Western Trip – Summer, 2006


Two Come, Carry or Indian’s Revenge or Don’t Cross My Path – July 14, 2006: Last night Joplin, tonight was supposed to be Amarillo. But it’s Tucumcari, NM instead. Left St. Louis about 2:30 and drove to Joplin. Dinner was at Chedder’s (you know I always talk about food). Nice smoked ribs. Got up at 7:00 and were on the road by 8:00. We brought along two small French presses (plastic, mind you) and a pound of Kaldi’s coffee ground for them. So, we had some muffins that Toby made and coffee for breakfast.

Lunch was at a non-descript Denny’s somewhere between Oklahoma City and the Texas border, Elk City, I think.  We passed by what is billed as the biggest cross in the Western Hemisphere.

We were supposed to stop in Amarillo, but it was only 3:30 when we got there and we cancelled our reservation there and made one in Tucumcari. Stopped at Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo, walked across the field to the cars, and took lots of pictures. Many of the folks there had cans of spray paint and were writing on the cars. The ground was littered with empty spray paint cans. One of the cars had in bright silver “Kinky Friedman for Governor. Why the Hell not?” (see http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/).

Got back to the car and headed toward New Mexico. Went through lots of rain before we reached our destination. After moving a requisite amount of paraphernalia to our room, we went on line, so to speak. First, with Jeff’s help and two long phone calls, we had to figure out how to share Internet service between my Mac (plugged into the wall via Ethernet cable) and Marian’s PC which is only wireless. After some false starts, Jeff got it going. However, Marian could not either retrieve email or send it using her email program, nor could she get to the place in Yahoo for the game she likes to play. Seems like some firewall was in the way.

I sat at my computer and could download all I wanted. But I found out that I could not send email. The desk had no clue what the problem was. I called the 866 number for technical support and was connected to some nice woman in Mumbai or environs. I told the rep that I could browse the Internet, could receive mail through my email program, but could not send email through it. I will shorten the conversation since I had to repeat myself several times. But the upshot was that she told me the only way to solve the problem was to change the outgoing email server (SMTP) for all my email accounts to their address. I protested several times that this seemed wrong, that I have traveled to many hotels and motels in the U.S. and even abroad and never had to change my outgoing email server. She, in turn, kept insisting that this was the only way to solve the problem.

I became more and more agitated the more she insisted that there was only one suggestion. I asked to speak to her supervisor. Another nice woman came on having been briefed by the first rep. She told me the same thing as the other person had. I told her the same thing I had said before.  Finally she said there might be another way. She put me on hold. When she came back, she asked me to send my email again. Lo and behold, it worked. But Marian’s still did not…and it still doesn’t. And, for a final act, when we came back for dinner, I could only send and not receive (and I had not shut down my computer while we were away).

After our frustrating computer experiences, we drove around this town. Nothing here but the motels and a few restaurants. Lots of closed stores, empty buildings. Pretty sad. But there are wall murals everywhere with all sorts of wonderful scenes and images.

Dinner was at Del’s Restaurant, a place we had been to before. Marian remembered and even what table we were then. Ah, New Mexico. I had a place of stacked chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce on top and finished off with a sopaipilla with honey. Ay yay yay! Now it’s dark and time for rest. Short drive to Santa Fe tomorrow.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Fey Santa or How Much is That Kitty in the Window? – July 15, 2006: Up around 7:30. Amazing how much stuff we carried in from the car. It took a luggage cart to get it all downstairs. Had breakfast at Hampton Inn. Very nice array of food and interesting graphic designs on all their signage from stuff in the room to what’s on the coffee urns. Left around 9:00 and drove round and round Tucumcari looking at the abandoned buildings and all the beautiful wall murals. Interesting contrast. Best looking and best kept buildings in town are the churches.

Drove to Santa Fe. Lots of construction along I-40, but okay overall. Under 200 miles. Used GPS to find our B&B, Casa Pacifica. Very nice. Very Santa Fe. We have a two-room suite with patio all around. Funky stuff with lots of sinks, tile, potty in a separate closet, steam shower, knickknacks everywhere…and the whole place filled with all the stuff from our car (we emptied it). No Internet. But that’s not really a big deal.

Drove to around the Plaza, found a parking place a few blocks away, and went to La Casa Sena for lunch, one of our favorite spots. Ate outside under big umbrella. Grilled chicken sandwich with poblanos, grilled onions, avocados, cheese, pesto. Ahhhh. We walked around the Plaza and shopped, looked at people. At one point we could hear a Mariachi band. The band appeared followed by a bride and groom. White hat on the groom. Then the bride’s maids and groom’s men—pink dresses for the women, black formal wear and black hats for the men. They made a procession around to the Governor’s Palace where, we think the wedding took place. One of the buildings on the Plaza that houses a new shopping arcade was once the site of a Woolworth’s. I remember taking a picture of the old store right when it was closing for good. After making it all the way around the Plaza, we went into the side yard of the church where the famous steps are and looked a crafts fair. It started to rain, so we hurried. I got the car and picked Marian up.

Next stop was Site Santa Fe, an arts installation in an old warehouse. Each artist had a room. A huge array of different stuff. Some 2D, some 3D, some audio, some video, some abstract, some not. Really neat show. Thank you, Robin, for suggesting we go here. Then back to our B&B for relaxation before dinner with Kristen and Steve Flance.

The drive up to their gorgeous house reminds us of visiting my cousin, Russ. It’s in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain overlooking the city and over some unpaved roads. We had directions from Kristen, but got lost anyway. GPS did not help since, as far as its database was concerned, we were on the moon. Steve drove out to meet us and lead us in from the, pardon the expression, main road. The house is terrific. Great views, indoor gardens with trees, big rooms, wonderful Santa Fe furnishings. Steve told us a story of one day when he was shaving, a lynx sat outside his bathroom window looking in. It’s that wild up there. We had snacks and some wine. We also decided to take our own car down to dinner rather than having to drive down later in the dark after a sumptuous dinner and … wine.

Had dinner at The Compound on Canyon Rd. Elegant, lovely service, great wine list, pricey. I had polenta covered with clams followed by soft shell crabs. Marian had a lovely halibut. We all split two desserts. Drank Clos du Val merlot. Steve and Kristen are fun to be with, very relaxed and laid back. Nice to trade old stories and learn new ones. We had interesting discussion about Country Day now and back when we went. We found out about a benefit where Steve’s old college band, Gary and the Wombats, will be playing in St. L. on 9/30. Will have to get tix. GPS helped coming home. Parking lot was full. Had to squeeze into a narrow drive in front of the place.

