6/21 Thursday

We left the hotel around 10:00 to catch the nearby Imax movie about the Grand Canyon. The movie was about the history of the Grand Canyon.

After that, I booked a helicopter tour of the canyon and surrounding land. That left around 2:30. The tour headed east from Tusayan, then north toward the south rim. We got a view of the northern part of the Painted Desert before heading over the rim. The floor changed from about 100 feet to around 5,000 feet. We crossed the canyon to the north rim. There we say more trees due to the higher rainfall there from the higher elevation. We saw several impressive rock formations along the north rim as we headed west. After that, we went south back across the canyon and returned to the airport. It was a fantastic ride.

We headed back to the park to follow the bus route out to Hermit’s Rest. Along the way, we stopped at about 8 points with wonderful views.

After that, we headed back to the motel because my fever returned and I got chills. After I recovered, thanks to tylenol, we went to Pizza Hut Express in the Imax complex so Teagan could get a pizza. I stopped at a food mart to get some cereal and bananas for my first attempt at solid food in a while.

6/20 Wednesday

We left Santa Fe around 8:00 and headed to the Grand Canyon. Along the way, we stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park. We watched an introduction movie that explained how wood became petrified. After that we ate lunch in the adjoining restaurant.

We began the tour of the park by stopping at the various pull-outs that view the Painted Desert. The different colors in the rock were very striking. We spent more time in the Painted Desert part of the park than we thought we would because it was so striking.

After that we moved to the south part of the park where the petrified wood is. There wasn’t as much petrified would as we expected, but it was very interesting. Apparently, there used to be a lot more wood, but much of it has left the park.

We exited the park on the south side and followed a road into Holbrook to rejoin I-40. Once in Holbrook, we sought out the Wigwam Motel, perhaps the most famous icon of Route 66.

About this time, I decided that my lunch was upsetting my stomach, and had to make an unscheduled stop to expel it. The heat in the park was pretty intense, so that didn’t help matters either.

As we followed I-40 all the way to Williams, AZ, I made a few more similar stops. We exited I-40 to follow a road north to Tusayan where we had our hotel reservation for our Grand Canyon visit.

After we were checked in, we headed to the Grand Canyon, after a stop at Wendy’s, to see the sunset at Yavapai Point.  Then we headed back to the motel.

6/19 Tuesday

After breakfast in the motel, we headed over to Museum Hill to visit the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. The “Here now and Always” exhibit was very interesting. It had relics of native Americans back as far as 10,000 BCE. The plaza between the museums on Museum Hill was very pretty. The desert flowering plants were especially attractive. There was also a cafe and a labyrinth.

Next we headed downtown for lunch and shopping. We ate at Tia Sophia’s Restaurant. Teagan had tostatas and I had green chile stew. Both came with sopapillas. Teagan’s tostatas were pretty good, and my stew was even spicier than the stew I had last night at The Shed. But it was really good.

We walked through the shops in the Plaza Mercado. Other than the Santa Fe School of Cooking, there wasn’t much there of interest to us. Next we visited the Chile Store which was interesting. Teagan bought a green chile cinnamon hot chocolate mix. Then we went through an arcade close to the Plaza, which was a collection of shops. There were many clothes and jewelry stores that were interesting. Teagan got a really inexpensive bracelet.

We walked across the Plaza to the merchants that occupy the area in front the Palace of the Governors. This area is reserved for Native American crafts made by locals. Teagan got a pony tail holder with a Native American design on it there.

After we finished with the Plaza area, we drove over to Canyon Rd. where dozens of art galleries are located. We visited several of them. They were very impressive. One had incredible glass creations. Another had a sculpture garden that we enjoyed. Some had Native American art and relics. Others had contemporary art and western art. It would have taken days to visit all of the galleries, so we just hit the highlights.

After that we headed up to Upper Canyon Rd. to find a hiking trail. We went for a short hike on the land that used to hold the Santa Fe water supply. At some point, the dam holding the water was removed and the land reclaimed and held as a nature preserve.

After the hike, we drove around the canyon and up higher in the hills to see some of the neighborhoods and the views. Then we headed back toward the motel.

Along the way, we decided to eat supper at the Santa Fe Bar and Grill. Teagan got the shrimp soft tacos with guacamole and mango salsa. I got tortilla soup with Caesar salad. Teagan’s dish was good, but not spicy like the other meals she has had here. The tortilla soup was excellent, but the Caesar salad was just average. Moral: don’t order Caesar salad in a restaurant known for New Mexican cuisine.

After supper, we picked up supplies for our long drive tomorrow and returned to the motel. Tomorrow we head out for the Grand Canyon. Along the way, we plan to stop at the Petrified Forest National Park for a quick visit, and a drive by the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, AZ.

6/18 Monday

Teagan and I arrived at New Wave Rafting at 8:45 a.m. as planned for our all-day rafting trip through the Taos Box on the Rio Grande. I was glad to see there were only two others already waiting – a father and son from New Orleans. A small group suited me nicely. But we learned that a bus of others were on the way, and we would wait for their arrival. It turned out to be two buses of teenagers from Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS. They had left Hattiesburg around 1:00 p.m. the day before and driven straight through to Santa Fe. The BLM limits the number of permits they issue, so only 37 of the church group could go on the trip. The large group made the 90-minute drive up to the Taos area a little livelier.

