John & Anne Wiley

2011/05/31

No Place Like

Home.

Be it ever so humble, there’s nothing quite like the place where all your Stuff is. Everything you’ve collected in a lifetime of moving from place to place, photos of friends and family along with other treasures large and small. Seems to me that Oscar our trusty German washing machine smiled as we came in with weeks of grime he can work on. But the really sweet part begins when we reconnect with all our loved ones here. Meanwhile, here are some pix from today’s flight from Santa Fe to our own Santa (Barbara). Taking off the air was clear and calm.

1009 Wild Ride

1009 Wild Ride

Somewhere else, that is. Santa Fe treated us to wild gusting winds, blowing dust, and once we got off the runway a bumpy ride into a strong headwind. Luckily it was beautiful, and we flew over the “Hamus” as people correctly pronounce Jemez where the austere beauty of this area abounds. Our first “destination” though was Chaco Canyon, where enigmatic ancient buildings indicate a detailed understanding of astronomy.

1138 Chaco Canyon

1138 Chaco Canyon

We saw smaller sites too, including one many miles away to the West. The area around Window Rock also looks really cool from the air, with gently curved multi-colored sandstone shapes arrayed for miles.

1214 Huddle of Sandstone

1214 Huddle of Sandstone

Continuing to the West we passed many distinctive geological features, and this is one of my favs.

1264 Sibling Stone Pillars

1264 Sibling Stone Pillars

Standing apart from a “family” of stones shaped by time and elements, this formation is sort of a miniature Monument Valley. The pillars even have a “head” atop a “neck.” Not far away (by plane) is a vast expanse of features like this, with an etched layer atop a detailed cliff edge with sand piled up against tall cliffs.

1271 Layered Cliffs & Sand

1271 Layered Cliffs & Sand

We took a break about halfway home, at Clark Airport in Williams, AZ. Although the attractive terminal building was open, everyone seemed to be away at a holiday event so we fed Tripp some self-serve fuel and continued on after enjoying the collection of gliders apparently contributed by children who love airplanes.

1297 Planes Inside & Out

1297 Planes Inside & Out

Soon after takeoff we were greeted by what we feared at first was the edge of a storm that hadn’t shown up on the aviation weather forecast.

1298 Phoenix Air

1298 Phoenix Air

It turned out to be the air of Phoenix, blown out to greet us. It thinned out after a hundred miles or so, and by the time we crossed the Colorado into California the view down was fairly clear as a boat made a question mark far beneath Tripp’s wheel.

1306 Air & Water

1306 Air & Water

We saw miles of tall dunes out in the desert, and tried to guess how high the tallest might be given that they were 10,000 feet below us.

1350 Lonely Dunes

1350 Lonely Dunes

We also wondered how many people visit them, given how far they are out into the desert. Approaching the Palmdale area are some quirky human developments like this little rectangular lake that someone enjoys zooming back and forth on in a little boat.

1376 Large Tub

1376 Large Tub

There are a few other buildings and developments sprawled nearby, and the whole thing sits in a wide desert valley giving the impression of a little bathtub dug in a large sandbox. This was less than an hour from the lush hills of Santa Barbara, and our souls began to really ache for home even as we continued to enjoy the arc of interests stretching out to every horizon around us. When we finally began the descent into Our Town, it had never looked more beautiful and welcoming.

1411 Sanctuary

1411 Sanctuary

We’ve now landed in every state of the Union and every Canadian Province. We’ve seen mountains, valleys, deserts, oceans, sun, storm and snow. We’ve flown to Newfoundland and back, but nothing can beat the sanctuary of Home.

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2011/05/30

Dry Heat

Today was lovely. Not too hot, and as locals are quick to point out it’s a dry heat. Looking back at photos of our flight here from KS yesterday, it’s interesting to notice the drying trend as we approached the Rockies. Kansas has green and brown patterns from natural rainfall and irrigation.

