Codex Leicester Comes to Phoenix Sunday, Jan 25 2015 

Phoenix Art Museum Special Exhibit

Phoenix Art Museum Special Exhibit

A special exhibit of “Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation” opened yesterday at the Phoenix Art Museum. We enjoyed brunch at Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar before the Museum opened at noon. It was necessary to pass through security before entering the Codex Leicester exhibit. Bill Gates purchased the Codex in 1994 for a cool $30,802,500. It is 18 double-page and double sided sheets (72 pages) representing the curiosity, direct observation, and thinking on paper of Leonardo, one of the world’s most unique inquiring minds combining artist, scientist, and thinker. I initially found the text indecipherable. It made more sense when I learned that Leonardo uses mirror writing along with his drawings and diagrams. In other words, he wrote in Italian from right to left. Much of this work deals with the properties of water and astronomy observations. The exhibit is supplemented with the works of other artists. There are paintings by impressionists Gustace Courbet and Claude Monet; photographs by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams; a Mona Lisa reproduction by Kiki Smith made from spools of thread; and The Raft by Bill Viola which documents in a slow motion video a group subjected to high pressure water hoses.

Hands Connect Hearts

Hands Connect Hearts

Our visit to the Phoenix Art Museum started by boarding the Metro light rail at the Dorsey/Apache stop in Tempe. The light rail opened in December 2008 covering about 20 miles of the Phoenix area. Plans are in place for seven extensions expanding to 60 miles by 2034. We were pleasantly surprised to discover how crowded the cars were on a Sunday including at least 8 bicycles in our car on our return. Interestingly, the plans for light rail also included public art. The 21 foot high “Hands” by Suikang Zhao found at the Dorsey/Apache stop is a great example. It uses a man’s hand and a woman’s hand to show our connections. I believe my photograph captures the hands forming a heart.

Two other special exhibits of photography were of interest to me. One was “All That Glitters is Not Gold: Platinum Photography from the Center for Creative Photography,” and the other “Platinum: Contemporary Photography.” I learned that in photography the platinum process produces a velvet matte surface, provides a subtle tonal range, results in a delicate rendering of the image, and allows for cool greys and warm browns through beautiful monochromatic coloration. The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona has 800 platinum prints in its collection of 90,000 prints. About 80 photographs by 50 artists are on display.

“Sacred Stories and Images of the Buddha” was another special exhibit that I wanted to see. A 37-foot painted cloth scroll from Laos was the main image. We viewed the first four of the thirteen chapters of the Vessantana Jataka, one of 547 stories allegedly told by the Buddha of his previous lives. This one stresses the generosity of the Prince in giving up his riches, his sacred white elephant, his children, and even his wife. The Phoenix Art Museum has special exhibits that are well worth seeing.

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Dinner with Blue Moon Saturday, Jan 24 2015 

Blue Moon Beer Dinner

Blue Moon Beer Dinner

Last night the Gurley Street Grill and Canyon Distributing & MillerCoors sponsored “Dinner with Blue Moon.” Six tapas were paired with six varieties of Blue Moon.

  1. Apple butternut bisque & chipotle crostini was paired with Cinnamon Horchata Ale
  2. Caprese salad paired with Belgian White Ale
  3. Turkey fritter with roasted corn coulis & sweet potato puree paired with Gingerbread Spiced Ale
  4. Shrimp scampi with parmesan crisps paired with Saison Flanders Style Ale
  5. Angus portobello sliders with secret sauce & cheddar cheese paired with Belgian Style Pale Ale
  6. Vanilla bean brulee paired with Mountain Ale

Between each course we learned more about the Blue Moon Brewing Company, a craft beer company owned by Coors. After Keith Villa earned a Ph.D. in brewing from the University of Brussels, he started creating craft beers inspired by Belgian styles. In 1995 an old warehouse was restored and incorporated into the architecture of Coors Field. The Sandlot continues as the home of the Blue Moon Brewing Company.

Peavine Trail From Hwy 89A Monday, Jan 19 2015 

Iron King Trail

View on the Iron King Trail

Today we found the parking lot for the Prescott Peavine Trail off Highway 89A. We hiked 1.8 miles where the Sante Fe Railroad used to travel from Ash Fork to Prescott. Much of this area is grasslands. Those not from Arizona are usually surprised to learn that Arizona has grasslands and forests, not just desert. The predominant blue grama grass is called chino ( “curly” in Spanish) for its wavy leaves. At the junction known as Entro or Point of Rocks we learned that in 1897 Frank Murphy organized the Prescott and Eastern (P&E) Railway to connect a 26 mile line to Mayer. The P&E hauled ore and livestock from Mayer while bringing in machinery, manufactured goods, and passengers. In 1901, he incorporated the Bradshaw Mountain Railway with two branches. One branch traversed 8 miles to the rich Poland Mine. The other branch ascended a tortuous 28 miles to Crown King. In 1926, the branch to Crown King was abandoned and in 1932 the branch to Poland was discontinued. In 1958, the route to Mayer was no longer used. The tracks for the P&E were torn up in 1974. We hiked about a half mile of the 4 mile Iron King Trail which ends in Prescott Valley. We noted paw prints that might be from a mountain lion. On our way in one runner was working out on the Peavine Trail. On the Iron King Trail one mountain biker passed us. On our return trip on the Peavine Trail we passed a fellow wearing a white cowboy hat sitting on a bench and talking on a cell phone. Near the parking lot three riders on horses passed us. After seeing the film Selma yesterday, today, MLK Day, was an interesting time to take a hike and to reflect on the 1965 Selma march and why it is still necessary to ensure voting rights for all Americans.

