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And now back to Arizona…
So we were on our last day. Hat had to go back to work. S and I were headed back to Phoenix because we had early flights the next day. So we decided to do a few last things in our way there. Farewell, Hat, see you soon! It won’t be another twenty years if I have any say in the matter. Sedona for breakfast. Chocolatree was the Sedoniest place I think we could have found. Mandalas, raw food, outdoor tables in the garden.
Heart warming tea for our chakras. Homemade honey-sweetened chocolates. Yes! Then to Palatki Ruins, a site with dwellings and painted pictographs in the Cococino national park. We wanted to see prehistoric rock art and Hat had recommended Palatki as a good place to go. There is a free guided tour but you need reservations (we called on the way) and there is a drive on dirt roads for several miles to get there. Worth it! The ruins and paintings below are Palatki. In the foreground of the paintings are park service projects having to do with preservation of the site.
We really wanted to see the V-bar-V ranch after that. It is known for petroglyphs, which are carved rather than painted, and for it’s more recent history as a homestead and cattle ranch. It was a bit of a drive from Palatku but we found it and made it just before closing. We were glad we could see both places. V-bar-v had what researchers think is a time-keeping series of carvings. See the photo below with sunlight- the sun patterns are thought to have made a timekeeping pattern on the drawings. We were told an area nearby was restricted for visitors and was a place where women gave birth. There are many remnants of prehistoric culture in the area, many on private or sacred land.
We had excellent tour guides at both sites, and both sites were in beautiful, out of the way places. I highly recommend both!
Next we went to Arcosante, an experimental living community I had heard about in the 1990’s. We were too late to get a guided tour and the cafe was closed for repairs but we did walk around outside and also checked out the gift shop.
The architecture is really interesting. The community is known for making bells- there are metal and ceramic styles, all sizes. We met other visitors on the trail who mentioned that the community also hosts music concerts on their gorgeous property.
And then I ran out of blog space!
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Brief notes on a tiny yet lovely getaway. Mr. Fantastic and I took a little vacation weekend to the capital and the capitol of Pennsylvania. I had gone a couple of times for school and really liked the place- walkable, nice riverside, good archetecture. We didn’t even need a car!
We took the train from Philly. 2 hrs, lovely sunset over the Susquehanna river.
Rental apartment on North street. A block from state building and its glorious green-tiled dome. You can see it from blocks away. My photo below really doesn’t do it justice.
Outside and inside the capitol:
About two blocks the other way to the Susquehanna river. New coffee shop maybe 15 steps from our door! Elementary coffee. Matcha latte with oat milk! Felt like our living room.
We had tapas at Suba tapas a few doors down then walked around. It was 3rd Friday- 3rd in the burg– so there were a lot of places open. Beautiful new bump outs on many intersections. Safer pedestrian crossing and wastewater collection!! LOVE! Went to a presentation at Harrisburg historic association in a historic bank building with low marble teller counters and massive vaults in the back. Stopped by the Susquehanna art museum and the Broad Street Market. Decided to see Korean movie Parasite at Midtown cinema. Great indie theater, so-so movie. Theater is a repurposed building, not historic but yay Harrisburg for having an independent movie theater!! Light dinner just before closing at Home 231. So much great archetecture! I’m obsessed with the above-door stained glass street numbers.
In the morning went for a run next to Susquehanna river and across an old train bridge turned pedestrian bridge. Beautiful sunny day! There’s an island in the river- City Island. I ran to the island and back. Mr. Fantastic ran further, across the island and to the other side of the river! Hung out at the coffee shop, then walked back to Broad Street Market to eat. Sat elbow to elbow with other diners, the place was packed, in a good way. Noodle soup for me at Yami Korean food noodle house. The movie made me want Korean food! Next was a leisurely time across the street at Midtown Scholar, a venerable Harrisburg bookstore housed in an old movie theater. It has three levels, two cafes, and 250,000 books! There’s another two million books in a warehouse for their online business. What?! We browsed and lounged here for a while. Next, we hit a couple of thrift stores and looked into the live theater scene. We had options that night to see a Disney hunchback of Notre dame show, or one about Cindy Lou Who gone bad. We chose the latter even though it was sold out and planned to go to Open Stage Theater because the people at the box office said we might get last minute tickets. We didn’t get tickets but we did enjoy hot spiked cider while we waited! We had dinner at Ad Lib, local ingredients, housemade goat ricotta cheese and other yummy things. Relaxed back at the rental apartment which had a sweet fireplace. Binge-watched Key and Peele.
Next day, back to Elementary Coffe, then brunch at 231 Home, then to the Statehouse! Gorgeous, ornate building. We took a tour, it was awesome! Marble staircase, Moravian tile below.
Below: PA supreme court dome from inside, Tiffany-trained artist did gorgeous stained glass window like this one “railroads” in the PA senate chambers.
Not too long after, we had to pack up and catch the train back. I can’t say enough about how relaxing it is not to drive. Note to self: go to every state house you can!! The Kansas Statehouse was amazing!! So was this one. And there are 48 more!!
Blairsville, PA. Madcap weekend trip to see the college daughter and the grandparents. Stayed at an amazing Victorian home of a friend-of-a-friend who has become like family. She has lived in Blairsville, PA for decades and has a hand in the community development of the area. I loved it there. Its a small town that is struggling but has so much going for it. We all fell in love with Market Street Bakery. The Riverfront Trail was especially beautiful on this cold and sunny October morning. There’s a pretty good thrift store on the way out of town to Pittsburgh, which is about 40 miles away. We weren’t there long but I love me a good small town and I hope Blairsville continues to grow.
