Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from the Southwest

On the Today Show this morning they were asking people on the street what three words summed up 2008. I had to agree with one person and his three words. “Glad it’s over” and another’s “2008 is history”. While in most respects it was mostly positive for us; meeting new folks, welcoming back returning friends, continuing to do what we love, and having one of the most successful seasons in our 24 years with the B&B. Taking all this into account, we can certainly put 2008 in the plus column. Add our time in Arizona into the mix, and it doesn’t get much better for our split personalities/lives. In other respects, and for so many others, unfortunately it's been a train wreck.

An election in November brought us great hope for a chance for our country to start anew in 2009 with a change in the White House. Failing banks, futures threatened by the collapse of Wall Street, and American car companies needing a bailout, who would want that job? But we’re glad Obama did and hopefully new ideas and some fresh talent will pave the way to making things right again. January 20th can’t come quick enough and we can only hope the economy turns around in warp speed before more businesses fail and jobs are lost.

And while we are talking politics, Ada couldn't be happier to have read in the paper recently the official announcement that her friend Kim will be running for a second term as Mayor of Salem. As one of her varsity cheerleaders, Ada can’t wait to contribute her time and talents to make that happen. Where’s her sign?

While thankful for all that we have been blessed with in the past year, abundant sadness unfolded with the passing of a family member and three long held friendships. We will certainly miss them all, and we pray that their families enjoy continued comfort in their memories.

Blessed with health and happiness, Don and Ada wish the same, and so much more, for all our family & friends, and for all those that we are yet to meet. With great enthusiasm we look forward to 2009, surprises and all. We just hope the road into the future is repaved with progress and the potholes get filled………
(Donald says that’s too corny, but it’s ok this time of year.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And the winner is.......

Frank n Beans
SalemCity’s Fantasy Football Winner!

It’s been an exciting 17 weeks playing ESPN’s Fantasy Football with all my friends at Salem City Hall and staying connected from afar. As a first time player, and somewhat green about all the 32 teams of the NFL, I’ve certainly had a crash course in Football 101. While never expecting to come close to winning, I did want to be a contender and finish each week with respectful numbers. After all, Ada May always plays to win. But as the season moved along, I found myself not only holding my own, but in the lead for a short while, and this became pretty exciting. With my eyes on the prize, actually winning would certainly be a longshot, and I always expected I would be put in my rightful place on the roster. Sunday, fighting the good fight, was that day. And so it was….2nd place. Not too shabby, I say. Donald thinks it’s great that I gave everyone a fun run for their money. I think I did, and Frank truly deserves to win. In the home stretch he really was on his game. Will I do it again next year? Probably, but right now I think I’ve watched enough TV and it’s time to get a life. The playoffs? I’ll watch with some interest, but now that our Patriots are out of the mix, probably not to closely. As they say, maybe next year........... Baseball anyone ???????

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hanging up my cleats on Monday………..

Ok, it’s week 17 of the NFL season and crunch time. After dropping out of first place by 2 points last week on my SalemCity Fantasy Football Team, it looks like Mr. Frank n Beans is in a great position to take the win from the Arizona Girl. But, not so fast, it’s not over just yet. It will be a tense line up of 16 games tomorrow, and while I can’t watch them all, there are fresh batteries in the remote for surfing back and forth. (Donald doesn’t have a prayer of getting control of it. He might as well read his paper.)
Everyone has their strategy, but I must stay cool and make wise choices. Wish me luck. I’ll need it for sure! After all, I’m representing the Mayors office staff and Frank is playing for all those Planners. Besides, the win is for the Mayor’s favorite food group, pizza. Regardless of the outcome, tears or cheers, good sportsmanship will prevail. Check back on Monday, I’m sure the suspense is killing you……….
Sunday morning and I'm still changing my picks. I'm certain emotion and doubt are affecting my choices. Good thing I'm not in Vegas. Loyalty is favoring my selection. I'm finding myself routing for teams to lose that I would otherwise pick, just to help the Patriots gain a playoff berth. And then there are my favorite QB's; Tony, Brett, Eli, Payton, & Matt. Add into the mix my love for Tennessee as a state and it's a real conflict. I should just go for a hike today and let all the cards land where they may, but no, I'll be on that couch watching, squirming it out, however long it takes to play 16 games....... Go Patriots!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Happy Man at Christmas

Tie a ribbon around this guy……
In his chair, reading his paper, that’s all he wants for Christmas. Fortunately, it’s Thursday’s paper and not Sunday’s, so the paper will be less intrusive to the day and all Ada’s plans which includes eating lots of food, making phone calls to the family scattered across the country, and opening a few presents under the cactus. While Donald reads, Ada will certainly watch some football, work on her blog, and probably take a hike to walk off some of the calories. Then, we’ll both top off the day with a movie or two that we’ve rented; falling asleep on the couch for sure. Life is this laidback in the Southwest and we couldn’t be more grateful for the truly charmed lives we lead.

