Southwest Road Trip Southwest USA, April 2018

Southwest USA, April 2018

In April of 2018, Marguerite's dear friend, Nedra Johnson Mathis, flew to San Diego to join her on a drive to Phoenix to pick up Nedra's brother and sister-in-law, Mac and Marcy Johnson. Nedra lives in Douglas, Georgia; Mac and Marcy live in Salem, Virginia. The four of them had traveled to Italy together on a Grand Circle Tour in October of 2017. The trip was taken in Marguerite's red Prius and each traveler was limited to a small suitcase and hand luggage that all fit nicely in the hatch back!

The map below shows the trip. The red route shows the going to Santa Fe and the blue route shows the returning from Santa Fe. The spread sheet indicates the plan of our trip which we executed except during the return to Escondido we decided to do an extra day in Phoenix and skip Palm Springs. However near Palm Springs we did stop at the Gen. George Patton Museum.

From the time Marguerite picked up Nedra at the San Diego airport on April 3 until she put her on the plane in San Diego to go home on April 21, the red Prius (GMA EE) logged 2800 miles!

Phoenix -- Days 1-3

Nedra and I got up early in Escondido and drove to Phoenix. We stayed at one of the many Hampton Inn's in Phoenix and embarked on our first full day for a special tour of Taliesen West, The winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright from 1937 until his death at 91 in 1959. It is now the School of Architecture at Taliesen and educates up to 20 students each year in a 3-year program to become professional architects.

We toured the home and then enjoyed an extended tour of the desert surroundings. It was 90 degrees at high noon and after walking around with a docent for a couple of hours, we decided we had learned a lot about the desert and were ready to return to the AC at the hotel!

We spent the next day at the Musical Instrument Museum that is a remarkable place. The MIM was founded by Robert Ulrich, former CEO and chairman emeritus of Target Corporation. Ulrich is an avid collector of African art and a world museum enthusiast. The MIM originated after his visit to the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels. It took several years to build the museum that has now been open for about 10 years. Musical instruments and artifacts from over 200 countries are represented in a very unique way. It is a must see for anyone visiting Phoenix!

En Route to Flagstaff -- Day 4

The next day we headed to Flagstaff and stopped first at Montezuma Castle. The first permanent settlements were between 700 and 900 CE (Common Era) and these productive farmers grew corn, beans, squash, and cotton using canal irrigation. Several other groups lived in the area where they built dwellings in the sides of the cliffs. By the early 1400, the area was largely abandoned. Archeologists are finding many items indicative of these early cultures.

Our next stop was The Chapel of the Holy Cross, built into the side of a mountain on the way to Sedona. The chapel was built in 1956 as an extraordinary architectural achievement. Funds were donated by Marguerite Brunswig Staude who was inspired that a modern Catholic church could be built.

Flagstaff and Grand Canyon -- Days 4, 5, 6

We drove on to Flagstaff where we stayed in a very nice Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) that Marcy had arranged for us.

We spent one full day at the Grand Canyon and had lunch in the Bright Angel Lodge, a Fred Harvey House that we learned more about in Winslow a few days later. Mac had identified many interesting things to see at Grand Canyon, including the site of the 1956 TWA-United airline crash in which 128 people were killed. After hearings, the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 was passed and created the Federal Aviation Agency (later FA Administration).

The next day was spent at the Lowell Observatory, the "Home of Pluto". Lowell Observatory was established in 1894 and in 1930 the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered through its telescopes. We enjoyed a couple of docent-led tours and learned a lot about the activities and research done there. We also saw Percival Lowell's auto, "Big Red" that George would have liked to drive around!

We also visited the Riordan Mansion, built in 1904 by two brothers who married two sisters. The mansion is a double home with each family having a complete house with a shared "family room" in the middle. We had a delightful tour guide who told us about the family and how the home had changed over the years. There was even a sewing room with a turn of the century sewing machine and a dress made during the early years. The Riordan family made their fortune in logging and lumber.

