Monastery Tour


Last week our new friends and neighbours invited us to join them for lunch at Zupas, restaurant we’d not been to before, followed by a trip to St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery near Florence. It turned out to be a wonderful day.

Zupas is a perfect place to eat if you prefer freshly made soups, sandwiches and salads from a wide variety of both healthy and flavourful ingredients.

We were told that there were rules about dress codes at the monastery, so, after checking the website, Jim put on his long pants and long sleeved shirt, the only requirements for men. For us women it was much more stringent. Our legs, feet, arms and head all needed to be covered. No pants allowed unless under a long skirt; no hats, but a head scarf was imperative. I looked into my closet and found a black skirt that hung to mid-calf that I thought might pass if worn over my black jeans. I had a white long-sleeved blouse that I could put over a t-shirt, and a white and black infinity scarf to cover my head. With shoes and socks, I thought I’d be passable. I put the extra layers on at the car, once we’d reached the monastery parking lot. Ruth had worn pants and a long sleeved shirt, but opted to borrow from the skirts and scarves made available. We were greeted at the open court yard by a Sister. She scowled at me and told me my skirt was too short. She thrust a long, brown, cotton one at me and I pulled it on over my own. The one she gave Ruth turned out to be only an inch or two longer on her than mine was on me. Oh well. As she told us about the rules for touring, she kept looking me over and abruptly said, “Put your blouses outside your skirt!” We graciously complied and were then allowed to begin our self guided tour with one map in Jim’s hands.

Judy and Ruth dressed for the tour

Judy and Ruth dressed for the tour

Once we began, the whole atmosphere changed. It was a warm, sunny day and the beautiful, quiet gardens offered a sense of peace. We stopped several times just to sit and take it all in. It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of the desert!

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Enjoying the tranquility

Bill and Ruth enjoying the tranquility. Notice the intricate brick work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olive Groves

Olive Groves

 

 

Arizona Monastery (7)

One of three guest lodges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were allowed to look inside all of the chapels and take pictures. The architecture was amazing, as you can see from the pictures.

St. Nicholas Chapel

St. Nicholas Chapel

About an hour later we finished the tour in the gift shop where jams and jellies and olives grown on the grounds were available for purchase along with a variety of other products. When we emerged, tours were over and everyone had gone to Chapel. We left our borrowed clothing on a bench in the courtyard and then made one last stop on the way off the grounds, to take pictures of the chapel on the hill.

St. Elijah Chapel

St. Elijah Chapel

San Diego, February, 2017


On Valentine’s Day we took off in the Sebring and headed for San Diego to meet up with my daughter, my grandchildren and my son-in-law and some of his family. The day was sunny and warm; a perfect day for enjoying the wind in our faces, top down of course!

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With a stop at Dateland and in El Centro for lunch, we arrived in San Diego just in time for the rush hour traffic – or maybe it’s always rush hour there? Thank goodness for the GPS to help us navigate through the many lanes of traffic, facing into the setting sun. At about 4:30 we pulled up to our hotel, a WorldMark by Wyndham time share that was generously given to us at a great rate by a friend who owns a time share with this group. Thank you so much, Alice!

By the time we got checked in, got a map, vaguely refused the offer of free breakfast in the morning if we listened to a sales pitch and were finally given our keys it was time to meet up with the rest of our party at the house they’d rented, for dinner, so we didn’t get to see our room until we got back.

It was a lovely suite, with a large bedroom containing a king size bed, a TV and an en-suite bath, and a living area with a pullout couch, chair and TV, as well as a complete kitchen. Too bad we weren’t going to be there much to make use of it all.

By 9:15 the next morning, we were parked in the parking lot ready to tour the Aircraft Carrier, Midway. We were early so we had time to walk down the street to grab a breakfast sandwich and coffee before the others arrived. The Midway is a massive ship and we spent nearly two hours touring it and taking pictures.

The grandkids were getting restless before Jim had seen enough, so their parents took them off to a picnic area to eat their lunch, then to a nearby playground.

Next stop, the beach! The grandkids enjoyed riding in our convertible and watching the planes descending over their heads as they prepared to land at the airport.

