Phoenix Week 3: Wacky Weather

Week #3 is off to a great start, as we meet niece Amy and her friend Daisy for lunch at a happening little place on Mill St. in Tempe near the ASU campus.  We agree to meet at Ncounter, but unbeknownst to all, Ncounter has closed and reopened just the day before with a new name: My Daily Jam.  No worries, though, since our millennial lunch companions find us wandering the streets and steer us in the right direction.  Our lunch and short visit are both most enjoyable.


Then this happens!

We file a complaint with the Arizona Office of Tourism and adjust our plans accordingly.

Phoenix Zoo

It’s a chilly day for our day at the zoo, so we bundle up (relatively speaking) and take an umbrella just in case.  I last visited a zoo when our boys were young, and much has changed during the intervening years – more focus on providing appropriate environmental habitats and enrichment programs for the animals, participating in animal rehab efforts, and helping to protect endangered species, to name a few developments.

From what we see, the Phoenix Zoo is on target with those trends; for example, the zoo’s three elephants will soon move to a new home that is double the size of their current digs.  A 2015 article in Fast Company sums up zoo macro trends in its title: “The Future of Zoos Is Being Nice to the Animals – Not Making It Easy to Watch Them.”   The overall premise is that zoos will look and operate more like animal sanctuaries in the future, focusing on the animal’s well-being first and foremost.

Even so, wandering through the exhibits leaves me feeling a bit unsettled.  Most of the humans, especially the children, appear to be having a wonderful time.  Many animals are out and about, although the primates and more than a few others are sticking close to their space heaters on this unseasonably cold day.  We wrap up our visit in half a day and head back to the car just as it starts to rain.

Days later, I’m still trying to figure out what that unsettled feeling is all about.  By chance, I come across this article in a news feed: “Why Experiencing Awe Can Make You a Better Person, According to Science.”  And that’s my answer, at least in part.  When I see animals in their natural environment, I experience awe.  Seeing them at the zoo?  Not the same thing.  Although educational with good photo ops, it doesn’t engender the excitement and sense of awesomeness that comes from spotting a humpback whale in the Pacific Ocean, a mama moose with her babies in Colorado, a manatee in a Florida lagoon, an elk herd in a Rocky Mountain meadow, or brown bears peacefully munching on vegetation in the Alaskan wilderness.

Next up on my animal bucket list (I hope) is an African photo safari, although I’m not sure how soon we can make that happen.  In the meantime, I share these photos from our trip to the Phoenix Zoo.


Five Mammals and a Reptile

Phoenix Art Museum

[This section written by Bill D.]

It was a dark and stormy night . . . no wait a minute,  that’s another story.  OK, I am visiting the PAM by myself, while Carol is busy with other pursuits.  The spacious museum contains an eclectic collection that includes, among others, old world masters (but not many famous ones), American art including one or two pieces by Georgia O’Keefe, a painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, and, again, some interesting art work from lesser known artists.  Check out the painting (photo below) by Louis Ritman that looks suspiciously like a good example of French Impressionism.

Along with these permanent collections are several time limited exhibitions, such as Islamic art and artifacts, and Mexican photography and printed broadsides from the early 20th century.  One exceptionally interesting exhibit (at least I think so) is an audio/visual display entitled “The Visitors” by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson.  He is one interesting fellow.  One example of his work, begun during his student days at the Icelandic School of Art and Design, is entitled “Me and My Mother.”  The premise is simple – every five years, he invites his mother to spit in his face, and it’s recorded on video camera for posterity.  (OK, you can draw your own conclusions about the guy). Fortunately, this piece is not included in his PAM exhibit!

Back to “The Visitors,”  which is a performance of a song composed by his ex-wife.  The video is displayed across nine large monitors, each featuring an individual musician or a small group of performers, all performing simultaneously but separately in different rooms or outdoor venues.  The performance involves a variety of instruments, including piano, guitar, cello, and accordion, among others.  The effect is haunting.  I spend more time in this room than any other, mesmerized by the music and images on the screens.  If you are interested, search for it on YouTube.  Cheers!

Taliesin West

Taliesin West in Scottsdale was the winter home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright from 1937 until his death in 1959.  Today it serves as the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin and the headquarters for the FLW Foundation.  Several public tours are available – we opt for the 90-minute Insights tour.  Our friends Steve and Marlene have arrived for a 5-day visit to Phoenix on their cross country trek from Florida to Mexico and join us for the tour.

Our guide, Don, is a wealth of information about Frank Lloyd Wright’s colorful life, his contributions and legacy as an architect, and all things Taliesin West.  My key takeaway is that every detail at Taliesin West was intentional.  His “organic architecture” style was based on the belief that constructed structures should be in harmony with humanity and the environment.  It’s a peaceful place.  I recommend a visit – just be sure to make tour reservations, as you may be out of luck otherwise.

Meanwhile in Colorado . . .

. . . the mystery of the leaking pipe has been solved and repairs are underway.  The source of the problem is a wayward screw that pierced the water pipe through the wallboard.  Andy has fixed the pipe, and now we are waiting for Jeremy to repair the wall.  Hopefully before we return in a few weeks.


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  1. Love the info….hopefully the Phoenix sun as returned along with the sweet smell of spring training cut grass and bark of “Beer Here and Peanuts !”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know what you mean about Awe in the wild. I have the same feeling about plants in “captivity”. As much as I love seeing the wide varieties of plants in gardens and museums, it still doesn’t compare to the joy of seeing them in their their natural state. It’s the unexpected wonder.

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  3. I am at last caught up on your blog…we finally have wifi again. 1) You perfectly articulated my thoughts about zoos. I’ve been to zoo after zoo, and while some are fantastic (Sydney, Australia), those that resonate are those that are sanctuary-like. Sometimes humans just need to back off. 2) Nice references in Papago Park…although the thought of you ever gasping for air is laughable…me…yep. 3) Glad to see an entry from Dr. Bill, that confirms that he sees the world through a different lens. 4) the screw in the pipe left me gasping for air. Scary!

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