Meteor Crater en route to Winslow -- Day 7

50,000 years ago, a brilliant meteor landed in the Arizona desert. Hurtling at about 26,000 miles/hour, it crashed into earth. A huge iron-nickel meteorite estimated to be about 150 feet across and weighing several hundred thousand tons struck the rocky plain with an explosive force greater than 20 million tons of TNT. The result was the excavation of a giant bowl-shaped cavity known as Meteor Crater. We learned about the history of the Crater and that the land still belongs to the Barringer family who got it through a land grant established before Arizona became the 48th state. The Crater is now open to the public and provides a rich site for geologic research.

Winslow, Arizona and Route 66 -- Day 7

We all wanted to go "Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona" in remembrance of our youth! We also wanted to have dinner at The Turquoise Room of La Posada Hotel, one of the Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest that Marguerite and Betsy visited on their Southwest trip in 2015. We stayed at a lovely Best Western and before dinner visited "the corner" with great delight.

La Posada Hotel was designed by Mary Jane Colter and built in the late 1920s for the Fred Harvey Company and Santa Fe railroad. Originally , the hotel had 60 guest rooms and suites, two dining rooms and all the amenities of a luxury hotel including an excellent restaurant. It was closed in 1958. After being closed for 40 years, it was bought by a couple who wanted to restore it to its former glory. The Turquoise Room is a wonderful restaurant somewhat in the style of the Fred Harvey Houses of the first half of the 1900s. The Harvey Houses were intended to provide good food for train travelers and enhance the train travelling experience. Marguerite enjoyed "The Wild Platter" and Nedra, Mac and Marcy had a bit less adventuresome entrees!

Painted Desert and Petrified Forest En Route to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Mac designed an excellent route through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. First we went to the Visitors Center . The Petrified Forest National Park is in northeastern Arizona. It has lots of petrified wood formed by fallen trees that lived about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossil logs are very colorful. Fossils have also been found in this area including early dinosaurs. The Park's earliest human inhabitants arrived at least 8000 years ago and by about 2000 years ago they were building pueblos. The last of the pueblos were abandoned about 1400 CE, leaving behind more than 600 archeological sites. The painted desert encompasses miles and miles of beautiful hills and mountains in glorious colors of the rainbow.

Our Home in Santa Fe for a Week

After spending several hours wending through these beautiful areas, we ended up at our VRBO in Santa Fe ON Wednesday PM, ready for a week of exploring in and around Santa Fe.

On Thursday we visited the Palace of Governors and the New Mexico History Museum. Two very old museums on Santa Fe's central square. In the History Museum there was a tribute to the Harvey Houses we had seen along the way. La Fonda, the hotel in Santa Fe is still open; the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque operated from 1905 to the 1950s but was then demolished in 1970 . Several items from this hotel are displayed in the Museum, including one of the original uniforms of a Harvey Girl.

A Day With Georgia O'Keeffe

On Friday we got an early start with a drive to Abiquiu, the small village where Georgia O'Keeffe had her Southwestern home for many years. In the summer of 1929, O'Keeffe visited Taos New Mexico and heard about Ghost Ranch. She made many trips to northern New Mexico over the next twenty years. She fell in love with this wild open country and made it her permanent home in 1949 and lived in an adobe house she had remodeled and rebuilt before moving there permanently. This home is in the village of Abiquiu and not far from Ghost Ranch. We spent about an hour with a docent at the home and learned about her idiosyncrasies and work style. Marguerite and Betsy had visited the home in 2015 when they attended a workshop at Ghost Ranch. After visiting the home, we drove to Ghost Ranch and had lunch in the cafeteria (like going to summer camp!). Marguerite had arranged for Karen Butts, the Education Manager for Ghost Ranch, to take us on a private Landscape Tour. We rode around in the Ranch's big red vehicle and visited several sites where Georgia sat to paint various scenes. The weather was cold and windy and we learned about snow graupels -- tiny hard ice drops that pelted us as we walked around! We also visited the small museum at Ghost Ranch where we learned more about the many different writers who had spent time there in the early 1900s and are discussed in the book, Ladies of the Canyons.