Saw the collegiate Fiercely at U of Pittsburgh. The rest of the family had been to her dorm and campus when I was in Arizona. So I had the tour finally. Must mention the Harry Potter-esque building called the Cathedral of Learning. It has many “nationality rooms” devoted to individual countries with astonishing detail. Woodwork, tiles, pottery and art from the country fill the rooms, which are used as classrooms. We saw the rooms from the nations of Greece, France, Ukraine, Wales and Israel, and a few more. Impressive! Also in the campus area in the Oakland neighborhood but not part of campus the Carnegie library is a wondrous place. Vibrant library attached to a science museum- historic, gorgeous. We had brunch in the campus area at a colorful diner-style place I can’t remember the name of but it had board games all over the walls.
Three hours to the northwest, Ohio and my parents. We only spent one night but managed to see my two brothers, go to a few thrift stores, and have some of my mom’s excellent vegetable soup. We even saw a little snow! Then back to Pittsburgh and lunch with Fiercely. This time we went away from campus into the Southside neighborhood. Lunch at over the bar bicycle cafe, then a wonderful candy and ice cream store called Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. Back to Philly from there. It was a lot of driving but good to see everyone. Of course I love seeing my kids all together, all 6 of us together. Ahhhhh.
Have to mention that the two weekends before this trip we also went out of town. Ithaca one weekend (last weekend of the semi annual book sale! Cookout on a campfire at the cabin!), and medieval reenactment event called River Wars in New Jersey where there were horse events and a lot of other things including a big feast. We camped out medieval style in our massive canvas tent. It was a crazy few weekends!
We drove to Sash Diné and were happy to meet the owner and see the large property where the family raises sheep and host guests in several unique lodging structures. There are wooden wagons, large “bell tents”, and a handmade traditional hogan where we stayed. We walked around the property, had Navajo tacos for dinner, and looked at the massive starry sky.
The gorgeous rainbow we had seen at Horseshoe canyon was dazzling as the sun set. We had no problem with skinwalkers. It was an extraordinarily lovely night. We saw the milky way!
The next day we hiked around the property some more, then packed and headed out. Some morning pics of the hogan and some sheep:
We checked out and went to Lone Rock, just over the Utah border. We swam, it was wonderful.
There is way too much to see around here!! Must come back. Next we drove to Grand Staircase Escelante National Monument. We went on toad stool trail and saw amazing rock formations. It was a flat hike through what looked like dry river beds. Then we explored the Dr Suess style natural playground!
Awesome awesome day. I love these two and it was like reliving my 20’s. Unbelievably beautiful places. Already planning to go back!!
The next day we had reservations for antelope canyon. This is a hyper-famous slot canyon known for gorgeous colors and undulating walls. I really wanted to see it. Hat scared us with the forecast of 30% chance of rain and how 11 people died in a flash flood there in 1997. We decided to go anyway. It didn’t flood.It is incredibly crowded with tourists and also incredibly beautiful. We got there early because there are 2 time zones in Arizona and I picked the wrong one. Rather than wait with the busloads of people, Hat took us to a beautiful, short hike to see the hanging gardens at Glen Canyon national recreation area. There were vast sightlines on the hike and the wall of ferns was lush and unexpected in the desert.Then we took our places among the masses at antelope canyon. I don’t regret going but I also don’t plan to repeat the experience. Its a little claustrophobic, almost like being in a cave with a crowd. But so beautiful!!More photos:We next went to nearby Horseshoe Canyon. Another popular spot but much more spread out. We’d like to go back and kayak the river. For now, we walked the trail to the view and enjoyed a rainbow that appeared, making the place even more beautiful.It was getting towards sunset so we headed to Sash Diné, a bed and breakfast on the Navajo reservation where we were staying the night.
I woke up at Hat’s place and went for a short hike on one of the trails adjacent to his neighborhood. Many tall pines, fresh air, quiet.
And then began our adventures! We had a park pass (Fiercely’s from last spring!! We also used on our family trip in June!) So we went everywhere we could.
Montezuma castle national monument: cliff dwelling from prehistoric Sinagua people. Short, flat path next to the cliff, touristy
Montezuma well national monument- magical water in the desert! Cliff dwellings here too. Short uphill hike to the gorgeous view below, a limestone sinkhole replenished by a spring to the tune of 1.5 million gallons daily! Then we walked down along one side and also over to a creek. Wonderful!!
Bell trail, Cococine National Forest- this was flat and took us to a perfect swimming hole. We turned off the main trail to get to the river and that’s when S saw a rattlesnake!! Hat and I moved a waaaasays back then when it seemed safe, we got a good look at a relaxed rattler heading away from us into the brush, going about his/her business. I saw the rattle!! And the diamond shaped head!! No I did not take a picture! So glad we weren’t at the tooth end of that snake! We continued veeeerrry caaaarefully after that the the red rocks and a lovely swimming spot. I got under the little waterfall and it was like a massage.
Next was Sedona. I had always wanted to go there and Flagstaff is only 45 mins away! Hat knew of an excellent hiking area close to town. Margs Draw. We walked around the massive red cliffs as the sun got lower. It was a stunningly beautiful place. Hat almost stepped on a tarantula!!