Wherever your tradition takes you, Donald and I wish all our family and friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May good health and prosperity follow you throughout 2009, and many years to come……… Hugs all around.
Ada May & Donald

Monday, December 22, 2008

The end of the line...........leaving Scottsdale

Scottsdale is currently known for magnificent PGA Golf Courses, highend shopping, spas and cuisine, but it’s history dates back to the old wild west, and still standing is a 1sq mile area that pays homage to the old ways and true cowboy atmosphere. A stroll through Old Town takes you back to the original Scottsdale, the heart of the “West’s Most Western Town” that began more than 100 years ago. (I can just hear them back home thinking, 100 years ago, that’s nothing.) On Stetson Drive you will find western wear, books, art galleries, home d├ęcor, Southwest jewelry, and plenty of souvenirs to bring home to those that have missed all of this. Stopping to have Chili for lunch; my baby blues can’t take the heat. Blurry eyed we get out of Dodge (Scottsdale), but not before we go to the..

IKEA Store

This is our last stop before heading home to Tucson. Famous for their Swedish meatballs and lingonberry preserves, IKEA hasn’t missed a retail trick. Their secret, feed them first, cheep, and send them shopping for all that furniture and housewares. If you have ever been in one, you’ll know what I mean. Good, inexpensive stuff, well engineered. Donald knows. He’s put together a number of things including a bed for Lena, a desk for me, and one for himself. They even include the tools. This visit, we only bought the meatballs and the preserves, but it’s always fun to walk the gauntlet of “rooms to go”, picking up that $1 deal that you just can’t live without.............

And as they say in the movies..........THE END!

Heard Museum, a true gem in downtown Phoenix

Heard Museum
The Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art was founded by Dwight & Maie Heard in 1929 to house their personal collection of Native American artifacts. Today, and over the years, it has become synonymous with the preservation of Southwest native heritage. Extended over the years to include the extensive Hopi "Kachina or Katsina" Doll collection donated by Sen. Barry Goldwater, and so many other collections by notable Arizonians, the museum is a who's who of prize masterpieces and a true journey through the majestic Southwest and the vibrant arts and cultures of the American Indians. Arizona's own Sandra Day O'Connor Gallery (former Supreme Court Justice and past president of the museum's Board of Trustees) introduces the museums founders and how the collections grew. A great place to start your tour.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

If you can bear it. Another day in Scottsdale/Phoenix.

Day 2
The rain has set in so the next couple of days we are moving around the area to a few haunts that Donald has up his sleeve, and a restaurant my tastebudds were craving after I saw a segment on the Arizona Highways TV program last night. (Arizona Highways is like Chronicle back East.) But first, we are off to a train store in Fountain Hills, just east of Scottsdale. Donald has a business card of a train fellow he met at a train show here in Tucson. I’m sure by the way the card is tattered, he’s had it in his wallet for a few years. In any case, we’re off trying to find the address. How big can Fountains Hills be? After doing the man thing, we finally decided to ask for assistance and pulled into a strip mall where there was a Real Estate office. Can’t go wrong here. They must have street maps. (No visitor’s center found.) Bingo. And he’s just around the corner. In we go and while I wait patiently knowing my restaurant is next, we (Donald) spend about an hour looking through parts and accessories. It’s a man’s Filenes’s basement. Bins of track, trains and miniature scenery; all for the rummaging. After a lot of train talk and a small purchase, we’re off to Gilbert, Az. and LUNCH…………..

Joe's Real BBQ, Gilbert, AZ.
Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert is about an hour's drive just south of Fountain Hills. It’s basically the next town over, but you don’t move fast around these parts and we always tend to take the long way to get anywhere. (Still trying to keep off those freeways.) But none-the-less, without an address or map, it was meant to be and we see it on the corner. Big sign: "Joe’s". It’s mid-day, mid-week, so no parking problems and no waiting. I’m starved. In a 1929 building, old for these parts, Joe came to town from Texas (where else). A coffee merchant turned barbequer, he opened up this place 10 years ago. Big banner,”1998 -Celebrating 10 years-2008. Taking a booth, dropping the rain gear and camera, up to the counter we go. So many choices, but I order the BBQ Sampler. I’m getting it all: ribs, chicken, pork and beef with two sides; beans, and Mac n’ cheese. Donald gets the brisket sandwich with beans and slaw. If I thought it would have measured up to my friend Patty’s cornbread, I would have ordered that too. True loyalty.
The place is warm and easy and the decorations keep you entertained. A John Deer tractor center stage and a mural of Gilbert in the 40’s embraces all walls. And, in keeping to his true calling, coffee is only .25 cents. Toothpicks anyone………………

