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October 2018

2018-10-15 – Day 58 – Home!

We spent the night in Palm Desert in the Villa in the parking lot at the golf clubhouse…  We were on the road at 7:00 am, and at Mentone Beach by 8:00 am.

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We spent about an hour unpacking and cleaning, then we were home in Redlands…

Our next trip out is November 1 – the Airstream Club weekend rally in Palm Desert, at Emerald Desert RV Resort, then off to Paso Robles for some wining and a “Friendsgiving” at the Record Family Vineyards…

And, as is our custom…

The McAnoy family takes a walk…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-14 – California, Here we come – Day 57 – Palm Desert

Today we return to California!  However, to delay our return home we are stopping to spend the night with like-minded friends in Palm Desert…

First, we had to deal with a torrential downpour as we were dumping, disconnecting, and hitching up.  I soaked through two rain coats and several hats before we were on our way…

And then the sun came out…

The Arizona desert is bleak…

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We stopped in Quartzite for fuel…

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…and a little refreshment… (Friends of ours own this franchise…)

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They do have interesting food in Quartzite…

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More desert, then the border:

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We cleared inspection, and were allowed to enter…

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The California desert is just as bleak as it is in Arizona…

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And then we were in Palm Desert; ew, ew,ew, looking out my back door… (actually Doug’s back door…)

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Happy Hours ensued, and we see dinner coming…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-13 – Arizona – Day 56 – Taliesin West and the Biltmore… And Rain!

It was slightly raining this morning when we left Sun City to drive to Taliesin West.  We arrived in plenty of time for our tour.  We were able to take a few pictures, but soon it was raining quite hard.

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Taliesin is today a fully accredited School of Architecture, and it is not affiliated with any university.  It has between 20 and 30 students at any one time, and they can earn a Masters Degree.  The students live and work and study at each of the two campuses for 6 months each year, Summer in Wisconsin, Winter in Arizona…

We started the tour, but quickly retreated to the “Dance Pavilion”.  This was a performance space, and it is about the last building built at Taliesin West by Frank Lloyd Wright.

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What you need to know is that for FLlW, Taliesin West was his “desert camp”, and he enjoyed “camping” here in maximum communion with nature.  The first few years they put together temporary structures with scrap lumber and canvas.  They left it all when they returned to Wisconsin in the Spring, but when they returned in the fall they found that it had all been stolen and carted away by the locals…

So they began to build more permanent buildings, but they were still built to be open to nature.  The roofs were sheets of canvas, walls and doors were open, maybe partially covered with canvas flaps.  They had no electricity (except from generators) until the early 1950s.

So the dance pavilion was originally an open air pavilion.  Only in later years was it enclosed by glass.  The canvas roofs still remain today, and everyone enjoys the softly filtered light that they provide…

We walked in the rain to the FLlW’s “Office”.  This was not a work room, but was a conference room and presentation room… On the way we could see the canvas roofs.  Originally they were just sheets of canvas.  But they deteriorated quickly under the desert sun, so a panelized system was created to make for easy replacements of individual sections.  Today the canvas is covered by translucent acrylic, and the canvas still needs to be replaced about every five years…

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Inside, the canvas is supported by steel beams and internal gutters to channel away (most of) the water that seeps through…

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All of the solid walls at Taliesin West are concrete, formed with rocks gleaned from the desert by the Taliesin students.  This has proven to be an economical system that has stood the test of time.  This being Arizona, there is no rebar in these concrete walls…

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The entrance to the Office is through this odd-shaped door.  The door is barely six feet tall, and the ceiling is not much higher.  FLlW’s secretary sat in this entry space, in a “cave” constructed of this large rock concrete.  This entry exhibits FLlW’s famous “compress and release” concept as you move through the low-ceilinged space into the larger space beyond…

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It is a very nice space… Of course, because it was raining, I had to position my chair so that I would not be dripped on…

