Bolero Rises to the Occasion Sunday, Sep 26 2010 

Ravel’s Bolero was the Phoenix Symphony’s headliner for the Thursday and Saturday evening Classics Series concerts.  This ever popular piece concluded an exceptional evening of music.  Claude Debussy’s Iberia set the stage for the world premier a newly commissioned work by Osvaldo Golijov.  This unusual modern piece of music featured four artists: Jeremy Flower, electronics; Kayhan Kalhor, kamancheh; Jamey Haddad, percussion; Michael Ward-Bergeman, accordian.  The kamancheh is a Persian spiked fiddle.  During the intermission Michael Christie discussed this new form of music with Jeremy Flower and Jamey Haddad.  Elements of improvisation, especially at the start, moved the featured artists in their presentation of this work.  After the break, pianist Stephen Gosling was the soloist for modern composer John Corigliano’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.  The pianist met the challenge of conveying unexpected turns from quiet calm to onward force.  Michael Christie should be commended for his ability to bring together such a magnificent melding of new and old music with such vibrant soloists for such a pleasing evening of music.  Bravo!

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Koala Preview Saturday, Sep 25 2010 

Watusi Cow

Watusi Cow

The temperature in Phoenix reached 105 degrees on the first Saturday of Fall.  Nevertheless, large numbers of Phoenix Zoo members showed up to view two koalas on loan from the San Diego Zoo.  The Phoenix Zoo opens at 9 a.m.  We knew there was a crowd when we arrived at 9:10 a.m. to an almost full parking lot.  Although there was a long line to see the koalas, it moved fairly quickly.  We passed one pond with two dozen turtles near shore with their heads peaking out of the water.  There were some nice reflections on the water, too.  The koalas, however, were doing what they normally do – sleep.  In one window we saw a fat bundle of gray fur.  The second koala was difficult to make out because of the reflection on the glass.  We were told there are plans to take care of that problem before the official exhibit opening next week.  Sorry no pictures of koalas on this visit.  There were some other animals that attracted our attention.  The small calamian deer were feeding.  The watusi cattle, with horns that can extend up to eight feet from tip to tip, were cooling themselves in the shade near a water hole.  The southern white rhinoceros were also enjoying a shady mudhole.  The Phoenix Zoo is a popular destination.

Goldwater Lakes Trail Monday, Sep 20 2010 

Goldwater Lake

Goldwater Lake

After driving past the quaint, well-maintained Victorian homes on Mt. Vernon Avenue in Prescott, AZ, we stayed on Senator Highway about four miles, parking at the trailhead for the Goldwater Lakes Trail (396).  We hiked about two miles on this segment of the Prescott Circle Trail to a viewpoint overlooking Little Goldwater Lake.  On our return we trekked down a side trail to Goldwater Lake.  Although the temperature was in the low 90s, this relatively flat trail through stands of thinned ponderosa pine provided glimpses of the clear water of the lakes on another blue sky day.  A few bicyclists were also enjoying the trail on the last weekend before fall.

McCall, Idaho Monday, Sep 6 2010 

The scenic drive from Boise to McCall follows the Payette River on a narrow, curving road. McCall, located on Payette Lake, is a recreational paradise.  Brundage Mountain Resort, for example, is known for superb winter skiing and snowboarding with 48 groomed runs and excellent powder snow.  In the summer, however, mountain bikers take to the slopes and use many of the trails for thrilling descents. For an interesting hike, we rode the ski lift to an elevation of 7,640 feet and enjoyed panoramic views back to the parking lot on the 3.5 mile walk on South Lodge Lane.

Narrows of Payette Lake

Payette Lake

Ponderosa State Park is located on a peninsula of Payette Lake.  After taking in the lake views from the basalt cliffs of the Narrows and Osprey Cliff Overlooks, we hiked the Lily Marsh Trail, returning to our car via the Fox Run Mountain Trail.  The Lily Marsh is a kettle fed by underground streams and small inlet streams that is slowly becoming a meadow.

Gold Fork Hot Springs is located in Donnelly, Idaho about 18 miles south of McCall, the last four on a dirt road.  The alkaline, mineral-rich waters are divided into several pools.  After trying the hottest pool, we stepped into the biggest pool.  The parking lot and pools were filled with many others vacationing in the area over the Labor Day weekend and desiring a hyrdomassage.  In my case, I spent too long in the hot water, experiencing a slowly spinning forest and sky for a few seconds before fainting.  Fortunately, experienced CPR trained individuals, including two doctors (of optometry) came to my rescue.  Special thanks also to the Donnelly EMT volunteers who checked my blood pressure and were prepared to transport me if needed.  The experience renewed my appreciation for the wonders of life.  Enjoy each day!

Our visit to McCall was part of a family reunion celebrating my mother-in-law’s recent 90th birthday.  Here’s to many more!

Ste. Chapelle Winery Monday, Sep 6 2010 

Ste. Chapelle Winery

Ste. Chapelle Winery

Ste. Chapelle Winery, established in 1975, is Idaho’s largest winery, producing and distributing more than 150,000 cases annually of more than 20 different wines.  Named for La Sainte Chapelle built by Louis IX in the 13th century in Paris, the visitor center has high, bright cathedral style windows overlooking the vineyards in south western Idaho with the Snake River winding through the valley.  The grapes are grown in a 20 mile area surrounding the winery known as the Snake River Plain.  My favorite wine was the Dry Gewürztraminer.  The Syrah and Winemaker series Merlot samples were very disappointing.  The Brut sparkling wine was a solid tasting champagne style wine.  The Ice Riesling was a sweet, enjoyable experience.  We purchased a bottle of Special Harvest Riesling and Soft Huckleberry.