The Hills Are Alive or If a Seagull Flies Over the Sea, What Flies Over the Bay? or “If that thing has a body, I don’t want it” – July 16, 2006: Got up around 7:00 since our hostess had scheduled us for 8:00 AM breakfast. There were tables set for each group here. We sat in the shade under a peach tree heavy with fruit. The two dogs paid us visit after visit, but were okay. Found out the owner has been here 20 years, the first 18 with the place an assisted-living hospice. The room we are in has a story. I have commented on the tiny closet where the toilet and sink are. Actually, it was installed for a woman with claustrophobia…the double doors of the little closet can swing open and, for all intents and purposes, you are in the bedroom with lots of space. But your knees do hit the sink when seated, so?

Breakfast was nice fruit, great coffee, big, fluffy banana pancakes and we were off for the day. Drove around the city a bit since we were out and about before the museums opened. Went near where we had rented a house on an earlier trip, drove through some areas where we had shopped before (all the shops have closed or were different). Finally went to a public garage near the plaza and walked over to the Contemporary Museum to see a show of 20th Century Mexican artists. Very nice show. Really traced the movement of art in Mexico post-revolution. Spent about an hour there.

Then to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. Saw a show there emphasizing color. Also saw a nice 12-minute film on her and the progression of her work. Had a fun conversation in the museum with one of the guards about parents who don’t control their children insofar as noise and touching the art. Of particular focus was a French family with four kids who were mildly out of control at times. Spent a bit over an hour here. Then over to a rubber stamp store on San Francisco. It’s one of Marian’s favorites.

Steve Flance called about then and we met Kristen and Steve out at the development they have as part of Bishops Lodge. It’s called the Hills and Villas of Bishops  Lodge and comprises both condos and individual building lots over 100 acres. Great views. And the higher you are, the more expensive the unit or the lot. Went through their model condo, the clubhouse with its pool, and drove around to see the individual lots above. One section of the development has a Pulitzer Lane, commemorating the Pulitzers who owned Bishops Lodge decades ago. Nice St. Louis connection. Saw Shirley McLaine’s house (not part of this project) over on another nearby hill.

We drove in Steve’s car to Bagelmania for huevos rancheros, Mexican eggs benedict, egg white omelets, etc. They drove us back to our car at their development. We continued toward Tesuque and went to Shidoni, a foundry and sculpture park. Wandered around through two fields of outdoor sculpture. Then back toward the city and around to Canyon Road where we went into just a few galleries, including Jane Sauer’s where we introduced ourselves to Jane as Robin’s parents. Back to the B&B to relax, download pix, write, etc. before dinner.

Donna’s daughter, Caroline, came over to our B&B and we all drove to Santa Café, one of our favorites. Caroline is easy to be with, very personable, fun, chatty, big smile. It’s the day before her 20th birthday. Caroline told us of the tradition of Donna calling her to recount, in real time, the whole day of her birth. She had calamari to start; we had salads (mine with grilled apricots and goat cheese). Marian had grilled chicken, Caroline and I had NZ rack of lamb. Excellent food. Caroline had a vanilla crème brule and I had coffee ice cream with a pinon pastry on top and cajeta caramel. Lively dinner conversation. Posed for all sorts of silly pictures.

Back at our room, Caroline opened up all the presents that Jeff and her mom had sent from St. Louis and we all read all the cards. Had a long and fun-filled chat. Lots of laughs. She got a Hello Kitty FM adapter for her iPod and had to get it going before she drove off to her home.  A very fun evening.

“Wi-Fi? It’s all around you” or Chile Today… or Good and Polenta – July 17, 2006: Breakfast this AM included stewed fresh apricot. Main course was nice scrambled eggs with portabellas and some zucchini on the side. Good toast, good coffee. Among other things I asked of our host today was where I could get free Wi-Fi. She waved her arms around and told me “Right here.” Seems like the settings I had put on my computer when we were in Tucumcari and messing around with the service there had blocked my getting a signal here. Ah, well. Doing without for two days is good for the soul.

I had to call Jeff a couple of times for some needed help in getting my pictures uploaded. It should be simple, but it seems hard to me since I only make new albums once or twice a year. He was very helpful and we thank him. I got to upload lots of pix and some of these trip note files.

Left here before 11 with no agenda other than a Walgreen’s stop. We drove to a shopping area along Guadeloupe. Most of the stores were different than the last time we were here. Went into center of town where we walked around hitting all the stores we had not in the last two days. Love the hemp store. Good politics and good clothing. Went into Chile Shop and Santa Fe School of Cooking. Also, jewelry and shoe stores, natch. Did not do much buying—mostly looking. Light lunch (thank God) at Atomic Café on Water St. Drove back to B&B around 3:00 to consult with our separate computers (have to fulfill our unmet needs of the past two days). Very lazy day. No wonder I am so tired.

Talked to the folks in St. Louis and are glad we are here where it tops out at 90 and the nights go down into the 50s. Sounds like we got out of town just in time. Spent the afternoon in the courtyard of our place. Marian played her computer game; I read some poetry, did some computer stuff, etc. We’re the only ones around this afternoon, so it’s very quiet and peaceful.

Left here about 7:00 with the intention of a New Mexico style dinner at Tomasina’s, a few blocks from here. Line there was way too long. But, right around the corner was a restaurant that the Flances had recommended, Andiamo, a wonderful neighborhood Italian restaurant. Marian ordered halibut, but they ended up being out of it. So, they gave us a free appetizer of crispy polenta in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. Marian had a wonderful grilled veggie plate with a risotto fritter, asparagus, greens, carrots, snow peas, baby squash. I had the crispy duck legs, which came on a whopping big piece of, you guessed it, polenta. Then I had mango granita. Wow. Lots and lots of fruit. Oh, and an espresso.

Back to home base. No hurry tomorrow. Not much ground to cover. Might take the back roads.

The World is Your Oyster or Truchas or Consequences or Cinco Chimayo – July 18, 2006: Had our last breakfast at Casa Pacifica. Always a nice fruit plate. Eggs Benedict…lots of lemon. Sat around and talked with Linda, our host. Finally got going and loaded the car leaving there about 10:30. We took the VERY long way around to go to Albuquerque. Instead of about 45 minutes, we didn’t get to Penny and Steve’s until 6 hours after we left. We went over 250 miles just for the fun of scenic driving.

