Thursday, November 14, 2013

Coming Back to Phoenix

Sun dogs over Buckeye.
We arrived in the evening and went straight to Buckeye, where our old friend, Jimmy Parker put us up in his parking lot.  This place holds a lot of memories for us.  I worked in this building with the Desert Sun newspaper (now defunct) for about two years.  The place hasn't changed much, but sadly Jimmy is moving out of the iconic old building.  Sad to see him go. 

Parked at Jimmy's.

This building is right out of the Old West.
Back patio.

Jimmy's office.

Stirrup collection.

Waiting room.

Just a few of Jimmy's massive walking stick collection.

It was neat to discover little signs that I had once been there--like being your own archaeologist.  I even found one while having to reset the circuit breakers--signs from 15 years ago that I had once occupied part of this space.

One of my paintings still adorns Jimmy's office.

Although the image is fuzzy, you can clearly see "Catt's office" on the circuit breaker.
 The next day, we visited Tempe to find Rick's brother and his old friend, Bobby.

Glenn and Rick.

A new highway to nowhere in West Phoenix.

Hobo Joe in Buckeye.

Hobo Joe.

Bobby and Rick, old friends remet at Pete's Fish N Chips in Tempe. 
Sunday brought a little family reunion at Rick's sister's house.

Rick (back to us), Glenn, his wife Frances, Greg (Georgia's husband), and Rick's sister Georgia.

Greg, Alex (Greg and Georgia's son), Georgia and Rick.

More Southwest Travel Photos

The American southwest, with its relentless sunshine and rich history, offers a wide range of opportunities for photography.  The light is ever-changing, making one moment as unique as the rest.  The lights and shadows play and dance across the landscape.  Here are some more of my favorite shots from this past month's journey.

Camped at Homolovi Indian Ruins.
The land is dotted with ruins, some older than a thousand years.  It is here, in this stark landscape, that I began the Kokopelli novel.  The land is swept clean by the winds, and there is power here. It helps that there is modern development only in pockets and for many many miles that land can still speak for itself.  The ancestral spirits of those who lived here before are palpable, and the silence is soothing to a weary soul.

Example garden of the three sisters at Visitor Center at Homolovi.

View of the site from the Visitor's Center.

Mound that is the remains of a building at Homolovi I.

Pottery sherds are everywhere.

Homolovi was also a restorative experience.  Our next destination was Arizona--Rick by now was very excited, anxious to see his family and old friends. 

"Exit Now Yellow Horse Indian Store."  AZ/NM border on I-40.

Rick at the Petrified Forest Visitor Center.  The drive through the forest was too long (read too expensive) for us to visit.

San Francisco Peaks visible from the east.  Almost to Flagstaff!

Indian Store rocks.
We visited three or four addresses in Flagstaff for bookstores and left information.  Then it was on to Sedona.  I decided to take Oak Creek Canyon--forgetting how intense the switchbacks were on this road.  It is very scary from our RV (for me anyway), and I was too nervous and too busy holding on to take many pictures.  Too bad.

Roadside geology.

Oak Creek Canyon

A safe stop (finally!) in Oak Creek Canyon.

Entering Sedona's red rocks.
From Sedona and several bookstore visits, we descended into the Valley of the Sun.  Along the way, just before you go "over the rim"--that is, over the Mogollon Rim and down into Phoenix proper, there is one more amazing stop and we caught it at just the right time of day--sunset at Sunset Point, on the Black Canyon Freeway.

And this mysterious message on the canyon floor at Sunset Point--Hourrelzy.  Anyone know what it means?

Pictures from the Southwest

Here are some of my favorite shots from our journey.  I do want to mention that I have been taking time to work on the Kokopelli novel, and now feel equipped to finish it.  I have regained the feel for the land that I needed.

Our first night in New Mexico, after an "exhilarating" ride over the Raton Pass, we stayed at Villanueva State Park on the Pecos River.  It was a beautiful canyon, but by then I was exhausted.  My back hurt and was badly out of place despite the chiropractic adjustment I was able to get in Colorado Springs before leaving.  Also, the onset of winter cold wasn't helping and my pain levels were pretty high.  We set out early in the morning for Santa Fe.