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The table you see covered with a tarp to protect it from the rain is VERY low, as are the chairs.  FLlW designed it this way so that when clients looked at the drawings placed on the table they could see them very well as an overview, but if they wanted to examine them more closely they would have to stoop, and it would be very uncomfortable.  He didn’t want his clients looking too closely at the drawings…

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Our next stop was the drafting room.  This room is generally off limits when the students are present, but the students are still in Wisconsin, and they won’t arrive for a few weeks yet… We walked in the rain and passed the concrete walls of the drawing vault.  Paper drawings must always be protected from fire and other elements.  (Today we use computers to draw and make presentations, so they are much safer, if backed-up properly…)

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The drafting room has the same style of canvas roof.  The glass ares were originally open, with canvas flaps…

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It is a marvelous space!

We then moved to the “Kiva”.  This is the original “man cave”, where FLlW would show movies for his students and guests.  Originally this was a windowless storage room.  When they would leave in the spring they would put anything of value that they were not taking with them in here for security… Later they added the projection room and they experimented with lighting…

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Floor lights…

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Cove lighting, with “cut-out” shapes to form shadows.  Are these triangles representative of teepees?  Or mountain peaks?

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Corner lighting…

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We moved on to the Dining Room…

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The Dining Room is entered from this Breezeway.  The Breezeway has always been here, but the ceiling was raised after FLlW’s death in 1959.  Apparently his son-in-law, Wesley Peters, who was an MIT-trained engineer, and who was FLlW’s right-hand-man for all things engineering, was 6′-5″ tall, and he hated that he always had to stoop when he was around FLlW.  He wanted a space to sit and enjoy the desert in front of a fireplace and remember FLlW.  So he had the ceiling raised to make this space…

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The fireplace…

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The views…

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We entered the Dining Room to enjoy a break and a little refreshment…

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The Dining Room wasn’t always here… It was originally on the opposite side of the house, overlooking the southern views across the desert.  But, in 1948, the local power company strung power poles across the edge of the property to facilitate the rapid post-war expansion of Scottsdale.  FLlW was so incensed at this, after exhausting all avenues of protest, including a letter to President Truman, that he redesigned the buildings and landscaping to reverse the orientation and avoid the views of power poles.  (Truman’s response to his letter:  “Do you really think I have nothing better to do than to worry about your view?”)  Today the power poles have been replaced by giant steel high-tension wire structures… They are quite ugly…)

So we enjoyed our refreshment… We had a VERY interesting talk by a woman who was born at Taliesin.  She lives here today, where she works in the archives department.  Her mother and father were some of the first students here in 1937.  They stayed on after their school days were over, having two children here.  They moved away briefly during WWII; they subsequently divorced, and her mother moved back and lived and worked here the rest of her life.  She passed away just last year, well into her nineties.  There are three other original students who came and never left who still live here…

We saw many photos of life at Taliesin in the old days, and many interesting stories.  Originally, the students pitched tents out in the desert (there were no dormitories…) or they built “Desert Shelters” in which to live.  No electricity, running water, or kitchens.  Students still live out in the desert today… If you come to see Taliesin West in the winter you can tour the student “homes”…

We thoroughly enjoyed her talk…

But it was time to move on… We left the Dining Room via the Breezeway and went to the entrance to Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s home…

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As usual, the front door is hard to find, and is very small…

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This is the Garden Room, or the entertaining space.  Parties, called, “Taliesin Nights”,  were held here most Saturday evenings.  Celebrities, friends, and students mixed, all in formal attire.  In the early days FLlW would send a large flat bed truck the four miles to Scottsdale to pick up the guests, so that they would not have to navigate the narrow, steep, dirt road…

The room has a canvas roof; glass was added in the late 1940s, and central heat and AC was added by Mrs Wright in the 1970s… It is a lovely room…

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Water is added whenever it rains…

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Adjacent to the Garden Room is the Wrights’ private sitting room.  Originally it was an open-air space, open to take in the nature of the desert…