At Ocean Beach we sat enjoying the sun and watching the younger ones play in the water. It was a little too cool for us! There were a few surfers catching some waves, and a group of young people doing tricks on the boulevard. A man appeared with a big rope and a bucket. Huge bubbles were soon drifting across the crowds of people. The day ended with another family dinner back at the house, consisting of various ethnic foods we’d picked up at the restaurants along the street at the beach.

Thursday morning we were up early again and meeting at the Cabrillo State Marine Reserve to see the Point Loma Tidal Pools. We walked the trails along the banks, and watched more surfers riding the incoming tides while small flocks of pelicans soared above us. It was another spectacular photo opportunity, and the kids had great fun playing in the tidal pools and finding little creatures such as crabs.

We took our grandkids out for lunch and back to our hotel to play with a new game we’d bought them while the other adults cleaned up the house. After another family meal we said our goodbyes. It was great to see them all, but, as usual way too short a time.

On Friday everyone left for home; us to Arizona, the others to British Columbia. One family had left on Thursday afternoon for another adventure at Disney Land. We escaped just in time, before the predicted high winds and flooding rains hit the California coast, but the ones who’d planned to see Disneyland weren’t so lucky. The rains had shut it down.

By 5:00 pm we were sitting in a restaurant in Yuma, Arizona having dinner and waiting out the Ha-boob (sand storm) that we had driven into after a short detour to the sand dunes in California and a quick trip across the border into Algodones Mexico.

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Sand Dunes

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Haboob obscuring vision

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We were glad to finally drive into Mesa Regal five hours later.

Free Travel App Interest? Please Contact Me


Thanks to all of you who commented on my last post. The deadline for the free app contest has now passed. Some of you showed interest but did not reply to my request as to which City App you would like and whether you require an IOS (iPhone) or Android app. I also need your email address. Once I know that I will request your free app code and send it to you. Email me at judylawless6@gmail.com.

Get a Free Travel App and Hear About an Amazing Young Performer


There is nothing like listening to some great live music to take your mind off of the political turmoil for a while. Late Thursday morning we drove into downtown Mesa to do just that, at the outdoor noon-hour concert series sponsored by the Mesa Arts Centre. I think I’ve mentioned these wonderful free concerts before. The performer this week was highly promoted by our neighbour Jan, and our expectations were high.  We weren’t disappointed!

After picking up a take-out lunch at our favourite little café, Sweet Cakes, we walked to the Arts Centre to where the stage and seating were set up. It was only 11:30 and the concert didn’t begin until 12:30, but the best seating was already filled! We managed to grab a couple of chairs that weren’t too far away from the stage, but sadly not facing it. While we waited for the show to begin, we enjoyed our very thick turkey-on-(freshly baked) sourdough, side salad and still-warm chocolate chip cookie. Yumm.

At 12:30 the Honky-Tonk Rebel (a.k.a. Mario Carboni) appeared on stage with his keyboard and trumpet. With a bit of introduction, he started to play and he blew our minds.  This young man, who started to play at a very young age, had his fingers speeding across the keys in a blur; and then his rich country voice filled the air. The sound system was perfect; no problem hearing every note from wherever you sat. I wish I could remember all of the songs he performed, but I was mesmerized by those fingers on the keyboard. He has an eclectic play list, everything from honky-tonk country, to truck driving songs, rock and roll and classical. I’ve never heard “The Flight of the Bumblebee” played so perfectly and fast! He did many cover rearrangements and many of his own songs, with a tad humour thrown in once in a while. For a couple of numbers he played his trumpet and keyboard at the same time, without missing a beat. The crowd roared, and at the end of the one-hour performance gave him a standing ovation. The host invited him to do an encore, much to our delight. When the show was over, Mario greeted fans with a smile and a chat while we lined up with our newly purchased CDs in our hands, looking for an autograph. He’ll be on tour across the US and back up to Alaska, where he spends his summers performing, most of this year. Check him out at www.honkytonkrebel.com/    .

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Mario on the left with one of his buddies, Jimmy Phillips

Jimmy Phillips, former drummer with Merle Haggard, Red Simpson and several other “Bakersfield Sound” Country stars, joined Mario on stage for a couple of songs.