Headed north to Espanola and then onto the high road to Taos stopping first in Chimayo to see the church (sanctuario) there. Interesting to see how it’s gotten more touristy over the years. Lots of souvenir stands, a new public bathroom building, a bigger parking lot, and lots and lots of signs (see our pictures). Morning mass was going on, so we did not go farther inside than the entry. We continued through Truchas (where Milagro Bean Field Wars was filmed) and into Las Trampas where we stopped to look at another of the old churches.

The road wound up and down and around. Speed limit was 40 mph and that was about the safest speed to travel. Interesting to see signs “Watch Out For Water.” The dry arroyos can become raging torrents when it rains, so watch out indeed. We climbed into the Sangre de Cristo mountains where the scenery shifted from mesas and desert to tree-clad mountains and the base of ski slopes. From time to time, it rained hard with big drops. We came down from the mountains into a flat green area which changed to flat desert and then to the usual desert with rocks and mesas associated with this area. We pulled into Las Vegas (NM not NV) close to 2:00 and lucked in on finding a terrific place for lunch: Second Tome Around. This is a used book store, café, restaurant, homeopathic medicines, cooking utensils, etc. place. Really good borscht and chix sal sand. Really wanted to noodle around town to see the Victorian homes, but no time. We had stayed in the old Plaza Hotel several years back on our way to Santa Fe, so drove by and looked at it.

Onto I-25, we headed back south towards Santa Fe. We then went due south on Route 14 toward Albuquerque. Went through Madrid where Disney is shooting a film (Wild Hogs). Didn’t see much other than lots of machinery and folks moving ladders around. The route is a nice way to go rather than the interstate.

Penny and Steve greeted us with cherries and a nice white wine. Later we went to Papadeux Fish Restaurant. Marian had a wonderful seafood salad (lobster, shrimp, scallops). I had an oyster poor boy. Yum. Then back to home, conversation, washing our clothes, and to the keyboards.

Lights Out or Watch Out for the Drewes or Here’s Sandia in Your Eye – July 19, 2006: Ate breakfast here and sat around and talked with Steve. Around 10:30 the doorbell rang and it was DHL with a dripping package for Steve. It was the 15 Ted Drewes mini concretes we had ordered as a surprise. The other part of the surprise, unexpected though, was that they had forgotten to tape the dry-ice filled Styrofoam container closed so the dry ice had mostly evaporated and five of the containers of concrete had broken open and dripped all over the other 10, which were salvageable. I called St. Louis and the manager at Drewes immediately offered to send a whole new shipment, which we accepted. The manager asked if the container had been taped. That was how I found out what the problem had been. Well, Penny and Steve both loved the whole thing. There are pictures posted showing both the mess we received and Penny and Steve eating concretes.

We just stayed around the house until Penny got home. Then Penny and Marian went out looking for rubber stamps stores (found four of them plus Costco) and Steve and I grabbed a quick lunch and went to Sandia Mountain and took the tram to the top. It’s a nice ride in a big tram car. Takes about 15 minutes each way. We spent an hour or so at the top looking out at the valley floor a mile below us and walking on trails through the woods. Very pleasant. It was 62 degrees at the top of the mountain. Got back to the house around 5:00 and the girls got back soon thereafter.

We went to Prairie Star restaurant on the Santa Ana Pueblo lands. Elegant place with extensive wine list and excellent food. I had a salad of grilled peaches, toasted almonds, cheese in a pastry, greens, and a fruit coulis to start. This was followed by salmon with rapinni and an empanada. Marian had a salad with blue cheese dressing (on the side) and a grilled chicken breast. Good wines, too. And you are near Sandia Mountain and can watch sunset on the mountain. When we got there, there was a brief rain storm and a double rainbow between the mountain and us. After dinner we went back to the house for bites of Ted Drewes, conversation, and to the keyboards.

While we were going to dinner, Tracy called from our house to tell us a huge storm was coming up and she was fleeing homeward. I talked to Elizabeth from the barn shortly thereafter as well as Stacey Morse. I heard of the storm damage all around the city and high winds and that our power was out. Elizabeth was going around to her barn and mine and hand watering the horses. Power went on again about 11:00 St. Louis time.

The Chocolate in Spain Stays Mainly or Training Ground or Honda Hondle – July 20, 2006: I got up around 7:30, Marian slept in for a while. When Steve, Marian, and I were together, we all brought our laptops into the dining room and socially interacted, so to speak. Got reports on last night’s St. Louis storm, too. Yikes. Sounds dreadful to say the least. So, we talked and keyboarded all AM until Penny got home.

Then we went to 505 Chile Factory & Restaurant for lunch. Good New Mexico style stuff; very good green chile sauces. Bought some individual packs to take home. Penny and Marian went shoe shopping while Steve and I looked at some cars Steve is interested in to replace his ailing and old Honda. Sounds like London circa 1969 when Mom and Marian went shoe shopping and Dad and I went to Henley Jaguar and I bought an XJ6. Well, sort of like that. I didn’t buy a car and Marian didn’t buy any shoes. Got back to the house around 4:30.

Left a bit after 5:00 and drove to Bernalillo to catch the new Rail Runner commuter train for a ride downtown and then back. Fun new train with road runner on engine and tail feathers on all the double-decked cars. Fifteen minutes each way. Unfortunately for Penny, we had to change trains downtown to come back. Hard getting up and down the steps from the train cars. Interesting to be on a brand new train. Service just started a week ago and it’s free right now. When done, not only will it serve Albuquerque and its suburbs, but there are plans to extend it to Santa Fe and, perhaps, into Texas. It is a regular train (diesel engine) on regular tracks. So, it could go anywhere there are train tracks.

After the train, we drove to the Range Café in Bernalillo. Excellent NM food. I had a combo plate with a chile relleno, tamale, and enchiladas. Yum. Marian had that well-known southwestern dish, chicken marsala. It was very good. Nice place.

Drove to a couple of car dealerships so Steve could show Penny the cars he was thinking about. Then home for the most outrageous hot chocolate I have had since being in Paris. It’s from Spain: Enric Rovira Chocolate de la Taza. Zowie! So now I am semi-comatose from it while I type this. Thick would be an understatement. Almost have to eat it with a spoon.

By the by, yesterday when Steve and I were on the mountain, I changed media cards in my camera due to the altitude and found that the one I inserted still had some of my NZ shots on it including the basal ice shot I had in the Art St. Louis show and now at Chesterfield Arts. Was a nice surprise. Obviously, I have not used that card since then.