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But Mrs. Wright eventually tired of the exposure to the desert and asked that glass be installed.  FLlW objected for many years… Finally, FLlW consented, and ordered the apprentices to install the glass.  When they asked what they should do with the pots on the shelves, FLlW angrily answered, “Leave them exactly where they are”!  Thus:

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The Wrights’ bedroom and Mrs. Wrights sitting room, face onto the desert, but the views have been constructed, using fencing and trees, to obscure the power poles… The “Moon Gate” allowed the Wrights’ children to access the adjacent courtyard and their rooms.  Mrs. Wright eventually built another bedroom suite for herself after FLlW’s death…

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The Sprites seen here are two of the five remaining original Sprites (out of over 500) that were designed and built for the Midway Gardens project in Chicago in 1915.  The others were all bulldosed into Lake Michigan, along with the rest of  Midway Gardens, after prohibition doomed the project and the City wanted something else on the site…

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This is the Master Bedroom…

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The bathroom is sheathed in polished aluminum… as befitting an Airstream!

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More lighting experiments in the bedroom:  recessed lighting and up-lighting…

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We then moved to one of the guest cottages.  The rain is briefly letting up…

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Walking back along the main house… This is about the only 2-story building… The upper floors contain apartments for staff and/or guests…

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The dinner bell…

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Our last building is the Cabaret…

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This is an underground “supper club” where the students and staff would put on various types of entertainment… The acoustics are great!

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Notice that the rows of seats are angled relative to the stage area.  Mr. Wright always sat a certain way in venues like this, so the seating was designed to accommodate his habits.  This was his way of dictating how you sit if you want a good view of the stage…

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I couldn’t help peeking into the kitchen and service corridor…

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As we left the Cabaret the rain stopped briefly, so we could take a few photos of the exteriors…

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Ventilation holes in the vault…

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The Office…

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The Drafting Room…

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The view of the power towers…

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And then our three hour tour was over…

We left, sadly, in the rain…

We dropped in at The Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort… We immediately noticed the Sprites… Oh.  And it was raining with a capital RAIN!

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Warren McArthur, Jr. and his brother Charles McArthur along with John McEntee Bowman, opened the Arizona Biltmore on February 23, 1929.

The Arizona Biltmore’s architect of record is Albert Chase McArthur (brother of the hotel owners), yet the design is often mistakenly attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright.  This is due to Wright’s on-site consulting for four months in 1928 relating to the “Textile Block” construction used in the hotel.  Albert McArthur had been a draftsman for Wright, and specifically asked Wright to assist with implementing the textile block system, which became a signature element of the hotel’s appearance.  The hotel has similarities to several Wright buildings, especially in the main lobby, owing to a strong imprint of the unit block design that Wright had utilized on four residential buildings in the Los Angeles area six years earlier.  McArthur is indisputably the architect as original linen drawings of the hotel in the Arizona State University Library archives attest, as does a 1929 feature article in Architectural Record magazine. The two architects are a study in contrast with the famous and outspoken Wright being self-taught and never licensed as an architect in Arizona. The more soft-spoken McArthur was Harvard trained in architecture, mathematics, engineering, and music. McArthur obtained an architect’s license in Arizona, number 338, in 1925, the year he arrived in Phoenix to begin his practice.

Reproductions of the geometric ‘sprite’ statues originally designed by sculptor Alfonso Iannelli for Wright’s 1915 Midway Gardens project in Chicago are placed around the property.  Also, the original hotel solarium was converted to a restaurant in 1973 and since the mid-1990s has been named ‘Wright’s’.  Three on site restaurants bear Wright’s name, Wright’s at the Biltmore, The Wright Bar, and Frank & Albert’s.

