Flagstaff and Phoenix Arizona, Friday to Sunday, June 1 to 3
This 18 day trip wrapped up on a slower pace. Friday we started the day easy and then drove down to Phoenix. The scenery changes from the Ponderosa Pine forested mountains of Flagstaff, through the western end of the Mogollan Rim to the cactus studded area around Phoenix. We checked in to the Orange Tree Resort, a time share community from which we obtained our two nights lodging. Chris and I jumped in the pool, Deb and Rebecca lounged on their patio. Dinner was at Ajo Al’s, an authentic Mexican restaurant.
People here love the weather, so they say. I believe them. However, Chris and I found the 90 to 107 degree days hot, dry heat or not. I noticed people did not sit outside under the shady umbrellas at restaurants until evening. They hide indoors during the day. So, in my opinion, not much difference enjoying a warm indoors during a Minnesota winter as enjoying a cool indoors during an Arizona summer.
One other supporter of my belief-Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect (1867-1959). Wright founded an architectural studio and school just outside Scottsdale, Taliesin West. We toured it Saturday morning; Chris and Rebecca taking a three-hour tour. Deb and I settled for a 1.75 hour tour. Wright’s school, following in his past practice, packs up the students and faculty from mid-May to October and they study at Taliesin East in Spring Green Wisconsin. He was no dummy, it is hot in Arizona in the summer.
Taliesin East came first, Taliesin West was founded in 1937. I am not going to give you a history of Wright, there are many books about his life and his work. A few tidbits gleaned from our docent tours to liven up the narrative though. Frank Lloyd Wright:
- had three wives and a mistress
- was a challenging person to work with
- designed over 1000 buildings, if an owner followed his design exactly, they were allowed to place a red icon on the building, around 20 owners qualified as most found some aspect of his design not to their liking
- had his students live in the desert in tents for their first year at Taliesin West, years two and three they built their own small housing units in the desert which were torn down when they left
- emphasized incorporating the building into the natural environment in which it was placed
- purchased a large quantity of broken Chinese artifacts, had his students glue them together and many are placed around Taliesin West
- designed his cabaret (small theater) with almost perfect acoustics and seating designed on a bias so a person’s view is not blocked by the individual seated in the row in front of her
- The water features and stone walks and walls were fire prevention features
- and his school have a zero drop-out rate, and a 100% placement rate for its graduates with a notable international representation
- the doorways are a ducking place for people 6 foot tall and over
After a lunch at Panera, it was back to the Orange Tree Resort for more pool and relaxation time. Lou and Joyce had returned from Flagstaff and joined us for a pizza and pasta dinner in our room. Then Chris and I took Deb and Rebecca to the airport for their red-eye flight back to Boston.
On Sunday, we found a Catholic Church nearby, Blessed Sacrament, that actually had decent singing by the congregation. We had lunch at In-N-Out, a west coast burger chain before joining Lou and Joyce at the Musical Instrument Museum. The Musical Instrument Museum is amazing but let me get my biases out of the way. A. I think corporate execs are paid way too much and this museum was started by a former chief exec of Target Corporation; B. As a Minnesotan, and since Target is headquartered in Minnesota, I would have preferred to see such a museum in the Twin Cities. Okay, on with the tale.
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is housed in a building that does not wow you on its architectural style. It is clean, straight lines, white and beige colors. It is the inside, the exhibits, that make one say “WOW”. And I am not a major music listener. The second floor is devoted to collections of musical instruments from around the world, grouped by geographical regions. So what? you say. Well, the presentation includes examples of the musical instrument; a map so the geographically challenged can understand where the country is located (I did not remember that the New Hebrides are now called Vanuatu-did you?); and an audio-visual screen that comes to life as you approach it wearing your headset. Thus you understand the country’s location, see the instrument, and hear and see the instruments being played.
While numerous instruments are local adaptations of standard instruments (drums), there are unique examples also. The museum has a saying: “Music is the language of the soul”. The exhibits demonstrate the universality of music and the enjoyment and the ritual needs it fulfills. The first floor has a rotating exhibit room (currently a new exhibit is being set up), displays of instruments and related videos of famous musicians from around the world, a display of mechanical music, and an experience gallery where guests can play instruments similar to those on display. We spent two hours here and could have easily been here two or three times as long. Highly recommended.
We said our good-byes to Lou and Joyce and headed to the airport where our flight got us home at 11 PM. A very enjoyable 18 days and 2200 miles of Arizona exploration-with a plus of family time.
Ed and Chris. Saint Paul June 4