Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hidden Treasures on Route 66

For years, my husband and I have driven through Flagstaff, Arizona on our way to rafting the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon.  Always leaving late (due to never learning that it takes days of preparation, not just one to get ready for a month long rafting trip) and rushing back for either work or other obligations, we breezed by a sign east of Flagstaff marked "Walnut Canyon National Monument." 

This August, however, when my daughter and I were looking for ways to break a long road trip with my two seven year old granddaughters into more manageable chunks of driving times, I remembered my friend Cheryl talking about a wonderful archeological site just east of Flagstaff, Arizona.  What a great place!  If you are anywhere near, you should take the time to stop.  A short (ten minutes) drive off the freeway brings you to a modest building which serves as the visitor's center and does not give you a clue from the outside about the delights you will find as you hike down into the precipitous canyon.  Not to worry though, you hike a grandmother-friendly trail (as long as you can manage many, many, many steps with rails which keep you from pitching into a death spiral.)

 I fully admit to keeping well away from the drop off edges of the trail, even when fairly flat!

 Across the canyon, you can see more cliff dwellings.  I suppose you can visit those as well if you are related to a mountain goat.

 We spent a lot of time at the signs because the twins like to read everything for themselves.
 You are allowed to go into what remains of the rooms, but not to step or put your hands on the walls.  I had to bite my tongue and remind myself I was no longer a school teacher or a park ranger as some visitors apparently could not read the signs.

Proud that my grandchildren followed all the rules.

 We were close to the gentleman in green who was really fascinated and took hundreds of photo.  I was much too busy watching my step to take a lot, but tended to focus on the incredible diversity of plant life in such an arid place.  No wonder these ancient folk chose to live in this canyon.

At the end of the trail, we had circled around an island of homes on a pinnacle of rock in the middle of the canyon and faced the daunting array of switched back staircases back up and out of the canyon, very glad indeed that it was a cool rainy Arizona day.
 A welcome bench about 2/3's of the way up.
Yes, that is the path from which we came over my left shoulder...barely visible!

Review:  Interesting, wonderful signage, fairly accessible for young and the no longer young with bad knees, breathtaking views, and very friendly and well informed rangers.  My granddaughters who visit all bathrooms gave them an A+. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Time Travel at St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Wondering where I have been?  Having recovered from the week long Harry Potter Camp in late June, I plunged at once into preparations for the Marketplace based Vacation Bible School hosted by St. Mark's in cooperation with four other Episcopal churches in our Deanery.  We traveled back in time to the first century to see what life was like shortly after Jesus' death and resurrection.  Thirty-two preschool and elementary aged children spent four days with the 40 or so youth and adult leaders who helped to recreate another time and place.

Tasting typical figs, plums and olives, typical foods of early Nazareth.
Learning to make pottery dolls and animals.

The Mosaic Shop was very popular!

Unlike in Jesus' time, both boys and girls learned to write their names in Hebrew in the Synagogue School

No one was too grown up to try a donkey ride!

Making baskets proved a challenge..even for the adults.
Lucky me, I was in the booth next to the bakery, and got to taste every loaf as it came piping hot from the oven.


Some of the older boys are repairing the cutting board broken in the bake shop.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Hogwarts Summer Session-First a visit to Diagon Alley

At a secret location outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry held it's 2016 summer session for those  36 young witches and wizards that needed a bit of brushing up on their magical skills.  Camp Stoney was heavily disguised during the week to prevent Muggle alarm.  If the occasional flapping of robes disturbed the air, Professor Snape uttered "obliviate" under his breath.  To all the neighbors driving by, the Quidditch matches looked like some weird form of soccer.  But magic was happening...

First, the students must get into Diagon Alley...
Photo by Maria Gair

Photo by Maria Gair
 The Goblins were responding to an attempted break-in of the vaults, so Madam Pomfrey stepped in to mind the till. 

Wand identification is required for a withdrawal from Gringotts.
Photo by Maria Gair

Most young witches and wizards made the wand shop their first stop....
Photo by Maria Gair

Choosing a by Maria Gair

Then lingered for quite some time at the newly opened Weasley's Wheezes shop.
 Charity Burbage standing in for Fred and George who have apparated to a Quidditch match.

Photo by Maria Gair

Photo by Maria Gair
Photo by Maria Gair

Photo by Maria Gair

Photo by Maria Gair
Photo by Maria Gair
Photo by Maria Gair

Photo by Maria Gair

From here, munching their treats, many hightailed it to the Quidditch shop. 
Madam Hooch selling trophies
 Or the Apothecary Shop...
Professor Snape selling Felix Felicis

Professor Sprouts rests her feet at the Leaky Cauldron
Or Eelop's Owl Emporium


Or Flourish and Blotts
Madam Trelawney predicts brisk sales for Advanced Potions

All the young witches were disappointed to learn that Gilderoy Lockhart would not be on hand to sign copies of his new book.

 The Magical Menagerie shopkeeper loves her critters

Although I usually take my own blog photos, I am very grateful to Maria Gair for all the above photos since I, in my role as Professor McGonagle, was busy making sure the students tapped the right bricks to gain access to Diagon Alley.  Hagrid was busy showing several Harry Potter wannabe's the ropes inside Diagon Alley.