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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
We enjoyed several short day hikes, all within about twenty minutes of their home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Afterwards we took a walk down through the vineyard to the creek.
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
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.
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
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
I was Going to Cook Dinner But Built Some Shelves Instead
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
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.
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.
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.