L. V. Yates Trail Tuesday, Jan 13 2015 

L. V. Yates Trail Vista

L. V. Yates Trail Vista

Today we parked in the 40th Street Trailhead south of Shea Boulevard in order to hike in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. We started hiking the L. V. Yates Trail #8 named for the owner of Yates Sporting Goods who died December 17, 2009. By going straight at the junction with the Charles M. Christiansen Memorial Trail #100, we ended up exploring part of a ridge trail. On our return we hiked a short distance east on Trail #100. We returned to the parking lot shortly before it started raining, always a welcome visitor in Phoenix. We need to do more exploring of this area.

Yuma, Arizona Sunday, Jan 11 2015 

Castle Dome Mine Museum

Castle Dome Mine Museum

Last Friday, we visited the Castle Dome Mine Museum, located 10 miles off Highway 95 at mile marker 55. Beware: 7 of those 10 miles are on a dusty gravel road. The Museum is divided into two parts. In one part, a collection of buildings have been reconstructed from the surrounding area and filled with artifacts. We walked in a loop with opportunities to view individual dwellings see five bars, cafes, and other businesses such as the blacksmith. There is even a church. A building with women’s clothing allowed visitors to try on a variety of hats. Many of the buildings exhibited tools; one had an impressive collection of saws. The second part of the Museum is a self-guided trail near some of the 3,000 mines starting with old Spanish diggings. A sign on Glory Hole indicated that by 1878 it had produced 200,000 ounces of silver. There were several buildings, too, ranging from a bunkhouse to the post office. The entire grounds have as a backdrop the distinctive Castle Dome peak. On our way to the museum we learned that it is adjacent to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge which preserves habitat for desert bighorn sheep. On our drive to Yuma, we also passed signs for the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. We later learned that in 1943 experiments with portable bridges were carried out here. Since then it has been used to develop combat vehicles, aircraft, and weapons systems.

Quartermaster Depot

Quartermaster Depot

The Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park was a frontier Army depot that supplied all the forts of the Southwest from 1864-1883. This 10-acre park has some of Arizona’s oldest buildings. Yuma’s oldest home, constructed in 1859 by George Johnson, later became the Quartermaster’s personal residence. The house has been restored to its 1876 appearance with two-foot thick adobe walls, high ceilings, a central breezeway, and a detached kitchen – all efforts to reduce heat while providing a comfortable living space in the desert. The Corral House stored grain and tack for the mules and horses. A tall stone water reservoir supplied the Depot with a reliable source of water pumped from the Colorado River and using a gravity-fed system of underground pipes throughout the site. The Storehouse stored 6 months worth of supplies destined for military posts throughout the Southwest. Supplies from San Francisco arrived by steamboat until the introduction of railroads. Later the Storehouse was used by the Bureau of Reclamation from the 1930s to 1982 to tame the Colorado with dams that prevented floods, generated power, and ensured a source of water. A restored wooden Southern Pacific passenger coach car also sits on the grounds. This type of car was introduced in 1875. This particular car was converted for rail maintenance in 1913 and continued to be used until 1938.

According to the Yuma Arizona 2014/2015 Official Visitors Guide some 60,000 California-bound gold-seekers in 1849 used a rope ferry to cross the Colorado River near Yuma’s Main Street. On our visit this past Saturday we found Main Street closed off for the City of Yuma’s Military Appreciation Day. Military displays filled the street for about two or three blocks. We listened to some speakers including Miss Yuma and Miss San Luis, Mexico before driving to the nearby Gateway Park. We walked under the Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge on some of the 7 miles of bike trail before finding a hiking trail along the Colorado River and through part of the 400 acres of restored wetlands. We saw stumps chewed by beavers and a beaver lodge.

Territorial Prison

Territorial Prison

On Saturday afternoon we visited the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. The prison operated for 33 years from 1876 to 1909 during which time it held 3,069 prisoners including 29 women. As we explored the remains of a cellblock, audio recordings shared stories of some prisoners. Each cell held six prisoners with only a container for a toilet. Life must have been tough with only a bath once a week. Any rule breaker was placed in a “Dark Cell,” a dark cave-like room. Local citizens considered the jail a “country club” because it had electricity, forced ventilation, 2 bathtubs & 3 showers, a library with 2,000 books, and even a band. A reconstructed Guard Tower offered a commanding view of the surrounding area including the Yuma East Wetlands restoration project where we had walked earlier. Our visit coincided with the 17th Annual Gathering of the Gunfighters. Yuma’s DeGuello Gunslingers sponsor this event that brings together groups wearing period correct attire and firearms for 20 minute Old West vignettes.

The biggest surprise during our short visit to Yuma was discovering that it claims to be the “Winter Vegetable Capital of the World.” According to the Visitors Guide, sunshine, rich soil, and good water combine to produce more than 175 different crops, including 90% of the nation’s leafy greens from November through March. Yuma is well worth a visit.

Pipeline Canyon Trail Tuesday, Jan 6 2015 

Pipeline Canyon Trail Reflections

Pipeline Canyon Trail Reflections

Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers visitors 10,000 acres of water for water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. This 23,662 acre Maricopa County Park also has some interesting trails. We traversed the park’s longest trail, the 2 mile Pipeline Canyon Trail from the parking lot overlooking Scorpion Bay to the north end of the park at Castle Creek which is located within Yavapai County. The elevation change is a mere 202 feet, although one must tread carefully over loose rocks. The picturesque reflections around the floating bridge are well worth seeing. We were also gifted with views of 7 wild burros. The herd was staying in the shade on our trip in and we found them crossing the trail on our return. I explored part of the Yavapai Point Trail on our walk back to our car. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is another great park in the greater Phoenix area.

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