Concerts like this are just an example of things you might find to do in over 470 cities around the world using one of the popular GPSmyCity apps that feature self-guided city walks, allowing visitors to explore the best of the city on foot at their own pace. The apps are now available for both iOS and Android phones or tablets.

Would you like to give one of these a try for free? Simply leave me a comment on this blog by February 17th, 2017. The first twenty readers to comment will receive a free access code to the city of their choice, shortly after the contest ends.

There’s more!  During this promotional period you can get a lifetime access to ALL of the guides for just $60 (1% of the total original price).  For more details visit  http://www.gpsmycity.com/cf/

Thoughts on Women’s Protest March, January 22, 2017


Women's March in Washington, DC

Women’s March in Washington, DC Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com

On Saturday, January 22 I watched, with joy, the news clips on the internet covering the huge, peaceful protest marches that were taking place across the United States and around the world. I was impressed, and wished I could have been a part of it. The marches were in protest of the plans, especially those that would take away women’s rights, of the new US President, and his cabinet that he hopes to have approved – plans that will have profound effects on all humans, worldwide. At least that’s what I thought it was about.

The next morning, however, when I was browsing my Facebook feeds, I was very disappointed to see, a picture of a black woman at one of the rallies holding up a sign that said, “Don’t forget: White women voted for Trump.”

My reaction was, “why is this part of a protest march meant to unite people who all  fear the same things and are there to support each other?”

I pondered that while I showered and dressed. When I returned there were many more posts along the same vein. Many complained about the number of white protesters that were there; complained that they hadn’t been there before so they shouldn’t be there now or it was too little, too late. When I replied that not all white women had voted for Trump and probably some blacks had as well, and said that I supported the protest as a means to unite all humans over these causes, not to divide by race or sexual orientation (that was another complaint – transgenders hadn’t been specifically addressed) I was told that the majority of white women had voted for Trump, and “that is a big problem.”

So, I ask, if this is true (I haven’t seen any such statistics, but I believe it could be possible) we can’t change that vote, so what good is hammering on about it going to do in trying to reunite the nation? Will such accusations not only feed the hate?

Another person indicated that she was disappointed that there had been no police action against the marchers that usually happens during Black Lives Matter protests. She blamed that on the fact that it was a “white women’s protest.” In actual fact, the three main organizers are not white at all. But the marches were planned long in advance and well organized. They were not protests against police brutality. It was also fortunate that there were no extremist showing up to create violence. Maybe these are reasons why these marches turned out differently.

You can’t get people to listen to you if you yell insults at them. This is true on all issues, on all sides. The hate and divisiveness can’t be stopped until people are willing to LISTEN to each other; to put themselves in the shoes of one another. Get rid of the chips on the shoulders. Then we can let go of the past and work toward a better future, united.

Was I wrong? Was the purpose of these marches not to show a strong front against the frightening turn that government leadership is taking; to stop the spread of hate and sexism and of dictatorship? If I’m right, how can that be accomplished if we continue to distrust each other, to insult each other, to think of ourselves as part of specific categories of the human race, rather than as belonging to the human race as a whole? United we stand; divided we fall; and terrorists, dictators, racists, bigots win.

This is my opinion. I hope that you can try to understand it, and respect it. I’d be happy to respectfully listen to yours.

Let’s give peace a chance.

Returning to Our Youth with Burton Cummings


 

These Eyes, Star Baby, Clap for the Wolfman – just some of the rock and roll songs from my youth that were belted out by 69 year old Burton Cummings and his band of sixteen years, during a fantastic concert tonight at this, our winter home, Mesa Regal RV Resort!

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Burton Cummings and his Band

Burton Cummings and his Band

The House was full, and I think the majority of the audience might have been Canadian. Burton was excited to learn that and “especially”  for us they performed Running Back to Saskatoon, and the one song that he said was the most often played on the radio in Canada during the days of the original band, The Guess Who – Break It to Them Gently.

Burton played the keyboard and sang non-stop for two hours, mostly doing songs from the huge repertoire of The Guess Who, but during a twenty-minute break that he gave his band, he performed solo, doing some songs of other artists from the era, such as Bobby Darren’s Mac the Knife, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Ferry Cross the Mersey.