Nonrefundable, That’s What You Are or I’m RAVenous or Back in the Corrales – July 21, 2006: Had a very lazy day. While Penny was at work, the three of us sat and chatted and waited for the UPS man to deliver the second (and all-in-good-shape-frozen) Ted Drewes shipment. It came. It was right. At least one was consumed…just to check that it wasn’t spoiled, mind you.

We all went out to lunch at a really nice local chain called Flying Star Café. We recommend it. Great décor, service, food. I had a tofu scramble with red onions, green chiles, red pepper (all finely diced). And it came with wonderful home fries. Marian had a super Thai salad. Fun and funky place.

We were in separate cars and went to the Honda dealer to see if Penny could get in and out of the CRV. It was fine. The girls left. Steve, Felix (our salesperson) and I went for a test drive, mostly on the Interstate where Steve could check out pick up of a four-cylinder engine when you want to merge into traffic or pull out and pass at high speed. Back at the dealership, we talked price. They have a “no haggle” pricing policy…the price hanging from the rearview mirror is the price. Period. And the price is somewhere in between MSRP and dealer invoice (we had been on kbb.com and had pricing information). We talked color. We talked comparison to the Toyota RAV. One interesting thing about the Honda is that there are no factory options. Any options there are (e.g., iPod wiring, center console between the front seats instead of the collapsible one that it comes with) are dealer sold and installed.

We finally got down to asking how much of a deposit would be required. The answer: $1,000 and it’s nonrefundable. Not like Missouri where you have 72 hours to reject a car purchase if you want to. Steve was a bit shocked. So, it was time to leave.

At home, we consumed a bottle of Cakebread chardonnay we had brought and chatted. Then it was off to Corrales to the Indigo Crow for dinner. Marian had a white wine flight that was nice. She and I split a grilled romaine with gorgonzola and other goodies on it. She had the grilled chicken breast. I had two appetizers: clams in a chipotle chile sauce and sole wrapped around lobster and shrimp in a berry merlot reduction. Both berry good.

Home to pack and to bed.

Time and Time Again or Inn-spired or Run it Up the Flagstaff and See Who Salutes – July 22, 2006: Got up about 7:00 or so. Penny was already at work in the kitchen getting together the ingredients for quesadillas. They were yummy. Got the car packed and left about 10:00. It was a really terrific visit. Penny and Steve are fun to be with, interesting, and very easy to be around.

We headed west on I-40 for the 300+ miles across pretty barren landscape to Flagstaff. Took five hours. This had been an interesting research item for Steve and me to see what different sites said. Two said four-and-a-half and one said six hours. We traveled at the speed limit of 75 mph, had some slow driving with highway construction, but it was five hours door to door.

The Inn at 410 where we are staying is excellent. It’s in the old part of town well away from the train tracks that seem to be occupied day and night. It’s in an 1800s house. We have a two-room suite on the first floor with our own side entrance. Beautiful furnishing and a two-person Jacuzzi. But that’s later.

The odd thing about today and the ensuing six days is that we will be wandering in and out of daylight savings and standard time. Seems as if Arizona is on standard (S) time while the surrounding states (e.g., New Mexico, Utah) are on daylight savings (D) time. So, it was D this AM, S tonight. Then we go to Zion in Utah for two days at D. Back to Grand Canyon in Arizona for two days at S. Back to Utah for D. It’s confusing. I made a 7:30 dinner reservation for tonight, but it’s an hour later. Then tomorrow…well, you get the picture.

Took a walk into the center of the old part of town. Lots of neat shops and restaurants. Obviously, many stores that cater to camping, biking, etc. But the town is lovely. Interesting to come from New Mexico and adobe style to here where dark brown stone is predominant in older buildings.

Dinner tonight is at Brix, which is just behind our inn. New restaurant, but it ran like clockwork. Really nice staff. Food was exceptional. Split heirloom tomatoes and three different kinds of cheeses and some squash blossoms filled with cheese over greens. Both had halibut over a summer risotto. Split pound cake with berries. Congratulated women head chef when we left. Waddled back to our room for a movie and tubbing.

I Would Rather Die of Hunger on My Feet Than Beg For Lunch on My Knees or “I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille” or “Neo’s done it!” – July 23, 2006: Some sidelights first.

GPS: It’s been useful. In order to get to each of the places we are staying, I programmed in the address before we left home and it led us to where we wanted to go each time. Today, when we left Flagstaff, I thought I knew which way to get to U.S. 89. When it was clear we were lost, I turned on the GPS with our Zion destination. At first I thought it was leading us the wrong way since we got on I-40 eastbound, but about when I was going to get off, I could see it was sending us right for U.S. 89. One funny thing: when Steve and I were going to the Honda dealer from downtown, I programmed in the address. Mind you, Steve knew how to go, but it was fun to do it anyway. Well, when we ignored the directions for about the third time, instead of recalculating a route to go where we wanted to go, we got the “Make a U turn here. Make the next U turn….” until we got sick of listening to “her” and turned it off. But, in general, it’s been very useful.

GPS and data display: Since I have gotten this new car, I have complained that the screen that shows the GPS map and other radio and car data is too shiny, that when the sun is coming in the front window, it reflects off the tan seats or the passengers and you cannot see the screen because of the glare. I kept wondering why the screen was shiny instead of matte, like my Touareg’s had been. Steve and I had talked about this and Steve offered me some samples of the kind of plastic film they put on house windows to cut down glare, UV, etc. Well, today Marian was dusting off the display and something moved. Seems like there was a piece of clear plastic covering the MATTE screen, probably there to keep the screen in good shape before the car was delivered…but no one had removed it. Ah, well.

Breakfast at the Inn at 410 was outside under a tented gazebo. Beautiful fresh fruit and fresh orange juice followed by orange stuffed French toast with strawberries on top and some very strong coffee. We did not finish the French toast, just too much. Headed north on U.S. 89 (once GPS had found us and set us straight). About 16 miles out of town are two national monuments: Sunset Crater and Wupatki. These are linked on a 35 mile loop road. You can read about these monuments at http://www.nps.gov/sucr/ and http://www.nps.gov/wupa/ … the first is a volcanic crater with lots of cinder cones of all sorts of colors around it.; the second is a set of pueblo ruins. Very interesting and beautiful. Back on the main highway, we continued north. The scenery changes often; it’s breathtaking. While all of it is typical southwest, it’s all so different almost around each bend. 

