Tag Archives: Travel

Summer Vacay 2015 Pt. 1 Phoenix

PhoenixHotThree things about our time in Phoenix. One. It’s hot in the summer. Hot. Every day we were there was over 110. Two. Everything is at least half an hour away from everything else. Three. Picking up old friendships is just like riding a bike. You never forget.

We spent a hot week  in Phoenix catching up with dear friends. Don and June. Their daughter Casie and our son Eric have nearly the same birthday so we’d shared parties and done life together when they lived in Austin (Yikes, twenty years ago!!). Though our visit hit at a rough time for them, June’s mom died two weeks before we arrived and they were closing on a new house, they graciously put us up and let us do life with them again for a week.

Barnes Dbacks gameSaturday we took in a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field with Don and June. Sunday we visited Open Door Fellowship Church in Phoenix. The pastors are authors of one of our favorite Bible study books, The Cure.

After that we met up with at restaurant and brew pub in Tempe to celebrate Father’s Day together Barnes and Herringsand finally meet their son-in-law Kyle and 9-month-old grandson Carter after following them through Facebook. Later in the week we cooked out at Kyle and Casie’s and took in a sunset parting with hopes they’ll all come to Austin sometime soon.

Taliesin West
Taliesin West

Since everywhere in Phoenix is a drive we narrowed down our touristy stuff to three excursions: Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale, The Musical Instruments Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum.

We started on Monday at Taliesin West which turned out to be so much more than the Wright’s winter home. It was home to the Taliesin Fellowship, a place for young architects to come apprentice with Frank Lloyd Wright. Much of the building was built by the apprentices who learned by doing. TaliesinWsculpture

Wright believed that creativity breeds creativity so he included music and dance as part of the training in order to teach architects about movement. Heloise Crista was an artist who came to sculpting through dance because of the encouragement, influence and mentoring of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship.

TaliesinWestApprenticeWhile the building itself demonstrates Wright’s usual attention to setting and detail in its design, the most inspiring thing about touring Taliesin West for me was the attention to the creative process that it represents, both in Wright’s personal philosophical vision as an artist and as a mentor. The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture continues at Taliesin West.

BiltmoreAZAfter Taliesin West we headed over to the Arizona Biltmore for lunch. Frank Lloyd Wright collaborated with former student Albert Chase McArthur in the design of the hotel which opened in 1929.

Tuesday Ted played TPC Sawgrass in Scottsdale with Don and Kyle. While the guys played golf I helped June go through a big bag of her mom’s costume jewelry. Of course I came away with some cool earrings.

On Wednesday we visited The Musical Instruments Museum, or The IMG_0829MIM, another monument to creativity. The desire to create music is so strong that all over the world for centuries people have taken available materials and fashioned them into musical instruments. I got a bang out of the gong. Only one per customer.

MIMUd15,000 instruments from nearly 200 countries are on display at the MIM. Visitors walk through geographically arranged displays wearing headphones to look at instruments while hearing them played. Among those instruments I’d never seen before but loved were the Ud, a Middle Eastern stringed instrument.

MIMSteinwayThere is also a musical history section which includes Johnny Cash’s black suit and guitar, John Lennon’s Imagine piano, and the first Steinway piano, made in Steinway’s kitchen.


MIMTedCasalsThen Ted saw Pablo Casals’ cello and the visit went to a whole ‘nother level. As a young music student Casals was one of Ted’s heroes. Ted’s teacher studied with  a colleague of Casals. Amazingly there was no glass or anything around the cello. We stood close enough to touch it as Casals music played through the headphones.


ArtMusJapMedRmThursday  we visited the Phoenix Art Museum. I’ve never toured a museum with a docent before. Our small group were treated to explanations about paint, techniques, style, history, etc. in a selection of works. She explained negative space using the pieces and their placement in this Japanese meditation space.
ArtMusGerome Our docent pointed out Jean-Leon Gerome’s Pollice Verso. Gerome did extensive research for his historical paintings, so much so that filmmakers came to museum to study this painting as a reference for creating scenes in the movie Gladiator.

The docent not only made the individual works more meaningful, but added to my sense of appreciation and wonder toward all the art I saw on my own that day, including the special exhibit on American Modernism.  I love finding a new artists I hadn’t noticed before. Now I really want to see more by Phoenix surrealist Philip C. Curtis whose works were featured at the museum.   Yayoi Kusama’s You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies is a walk through light installation in a mirrored room. It was awesome. Creativity seems to be a theme on this trip.

After a week in Phoenix we loaded up our rental car on Friday and headed north to Sodona, Flagstaff, canyons and cooler weather.

A dangerous business

Gandalf, said, “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure I am arranging…” There is something thrilling about letting go of fear. There is freedom in looking at everything there is to lose and being willing to lose it. It’s amazing to be out there but I find it absolute agony to decide to open the door and go out there.

When it comes to risk, I think Bilbo says it best, “Also I would like to know the risks, out-of-pocket expenses, time required and remuneration. and so forth.” I want a detailed analysis of what I’m getting into and and plan for every eventuality. I am perfectly willing to go on an adventure but I don’t want complications or confrontations. And I like having a plan.

Yves Chouinard says that “the word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when the adventure begins. ” I recently watched 180 South for the third time and it messed with me.  The scenery is fantastic. It almost makes me want to get off the couch. In it Jeff Johnson retraces the journey of Chouinard and Doug Tompkins in a quest to duplicate their climb of the Corcovado volcano. Most of the movie is about his journey there in which things go wrong. Then, because he arrives late the snow is melting and more things go wrong. Instead of doing what he planned, Jeff Johnson ends up doing and learning and experiencing things that were not part of his original vision. That seems to be the way adventures work.

I am not unfamiliar with risk or with things going wrong.  In the 70’s I jumped out of a plane and sprained both my ankles. Back then there were no tandem jumps. The new skydiver simply climbed out on the wing of the plane, grabbed the struts, and jumped. I counted 1001, 1002 and pulled the cord to deploy the chute. It was amazing. Quieter than I expected. And faster. My feet hit the ground before I was ready to do  the rolling fall I’d practiced.  My ankles still give me trouble but I don’t regret jumping.

In the 80’s I had children. By definition, children mean disruption and risk. It’s guaranteed that parents are sometimes going to mess up parenting. I would do some things differently but my sons are three amazing people. Becoming a parent is a huge adventure and completely unpredictable.

In the 90’s I quit my job to do a start-up with my husband. It failed and we lost a lot of money.  In the 00’s we left a church and a circle of friends we’d been part of for nearly 30 years in order to follow the adventure God was arranging.  In the 2010 we got rid of over half our stuff, rented out our house and simplified our lives by moving into an apartment 5 minutes from work.

And now, just as I was warming up to those changes, God seems to be arranging another adventure, and I for one want to know the risks. I want to see the schedule, the budget, the agenda. Not gonna happen.

What I’ve discovered in looking is that jumping out of a plane is so much easier than jumping into life change. The simplicity of letting go of the struts and falling forces an “all in.” I love to travel, I love adventures, I even like to move, but I enter into life changes holding onto fear.  I stubbornly try to follow a safe plan instead of surrendering to the inevitable adventure that happens when that plan is disrupted, which is gonna happen.

I am not sorry for any of the risks I’ve taken. I’m sorry for the ones I was afraid to take. Even knowing that, I find myself guarded and slightly uncommitted. I hope I can let go of the struts soon.