Friday, January 4, 2008

1/4/08 Petrified Wood and La Posada Hotel

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We decided to make the drive to Albuquerque over two days since we wanted to visit Holbrook, Arizona which was a frontier town founded in the 1880’s and the gateway to the Petrified Forest National Park.

Our camp host referred us to dinner at La Posada Hotel, one of the last great railroad hotels built in 1929 for the Santa Fe Railway by Fred Harvey who hired Mary Jane Coulter to be the architect. Mary Jane Coulter was the architect of the buildings of the Grand Canyon – Bright Angel Lodge, Phantom Ranch, Hermit’s Rest, Hopi House and the Watchtower. These don’t look like modern buildings, but more like old Native American dwellings, even ruins, which was entirely her plan. She also designed the interiors of the Los Angeles, Kansas City and Chicago railway stations.

Mel’s photos of the Watchtower

To design La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, she invented a story of a gracious Spanish Don who loved to entertain in the family’s elegant hacienda that was architecturally represented in the building and landscaping. You can hardly imagine how beautiful this restored hotel/train station that had been vacant for 30 years has become. It is still a work in progress, so we look forward to going back again to enjoy the arched doorways, hand-painted glass windows, glittering tin chandeliers, Southwestern hand-built furniture and whimsical jackrabbit ashtrays – hopefully with Demi (a historic building buff) or Mel (who loves to take art and architecture photography).

La Posada and Turquoise Room Slide Show

We ate delicious gourmet Southwestern regional cuisine in Turquoise Room where they bake and cook everything from scratch and use local ingredients including locally-made goat cheese, roasted corn grown on the reservations and piki bread (in the picture it looks like rolled tortillas) made by local Hopi women. Sarah and I created a meal of artfully-prepared appetizers including the piki bread, flaky like tissue paper served with the best humus ever, their specialty soup (light is corn chowder and dark is black bean) and Dave tried the elk. By the time we thought to ask Dave what he thought of his meal, his generous portion was completely devoured. We shared some desserts. Just like all the reviewers agree – The Turquoise Room is one of the best restaurants in Arizona and New Mexico!

We got disappointing reports about the Petrified Forest National Park. We were primarily interested in touring the petroglyph sites – but we were told that these are now closed to the general public because of vandalism. How sad… The petroglyphs date between 1000-1350 A.D. and were made by pecking away at the desert varnish on the rock to reveal the lighter sandstone underneath. Current research suggests the designs – mostly spirals and circles in geometric designs -- were used as solar calendars.

Winslow – Petrified Wood Shop Slide Show

So we decided to tour Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company, a ten-acre shop known for their collection of Arizona Rainbow Petrified Wood, fossils, minerals, indoor cactus garden and petrified wood waterfall. We had a great time admiring the fossils, petrified wood hand polished logs, tabletops, bookends and jewelry. Sarah found a petrified wood necklace she wears daily and Dave collected a good-luck sphere made of Onyx to carry in his pocket.

We hurried along to Albuquerque to set up for Demi’s arrival for a weekend visit. Our campground, Hidden Valley, can be utilized by two of my memberships – RPI and ROD, which means I can stay extremely inexpensively alternating weeks between the two. However, it is not close to anything for Dave to walk to. The deli close by (as defined by Dave, it’s only 4 miles away) is closed for the winter.

I picked Demi up from the airport late Friday night. She was bundled up for the snowy weather with a coat and a beret and looked very jaunty. When she arrived to the RV, she asked where the coat closet was. Fortunately, we had cleared 18” of closet space in the coat/bedroom/storage/linen closet in the master bedroom and emptied a drawer, so Sarah and I were able to control our desire to roll around on the floor laughing and giggled instead.

Dave and Sarah mostly took care of themselves during the weekend as Demi and I brunched, enjoyed massages at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Tamara Spa, drove around seeing Historic Route 66 and pueblo-style architecture, and shopped for the perfect piece of jewelry – one that was a piece of art, reflected the trip to Albuquerque and would work with some of her hand knit sweaters.

Demi fell in love with a silver necklace that would go perfectly with a few pieces in her wardrobe. After negotiating a fair price, we were surprised and thrilled to realize it came as a four piece set; it came with a ring and a pair of earrings. I purchased a pair of silver and lapis earrings to go with my favorite blue shirt – the owner of the shop told me there was a surprise in my bag. When I got home, the matching pendant to wear as a necklace on a silver chain was in the bag. How sweet!

Demi went back to the airport Sunday afternoon -- it was the perfect visit but if it had been a little longer we would have spent an afternoon at the art museum. Something to save for the next trip!


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