When we got to Page, AZ, right at the Glen Canyon Dam, we stopped to eat. The first place we pulled into had no parking left at all. So we headed toward a restaurant Marian had read about in the AAA tour book. It was in the Dam Mall. Well, it was closed. So was the coffee shop nearby which was for sale, but the Wi-Fi was working since a guy was sitting outside using his laptop. The only thing open in the mall was Zapata’s, a Mexican (what else with that name?) restaurant. We sat. No one came. We got our own menus. No one came. We finally asked a bus girl to get someone. She came back and took our order, then came back since she had forgotten what I ordered. Well, after we had been sitting there for 45 minutes and lied to about “your order is next up” and seeing others served before us, we got up and left. I cannot remember the last time (if ever) we have done that. I know that I would have gotten indigestion by trying to eat too fast and being pissed at the same time if the food had come. So, we had some Toby muffins in the car and were sated.

Drove over the dam. Got good views of Lake Powell and remembered our trip there in 1997. And up into Utah with the time going back again to daylight savings. Finally got to Zion, where the road really goes through the bottom of the canyon, as compared to Bryce or Grand Canyon where you are on top.

UT Route 9 goes through the park. We showed our senior pass at the gate (as we had at the national monuments earlier in the day) and were waved through. Springdale, the town where we are staying, is smack dab in the middle of the park. Some of the road was really twisty hairpins…fun for only one of us. There are even tunnels including one where traffic is only allowed one way at a time. Got to the Desert Pearl Inn a bit after 5:00. Our room, 403, is “river view” with the Virgin River across the lawn from our patio. Dinner was at Bit & Spur. We thought we were going to have the same problem as lunch since no one came to our table until we asked a bus boy. Seems as if the scheme of who was waiting on what tables had been switched and no one had told our waitress. Well, dinner was good. Won’t bore you with details.

After dinner we drove around the valley to see how far Springdale went to the west and then came back to the motel. The “free high-speed Internet” here is wireless, but the signal strength down where we are staying is not good. Marian finally gave up on trying to stay connected.

Three are the number of the patriarchs, two the number of the matriarchs, one… or Don’t  Lodge a Complaint or Please Don’t Cry or Spotted Again – July 24, 2006: There is no way to get into pictures or description the immense vista we experienced today. Too tall. Too wide. 360 degrees in all dimensions. Too many colors. Shadows and sun. Rocks and water and trees.

Headed out after our in-room Kaldi’s French pressed and Toby muffins. Took shuttle through town up to the park info center and entrance. It’s like Walt Disney World with all the shuttles, graphics, etc. Had to go through a park entrance like WDW. Love showing my senior park card and getting waved through. Got on another shuttle that takes people all the way up the canyon. It’s the only way to go unless you want to walk uphill about 10 miles. Good shuttle drivers that tell you about the canyon, what’s at each stop along the way, what the trails are like, etc.

One of the stops along the way is a place where you can see mountains Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob named way back when by a Protestant minister. Went all the way to the end of the canyon to Temple of Sinawava. (Go to http://www.nps.gov/zion/pphtml/maps.html and click on Park Map for a PDF file with good map showing where all this is.) The Riverside Walk there is paved and about a mile long. It goes beside the Virgin River. If one were to proceed further after the trail ends, you can walk 16 miles upriver to the “narrows” where you have to squeeze through. Not this trip given the distance, walking upstream, and what we have been eating. The trail we were on takes about an hour or so round trip. At various points, you can walk to the river’s edge. As I said yesterday, in Zion you are at the bottom of the canyon. So, there are huge mountains and cliffs and all sorts of high rocky things above you on both sides.

After Riverside Walk, we got off the shuttle at Big Bend and took pix of the Great White Throne and its surroundings. Back on the shuttle, we went to Weeping Rock. The trail is about 15 minutes, but uphill all the way. Marian rested while I climbed. Again, it’s paved, but steep. Up at the top is a long sandstone shelf that weeps water 24 hours a day. They estimate that the water coming out of the sandstone is about 1,400 years old. If you stand under the shelf (which I did not) you would get a really old cold shower.

Back down at shuttle level, we went to Zion Lodge, the only accommodation inside the park itself. Got some food at their café and sat outside at a table in the sun. All the shade spots at tables and under trees, I mean ALL the shade spots, were taken. So we baked and ate and drank iced lattes. Man who took our order was from Poland. Woman who did lattes was from Slovenia. We shopped a bit in the lodge store. Cashier was from Ukraine. Back on the shuttle to the visitor center. Changed shuttles and back to our lodgings. We were gone from about 9:45 to 3:00 or so.

We are having “fun” with the Internet hookup here. In order for me to upload pix and other things or to get email, I finally went outside, walked closer to the front office, and sat on a staircase where I could get a clear, strong signal. Marian has done the same for her games and for email.

While staying in the park at the lodge would be nice, it’s actually quieter here, very secluded, nice river view, lots of restaurant choices, etc. So, for Zion, I guess I would choose to stay in Springdale and not at Zion Lodge.

Tonight’s supper was supposed to be at the Spotted Dog Café which is part of Flanagan’s Inn up from here about a half mile. When we got there, it was closed with a note on the door about mechanical problems. They had our number, so it would have been nice for them to call. Went down the road looking for somewhere else to eat. Pulled into the Switchback Café, another place that had been recommended by our hotel. Luckily, they could take us. Very nice dining room. Good food. Marian had, you guessed it, a roasted half chicken. I had a seafood linguini in a very light sauce. Both dishes were very good. Drove around town (it’s not that big) scoping out what we wanted to go to (read that as: shop) tomorrow (there is a gallery with Lyman Whitaker pieces) before we head south to the North Rim. Marian then went back outside to get better Internet reception for her word games.

It’s a Grand Day or Fire Away or How Much is That Doggie in the Window? or Zinning in the Rain – July 25, 2006: First, Marian wants me to correct an impression I made in yesterday’s log. She ordered a half chicken. She ate only the white meat. Better?

Had our Kaldi’s and muffin breakfast, packed up, checked out and headed … shopping. Looked at a couple of the gallery-craft shops. Bought a metal Chihuahua and a metal flower at one along with other stuff. Another gallery had many Lyman Whitaker pieces. Not as many as those we saw in Santa Fe, but several.

Headed out of the park over the same twisty, turny road we came in on. As we left town, we had to enter the park and go through an entrance gate. This time through, the ranger took my old cardboard senior card and gave me a new plastic one they can scan when you enter a park. Whole trip to the North Rim of Grand Canyon is a bit over 120 miles, so we were in no hurry. Got gas and had brunch in Kanab, UT at Nedra’s Too. Marian had a veggie omelet and I had huevos enchiladas. Yowie.

Right south of Kanab you enter Arizona (time goes back an hour). Passed by Jacob Lake and finally saw another sign about jake brakes (see pictures). When you turn off 89A and head to the North Rim, it’s still over 40 miles. No towns, just scenery. Passed up into pine forests. Then went through a whole big section that had just burned a few weeks ago in forest fires that had them evacuate everyone from the North Rim. Emerged onto meadows surrounded by trees. Went through the park gate with still miles to go before the end of the road.

When we got to the developed part of the park, we saw that we could not drive up to the lodge entrance, but had to park in a huge lot with a zillion cars. As we dallied seeing what we were going to do, the Swetnams honked – they were right behind us. We parked way at one end of one of the lots and walked back to the lodge to check in. Our room was ready, theirs was not. It was only 2:00 AZ time and check in is really 4:00. It was raining, so we sat inside looking over the canyon until the rain stopped, then outside onto one of the terraces. Again, the scope of what is out there defies description and pictures.

About 3:00 their room was ready. We are in one of the two motel units. The rest of the accommodations are in cabins. The motel rooms are the furthest from the lodge. In one way, that is good…you can park your car at the very, very end of the huge parking area. In another way, it’s not … you have to walk a long way back to the lodge. We schlepped all our gear to the room. For Zion we had packed a boat bag with our needs. There, our car was literally right outside our door. For North Rim, we had not. So we had our duffels and wine and food and computer and… to haul from the parking lot down hill to our rooms. Should have planned better. We all arranged our rooms and did other stuff until about 5:00 when we met on the balcony and consumed a good zin we had brought along.

About 6:30 we headed to the lodge, watched the sun going down, got seated at 7:00, our reservation time. Nice dining room. Decent food. Nothing outstanding, I think. Then we walked back as it got dark and planned tomorrow.

Teddy or Franklin? or What’s the Point? or I’ll Have the Chicken Kaibab or Don’t Be Cranky – July 26, 2006: We made coffee in our room (running out of Kaldi’s!) for the four of us about 8:30. Walked up to the lodge for me to get a scone (Tom and Angie had eaten about 6:30) and to get some sandwiches and salads for a picnic lunch.

Today we went on a driving excursion of 51 miles round trip. The whole idea was to see as many viewpoints of the canyon as we could since all have different perspectives and directions of view. First stop Point Imperial. Then to Roosevelt Point. Onward to Walhalla Overlook and its pueblo ruins and finally out to the end of the road at Angel’s Window and Cape Royal Point. Each time we all got out of the car, traipsed to the nearest railing, and took long looks and lots of pictures. It’s whopping huge gigantic overwhelming. Hard to take it all in.

Had our picnic lunch near Cape Royal Point and finished right before it started raining. We heard thunder during lunch, but it got a bit too close for us. Good thing we got back in the car when we did since it rained for a bit on the way back.

Then I fooled around with pictures and Marian listened to a meditation tape and took a nice nap. About 3:30, we decided to go to the 4:00 ranger talk, but also about then, the power went out all over the north rim. We walked to the lodge and listened to the half-hour talk about the formation of the Grand Canyon and geological time. So, the rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are over a billion years old (1.8 billion Vishnu Schist, for those of you who are keeping score). And, she said, in five million years the canyon will have eroded sideways all the way back to where the park entry is about 20 miles from here. Good thinking on the Park Service, said I.

After the talk, we headed back to our rooms. We asked about the power outage and were told it was regional. The mag card keys still worked with no electricity, but the people who tried to check in were told they could not since the computer was down and they could not generate any keys. The head of the dining room announced for all who were near that they would accommodate all diners at their reserved times with cold sandwiches and salads.

I headed for the car and got a flashlight. Guess I should have put in new batteries since it was pretty weak. I did get my handy dandy Grundig emergency radio that is powered by cranking the sucker. Back on the deck outside our rooms, we ate veggie pate, wine crackers, and drank Clos du Val 1992 Stags Leap cabernet sauvignon. Ay, caramba. This is the way to deal with no power. So we listened to NPR as either Tom or I cranked the radio. No news about any power shortages, about any grid being down…even on the local Arizona public radio news. So, no news is no news. We were about out of wine and pate when the power went back on about 5:50. Saved, thank goodness.

Wobbled up to the lodge for our 7:00 reservations. We were seated on time and the kitchen seemed back in normal order (except for no chicken breast). Nice dinner and split warm chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream four ways. Then we went to a ranger talk. We thought it was going to be another one about geology of the canyon. Turned out it was a ranger telling old tales of the north rim. Very enjoyable. His last story had all of us in tears. Back to the rooms a bit after 9:00.

Entropic or All Hail or Are The Stars Out Tonight? or Bryce Yourself – July 27, 2006: It’s been a fairly strange day. Not just moving from 9,000 feet up at the Grand Canyon down to 5,000 feet at Kanab and up to about 8,000 feet near Bryce Canyon. Not just the dramatic change of scenery. Add to that a hail storm and a perfect night sky with billions of stars.

Had our Kaldi’s coffee with a toasted bagel. Angie and Tom had gotten up earlier and walked out to Bright Angel Point. They told me I should do it, too. So, the three others stayed at the lodge while I made the quarter-mile trip out to the point. It’s a half-hour round trip including taking pictures and enjoying the view.

Along the way, most of the people I met were Chinese. What was interesting to me was how many of them climbed onto rocks off and above the paved trail (where they could fall to their deaths) to have their pictures taken. And then there were the parents who put young children up on the rocks, took their picture, and then turned their backs on them while they climbed down.

I stayed on the trail. Took some nice pix. Then went back to the lodge, panting by the time I got there. Lots of uphill on this trail both ways and it’s at nearly 9,000 feet. After I rejoined the others, we packed up the cars and headed downhill about 11:00 (AZ time). Over a little under 70 miles, we traveled down 4,000 feet. I got the best miles per gallon on the Cayenne I ever had – 28.5. If I could go downhill all the time, think of the gas I would save. We descended from fairly lush forests and meadows down to the desert.

We stopped in Jacob Lake for Tom to get fuel. Then toward Kanab where we expected to eat at Nedra’s, Too, the place we had lunch on our way up. Just before we got into Kanab, we got into a heavy downpour. You could not see the mountains. Then you could not see too much in front of you. Then it started hailing. Nice big hail stones. Lots of them. Loud. Smacking into the car, the windshield. We found a tree to pull under and then a bigger tree. The hail smashed down on our car. All we could think of was how Marian’s car, when it was about six months old, had been damaged in the hail storm outside of MICDS. All in all, it lasted about 10 minutes. Then we headed the last few blocks into the center of Kanab. Water was rushing down the street from all directions. Nedra’s, Too parking lot had about six inches of water everywhere including going into the restaurant. We pulled into a gas station just as the power went off on that side of the street. We went up a few blocks and there was power.

We all looked over both our cars and could not see any damage. Whew! My heart was really pounding. Went into the Rewind Diner…sort of like the Twilight Zone…old movies, retro diner. I ordered a Philly cheese steak, but: chibatta instead of hoagie roll, chicken instead of beef, and green chiles. Good! Outside, it was sunny and warm. As we drove north out of town, it did not look as if it had rained. We asked both at the Kanab post office and where I got gas whether this was a normal storm. Both folks we asked said they had never seen anything like it before.

We headed north on U.S. 89 and then turned off on UT 12 for the 21 miles to our inn. It’s to the east of the park by about 7 miles, but we can see the park from our windows. The Stone Canyon Inn is only about six years old. It’s in the middle of nowhere outside of Tropic, UT. Very pretty and wonderful rooms. The managers, Carl and Jennifer, are super nice. Met their son, Max, and the dog, Pete.

We sat out on the deck and had a nice Cakebread Rubiyat and snacks and looked out to the east at the mountains. Sometime after 7, we got into the Swetnams’ car, drove the 1+ mile into town, and ate dinner at Clarke’s, a nice family restaurant. We had BBQ chicken and ribs. Listened to a man who sang country songs—Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, etc. Came back to the inn. While I worked on pix, Angie and Marian sat outside and marveled at the stars. They got Tom and me to come down. Could see the Milky Way, the dippers, North Star, some shooting stars. Gorgeous. So, we end an interesting day.

Fanny Bryce or “Now go do that hoodoo that you do so weeell!” or Sunrise, Sunset – July 28, 2006: I did not sleep very well, so I got up about 6 and went outside in a robe to wait for the sun to rise. We had a sumptuous breakfast at 8: fresh orange juice, yogurt with granola, fresh roll, and a “hootenanny” – somewhat of a cross between a popover and a German pancake.

Left the inn about 9:30, picked up some sandwiches near the park at Hogi Yogi for a picnic, and spent the next five hours in Bryce. We followed the advice of Jennifer from the inn to go all the way into the park to Rainbow Point and then work our way back toward the entrance. Good choice since you save the best (the main Bryce Canyon) until the last. And coming back toward the entrance, all the pull offs for the views are on your right.

Bryce is pretty, but in some ways it’s monotonous as compared to the other two canyons we visited. The colors are all the same. The formations and pretty much the same. (I know that some will really disagree with this.) You move from vantage point to vantage point and see different versions of the same thing. Mind you, it’s gorgeous and the colors outstanding. But it was not my favorite of the three canyons. We did get in some good exercise in an hour’s walk at over 8,000 feet and some climbs to get to some of the view points.

We came back to the inn near 3:00 and went our separate ways. Met on the deck at 5:00 for a 2000 Clos du Val Reserve Chardonnay and snacks. Wonderful wine. Glad we brought good stuff with us. At 6:00 we drove back to the park (a distance of a bit over 10 miles) and went to the park lodge for dinner. As with the North Rim, the food was good, but nothing special.

We had hoped to see sunset in the park, but it rained and rained. So we headed to the inn to do some final stuff before we all leave tomorrow. It’s been wonderful being the Angie and Tom. Way too short, though. Would be nice to have many more days to share together.

What Happened to Seven? or Use the Robes, Pierre or Reefer Madness – July 29, 2006: We had an 8:00 breakfast, just a light meal…orange juice, cinnamon bun (more about that later), warm apple crisp with yogurt, and a baked egg, spinach, and cheeses dish along with coffee. I guess if we were going to take a several mile hike all this food would make sense. But we were going to sit on our butts all day and drive 400 miles. Neither Marian nor I wanted the sticky bun. We tried to refuse. We were denied. And, when breakfast was over, Jennifer brought us some plastic bags to put them in “for the road.” We took them, put them in the cooler in the car, and deposited them in an appropriate place when we got gas about 2:00.

We had some discussion both with Tom and with Jennifer about the route we should take. I wanted to go up UT 12 eastward and then UT 24 to I-70. Tom thought that the direct route up U.S. 89 to I-70 would be faster. Jennifer said that the distance would be the same or shorter (it is the same) and that the route I wanted to take would be through some of the prettiest parts we have ever seen. So we followed Jennifer’s advice. It was almost 200 miles altogether before we got to the Interstate. And it is beautiful. Some of the road is really twisty turny where you go 35 mph. Some is straight. It’s well worth it.

When 12 ended, we got to 24. It looked like I should turn left, but that was 24 West and it did not make sense to me. Actually, if we had turned west on 24, it would have been the route I had pictured in my head, but it was not the route Jennifer had envisioned. She said something about Capital Reef National Park and it was to the right on 24 East. So, I went east, not knowing where it led (did it meet I-70?) and somehow in my mind thinking that I was taking the route I had drawn out on the map. Well, it does meet I-70 and it is THE way to go. Capital Reef is beautiful. Too bad we did not have time to take a leisurely tour. We just drove through.

It’s hard to count or describe how many times the scenery and landscape changed over the 200 miles from our start until we got to the Interstate and then the changes through eastern Utah and western Colorado. The Bryce area has its own colors and rock formations and it pretty much desert. Then you climb into lush wooded slopes with grassy meadows and pastures. Next might be a moonscape with flat white rocks almost flat or mesas and buttes you would expect in New Mexico. And more and more. I wish we had counted and made a list. I bet there were over a dozen completely new landscapes around us just in the first 200 miles.

Got into Carbondale around 4:00. The GPS led us directly to our B&B, which we never would have found otherwise. Met our hostess and spent some time talking to her. Very nice person. Met her husband when we returned from dinner. Also met the three cats. It’s a small place, more of a house than an inn, the way that B&Bs started. We have an upstairs bedroom with a private bath across the hall, so robes are provided in the room.

Called Evan and Sue, who were in town at the annual Mountain Festival and met them there about 5:00. Great arts and crafts and music and dancing (some of it scantily clad). The folks here look like hippies from the 60s, weed and unshaved armpits and all. Loved the fair. Bought some stuff, natch.

