Tag Archives: Arizona

St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 3: The Gardens

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St. Anthony’s Monastery, Part 3: The Gardens

St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery is located in the desert outside Florence, Arizona. The monastery’s water comes from three wells, each a quarter-mile deep, which turn the grounds into an oasis.

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I’ve never seen bougainvillea this color.

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Adding to the beauty of the plants are the many outdoor structures and decorative brickwork.

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And the fountains.

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And the statuary.

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The monks also grow several kinds of citrus, and olives.

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For more pictures of St. Anthony’s Monastery, check out these articles about the doors, the architecture, and the icons.

Hiking in the Arboretum

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Hiking in the Arboretum

Two Fridays ago my daughter Katie invited me to go hiking with her at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It had been three months since the last time I’d hiked, so I was interested in an easy trail. In Katie’s memory, the High Trail at the arboretum was fairly level.

But to this old lady, it wasn’t. Not that it’s steep, but there are plenty of rises and dips, lots of rocks and steps. I was glad I’d brought my trekking pole; I couldn’t have made it without it.

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The Arboretum is located on 392 acres adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. Its landscape is desert, plus hardy trees and beautiful flowers. Many of the trees have been transplanted from other locations.

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We were fortunate to be there on a Friday, because we had the place seemingly to ourselves. There were plenty of cars in the ample parking, but the arboretum is large enough that you’re not bumping into the other visitors. On the weekends I believe there are larger crowds.

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Boyce Thompson Arboretum, hiking

My daughter Katie ahead of me on the trail.

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An example of the lush forest.

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Interesting rock formations.

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A fallen tree in the eucalyptus forest. Look at the root structure.

We’ve had an unusually dry summer, even for Arizona. Usually we have monsoons in July, and this little stream would actually have water in it.

 

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All the pictures up to this point were taken by me. Unfortunately, my camera’s battery ran out halfway through our hike. Luckily, Katie took some gorgeous pictures with her phone that she was willing to share. All the rest of the pictures in this post are hers.

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Yours truly.

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Garden path.

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Butterflies!

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Wildflowers.

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Shady path.

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Here you can see the roughness of the trail. Not horrible, but not smooth, either.

 

Hiking in Usery Park

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Hiking in Usery Park

A week and a half ago, my daughter Katie invited me to hiking with her in Usery Mountain Regional Park, part of the Maricopa County Park system. I’d never been there before, but I knew it was a favorite spot of a friend of mine, so I was happy to accept.

I’ve enjoyed my hikes in South Mountain Park, which I think is gorgeous, but Usery Park is much more beautiful, greener.

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As we entered the park, we asked the attendant at the guard house where to find an easy trail for beginners (for me; I’ve only been hiking once since my emergency gall bladder surgery in April, and I wanted level ground). She recommended the Merkle Trail, which circles around a small mountain. We started on that, and immediately came to the Vista Trail, which went up the mountain, followed the ridge, and went down the other side. We decided to try it. The photo above was taken at the top. You can see the Merkle trail on the lower level.

The trail was rough and rocky in spots, but not too steep. There was one short stretch that was strenuous enough to get my heart pounding, but it was doable for an old lady like me. I brought my Sony Cyber-shot instead of my “good” camera, but it did a reasonable job of capturing the beautiful terrain.

Lots of cactus (click on the smaller photos to enlarge):

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And we met a little friend. Katie thinks it’s a chuckwalla. I tried to walk around him and take a better picture, but he took off.

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Here and there were some big outcroppings of rock.

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Painted on the mountains in the distance is an arrow pointing the way to Phoenix. You can see it from the air on the way to Sky Harbor International Airport.

When we came down the mountain, we followed the Merkle Trail back to where we started.

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I can’t wait to go back again.

Return to Hole in the Rock

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A year ago I went to Hole in the Rock, an interesting sandstone formation in Papago Park. That was when I was still suffering from arthritis pain (before my hip replacement) and was unable to climb to the top.

Now that I’m bionic and healed and going hiking once a week, I decided to go back and try again.

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This is considered rather an easy trail, but it was still challenging for me. You walk around the back side of the mountain. Steps are built into the path and edged with rock. There were quite a few people there. Children scampered past me. So did parents carrying toddlers.