Campsite rubble.  An historic marker declared that this was the route the first conquistadors had taken into this area.
We spent the night in Santa Fe, after visiting The Ark bookstore there.  We opted for a hotel because I truly needed a hot bath and a big bed for my back. The next morning, I was determined to go to Chimayo, a holy shrine known as the "Lourdes of America."  It was about an hour toward Taos, north of Santa Fe. 

Our visit there was truly a spiritual experience, and I could feel the presence of reverence and awe similar to what I felt in the Bahai Temple near Chicago.  It was otherworldly, heavenly, and healing.  I entered the shrine and waited my turn to enter the small room where the sacred healing soil is offered for free, took my little share.  I prayed and rubbed the soil on my eyelids (for my cataracts) and on my back.  Although I still had some discomfort, by the time I returned to the truck, after walking all over the little compound, I was walking nearly upright.  Within twenty-four hours, my back stopped hurting and I have had very little trouble with it since.  Miracle?  Or simply my own faith at work?  Does it matter which?

The chapel at Chimayo.

Chimayo is actually two shrines.  El Sanctuario de Chimayo, and Santo Nino Chapel.  The first is the place of healing soil.  This was a place revered by local Indians long before the Spaniards arrived, but later became a place where a local villager, praying, saw a glowing place on the hill.  He dug into the glowing spot and found a "crucifix with a dark Christ."  He and other villagers carried it with great ceremony to the nearest church eight miles away, where it was placed in a location of honor.  The next day it was gone, only to be found back in its spot in Chimayo.  A return to the church a second time yielded the same results.  By the third time, it was decided it would stay in place and a sanctuary was built to house it and the holy spot. 

The second shrine is the Santo Nino.  Here is an excerpt from the Chimayo website:

The story of the Santo Niño begins in Spain during the time of the Moors, Spain's Muslim conquerors. In Atocha, outside Madrid, many Christian men had been imprisoned. The jail did not feed the prisoners, and the caliph ordered that only children could visit and bring food to them. The women prayed to Our Lady for help. Soon word spread that a small boy was visiting and feeding the prisoners. His basket was never empty of bread, and his water gourd was always full. He was considered a manifestation of Jesus as the Holy Child, the Santo Niño. In 1492 Catholics drove the Muslims out of Spain. In the succeeding years, Spanish colonists brought worship of Our Lady of Atocha and her Holy Child to the village of Plateros, Mexico. As in Spain, there was a statue of the Virgin with the Holy Child in her arms. The child was often removed and brought to help with difficult births. Over time, the Santo Niño's reputation for miracles grew. It was said that he wandered the countryside at night spreading miracles, especially among the imprisoned, the poor, and the ill.

In 1857, Severiano Medina made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Santo Niño de Atocha in Mexico and brought back a statue to his home in Chimayó. He built a chapel in honor of the Santo Niño near the Santuario. The popularity of the Santo Niño spread, and soon the Santuario, too, placed a statue of the Santo Niño in a room to the side of the altar. Today he is beloved across New Mexico.
 We were not allowed to take photos of the shrines themselves, but here is an image, also from Chimayo's website, of the sacred soil.

 Here are my own pictures taken at Chimayo:

Shoes for the Sacred Child

Other pictures from New Mexico:

Northern New Mexico is filled with widely scattered abandoned buildings like this one.

Camel's Head Rock on the way to Chimayo.

Guardian cat at Chimayo.

This mysterious cloud seemed to follow us from Colorado to New Mexico.  At one point, it looked like Kokopelli.

One of my favorite shots.

Modern things have their beauty, too.
After Santa Fe, we went to Albuquerque, but our event with the bookstore there had been cancelled.  By then we were tired and anxious to move onto Phoenix.  Honestly, the energy of Albuquerque wasn't as attractive as it was in the past, and there appeared to be no more metaphysical bookstores to explore.  We spent the night at a delightful RV park, though. The Enchanted Trails RV park is just west of ABQ on I-40 and filled with antiques.  At last, one park where our RV wasn't too old!

The owner serenaded on this while I did laundry.  Delightful!