We were there to have lunch at Frank and Albert’s

We looked around and found many interesting details…

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And then we enjoyed a very nice lunch…

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Driving back to the Villa proved to be quite an adventure…

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We did safely return to the Villa and spent the rest of the day and evening watching football…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-12 – Arizona – Day 55 – Arcosanti and Taliesin West

We packed up early, left Camp Verde, and headed south.  Our first stop was at Arcosanti:

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Arcosanti is a planned experimental town with a molten bronze bell casting business 70 miles north of Phoenix, at an elevation of 3,732 feet.  Its “arcology” concept was posited by the Italian-American architect, Paolo Soleri, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  He began construction in 1970 to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth.  He taught and influenced generations of architects and urban designers who studied and worked with him there to build the proposed ‘town.’

We arrived in time for the 10:00 am tour.  After a brief video presentation we toured the various buildings of this “urban experiment”.  We saw the “students” making their signature clay bells, then we moved on to the Foundry.  Today we watched as they poured molten bronze (2,100 degrees F) into dies (forms) to become bronze bells…

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We were shown performance areas, living quarters, and lounge spaces.

The place is a little strange… Sort of like a hippie commune with high academic credentials.  And we didn’t even see any of the architects living and working there…

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We continued on into Phoenix, or Sun City, to be exact.  We checked into our RV park, then I took the truck into the Chevrolet dealer; we are about 1,000 miles overdue for an oil change, and I don’t want to risk driving home across the desert with bad oil…

The big event today is an evening tour of Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and school in Scottsdale…

Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the desert on the outskirts of Scottsdale, AZ, from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Today it is the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship began to “trek” to Arizona each winter in 1935. In 1937 Wright purchased the plot of desert land that would soon become Taliesin West. He paid about $7,000 for over 600 acres on the southern slope of the McDowell Range overlooking Paradise Valley outside Scottsdale.  In 1937 is was 4 miles past the last paved road in Scottsdale, a hamlet of about 200 people.  Today it is about a 45 minute drive from the RV park in Sun City… It is almost totally surrounded by the sprawl of Scottsdale…  We arrived just before dark…

The tour was fabulous, but, since it was at night, we took few pictures.  We will come back tomorrow and do it in the rain, so pictures might be better…

This is the main drafting room…

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This is the Breezeway…

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We arrived home at about 10:00 pm – very late for us…

Tomorrow we come back to Taliesin West and have a three hour “In Depth” tour…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-11 – Camp Verde and Clarkdale – Day 54 – Verde Canyon Railroad and an Extraordinary Dinner at Moscato

We enjoyed a lovely day here in the Verde Valley…

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It was cool and rainy, but the forecast was for improved conditions…

We drove to the small town of Clarkdale, where we were to board the Verde Canyon Railroad for a 4 hour round trip into the Verde Canyon.  We easily found the Depot.  (Fake vigas noted…)

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We checked in and received our boarding passes… We were disappointed that the depot was not actually in the town of Clarkdale – it is in the valley below.

It was a short, 1/2 mile walk into the center of Clarkdale.  We quickly found the highly recommended Violette’s, a very good French pastry place housed in an old Caboose…

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We enjoyed a Croque Monsieur and Avocado Toast along with great coffee.  The rain had stopped and we checked out the town.

Several towns around here were dependent on mining and smelting copper, gold, and silver.  All the towns died in the early 1950s when the smelter closed and all the workers left.  In the town of Jerome the population went from 15,000 to 50 in a period of about 6 months.  A similar story, in various degrees, could be told for Cottonwood and Clarkdale.  Over time, Jerome reinvented itself as a arts and crafts center, and Cottonwood became a center for nightlife, with restaurants, wine tasting rooms, bars, and shops.

But Clarkdale?  Still waiting for something to happen.  There was Violette’s, of course, and The 10/12 Lounge, a retro cocktail lounge.  But the prime business block stands empty and for sale.  Very sad.  What this town needs is a reason for people to come and hang out here…

It was time to return to the Depot to catch the train… There were about 400 people sitting at tables, drinking coffee, shopping in the gift shops… WAIT!

