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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Highlights of the drive into Phoenix

Here are some highlights of our drive to Phoenix:

  •           In Oklahoma City, we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum where those who were killed in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building are remembered. The most striking part of the outdoor memorial is the field of empty chairs, one for each survivor, facing the reflecting pool that covers the footprint NW Fifth Street. It is a grave yet beautiful place. However, we probably should have known better than to go through the indoor museum, which is not a place to bring two young children who need to run off noisy energy after at the end of a long day of driving. The museum simulates the intenseness of the day the bomb went off and tells the stories of the survivors; it is a place to be solemn and quiet. On our way in, I noticed a young man sitting alone with bowed head near the reflecting pool. He sat there a long time and was obviously more than a tourist. I wondered how he was connected to the memorial. Was he there that day? Did he lose a loved one? The memorial is an active place of healing and remembrance.
  •        In Albuquerque, we were excited to finally be in a part of the country where we could count on getting good Mexican food. Based on Yelp reviews and the recommendation of the hotel clerk, we went to Sadie’s of New Mexico and our taste buds were so happy. Sadie’s serves New Mexican-style Mexican food, which involves chiles (“Red or green?” is the state question and refers to what type of sauce you want on your food) and sopapillas among other things. The food at Sophies was everything we were looking for: home-made chips and spicy salsa; sopapillas and honey served as part of the meal. I ordered a stuffed sopapilla with red sauce that was so large we ate it for three meals.  Jim ordered a chile rellanos combo with green sauce. Both were excellent, but my sopapilla was best. On the way out of town, we saw three colorful hot-air balloons with the sunrise, which is emblematic of Albuquerque. See here for a lovely time-lapse of the hot-air balloon festival.
    Sweet corn and black bean soup at the Turquoise Room
  •       The next day we stopped for lunch in Winslow, AZ at La Posada. We’ve only been there twice, but I’m tempted to say this is one of our favorite places, perhaps because we discovered it by accident years ago and it was such a great find in a small town. La Posada is a hotel that was built by the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1929. It has been beautifully restored and has enormous personality exhibited in paintings, sculptures, and architectural details throughout the inn. It is pet friendly, which is how we discovered it when looking for a place to stay with our dogs. The Turquoise Room is possibly the finest restaurant in the Four Corners area. The chefs create “regional contemporary Southwestern cuisine” based on fresh and local ingredients. Where Sadie’s was comfort Mexican food; the Turquoise Room was elegant Arizonan food with offerings such as piki bread and hummus, sweet corn and bean soup with chile sauce, and honey-mesquite corn bread. Everything was absolutely delicious. After lunch we walked the grounds outside and found a haystack maize that delighted L1 and L2. L2 imitates everything that L1 does, and is often determined to do it on his own. L1 led the way through the maze, and L2 walked the whole way, following L1 every turn. 

  •         As we left Winslow and drove the last leg of our journey into Phoenix, the San Francisco Peaks beckoned us on to Flagstaff. Leaving the mountains, we told L1 to keep an eye out for saguaro cactus, and that when he saw them we would be about 45 minutes from the grandparents. He not only spied the first saguaro, he continued to tell us whenever he saw another one, which was essentially for the next 45 minutes. I don't have a picture of the saguaros, but I'll try to include one next time. We also saw a bonus of several more hot-air balloons over the valley.  And finally, we arrived safe and sound at Grandma and Popop’s home and didn’t get back in the car for two days!

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