Simran Sethi’s discoveries, who traveled all over the world to research this book.

#WeekednCoffeeShare

#WeekednCoffeeShare

Thanks for joining me this morning.  Please visit our hostess, Emily, at Nerd in the Brain, for the full shebang.  Visit with writers for around the world and keep up with our movable feast here. Join the party every weekend on twitter using the hashtag #WeekendCoffeeShare.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare The Heat Is On

May 20, 2017 6 Comments

vintage cookbook and tickets

vintage cookbook and tickets

If we were having coffee in Tucson today I would invite you to take a dip in the pool because it will reach 100 degrees this afternoon. I am drinking coffee in the early morning as we prepare to spend the day in Phoenix. I know it sounds counter intuitive to go down to the valley of the sun when the heat is cranking up. Here is my logic. This weekend will be a slow one at the Heard Museum, where there is a special exhibit of the paintings of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The universities have graduated the student population, and the snow birds have gone back to the north woods, so this is SLOW season in all of Arizona. It will reach 100 for the next 5 days in a row, which will just be a warm up (pun intended). We get good deals on hotels and other things in the summer. Natives handle the heat by going inside to air conditioned comfort in the middle of the day. Our reservation for the Rivera/Kahlo show is at 1 pm, which gives us time to see the rest of the museum.  We have not been there for many years.  The permanent collection has some amazing Native American art, including Barry Goldwater’s kachina collection.  I am a real museum nut, and Bob does not mind spending lots of time checking out every detail of an exhibit.  After you finish your coffee you can ride along in the red Mustang for the trip if you like. It should be a fun day.  I plan to have crepes for brunch up in Tempe.

If we were having coffee today I would tell you a funny story about clearing clutter, about which I write frequently, and actually accomplish with less alacrity.  I managed to take a large box of books to the used book store last week.  Although they only purchased one book, I left the entire box for non profit organizations that pick them up there.  I felt proud because I even managed to ditch some of my beloved, and never used, cookbooks. Yesterday in a Facebook group of people who used to live in the boonies in petroleum camps in Eastern Venezuela folks started saying they would pay to have a certain cookbook copied.  I happen to have a copy, much used, and very special to me.  The pride in ditching the old books has been replaced by pride in keeping the right one, San Tome Gourmet.  San Tome was the name of our petroleum camp in Estate Anzoategui.  It does contain some killer recipes.  I have preserved history and culinary authenticity in my cookbook hoarding practice, so it is now very cool.

Tell me how your week and your writing has been.  I have skipped too many days posting here this week, but did manage a couple of poems.  Maybe next week I will be more productive and creative.  I am calling on my summer muse to show up and inspire.  She always shows up sooner or later…she is a little late.  I hope your muses are serving you well and keeping your creative juicers flowing.  Thanks for visiting this week.  For those of you who want to keep up with bloggers around the world each weekend, check Nerd In The Brain for party invitations.  Read, comment, or write your own digital beverage post.  All are welcome.

#WeekendCoffeeShare

#WeekendCoffeeShare

Value For Dollar, Air bnb

March 13, 2017 1 Comment

I was a travel agent for many years, and have not lost my love of hotels. There is nothing like a stay at a first class establishment to make you feel pampered and rested. I prefer to save up for a special stay if I want to stay in a hotel. When they converted the Waldorf-Astoria to apartments last week I was really happy I had stayed there a couple of times. Once I talked the sales representative into giving me a two bedroom suite for the price of a double room. It was spectacular, and I will never forget it. The Sunday brunch was also to die for.  Five star hotels are memorable, but they are not the only way to have a special vacation.  Since air bnb started I have used it for particular locations. Sometimes the most important aspect of the stay is the exact location.  Air bnb has expanded my choices when I travel to include a large and growing number of private homes, guest houses, and rooms for rent to paying customers.  I used to rent private flats in other countries, and it was tricky.  Now this has become easy and safe for all involved parties. Air bnb connects renters with exceptional spaces to rent.