Why is the Depot down in this valley, and not in the town of Clarkdale?  This is exactly what the town needs!  They could put the Depot in the town, then provide a way to get the people down to the train – a shuttle, an escalator, maybe a zip-line?  It seems the town is missing a great opportunity…

Anyway, we found our car and found our seats.  Appetizers and light snacks are provided, and a cash bar is available for beverages.  The cars and chairs were very comfortable.  If you wanted a better view of the scenery, an outdoor viewing car is adjacent to the parlor car…

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Soon we were underway.  We rode 2 hours up the Verde Canyon, along the Verde River, with great views of… Red Rocks!

There was a guide who told us what we were seeing, pointing out interesting sights and telling us a little history of the area…

The first thing we see is the Slag Heap.  This covers 40 acres.  Slag is the waste from the smelting operations, and it was just dumped into a pile… Slag is hot molten rock… it glowed red when it was placed.  As it cooled it became this giant mountain of solid rock… It rises over 100 feet above the train, and it fills the valley below…

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Above you can see the metal form work used to prevent the molten slag from covering the train tracks…

Our guide reported that someone has recently paid 6 million dollars for the slag heap, and they have set up a plant nearby to extract the small amounts of copper, silver, and gold from the slag that were too difficult to get out 60 years ago… They are about to begin operations…

So we continued into the canyon… Beautiful sights all around…

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It was a lovely ride – very comfortable, very informative…

We returned to the Villa, and enjoyed a beautiful rainbow and sunset…

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As I told you, last night we went to a fine Italian restaurant in the town of Camp Verde.  We were so impressed with the food and the ambiance that we decided to return tonight.  However, instead of ordering off the menu, we simply asked the chef to make us something special.  We also specified that the portions be very small, and while I think he was a little embarrassed by how little food they gave us, it was still more than we could eat…

Paul was our server, again, and he seemed to enjoy this meal as much as we did… We began with an appetizer of Crimini mushrooms stuffed with Italian sausage , cured meats, and aged provolone cheese, with a red wine sauce… Next came a seafood pasta, which consisted of a giant Langostino atop red-wine infused house made pasta.  Finally we had a beef roulade, stuffed with shrimp and aged cheese, and topped with a red wine sauce and a splash of 40 year old balsamic, all served over a base of potato.  Pictures don’t do this food justice, so you will have to imagine…

For dessert we had something that was a combination of a cream puff and an Italian donut – creamed filled crispy pastry, caramel sauce, and a beautiful plate decorated with chocolate and something red…

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As we stumbled back to the Villa we were happily satiated.

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-10 – Day 53 – Camp Verde and Sedona

We left Gallup at 8:00 am.  It was 36 degrees outside… We stopped briefly for a mid-morning snack.  We are driving west along the 40 through northern Arizona…

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At Winslow we turned south on tiny highway 89; the sign said, “No services next 51 miles”… They weren’t kidding:

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We turned west again and soon arrived at Camp Verde, site of Historic Fort Verde (1865).  Camp Verde is a working class town, a few miles south of Sedona.

We parked and set up at a very nice RV Park, then we drove to Sedona.  Sedona seems like they took Santa Fe and dropped it into the middle of Bryce Canyon…

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Sedona, like Santa Fe, consists of hotels and shopping areas aimed directly at tourists:  gift shops, art galleries, spas, restaurants, and bars.  Compared to Santa Fe, it has a little less Indian culture and a lot more spiritual culture…

Being tourists, we found a nice restaurant.  Lynda ordered a small margarita…

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I was still pondering the menu and the Yelp ratings…

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We had a nice, but small and simple lunch, then walked through the shops amongst the other tourists.  I was surprised by the number of families in town; I would have expected more well dressed ladies of a certain age (with tiny yippie dogs) and their equally well dressed male companions…

We returned to the Villa.  Internet service was bad, so I had to hang out at the office to get anything done.  We walked around the RV park.  It is very nice, mostly seasonal and long term visitors.  There were six other Airstreams in the park… Oh! Wait! We just noticed a brand new Airstream Atlas!  Make that seven other Airstreams in the park…

At dinner time we sought out all the fine dining options in the area.  There was one.

