Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Morning in Sedona

My goal this morning was to catch the sunrise over the valley. Since I am still on East Coast time that was easy. I was dressed and out the door by 6:00AM... with sunrise projected for 6:16AM I was right on time. I drove out to Airport Road where I was told all the locals go to marvel at the awakening of the mountains.

At first I was a little disappointed, as the view of the mountains were no different than the one I have out my own window... plus I was further away. However... as the sun peaked over the eastern sky and rose above the mountains on that side the magic began to happen.

A small gathering of us... about 6 people... held our breath as the first rays shined on the highest peak. Minute by minute the scenery changed as more and more of the valley seemed lit from within. Layer by layer the earth seemed to be waking... the colors of the red rocks began to come alive. From my vantage point I could see the entire valley... not just the cliffs outside my window. It was such an awesome experience!!

If you look closely at the picture above you will see the first rays hit the right side of the tallest peak.

In the distance we could faintly hear the loud speakers of the sunrise service being held a few miles down the road. The six of us looked at each other and decided we were all in the right place at the right time. Easter morning... diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and beliefs, experiencing the waking of the valley together.

Whenever 2 or more are gathered in his name... there is love.

Happy Easter everyone!!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Montezuma, Tuzigoot, and Jerome - AZ

For my last birthday my daughter and son-in-law gave me an America The Beautiful park pass. It allows me free entry into all of the National Parks. Well... I dusted that baby off and made good use of it today. I spent the morning at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot (pronounced toozie-goo). Montezuma Castle was awesome! Stories passed down through the generations of local Hopi indians... many of whom report they are direct descendants of the earlier inhabitants who left in 1425... is the only history experts have of this place.

Archeologists have discovered this tribe were salt miners and farmers. Apparently pottery was not their strong suit... however trading their salt for pottery gave them the most beautiful pottery collection ever. The most interesting find were fossil bones of a macaw... a bird that came from Mexico... leading historians to the conclusion that even traders all the way from Mexico came to trade for salt.

The castle is built out of limestone, clay and mud. Harsh weather would erode the front. To protect it, the women would gather clay from the river and apply a fresh coat every 3 years or so. The process still continues today, using only clay and supplies found in the area... just like the indians did many generations ago... explaining the different coloring on the building.

This castle... or living community reminded me so much of Acrosanti that I visited the day before. The indian families who lived in Montezuma built their home on a south facing mountain to allow for passive solar heating in the winter, and shade in the summer. The same is true of Acrosanti. The only real difference being the indians built their home into a mountain, Paolo Soleri is creating his own mountain with cement.

Next I traveled to Jerome... an honest to goodness ghost town. I really wished someone else was driving up the twisty, curvy, steep mountain road. Not because I was scared... no... because I wanted to look at the breath taking scenery and snap a few photos. I just couldn't do both at the same time... and not careen off the mountain. My ears kept popping as I ascended 5,000 feet.

I was told I just HAD to go to Jerome, that I would LOVE it. Well... I liked it well enough, but didn't LOVE it. Yes, it was quirky... yes it has it's own 'attitude'... yes it was 'artsy' and so glad I went... but I was disappointed with how many shops sold things made in other countries that they were trying to pawn off as 'local'. Also... jewelry was a big item. I watched as guy after guy stood by as the female tried on piece after piece of turquoise jewel to find the 'perfect' item her sweetie would have to shell out plenty of wampum for. This scene was repeated store after store after store. I don't know... maybe it's me... but I don't define that as fun.

To me... people watching was so much more fun. Oh how I wish I knew someone with a motorcycle. The weather was beautiful, the scenery fabulous. I was so jealous of the couples riding up and around the mountain roads just enjoying the day. I got the biggest kick spotting old VW Beetles, rusty Ford Flatbed Trucks, jalopies and a turquoise painted motorcycle with a side car delivering pizzas!

Jerome is an old copper mining town. Saloons and brothels were the mainstay businesses 'back in the day'. Many colorful stories abound... and one particular store aptly named “Store of Joy” caters to the history of the local brothels. Now THAT was a store which caught my interest. When the mines dried up, so did the town, leaving it vacant. About 100 locals remained and re-invented the town as a 'ghost town'... relaying and embellishing stories from the past.

The town is built on the side of a mountain with a 30 degree incline. Over time gravity pulled quite a few of the buildings down... including the town jail... much to the cheers of the prisoners!!

Late in the afternoon I headed to Sedona... up historic highway 89A. So far all I have seen as far as scenery goes is brown and tan with dots of green mountains. All of a sudden as I look into the distance is... HOLY COW... the most gorgeous mountains striped in red!!! SPECTACULAR!!! They are far off in the distance and hiding behind a sheer film of haze... but their majestic beauty shines through. I can't wait to get there!!! Do I hear angels singing???

Pictures will have to come later... I can't get this extremely S-L-O-W internet connection to upload them. UGH!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Budding Photographer - Brooks

Here is what you get when you hand your camera over to a 3 year old...

                                                    His baby sister with hair flying!!

                                                      Easter eggs dyed by his big sister.

                                                          My purse on the counter.

                                        His most favorite toy... a police SUV with LIGHTS!

                                                            Mom and Auntie's feet!

                                                         A self portrait... of course!!

                                                             And cartoons on TV.

Ah... to see the world through the eyes of a three year old!! Not bad eh!!

Excuse me as I wash the yogurt and finger prints off my camera :-)

On The Road Again... Arizona

The day has finally arrived!! I'm on my way to Sedona, Arizona! I am BEYOND excited!

