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One Month Trip to the West, 2017

Summary       Denver     Utah     California


Denver, Colorado - Kayenta, Utah - San Francisco, California

This trip was based on family. On our other trips I think that we have been visiting ourselves. There was always a clear focus on ourselves and our relationship with the place. We were always introspective and how we were doing seemed to be the important thing.

This trip was different. We visited people, family and our focus moved to these people that we love and we had to take a backseat. We did not take the laptop on the trip, and thought we woud be sending our travelogue out the old fashioned way - by email with maybe one photo. But being with family seemed to turn our focus outward and we never found the time or energy to write. So we got back to Boston and had not sent out any travelogues. So here is our effort, mostly collecting our scant photos and reminiscing about the trip.

We spent some time with my nephew Jamie and his family in Denver, starting on March 14 and then hopped over to Kayenta to see Dawn's brother on March 19th and finishied up in San Francisco with Amber and her family during their school vacation week starting March 24. We chaperoned some field trips once they were back in school so we could see Lily and Cole in action. We flew back on April 10.

This Travelogue has been re-organized In May, 2023


We missed Jamie at the family reunion in Bethlehem last summer and so we decided to stop in for a visit.

We hadn’t even left yet and the adventure started in the form of the biggest snowstorm of the year in Boston which arrived on the day of our flight.. I had moved the flight back 24 hours, but I worried that it might not be enough. It be difficult for the airline to get its plane here and the airport to clear the runways and it will be difficult for our lyft driver to get us to the airport.

Lately, I have become pretty laid back. Now this is not very difficult when one is retired, but there are moments which can be stressful like catching airplanes. Because of the storm, it is more likely that the plane will have trouble finding me. But the issues are the same, uncertainty, failure, nervousness. My solution has become to treat all outcomes as equal and remember what's important, treating everyone, including myself, with kindness, allowing my sense of curiosity to come forth and always being aware that the path that I didn't chose might be better, way better, than the one I picked.

Of course, the worst thing about all this is that we were here Tuesday so I had to shovel the walk. Luckily, it was only the walk and steps. Since the car wasn't going to move, I didn't have to worry about the driveway or the wall blocking it that the plows create.

Wednesday turned out to be a breeze. We got to the airport with plenty of time to meditate and then we waited an hour for the plane which had been parked overnight at the airport. My guess is that it was not the only plane that needed a tow and that the airport didn't have enough equipment to get them to their gates in a timely fashion. But the plane eventually came and soon we were on it, our bags in the overheads and after a side trip to the de-icer we took off smoothly, saw a lot of snow on the ground and some hours later dropped into Denver only an hour behind schedule.

Jamie had been tracking us and when we got to the airport train station where I had planned to buy Transit Passes for our stay, he was there and gently persuaded me that I would not need them. He was right. The Lyft rides were cheap and Jamie picked us up a couple times and he returned us to the airport when we left.

We drove into town and Jamie dropped us at our Airbnb place. Here is our review:

We came to Denver to visit my grown nephew and his family. Patricia's apartment turned out to be a great place to return to after our times with him and his family. Getting in was really easy and the keypad lock at the entrance is a great idea. The suite is exactly as pictured. I would say that it is a hybrid between an apartment and a room. You share the front door with the host, but don't share any living space. You have your own bedroom, beautiful bath and living room. The kitchenette is adequate for having a little breakfast or lunch or maybe reheating some leftovers from a restaurant dinner the night before. There is plenty of space for clothes and things which is a treat in Airbnb land. If you like architecture, the neighborhood is delightful. The houses are small, many are restored and some are a little over the top. I got a chance to talk to Patricia while we were on the front porch; she is a warm and interesting person which makes her a great host. Do not hesitate to choose The 1885 Victorian Suite for your next stay in Denver.

We took a little travel rest and then Jamie came back to pick us up to have dinner at their house. It was great to see Wendy and Piper again. The next day Jamie picked me up to take a walk and brought a yoga mat for Dawn. He and I went to Cheeseman Park and the Botanical Garden. He is recovering from some knee surgery so he needs to walk as I do. I did some food shopping on the way back. In the afternoon, Dawn and I went to the Clifford Still Museum and then, after getting to their house with a Lyft, we went to the local Italian restaurant with Jamie. Wendy had been up with Piper all night so they stayed home.

Some photos

Clyfford Still Painting
The first thing we did was walk into town from our apartment and go the the Clyfford Still Museum. It operates differently than most museums in that its collection is stable but it sucessively hires different people to curate the collection, so if you return to the museum you will see a totally different set of works from a different angle. When we asked each other which was our favorite painting, we both picked this one. I think for its movement.
"In 1951, Clyfford Still ended his relationship with the prestigious Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. From that time forward, only a very select few of his works entered the art market. As a result, the Clyfford Still Museum now houses 95 percent of the artist’s total output, making its collection the most intact body of work of any major artist. Clyfford Still photo

In addition to the artworks, the Museum is also home to the artist’s archives of letters, sketchbooks, manuscripts, photo albums, and personal effects. The Museum’s rotating exhibition program, drawn almost exclusively from the Museum’s extensive collections, illuminates both Still and the important period of American art history surrounding his lifetime. The Museum also works with the Denver Art Museum and neighboring institutions in the development of joint programming that further contextualizes and complements the collection."
Union Station

We spent half a day walking and talking with Jamie in the downtown area. We wandered around but ended behind Union Station getting filled in about where he had been for the past twenty-five years. Then we headed for the pedestrian area and found a cafeteria style soup and sandwich place. The two pictures below of us are courtesy of him.
Dawn at Lunch  Stephen at lunch Just after Jamie took the pictures, he got a call that he needed to pick up a prescription for Piper at the drugstore, so we got the afternoon to ourselves. We walked along the river then found a spot for an afternoon drink. We got some practice in using Lyft which means knowing where we are and also standing someplace where the driver can safely and legally stop. We ate dinner at home, leftovers (part of Dawn's trout from the night before) and stuff we picked up at the Central Market, a short walk away.
Denver Carousel
On Saturday we went to the zoo.

We have looked at a lot of carousels, but it has been a while since we have ridden one. It was fun. Three girls at zoo
Also, we saw the baby giraffe and the polar bear swimming in his pool which is a rarety. We posed for pictures then rode the train. My selfie skills are improving.
Stephen and Jamie

She seems to be Searching my Soul


Any answers will not reside in me, but rather in her. She seems to have a wisdom that will find what she needs to know. Is she part of a new generation with compassion and understanding? The world is becoming hers.

Or is she just the seven year old daughter of my nephew? But her look brings me to a deep pause. It reminds me that there was a time when I thought that I knew the answers and now I realize that I don't even know the questions.

For me she brings hope. I think it is the quiet strength, the stillness, that after a long time, brings a slow smile to my face.

Good luck to us all.

Tattered Cover Bookstore
After the zoo, we had lunch outside of The Tattered Covered Bookstore on East Colfax. It is in an old theater. You can see the Cove lighting position in the ceiling and the control booth and projection windows on the far wall. This borrowed picture was taken from the old stage. Lunch was odd in that there was a 30 minute wait even though half the tables were empty. It turns out they were seriously short of staff because of illness, so there was only the owner and one server out front. The food came hot, tasty and in large quanities.

After we chilled back at our place where I got to watch Patricia's son dismantle the front porch steps. He ended up not be able to finish the task that afternoon so he screwed a chair to the railing to give us a step so we could go to dinner and then leave for the airport the next day.
Peters Chinese Cafe
After Jamie and I went to pickup some beer we stopped at Peter's Chinese Cafe to pick up dinner. I always thought the Soup Nazi on the Seinfeld show was a result of some writer's hyper-imagination. But here was the prototype. He stormed around his shop, making sure that everything was going perfectly. A customer came in to get some takeout and stood four feet from the counter to order his food. He was afraid to get nearer. Peter wouldn't allow it and exhorted him at full volume, "Come closer, come closer". The young woman, in full Peking Opera makeup, who was working the cash register, seemed just as afraid. Of course, people came here because it was in the neighborhood and as we found out the food was really good. While we were waiting, I found out from Jamie perhaps another reaaon. At heart he was a kind soul as exampled by the story that a customer of his had been offered a job there just because he needed one. Also Piper and he were best buddies and had always been.
Dinner was great and our farewells to Piper and Wendy were kind of sad,
Flying  out of Denver

but we had a plane to catch so the next morning Jamie appeared at our door and dropped us at the airport. Big hugs all around and he waved us up the escalator to began the next phase of our trip.


 Dawn at Andy's
My brother Andrew and his long-time partner Linda live smack in the middle of the red-rock desert. Their community, Kayenta, is environmentally sited with low cliff-colored homes and gardens that grow only what thrives naturally in the desert. No big green, water-sucking lawns here.
Photos from Utah Front yard
It is a beautiful place, and they have renovated and added to their home to give it a true southwest feel, adding niches and old beams, lots of tile work (tiles by Linda) and buying Native American art that they love. They put in a huge amount of sweat labor themselves to create the environment they wanted. The picture of me standing outside is taken from their driveway, the other two are of their front entrance and the view from the guest bedroom, so you can see that the views are stunning all around.
Photos from Utah our bedroom view

They are all about color which you can glimpse in the picture of their dining table. As in Denver, we got into some good conversations about what is important to us in life. Their community is a little island of liberal thinking in the most conservative state in the Union. Both Andrew and Linda are extremely politically active and have gotten letters published in many newspapers, both in St. George and Salt Lake City.
Photos from Utah Dawn Andy Linda

We enjoyed several short day hikes, all within about twenty minutes of their home.
Photos from Utah Caps

We got a chance to celebrate Dawn's birthday and thank Andrew and Linda for their wonderful hospitality by taking us all out for dinner at Cappeletti's, a very nice Italian restaurant.

Photos from Utah Labyrinth

The community volunteered to build a labyrinth, designed after the one at Chartres Cathedral that I had walked with such emotion several years ago in France. We did walking meditations there two mornings. It was a wonderful way to start the day, even if we had a rare rainfall at the end of our second walk there. Oddly enough, when we walked on the cliffs in San Francisco, there was yet another labyrinth overlooking the ocean that the kids walked.
Photos from Utah Stephen Dawn Andy

We visited a surprising number of petroglyphs on one hike, astounding to me that they are not even in a national or state park. They are just out there for people to walk to and visit, and take stupid poses in front of them.
Photos from Utah Pictographs
Photos from Utah Pictographs
Photos from Utah Pictographs group
Photos from Utah in front of Pictographs

Photos from Utah Tree

Hellhole Canyon is right at the north side of Kayenta. Dawn and I hiked up into Canyon as far as we could go without getting our feet wet. there are two ways to go, the high road and through the wash. We took the high road which is just choosing which side of the sage brush to walk on, really no trail. Once we got to the mouth of the canyon we tried a trail which didn't lead anyone so we came back and discovered the wonderful blooming tree in the photo to the left.
Photos from Utah Dawn in Canyon

During Heavy rain there are waterfalls that come off the top of the walls and if there are heavy winds in the right direction the water does not reach the bottom but rather is blown back uo and over the rim. We didn't see this, just heard the tale.
Photos from Utah Coyote Gulch

We went up to the coffee shop in Kayenta's village center to have a coffee with Rod and Pat who are good friends of Andrew and Linda.

St George Epress

Friday Morning Andrew and the two of us got up early to catch the St. George to Las Vegas airport Shuttle. We found the office and got and gave our hugs goodbye. The office was surprising with its free coffee, juice and fresh baked cookies. A couple hours later we were at the Las Vegas airport, now waiting for the storms in San Francisco to finish so we could land there. Utah was great.