(A friend of mine from Salem, Kate, has family from Gilbert, so I gave her a call so I could say: “Guess where we are?” To bad, voice mail, so I left a message. She probably thinks I’m crazy or maybe she’s buried in all that snow they are getting back East.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

In the “Valley of the Sun” Scottsdale/Phoenix

Day 1
Home based in Scottsdale for the past week, Don and I enjoyed some great day trips around the Phoenix area. Usually, going to Phoenix is a fast trip to Sky Harbor airport to collect a visitor and sometimes included a side trip to the IKEA store. We were always intimidated by the spaghetti freeways that surround the area and always opted to get back to our safe Tucson before the sun went down, so when we were looking to use a timeshare vacation week before we would loose it, we decided to give Phoenix & Scottsdale a look see, especially after hearing so many things about the area from the locals, the Arizona Highways magazine and my friend Lena. And, a whole week in the area would allow us to face our driving demons and apprehensions of maneuvering their massive freeways.

Canyon Lake

While rain is scarce out here, it can follow anyone’s vacation plans, including ours. The forecast was “rain for five of our seven days”, so while our first day there was a gloriously sunny one, we decided to head for the Apache Trail (Rte 88) and Roosevelt Lake. About 1 hr east of Scottsdale you pick up the Apache Trail in Apache Junction. (how appropriate.) This trail takes you north into the Tonto National Forest and the Superstition Mountains where 40 miles of steep and winding, mostly washboard (unpaved), roads pass magnificent scenery. At the end of the trail, you come upon The Theodore Roosevelt Lake, which was formed by the construction of a masonry dam on the Salt River in 1911, making it the oldest artificial reservoir in Arizona. Maintaining numerous houseboat communities, it is certainly a water activity Mecca. We always wondered when we saw someone in the desert hauling a trailer with a boat where they were going. This must be the place………….. The pictures just don’t do it justice.

Roosevelt Lake

Tortilla Flats (a true gold rush watering hole along the Apache Trial)

Ballad of Tortilla Flat
Sung to the tune of "The Beverly Hillbillies
Come and listen to my story, it won’t take long.
About a little town, with mountains all around.
On the Apache Trail, is where you should be at,
Cause we’re servin’ up vittles, at Tortilla Flat

Burgers, that is.
Half pound.
Chili too.

Well, a long time ago, the stage went threw.
All travelers stayed here, and had a great view.
Not far from Canyon Lake, and the “Dolly" too.
So plan on a trip, you’ll be glad you do.

That’s the truth.
Would we kid you?

Now, Tortilla Flat is open, all through the year.
Saddle up to the bar, and have a beer.
Put a dollar on our wall, it’ll always be there.
Be sure to try our ice cream, it’s Prickly Pear.

No thorns.
Lip smackin’ good.
Yes sireel

So, come along a set a spell, at Tortilla Flat.
The sidewalk is made of wood, you can’t beat that.
The hangin’ tree is down a way, but don’t you fret.
We haven’t hung a customer, at least not yet.

Ya all come out , now,
Ya hear?

Back from the dark ages...........

It's been over a week since I've posted, mostly due to not having access to wireless and/or an Internet connection. I know Scottsdale is not in the boondocks, but the resort we stayed in wanted a high daily fee I wouldn't pay, mostly on principal. In this computer age, they are behind the times and are frustrating their guests. Unfortunately, we would not return or recommend a place that is fee oriented, rather than service oriented, and of course I made my disappointment clear before we checked out. It seems the higher the scale of property, the more nickel/dime they become. Even at our small B&B we provide access for our guests that want to stay connected. And, it's cheerfully free. Go figure..................

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's all about the sunsets

Arizona Sky
Every night about 6:30pm the cameras are loaded and ready to capture a sky like this right out the front door. It's truly amazing to watch this develop, the sky becoming a firey swirling cloud. Donald caught this one. A winner for sure..........

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Velvet Elvis in Patagonia, Arizona

Donald, Judy, Steve & Lena (Ada behind the camera, calling the shot)

About 40 miles southeast of Tucson you enter the "Mountain Empire" of Sonoita and Patagonia, Arizona. Right out of "Little House on the Prairie" (which is where they filmed that opening footage) these two communities blend western civilization and Mexican art quite nicely. It is surrounded by a few mountain ranges, rolling hills, Black Angus steer ranches, Cowboys for sure, and a gal, Cecillia, who inported pizza recipes from Brooklyn and opened up a pizza and calzone parlor in the middle of of it all in honor of both "Elvis" and "Our Lady of Guadalupe". We all had pizza, of course. Limonada Rosa (hibiscus and lime) was the drink of the day. We've been here before and while the scenery is the draw; grasslands, vineyards, Brahma bulls and horses, it is also a haven for birdwatchers, especially at the Nature Conservatory and Patagonia State Park. Peace and quite prevails. Artist migrate and never leave.