Packing for this trip was a major issue... and it had NOTHING to do with clothes. Being an artsy kind of nerd, and thinking I am a budding Ansel Adams I decided I wanted to pack my digital SLR and tri-pod... not thinking for one moment I wouldn't be allowed to bring the tri-pod on board the plane. Once that little faux pas was brought to my attention, I had to RE-PACK everything. The problem was using such a large suitcase to fit the tri-pod and then filling it with stuff so things wouldn't rattle around.

I pride myself on being a light packer. Knowing I will have the use of a washer and dryer, I only pack a few things and wear them over and over. I plan carefully so I only have to wear one pair of shoes and then pack my flip flops. A toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, mascara, hair brush, and Advil are the only items in my makeup bag. That's it. This all normally fits in my small carry on luggage. Now, with the tri-pod and the large suitcase, I have so much empty space to fill.

With only 2 hours of sleep under my belt ( I was so excited I couldn't sleep) I was up and running at 4:15AM. On board my 7:10AM flight out of Philly without a hitch. Our plane was on the runway, in the 'take off' conga line, when instead of gaining speed to lift off, the captain announced we had to pull out of line and be de-iced.

In all my years of flying, even in the winter I never remember having to be de-iced so close to take off. Since I had a seat on the wing I got the perfect view. There were these guys hanging out in capsules with steam nozzles on the front... suspended in the air from long octopus arms. They maneuvered over the wings and steamed the ice off. I was so enthralled I forgot to grab my camera and take a picture until they were finished. Darn!

Five hours later... I landed in Phoenix, Arizona! Grabbed my rental car and was off to visit family.

It was wonderful to visit with my niece Jen Shank!!! I haven't seen her in years so we had MUCH to talk about. The kids were adorable, funny, and cute. I had forgotten what it was like to have three kids all demanding my attention... at the same time. Sadly I didn't get to spend much time with her hubby... as he had to work, but dining on their patio by candle light was a special treat and gave us time to chat.

Have you ever heard of a Javelina??? Me either. It's a local rodent around here. They travel in packs and are the size of a pig. They eat all kinds of plants and chase after my niece when she is running in the morning. EEEKKK! I'd run too if they were chasing me!!!

The air is so DRY here I feel as if all the moisture in my body is being sucked out of me. I drink water constantly, apply moisturizer 10 times a day, and can't seem to ever have enough chap stick on my parched lips. I'm a Jersey Girl after all and literally feel like a fish out of water.

After leaving Jen's... I headed north towards Sedona. First stop... a nail salon for a manicure and pedicure... and a DEEP moisturizing!!!! Hey... I'm on vacation... time to treat myself. This place also gives a chair massage included with the manicure... ah... my neck, shoulders, and back really loved that surprise.

Next stop... Arcosanti. I can already hear you ask, “Arcosanti???” One of Frank Lloyd Wright's students, Paolo Soleri designed an experimental living community. His belief that urban sprawl and cars are going to be the demise of Earth and living as we know it... has designed a community where 5,000 people can live in the space of a half a mile without having to drive. Arcosanti is putting this theory to the test. So far a hundred or so people live here. More information can be found HERE.

In as much as I agree with the theory of the way the buildings are being designed, using passive solar energy, multi use designing as in using roof tops for seating and gardening, being 'one' with nature, and making a community self sufficient... I DON'T agree with packing so many people into a small space and think everyone will live harmoniously. Great idea on paper, but not in reality. It was certainly a 'must see' and was glad I stopped for the tour. BTW... if you plan to visit Arcosanti, make sure your shocks are in good shape... it's a long drive on a very bumpy dirt road to get there.

I finally grabbed a hotel room in Camp Verde, Arizona. For dinner I found an old local tavern, The Horn which had a colorful history and ate a yummy dinner... and treated myself to PECAN PIE for dessert. I'm so spoiled!

The names of the towns and streets make me laugh. Horsethief basin, Finnie Flat Road, Carefree, and more. I'm sure if people came to my area they would say the same thing... Wickopecko Drive, Sunset, Cold Indian Springs.

I am in AWE of the scenery around here. The mesas and plateaus are beautiful. The cactus and wildflowers are unique. It is lovely to visit... but there is no place like home. I miss the lake, the ocean, the colors green and blue. Everything here is tan, beige, or brown. If I had to live here, I would paint my house blue, just to be different :-)

The picture above was taken at Acrosanti. The grass and olive trees were planted by the community. The mesa you see in the background is basically what the Arizona view is like... 360 degrees.

Next on my list... Jerome, AZ... a real ghost town!! Not to mention 'artsy'. Then I finally get to check in at my condo in Sedona for the week. The adventure continues!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I have made a career move and need to use my other site... for my professional writing website. So I have moved back here to post all of my fun personal blogs about my current projects and family celebrations. Woo! Hoo!

When I began this blog site a few years back I really was LIVING ON AIR. I had no money, my husband had passed away, my home was foreclosed on and I had no clue where my next meal was coming from.

My... how things have changed. I moved to the Jersey Shore 2 years ago to an adorable bungalow on a lake. Things haven't gone smoothly... but life is never easy, right? I at least can live within my means, and I actually have a food budget!!!

If you are wondering what stories/articles/writing projects I am working on... click over to my other site... Deb Hathaway. If you are looking for something different to read... click over to Unique and Novel.

Now... without further rambling... here's a peek at my current WIP (Work In Progress).

Ohhhhh.... ahhhhh. Baby Quilts!!! No, I have no news to share. These are gifts. As some of you may be aware... I'm making quilts and donating them to Hurricane Sandy families. I've been a sewing demon... trying to get a bunch done before I leave for Sedona.