Some Museums of Santa Fe

Continuing with our Georgia O'Keeffe theme, the next morning we visited her museum in downtown Santa Fe. The Museum preserves and presents Georgia O'Keeffe's legacy. Sixty years of her accumulated art materials are in the museum that date from 1902 to the end of her career. Georgia was born in 1887 in Wisconsin and died in Santa Fe in 1986 at the age of 98. For the last several years of her life she was almost blind from macular degeneration. She continued to paint with the help of various assistants. During her lifetime she created over 2000 paintings as well as scores of sketches and several sculptures.

In the afternoon we drove up to "Museum Hill" for lunch and to see the several museums there. Marguerite and Marcy visited the Museum of International Folk Art; Mac and Nedra visited the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Earthship and Taos

The next day we ventured forth, stopping first at the Rio Grande Gorge State Park. There is a huge bridge over the river (mostly dry) that made for some nice photos.

Next we stopped at Earthship, a most interesting place. Building with natural and recycled materials, using thermal/solar heating and cooling, harvesting water, using contained sewage treatment, and growing most of their own food, about 80 families have created a community that is self-sufficient. There are several other smaller self-sufficient residential developments throughout the world but this site is Earthship headquarters. We had an interesting self-guided tour and saw how creatively they used glass bottles and aluminum cans as the basis for walls, created unique homes with recycled glass and other discarded objects.

We then went on to Taos but found out that the Pueblo was closed so we just looked around the town and then headed back to Santa Fe.

Los Alamos and "The Town That Never Was"

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park preserves portions of the World War II-era sites where the United States developed the world's first atomic weapons. We went on a docents-led tour and walked in the footsteps of the scientists and staff who were instrumental in developing the atomic bombs used to end World War II.

In the early 1900s, The Los Alamos Ranch School was established to educate young men in the hills of New Mexico. Because the Government needed a secret site for development of the atomic weapons, they purchased the 54,000 acres for $440,000. All but 8,900 acres were already owned by the Federal Government. They took by eminent domain the School buildings and land and commenced work to complete the site by March of 1943. Because it was secret, Los Alamos was referred to as "Site Y" or "the Hill". Birth certificates of babies born in Los Alamos during the war listed their place of birth as PO Box 1663 in Santa Fe. The two key men who are associated with the development of Los Alamos are Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer and General Leslie R. Groves. Marguerite and Nedra are standing with sculptures of the two men near the History Museum. There is also a plaque off the square in Santa Fe commemorating the office where all people going to Los Alamos had to check in for their orders and transportation.

The final two photos are a mock up of Little Boy, a Uranium Bomb of the Gun Assembly type dropped on Hiroshima, and Fat Man, a Plutonium Bomb of the Implosion type dropped on Nagasaki. In the Army, George worked on the "Fat Man" type of bomb used on the Corporal Missile System.

A Walking Tour on our Last Day in Santa Fe

We started our last day with a walking tour around downtown Santa Fe. We visited Loreto Chapel with the very special spiral staircase and also some art galleries.

Time to Head Home...

On Wednesday, April 18, Marguerite and Nedra dropped Mac and Marcy off at the Albuquerque International Airport to fly to Dulles for a few days with friends and their daughter in the D.C. area. Then Marguerite and Nedra headed for the last two days in Phoenix. We arrived at another Hampton Inn about dark (it is a long drive from Santa Fe to Phoenix!) and the next day did some final sightseeing at the Wrigley Mansion and the Arizona Biltmore hotel.

Friday morning we headed back to San Diego with a stop at the General Patton Memorial Museum right off the I-10 Freeway. We learned a lot about Patton and his military career and ventured out into the desert grounds with the warnings about rattlesnakes (we did not see any, thank goodness).

We arrived back in San Diego late afternoon, had Chinese take out for dinner with George, and Nedra got packed to return home the next day. What a wonderful trip we all had and we look forward to the next one!

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