Had 6:30 reservation and an elegant restaurant, Six 8 9, about a block from the fair. Carbondale is only a few square blocks altogether. Tempura squash blossoms filled with ricotta were shared by the four of us. Marian had halibut over a parsnip latke. I had corn meal encrusted soft-shell crabs over a spicy potato salad. We split a banana and chocolate bread pudding for dessert. Also shared a bottle of a nice NZ sauv blanc.

Through all of this, Evan’s dog, an Aussie named Luna, sat quietly tied to the fence right outside the terrace where we ate. Lots of hugs and we parted about 8:30 and made plans for breakfast tomorrow AM before Sue drives to Denver for a flight and we go to Terry and Noel’s. Lovely evening. Fascinating stories about Evan’s work with Challenge Aspen (including what they are doing with recently wounded soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. Sue was here to be a volunteer counselor for a week. They are both wonderful and gentle people. What a treat to be with them, if only for a few hours today and tomorrow.

“Hello boys, I'm Baaaack!” or The Bear Went Over the Mountain – July 30, 2006: It’s been a strange day, but fun. Started off with Evan and Sue Zislis at the Village Smithy for breakfast. Popular place, so we had to wait a bit for a table. Then over to the fair for another visit. While we were there, Mary Beth Shaw called to say that her coach lives in Carbondale and perhaps she was at the fair with a booth. Evan asked around and found out she was there, but working as a volunteer. So we looked for her everywhere we went. Finally, at the end of the time we had there, we found her. Terrific person. And Evan and she made a connection for art workshops with Challenge Aspen. We took pictures and called Mary Beth to tell her about finding her.

Also, Marian saw a face she recognized and asked the woman if she is from St. Louis. Seems she is, was Izzy Palans, but has lived in Colorado near Carbondale for the last nine years. They never did figure out how they knew one another, but she did say she had gone Sunday School with my cousin, Russ.

The fair is really a local celebration. Like a big community party with lots of music and dancing and local foods (mostly natural). There were some distinctive arts/crafts booths and good foods as well. But the main focus is around the music stage.

We left Carbondale about 12:15. It’s less than 200 miles from there to the Heftys in Boulder. It took over five and a half hours to get there. First we headed up route 82 over Independence Pass. It’s really narrow with lots and lots of hairpin turns and some of the road is really only about a lane and a half wide, which is not fun when someone driving a camper is coming the other direction. The scenery is beautiful along the way. The pass is at 12,095 feet at the continental divide. I had fun. Cannot really say that about Marian. Out of the pass, we headed up route 24 into Leadville (which is at over 10,000 feet) and then up 91 to I-70. Very pretty drive through high mountain meadows and along lakes.

I-70 was fine for a while. Cooked along at the speed limit. Went through the big tunnel. Then the traffic was standing still. And we were about 40-50 miles outside Denver. Seems like this happens every Sunday all year round. We crept along for two hours never getting over 20 mph. Finally, right before we were going to exit the Interstate and take U.S. 6 towards Golden, traffic broke loose. It was frustrating. Whoever designed this approach to Denver should have to experience this bad traffic daily.

Got to Noel and Terry’s, unpacked our car, and went into Lafayette for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Had only so-so service and the chef was not happy (or would not) about changing any of the sauces on the menu. Marian had a chicken with marinara sauce. I had lamb shank over gnocchi. Good food, odd service.

Back to the house for the news and then lots of laundry.

Roll Me Over or It Depp Ends or Just for the Halibut – July 31, 2006: Pretty lazy day. Didn’t do much until before lunch when Chris came over and fixed the Wi-Fi network so we all could get onto the Internet. I got almost 200 messages on my email, 180 of which were spam. And that’s only being off line for two days.

Marian and I both had 1.5 hour massages scheduled. While Marian had hers, Noel and I went to Whole Foods and to another market for dinner stuff. After my massage, I returned to the house to have a soft-shell crab appetizer waiting for me. Yum. Then the four of us drove to Tara and Chris’ house to get the full tour. Very nice house in very nice neighborhood. Excellent landscaping, too. From there, we went to Blockbuster and rented Corpse Bride.

At home, Noel cooked a wonderful dinner of halibut with a yogurt, cucumber, and shallots; grilled asparagus, a chopped salad, and we drank the Hirsch Vineyards pinot noir we had brought along. Very good dinner. We went to the basement to the TV/movie theatre they have and watched Corpse Bride. We all enjoyed it. Then bedtime.

Get Frasca with Me, Will You? or You’re a Pearl – August 1, 2006: Really there’s not much to tell about today, except for the unbelievable dinner we had. In the AM, I took some pictures of Terry’s Maserati 200S that he needed. Later, Marian and I drove down to Pearl Street Mall and walked along, shopped, and had lunch at the Boulder Café where we sat outside. Always fun to go to Peppercorn, the cooking store. Saw something there I liked, and bought it on line later for a lower price!

At home, we tickled our individual keyboards until it was time to go to dinner at Frasca (http://www.frascafoodandwine.com). Tara and Chris joined us. This was the best food we have had on the trip. Sorry if you don’t want details, but this restaurant deserves them.

First courses—shared by all: Prosciutto from Italy and salami from NY; “Frico Caldo” – cheese, potatoes, and onions all together and grilled; pickled okra.

Primi: [Noel] Yellowtail with olive oil and marinated onions; [Terry and Chris-each] hand-made russet potato gnocchi with marinated Alaskan king salmon and grilled zucchini; [Tara and Bud-each] “Zlikrofi” – veal and fontina cheese ravioli with celery branch and fresh bing cherries.

Secondi: [Noel] rack of veal with carrots, forest mushrooms, and housemade ricotta; [Marian] butter-roasted Hawaiian walu fillet with grilled scallion, baked Chiogga beets, and Walla Walla onion vinaigrette; [Tara and Bud-each] “Riso Superfino Carnaroli” – creamy risotto with cantaloupe, Armenian cucumbers, and ricotta salata; [Chris and Terry-each] shaved leg of pork with roasted potatoes, fresh cherries, and pancetta vinaigrette.

Desserts: [Shared by Noel, Tara, Chris, Marian] assortment of chocolates; [Noel] coconut ice cream; [Tara] blood orange and black cherry ice creams; [Terry and Bud-each] apricot torte with crème fraiche ice cream and pistachios.

Also some excellent wines. The sommelier is a master and the wine list includes many wines you have not heard of, all good, and most are reasonably priced.

It was all divine. If you come here, make reservations a couple of months in advance or you won’t get it. They do two sittings a night—ours was the early one. We were there from 6:00-8:30.

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