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They brought the show to an end with the popular American Woman and No Time, bringing us all to our feet with roars of applause.

Of course they had to come back out for an Encore, Share the Land.

This was all very exciting for me. I saw The Guess Who perform live in Toronto in 1970, the first and last time that I ever went to see a live Rock Concert until I took my daughter to see Bon Jovi seventeen years later. I guess I lived a sheltered life!

Tour Guiding Around Mesa and Area, Arizona


We have been busy since arriving at our winter home, but mostly with things inside the park. On Friday, after the unexpected evening arrival of our friends Jane and Lloyd, from back home, that changed. They are taking a “long way round” trip this year on their way to their winter home in Florida. Because of some cold, windy weather in Winslow Arizona they decided to come further south before turning toward California. We were so glad to see them, and happy to offer them a tour of some of the things that we find amazing in the area.

After some catching up and warming up in the hot tub on Friday night, and a good night’s sleep, we took off to one of our favourite breakfast spots that we hadn’t yet been to this year – What the Hell Bar and Grill, and then we journeyed to Tortilla Flat on Superstition Mountain. Jane is as much of a camera buff as I am, so it was a slow climb, taking time to snap pictures. They were very much in awe of the mountain scenery along the way, and then the unique décor and lunch in the restaurant.

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Customer donated paper currency from around the world covers the walls and ceilings.

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Tortilla Flat gets its name from this rock formation that resembles a stack of tortillas

We were too full to indulge in the prickly pear ice cream, but we enjoyed a little “gunfight” outside the school house. While we waited for the show to begin, the actors made small talk with us, establishing that we were all Canadian. Before the fight began, two of the actors asked for a Canadian volunteer.  Lloyd, being the good sport that he is, allowed himself to be drawn inside the rope, where he was immediately hand-cuffed and led to the hanging tree!

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When the noose was around his neck, the Sheriff appeared and asked what was going on.

“We’re going to hang this guy!” his captors exclaimed.

“I’m innocent,” cried Lloyd.

“He says he’s innocent,” replied the Sheriff.

“But he’s Canadian! So we’re still going to hang him!

At the Sheriff’s command, they let him go and got on with the show. The air filled with gun smoke after the shootout between a few former bank robbers and the Sheriff.

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Of course, on the way back down the mountain we had to let Jane and Lloyd experience Goldfield Mine Ghost Town, a place I’ve written about before. We arrived just time to catch the last more elaborate gunfight of the day there. Lloyd wasn’t recruited this time. It was a great photo op though.

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Sunday morning we were out for breakfast again, at another favourite Sunday morning breakfast place, Midwestern Meats, before starting out on new adventure. We drove out through Miami and Globe towards the other side of Superstition Mountain. Our destination was Tonto International Monument, a heritage site of cliff dwellings.

We took a wrong turn and got ourselves onto a narrow trail meant for four-wheelers, not a Sebring convertible! But Jim got us turned around without dropping over the edge and we found some more scenes worth shooting.

A few years ago we took Jim’s daughter Karen to the cliff dwellings and we hiked up to the upper dwellings. This time we did the lower ones, which was just right for us, since I’m still recovering from my hip surgery and Lloyd has a bad knee. This trail was paved all the way.

The weather was perfect, although I found it a little too cold and windy sitting in the back seat with the top down on the convertible. By the next morning my allergies were acting up.

We took the Bush Highway back into the city, and we were excited to finally discover some of the wild horses that had eluded us last year!

When we got back to Mesa I suggested The Organ Stop Pizza for dinner for Jane and Lloyd’s final adventure before they had to be on their way the next day. I’ve written about this before too, but it is always just as amazing. The food is very good, but the entertainment is spectacular. Music played by the very talented Mr.  Charlie Balogh, on the huge Wurlitzer organ, kept everyone bobbing and clapping and turning our heads to watch all of the various instruments on the walls and ceiling jump into action at the appropriate times. Again, Jane became so excited she could hardly eat her dinner. It was so much fun to see them enjoy themselves.

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We hope that we have provided some good memories of their trip, and wish them safe travels.