The company carries insurance for both the renter and the property owner.  There is a vetting process, and the reviews are made public.  If a guest is undesirable and is reviewed as a bad prospect, other owners will not want to rent to him.  Conversely, if an accommodation is reviewed as less than perfect, prospective renters can take this into account when deciding on a rental.  I have only had one property that worked out well for me but I declined to review because I thought it was not appropriate for most travelers.  I have been around the world and have a pretty wide range of tolerances, but this is not the case for all clients of air bnb.  The base of customers and rentals is growing, which means there are new places on the rental market all the time. I keep some wish lists of properties for future reference.  This helps me check certain cities for my dream accommodations quickly. There are many choices, and trip planning is a sport for me.  I can get lost in the air bnb site for hours, just doing research on new locations.

I go to Tempe, Arizona at least once a year for a weekend.  I like to live like a regular person in the neighborhood when I am there.  I don’t always cook, but I like the option of a kitchen for flexibility.  This is one of the major advantages to hotel life in my mind.  Each host is different, but generally the renter is given free use of the kitchen, and normally the outdoor barbecue, if there is one.  If nothing else this allows me to store any produce I pick up at framers markets, and gives me a place to make my coffee in the mornings.  Hosts almost always provide coffee and tea.  Some go all out with gifts of food and wine for the traveller. I have moved in to find a case of fizzy water and other goodies left by the previous tenant.  The host describes what is provided so there is little chance of surprise.  Being accurate in the description is an important issue to the company.  I find they are all good at that.  Obviously, some personalities will fit better than others, and staying in someone’s home is intimate.  All my hosts have been just right for my tastes, usually leaving the premises, and leaving me alone.  Many will leave a key or a lock box for convenience checking in while they are at work.  My recent stay at Larry’s place in Tempe worked out very well for my needs.  I would recommend his property for anyone.  He is friendly, but low key.  His very well presented guide book helped me navigate the area when I arrived.  It was  very helpful.

Larry's yard

Larry’s yard

Larry

Larry

The referral and vetting system is similar to Uber or Lyft.  If you use my invitation link to sign up , you will receive a discount of $40 on your first booking.  I will be rewarded with $20 in credit after you take your first trip.  It is a win/win situation. Have you tired using air bnb, gentle reader?  It is becoming much more popular all the time.

Winter in Arizona

November 7, 2016 2 Comments

margarita

margarita

Enchiladas

Enchiladas

Our state is attractive to tourists because we have sunny warm weather. We call them snowbirds because they come down from some wintry place to stay in our area while it is miserably cold up north. Some own second homes, and others are driving RV’s on the annual pilgrimage.  They provide much-needed economic boosts to the places they visit, and then head north in the spring.  Arizona depends on their spending to support not just hotels, but service industries and retail stores as well.  The tourist represents a segment of the economy we can grow.  What we have to offer is in competition with all other destinations for traveler’s attention. Here are some features I believe make a vacation in Arizona in winter great:

  • Classy resorts from the past such as El Tovar at the Grand Canyon or the Arizona Inn in Tucson
  • Natural wonders, state and national parks with extensive outdoor recreation opportunities
  • Preserved history in towns like  Tumacacori, Tubac, Jerome, Tucson, and Phoenix.  Both history museums and living exhibits teach the history of Arizona
  • The best Mexican food in the world.  Some people might dispute this, but I can assure you that our Mexican restaurants bring it.
  • Tucson Gem Show in February is the most extravagant shopping opportunity on earth.

This year when snowflakes begin to fall on your front yard, book your flight and come on down to Tucson for outdoor adventure and some awesome tamales.  We welcome you to our part of the world.