A Dudes' Day

Dudes' day Bucket truck

We grabbed some work gloves and headed for Sebastopol for a work day. A friend of Patrick had invited us up to help clear the branches over the drive. someone else was cutting the branches and our job was to clear them off the road.
Dudes' day Cole

Afterwards we took a walk down through the vineyard to the creek.
Dudes' day Lunch

Lunch was the highlight. A real barbeque, an immense amount of meat with good beer. A good time was had by all.

The Conservatory of Flowers Butterfly exhibit


Amber outdid herself with acquiring Library Passes for us to use during School vacation week. Here we are at the Conservatory of Flowers at their exhibition of Butterflies. In the anteroom,


The pupa are hanging from pins waiting to hatch and be sent into the flower room. Lily is in her element here, sending the docents to their reference books with her questions.

Field Trip to the Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building

Farmers Market

We rode the muni bus with Lily's class down the the farmers market at the ferry building for a food shopping, learning, cooking experience. The program was short a couple of chefs to lead the groups, but two of the moms who were with us were professional chefs and jumped in.

Field Trip to the Zoo

The next day we grabbed a bus down to the zoo and met the entire first grade of the Argonne school for a field trip through the San Francisco Zoo. It was free for SF citizens day so most of the parents got in that way. Dawn had a pass from Amber and a parent had an extra guest pass which I used. Our group was four boys who exhibited amazing energy. Moving to the next location seemed to be the most important thing. Their running and energy got the attention of about four Mexican grey wolves who seemed to want to play with them.

Class picture!

Zoo At the end of the day which included an hour for lunch and playing at the playground, the children gather for a picture. Cole is on your extreme left.

The Hiker, the Flower Goddess and the Bear

Video image
Props and Costumes
We made a video with the Grandkids when their parents went away for a weekend up into wine country. It was pretty much their plot and their ideas and we tried not to be too pushy as camera operator and producer

Here is the props and costume department.

Toni came over and totally energized the making of the masks and head dresses for the video. Thank you Toni.

A Visit to the Tea Garden
Tea Garde Tea Garden

I was Going to Cook Dinner But Built Some Shelves Instead

Renovated Shed
Dawn jumped in to do the prep upstairs in the kitchen as Patrick jumped on being the grillmeister, which was going to be my job, so that I coud build these shelves in the backyard shed. I lucked out in that once I cut the plywood for the width of the shelf the length turned out to be 8' so no cutting in that direction was necessary in the eight foot shed. It is probably not earthquake ready, but it made a big difference in the amount that could be stored in the shed as well as the amount easily retrievable.

A Trip to Golden Gate Park

us Not really a trip for a place that is three blocks away.

But, who are these people? We don't recognize them, but I think they need some new clothes and some new scarves. She is the prettiest woman alive but he seems like he is about to call some bodyguards to get rid of this photographer.

the grandkids

Below, I recognize the cutest family in California. Cole has discovered sunglass cool. Patrick seems pleased as he ought. We looked at ducks and turtles and visited the elves' house.

Beautiful Amber

Amber Rowing

She is guiding her family back into port. Her long slightly curved back is about to plant the oars for a long sure stroke. She seems to be looking at us, but I think she is just checking out of the corner of her eye that the way is safe. A mother par excellence!
As they ventured out, Dawn and I spent the time doing just nothing in the sun, something that we are very good at, and then we were ready to welcome them back. From there it was just a stroll home to finish the afternoon.

Just Wrapping Up

I remember some late evening cocktails that Patrick was making and some brownies that we were eating and the next morning the announcement that there were stains on the couch where Dawn and I had been sitting drinking and eating the brownies. Uh oh. We were in trouble. Dawn worked with some success on removing the stains. Then Cole said that the marks on the couch weren't from the brownies but from his toy orange SF Giant souvenir bat. He seemed to be taking responsibility for something he didn't do. We all said said "No way" and he said "Watch" and took a swipe at the couch and there appeared a mark that looked just like brownie stain. Amber let out a loud expletive and the rest of us were stunned into momentary silence.

It was a great trip and we look forward to returning to California, which is now scheduled for Thanksgiving, 2017.
Summary       Denver     Utah     California
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