We arrived at the put in point around 10:30. We had been split into seven groups on the bus ride. One group had five rafters, the others six, for a total of 41. Additionally, each raft had a guide in the back to steer and give oar commands.

The gorge was very scenic with near-vertical walls ascending around 700 feet to the rim. The initial part of the trip was easy, and the guide, ‘New Wave’ Dave, used that time to teach us about rafting. We had some easy rapids to practice on during the first two hours.

As we approached the beach where we were going to lunch, rafters were invited to jump in the water and float down to the beach. Teagan and maybe two others from our raft jumped in and had a fun ride, feet first, through a small set of rapids on the way. We beached for lunch and were treated with lots of fruit and sandwich makings. I was able to make a nice sandwich with avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese, roasted red chiles, and whole grain mustard on whole wheat bread. Teagan make an impressive looking pita sandwich, but I don’t know what she put on it.

After the lunch break, the trip resumed. We spotted a family of mountain sheep high in the canyon wall.  There were three adults and two young ones.  It was fun watching them hop up the rocks.  According to Dave, a few sheep were relocated to the gorge area from southern New Mexico.

Along the way, Dave had been shuffling seat assignments so everyone got to experience what is was like in different parts of the raft. The front was definitely more exciting through the rapids. The front was also a great place to be when we “surfed.” Surfing can occur at particular locations in a few of the rapids when the water flow over a boulder creates a hole on the downstream side. We pointed the raft upstream and paddled hard to go against the current until the front was in the hole. The back flow of water to fill the hole keeps the raft in place, the front of the raft fills with water coming over the boulder, and wild fun ensues. We did this three of four times along the trip so everyone got a chance to experience this while sitting in front.

The rapids became progressively more technical as the trip went on. Sine Dave had done over a thousand Taos Box trips himself, he knew each rock in each rapid intimately.

6/17 Sunday

After breakfast in the motel, we drove downtown and parked in a garage near the plaza. The parking garages downtown blend in very well with the pueblo style buildings.

We went to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum at 10:00 a.m. when it opened. We watched a short intro movie, then viewed the exhibits. We also listened to a docent give a 30-minute presentation on O’Keeffe and three of her works. We finished looking at the works in the museum, then headed to the plaza for lunch.

We picked up some chicken and red chile tamales from a street vendor that were really good. There was an arts and crafts fair going on in the plaza which we looked at while we waited for a historic walking tour at 1:15. The tour started at La Fonda (which means “the hotel”), visited several historic buildings, finishing with the mysterious staircase in the Loredo Chapel.

After the tour, T bought a necklace from a street vendor, then we went for a drive along the high road to Taos. We turned around partway there since the complete drive there and back would have kept us out later than we wanted. Once back in Santa Fe, we stopped at Diego’s Cafe and ate supper. Teagan got enchilada trios and R got plato azules (a blue corn enchilada and a chile relleno). Sopapillo’s were served with the meal. Everything was very good. Then back to the motel.

6/16 Saturday

Our flight was delayed out of Nashville so that we would have missed our connection in Houston, so we had to rebook a flight through Phoenix. That put us a little later getting into Albuquerque. We got our rental car, stopped at REI on the way out of Albuquerque so I could get a fleece jacket, then on to Santa Fe. We got checked into the Super8.

We went for a drive on Canyon Rd. This is a famous strip of art galleries, artists, and restaurants. We parked the car and walked along the most interesting stretch. Then we visit the largest adobe structure in the country. Some church. Then on to Maria’s Restaurant. There was a wait, so we headed to the bar where I picked from among the 127 margaritas. Teagan got a virgin margarita. I was wearing my FSU shirt, and someone approached him and asked if he was a real Seminole, of just a shirt wearer. It turns out that he was an assistant football coach under Bill Peterson from 1968 until Peterson left to go to Rice. So he and I were at the same football games when I was in the marching band.

Teagan got chile rellenos and I got carne adovado. The salsa that came with the chips was really spicy, and the chips were really salty. My dish was really spicy too. Teagan’s food was spicy, but not too much so. The food was good.

Then back to the motel for some cards.

Wikipedia

I have been hanging out at wikipedia a lot lately to learn about the sites we will see on our trip. I just pick a topic and search for info on it. I need to start setting a countdown timer or alarm, though, because I just keep following links and get totally lost in all that interesting information.

A few days ago I started at Pompeii and just followed links from there. Before I knew it, an hour had flown by and I had to hurry to an appointment.

Here’s a web page that has links to wikipedia pages that roughly follow the itenerary of the trip.

Cell Phones

From what I’ve been able to gather, Italy and Greece use GSM cell phone networks, although at a different frequency than here in the US. I unlocked my Cingular Motorola V551 cell phone so that it can work on networks other than Cingular. That was a pain. It took several attempts and most of a morning. The newer Motorolas seem to be especially problematic to unlock. I purchased a SIM card on eBay that allegedly will allow me to use the phone in Italy without roaming. It will also give me a local number there.

My return to fluting

I recently returned to playing the flute after a 23 year hiatus. Its been a lot of fun trying to recover my old and long forgotten skills.

My inspiration to return to the flute came while attending the National Flute Association convention in Nashville in August 2004. Coincidentally, I had moved to the Nashville area just 2 weeks before the convention, so it was very easy to attend.

The NFA convention was great, and I decided to buy a used Miyazawa flute off ebay so I could test the waters. After a year, I was still enjoying playing, so I make the jump to a handmade Powell flute. It should suit me for the rest of my flute playing days.