Sonora, Bald Eagle of Scottsdale

October 8, 2014 6 Comments

I drove to Clarkdale, AZ  last weekend to ride the Verde Valley Railroad with Sonora the bald eagle. She was brought to wildlife rescue as a very young bird with her wing badly broken. Today she can fly in her enclosure, but her wing never healed well enough for her to return to the wild. I have to say for a captive eagle, this girl gets around and continues to enjoy nature while she rides the train through the canyons. Her enclosure in Scottsdale is at Liberty Wildlife Refuge, at the home of a former vet of the Phoenix zoo, and her two handlers that accompany her on field trips obviously love her dearly. She is a pampered (not that it was her choice) suburban eagle with a soccer mom schedule of school events, train appearances, and other symbolic and educational obligations.    She seems happy, and everyone who gets to see her up close and personal is ecstatic while in her presence.  I was completely out of my mind. She flapped me on the head with her wing while I was standing next to her, which I consider to have been a super magical gift.  She didn’t hurt me at all, but I did get a sense of her power.  I want to say I am her greatest fan, but I suspect we all adore her at the same very high level.  She is just awesome.  If you have a chance to meet Sonora, don’t miss it.  She rides the train once a month for now.  She began her programs on the train in 2010 when she was 3.  Now she is a seasoned model and train enthusiast.  I can’t tell you how fun it is to meet her.

 

Destination Burlingame

October 25, 2013 4 Comments

I stayed recently in the town of Burlingame, CA for a 5 day visit to the Bay Area. I chose the spot for the convenience to the airport and the great little guest cottage I had found on air bnb.  The dueña is a designer, of both the interior and the landscape kinds.  The space and garden are so secluded and private that I enjoyed the instant retreat when I stepped into my yard.  I had planned to spend time in San Francisco and the East Bay during my 5 day stay.  The CalTrain 6 blocks from my cottage made the transport  into town simple and fast.  I spent two days without leaving the town of Burlingame because the first was exploration, and the second was enjoying the town with my friend from Berkeley.  I was pleased to introduce locals to the fabulous La Corneta Taqueria downtown, where the salsa bar is second to none anywhere.  When my friend Donna came to visit she gave me an intuitive reading, which was excellent.  After that we just did not feel like going out to town, so we took the advice of the landlady and tried GrubHub for food delivery.  While we drank the wine my landlady had provided a nearby Indian restaurant prepared a feast and delivered it to the cottage.  We dined in my lovely backyard dining area, savoring the food and the private setting.

The downtown shopping area of Burlingame is full of cute individual businesses and a few key chains like Starbucks.  The two extreme star businesses are the PEZ museum, near the train station down town, and Nini’s Cafe, which was only a couple of blocks from my house.  Nini’s is the only place in California where you can look around and see absolutely nobody looking at a cell phone.  The atmosphere is maintained by three generations of family proprietors who run the business in person, taking very good care of loyal customers. After my giant Popeye omelet, I am now a loyal customer myself.  I found the town of Burlingame to have everything I like and nothing that I don’t like.  I would recommend the garden cottage to anyone for a layover or a retreat in the San Francisco area.  It is charming, extra comfortable, and designed for serene privacy.  The neighborhood is just lovely.

Gloria and the Virgin of Guadalupe

May 23, 2013 2 Comments

I met Gloria on the flight from Chicago to Tucson recently.  I enjoyed her company and invited her to call me.  She is visiting her son who works at the U of A during the week.  She told me she was Catholic and that as a child she walked to mass by herself.  She is now fed up with Vatican politics, and wants the Latin liturgy to return.  I took her yesterday to see Ted DeGrazia’s chapel to the Virgin of Guadalupe.  She had never seen milagros on altars before.  Since I would not be caught dead or alive without some milagros on me, I gave her a tiny jet key from Venezuela to unlock her future. I have more at home, and she had no offering with her.  I explained that our Virgin is pre Christian and that is all right.  She is both Catholic and pre Christian, and we see no conflict with that. She had a good time with this altar and milagro business.  She also enjoyed the art gallery. I always love to go up there, and am happy I had the chance to share it with someone who really found new meaning in an old practice through an ancient design left behind by a great artist.

Sandwich, MA

April 28, 2013 1 Comment


My visit to Sandwich was a delight. The tiny downtown area was ablaze with spring flowers, fancy architecture, historical sites, and very friendly folks. I went to a great thrift store full of charming antiques, but it was almost all breakable, so I passed on purchasing anything. I really enjoyed meeting the ladies volunteering in the store who were funny and informative. My last stop was the glass museum, which was better than I had expected. A well produced theater piece fills you in on the history of the town since the Euros landed, and the display was both informative and artistically outstanding. Since I love glass art I was happy there for more than an hour taking in the collection. I recommend this town and this museum to anyone who happens to like glass and history. It’s right up my alley.

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