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From the back, this is what the mountain looks like:

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When I look at the steepness of it, I can’t believe I climbed up there. When I got to the opening, though, I couldn’t make myself descend the little stairs cut into the rock that lead into the chamber. Look for yourself–see them at the lower right corner of the picture below? I think part of my problem was that just out of sight on the left was a group of people enjoying the view and I didn’t want them to see me tumble down. (Although, if you’re going to fall on a hike like this, you want to do it when there are people around to help you.) Another consideration was that I had an expensive camera around my neck that I didn’t want to bang up.

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Here’s what the view from the top looks like through the hole:

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And here’s the view looking out from the back side, Camelback Mountain in the distance:

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Someday I’m going back with a little more experience and without my camera so that I can really experience Hole in the Rock the way the Native Americans did.

Christmas at Niels Petersen House

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Christmas at Niels Petersen House

I first visited the historic Niels Petersen House in Tempe, Arizona, in the early 1990s. When I stepped into the kitchen, I was hit with a wave of déjà vu. I realized it reminded me of the farmhouse my Uncle Hughie grew up in. (Click the smaller images to enlarge and to view captions.)

 

I recently visited again. In December, the house is decorated for Christmas.

 

 

Niels Petersen, the original owner of the house, was born on October 21, 1845, in Denmark. He served in the English Merchant Marines from 1863-1870, allowing him to travel the world until he decided to immigrate to the United States.

 

In 1871, Petersen arrived in the Salt River Valley of central Arizona, where he staked a homestead claim and begin farming. Four years later, in 1878, Petersen became a United States citizen and subsequently filed a homestead entry, the next step in permanently establishing himself in the valley. The final action in this process was the filing of a homestead proof, providing evidence that improvements to the land had been made by the claimant, which Petersen filed on May 12, 1883. By the time of his final homestead filing, Petersen had built two small adobe houses on the property and maintained 140 acres in cultivation.

 

Petersen acquired more property surrounding his homestead claim. His ranch grew to more than 1,000 acres and Petersen emerged as one of the area’s leading producers of cattle and grain.

By the 1890s, Petersen emerged as one of the Salt River Valley’s wealthiest and most revered citizens. In 1892, he made the decision to construct a new two-story brick home, in the Queen Anne Victorian style, hired Architect James Creighton to design it. Petersen’s house was widely considered one of the most elegant homes in the region.

 

Petersen married twice. His first wife died in childbirth and their son died in infancy. His second wife did not bear any children.

 

After Petersen’s death, the property passed to a distant relative, Rev. Edward Decker. He modified the house somewhat, including adding its one and only bathroom.

 

Only one more family ever lived in the house. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The city of Tempe acquired it in 1979 and restored it.

 

The Niels Petersen House will be open to the public this weekend, December 15 and 16, 2018, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. For more information, click here.

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Photographs by ARHuelsenbeck.

Walking in Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

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Sunday was my birthday, and last Saturday my daughter Katie took me to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. A forty-five-minute drive from her home, the Arboretum is surrounded by desert.

It’s close to Tonto National Forest and I expected there would be lots of trees. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge and scroll through.)

But there’s so much more. Cacti, succulents, and flowers that thrive in the desert:

Roses! and butterflies:

Sculptures and benches and structures from which to rest and enjoy the view:

And speaking of views, you can see mountains from the trails.

 

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Katie

 

I love the desert, and Boyce Thompson Arboretum shows off its beauty. We saw only a small portion of the park during the hours we were there, but Katie is a member of the Arboretum and promised me I can visit any time I want as her guest. We’ll be back soon.

Ahwatukee Festival of Lights

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Ahwatukee Festival of Lights

Unless you’ve traveled in the southwest United States, you may never have seen Christmas lights done quite like this before:

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When we first moved to Arizona and our children were small, we’d make a point to drive down to the Ahwatukee foothills south of Phoenix to see the lighted cacti.

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How do you string lights on a cactus? Very carefully. I tried it one year. Not fun, but very pretty.

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The video below tells about the history of the Ahwatukee Festival of Lights: