Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Monday was another driving day, taking us on through New Mexico and into Arizona.  Last year when we came to this part of the country is was really our first time to spend any time here.  Now, as we drove into Albuquerque, for example, it was neat to realize that we now know some of this city and environs.  Brought back lots of wonderful memories, as we passed some now familiar landmarks.  It's great to be back into the red rock country again--this was some of our favorite scenery in the country on our trip last year and it still is!  Just love the contrasting colors of the layers running through the rock faces, and the fascinating formations millions of years of nature have created.  Don't think we could ever tire of seeing it.

One of the things we remembered from last year driving through New Mexico ws the ever present issue of strong, gusty winds.  There are signs posted periodically warning of cross winds, some with wind socks attached.  You can see tumbleweeds blowing across the highway and off in the fields you can see lots of mini dust storms swirling around.  There were times last year when it felt like the wind was about to jerk the steering wheel right out of my hands, and it was a bit nerve wracking.  Well, last year was nothing like it was on Monday.  All through New Mexico after we left Albuquerque and into Arizona the winds were really fierce.  It made last year look like a walk in the park, and I had to fight the winds all day long.  There were times when it was just constant, powerfully pushing us first one way and then the other, and I could tell lots of 18 wheelers were having the same challenge.  Signs kept saying "Gusty winds possible," and man, were they right!   We stopped at one rest area to take a break and there were several truckers with flatbeds who were having to repair ripped tarps and rearrange and tie down their loads.  Fortunately we made it through it and got to Flagstaff. When we got the RV park the man who checked us in said this is some of the worst winds they've ever had in June, but he said that though the winds were predicted to continue through Tuesday, Wednesday is supposed to be better.  We had already decided to stay until Wednesday, so hopefully the predictions will prove true!  On the local news Monday evening they said there had been gusts of up to 56 miles per hour--wow!

So, it was off to bed early--though we had forgotten to change our clocks to Mountain time and it turned out to be earlier than we had thought--woke up quite early Tuesday morning, though Sophie was the first one up, letting me know she needed to go out.  The sun comes up pretty early around here!  Anyway, the RV park is right smack up beside the foot of a mountain, and as we had our morning coffee, looking through the pines we watched the sun paint the mountain with first shades of pink, then changing to orange, and it was gorgeous!  Flagstaff is surrounded by the Coconino National Forest--the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the US, and these pine trees are much bigger than those we typically see in the southeast.

Anyway, as the morning progressed, so did the winds!  We spent the morning running errands--grocery shopping, etc.  When I went into the pet store to get some more food for Sophie, the shopkeeper said the winds had been so high they broke their sliding glass entry doors!  She said they usually have more winds in the spring--like when we were through Arizona last year in early May, but never this high in June.  Next stop was the local Jo-Ann's Fabric and Craft store, where Trisha needed some different-sized needles for her current project--a gorgeous sweater she's knitting for me!  We had found the yarn at a store in Ithaca, NY last year and it is beautiful, soft and lovely color.  While it is going to be a while before the weather is cool enough where we'll be to warrant sweaters, I can't wait for this one!  She's already finished two projects, one a scarf and the other a sweater for the new baby boy of some friends from Atlanta--we'll get to meet him Saturday morning in LA.  I'll take pictures of these and other projects as she completes them and put them up on the Trisha's Knitting Wonders page of the blog.  She just loves to knit and she is amazingly talented!  And she now has the most incredibly beautiful knitting bowl to keep the yarn ball from rolling all over the place!  Our son, Todd, made it for her for Christmas, turning it out of black locust wood burl and it is a true work of art, in addition to being a functional piece.  In fact, this past winter when we were at the RV park in Sarasota, Trisha was in a knitting group and the women there were so impressed by it, they had her take it to the woodworking shop to show the men there who do woodturning so they could get some made!  Last year as we were rolling down the road and she was knitting, the yarn ball would from time to time fall off her seat and roll down into the step well by her door, so she would have to contort herself to get down to retrieve it--no more, as this bowl holds it securely on the floor, allowing the yarn to pass through the little guide hole in the side.  We had seen something similar in pottery at a shop in Bayfield, Wisconsin last year, so she mentioned it to Todd, and voila, he produced it in wood.  Todd says his interest in woodworking stemmed from watching me work in my shop, but believe me, he has far surpassed me in his skill level and the intricacy of the projects he makes.

After lunch we drove to Sedona, and the drive was just spectacular.  While Flagstaff is at 7000 ft. elevation, you drop 2500 ft. in Sedona.  Along the way there are just some gorgeous views of the red rocks, lots of hoodoos, and as we drove down, we were reminded somewhat of being in Bryce Canyon--there when we hiked down to the canyon floor we could look up and see all these rock towers and arches, and in Sedona, you had a bit of the same feel from the car.  Anyway, we spent the afternoon walking around Sedona, but the best part was as we were driving back out of town, we went up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a small church that just appears to rise right out of the rocks up on a rise, with spectacular views of the mountains and the town and valley below.  The town of Sedona was a bit touristy for our tastes, with lots of high end shops and galleries.  There were some lovely southwestern artworks, pottery, jewelry, sculpture and paintings, but somehow to us it seemed almost overdone.  And throughout the town there were a number of places advertising all sorts of New Age things like crystals, psychic readings, aura photos and various self awareness therapies.  A number of years ago when I had studied the Native American flute at a retreat in Montana with R. Carlos Nakai, he had been somewhat scornful of some of the things in Sedona, feeling that there had been too much commercialization of Native American spirituality there.  Perhaps this shaped some of my views but I had something of the same feeling.  But we were glad to visit there, since we had decided to pass when we were close by last year.

The visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross was the highlight of the day, though.  It was built in 1955 and 1956, the dream of a local rancher and sculptor, Marguerite Brunswig Staude.  She had first had the inspiration for the design when she visited the newly constructed Empire State Building in New York in 1932, and originally collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright to build the church in Budapest, but the outbreak of WWII scotched those plans.  Ultimately she found funding to build it in Sedona, and it is really beautiful.   The setting is just spectacular and we enjoyed sitting in the little chapel, looking out through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall out over the mountains.  We sat for a few moments of silent reflection, after Trisha had lit several candles for those needing some special prayers.  I had Sophie in the front carrier and she was quiet for a while, but I felt her getting restless, so I had to walk outside before she interrupted the silence with her own vocal prayers!

Fixed a wonderful dinner Tuesday evening with some spicy black bean burgers and some absolutely delicious corn on the cob we had found at the store earlier.  Most of you may know of this method of cooking corn, but we had only recently seen it online.  Just put the whole ear of corn, husk and all, into the microwave, 4 minutes per ear.  Then you cut the bottom end off flat and just squeeze the husk from the top end and, voila, you get a hot and juicy ear of corn, ready for eating, with all the silk just sliding off with the husk--so much easier than trying to get the silk off with a brush when you peel the husk before cooking.

Now it's Wednesday morning, the sun it out and the winds are calm--woohoo!  We'll head out after a while--on toward LA!  First some pics from the last couple of days:

Getting into red rock country!
Amazing how straight and flat the highway is here!
Love going through these "gateway" cuts through the rocks

On the way to Sedona from Flagstaff
Bell Rock

Cathedral Rock
Lovely statue in Tlalapaque courtyards

This sculpture is called Joy to the World, so naturally had to have Santa's picture with it!

Gorgeous bougainvillea!

Carved angel in this massive wooden door in the shopping area
Driving up Chapel Road, to the Chapel of the Holy Cross

On the walk up to the Chapel, this cactus on the left looks just like a cross

The Chapel
Lovely yellow cactus blooms on the walk up to the chapel

Longtime readers know how much we love angels!

Close up of the "cross cactus"

Beautiful sculptured iron candle holders
Trisha lighting candles

View from outside the Chapel
This was just an enormous house down below!

1 comment:

  1. I think Trisha needs a recipe page to go along with her knitting wonders page! I've rarely bought corn on the cob because I've hated all the prep work to cook it, but wow! I just did the microwave "whole husk" method and then cut the corn off the cob and mixed it into my spicy black bean, tomato and black rice dish and it was delicious! Thanks for the easy breezy vegan dinner idea!

    Wow, I can't believe you wrangled that big motorhome in 50 mph wind gusts! My limit with the View is about 30 mph gusts before I pull over and call it a day (of course if it's a tailwind, I'll take full advantage of it!).

    Glad you are enjoying your quick re-visit of the Southwest!