We went to Moscato, a fine Italian place in Camp Verde, about four miles from the RV park…

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We arrived early and we walked a bit in the town, such as it is…

We found a liquor store that carried all the essentials…

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We’re not in California any more…

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The restaurant was VERY nice – it soon became our favorite restaurant in Camp Verde…

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The food and service were great.  The room is beautiful.  They also have a lovely outdoor patio, but it was a bit cool for that.  There were several large parties and families celebrating something or other…

We made a reservation again for tomorrow night…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-09 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 52 – Caravan is over; we head for home…

We watched the balloons fly one last time… We walked on the field amidst the chaos…

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It’s always fun to see the special shaped balloons – later in the week they will have a special competition just for them…

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This is Bill Lee, the pilot who organized our balloon rides last week in Gallup.  His balloon is the official balloon for the State of New Mexico… We tried to talk to him, but I think he was preoccupied…

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So we walked on…

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After a few minutes we looked back and Bill Lee was aloft…

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Once all the balloons had ascended we walked back to the Villa, hitched up, and left our happy campground full of Airstreams…

Our destination today is Gallup, NM, back to USA RV Park, which we left less than one week ago… We are spending one night, to dump the tanks, take showers, and get re-oriented again for our trip home…

We stopped briefly to stretch our legs, and then traveled on…

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We crossed the Continental Divide (7275′ elevation) at about 11:00 am.  It was 44 degrees outside… And then the rain began.  It was not heavy, and it did not hinder our trip…

There is not a lot going on out here in western New Mexico…

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But soon we were settled in to our site at USA RV Park, just west of Gallup, NM.

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This evening we had planned to walk the 1/2 mile and eat at Virgies, a Gallup institution.  Literally seconds before we left the Airstream it started to rain in a giant downpour.  It didn’t last long, but we didn’t want to get caught in another such downpour… Also, the highway was too wet, in our opinion, to walk…

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We called Uber and 9 minutes later we were at Virgies:

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By the time dinner was over we were able to walk back to the Villa…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Oh!  Here’s Evelyn:

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2018-10-08 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 51 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It rained all night and it was cold… But this morning the winds were gentle and the balloons flew.  But it was an unusual flight…

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The balloons lifted off and drifted away from the Airstreams, towards the northwest.  Then the balloons dropped down, close to the ground, where a southern wind blew them south, then southeast; then the balloons ascended and caught the north winds again and the balloons came back over the launch field again.  This isn’t exactly the “Albuquerque Box” that they talk about, but it was close…

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And then they were gone…

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After the balloons were done, we headed to Costco to pick up a few supplies for our trip home…

This afternoon was our “final banquet” for the caravan.  These are normally held in the evening, but since there are 900,000 people visiting Albuquerque this week going out to a restaurant for dinner is not an option… So 2:00 pm it is.

The banquet was at El Pinto, a great New Mexican restaurant.  We were in a nice, spacious room, and we had a nice buffet lunch of all things Mexican, with a New Mexican twist… There were the usual speeches, toasts, blame for the innocent and accolades for the uninvolved…

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A slide show was presented that recapped our trip, and a few hokey songs were sung.  Well-deserved praises were said for our leaders, and we all vowed to keep in touch…

We returned to the Villa and had a simple (no food) Happy Hour.  But then it got too cold for these Californians, so we were turned in early…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-10-07 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 50 – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It was windy this morning, so the balloons could not fly.

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We walked around a bit and relaxed all morning, then at 1:00 we re-visited the Turquoise Museum…

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We had been here when we first started the caravan, and we learned what to look for when shopping for turquoise.  Since then we have been lied to by every jewelry store and trading post and gift shop in the Four Corners States… We had a nice chat with the owners…

On our way back to the Villa we stopped at a local New Mexico winery…

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We enjoyed a nice, casual tasting, chatting with a couple visiting from Virginia…  We bought a few bottles to augment our supply for our trip home…

This evening was Happy Hours again, but it was really too cold to sit outside, so we had three other couples join us inside the Villa…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

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