0859 KS Shapes

0859 KS Shapes

Endlessly fascinating interactions of agriculture and the spectrum of other human activities abound.

0861 Home & Farm

0861 Home & Farm

Some people might say Kansas isn’t interesting but we never tire of the interactions between people and prairie.

0864 Radius

0864 Radius

The geometric and random shapes are everywhere, dancing atop the gentle undulations of the land and telling stories about changes over time.

0869 Hardy History

0869 Hardy History

Toward the rain shadow of the Rockies, the land and the human traces tell a more hardy tale of dry years. Before long even the low scrub all but vanishes, and the land looks dry. Human signs become more sparse, and more often related to things other than agriculture.

0877 Old Oil

0877 Old Oil

You can see where the wind has rearranged anything not heavy enough to stay put. When we landed in Eastern Colorado for a break, Tripp exchanged glances with a less fortunate plane that hasn’t flown for quite a while.

0890 Memories of Flight

0890 Memories of Flight

Any plane tied to the ground long enough for the tires to all go flat has to be sad, seems to me. The fairly dry weather here has been less unkind than some climates, but still…

Back in the air, different patterns emerged no less interesting than in Kansas yet with a Colorado flair.

0892 Open Circle

0892 Open Circle

I like to ponder what goes into a landscape design, and the one above is a great example. Trying to create a wind break for protection from every direction? Privacy? Ease of tending trees that are never more than a short walk?

Then we began to see more traces of natural water in isolated areas like the winding creeks that were drying into their Summer look.

0907 Last Water

0907 Last Water

This bend is part of a vast network carved by eons of flow out to the hazy dry horizon.

0908 Maze

0908 Maze

In places a rock ledge would offer shelter from the drying sun at a deep place in the creek that would provide a slightly longer season for all the water life before months of dry.

0945 Shelter

0945 Shelter

Today we strolled the ancient downtown core of Santa Fe, keeping to shade and enjoying the turbulent wind in the trees as we sat in a courtyard shelter of our own sipping margaritas.

0988 Old Santa Fe

0988 Old Santa Fe

2011/05/29

Clouds B Gone

We had more clouds today much of the way from KS to NM, but before a fun stop in CO they began giving way to strong winds and light to moderate turbulence. Still fun flying, but more tiring. Once we rounded the southern tip of the Rockies at Las Vegas (the one in NM), the winds kicked up a bit more. By the time we landed in Santa Fe it was nice to be on the ground. As you can see though, the wind was creating a new hairdo for Anne.

0981 Blow Dry

0981 Blow Dry

The clouds aren’t much of a factor here. 🙂

So we’re snug in SFe with dear friend Deb after a nice dinner with Nigel and friends. Looks like tomorrow night will be here too if forecasts don’t change. Wish it weren’t so windy, because we’d love to fly Nigel & Deb around the area. Guess we’ll have to make the short hop back in calmer weather. I’ll probably blog more about today’s flight sometime, because we saw some interesting scenes. Tonight though, we’re ready for sleep…

2011/05/28

Kansas Again

We’re back in Kansas, and quite happy about it. This means we have a good chance of reaching Santa Fe tomorrow. But I’m skipping ahead…

We chased buses this morning. First one that was leaving just a few blocks away to a train that would save us some time. “Sure, we can make it!” We didn’t. Then a different bus to a different train. We missed that bus too. Felt like we were playing whack a mole with buses that would pop up and then disappear before we could tag them. Since our two bus chases had led us closer to Union Station where that second train popped up, we just turned and walked further toward that in case we could make it. We didn’t. On foot at least. But along the way we passed dueling demos.

0941 One Side

0941 One Side

Someone was speaking on a PA system about their issue, while across the street behind police lines several people were using hand-held PA horns to express their views.

0943 Another Side

0943 Another Side

People were quietly taking in both sides, and many like us were just rushing through the gap between them. In the end we took a cab to the train station and easily made that second train. After feeding Tripp and making a last check of weather we set out to the West. Dodging small storms we had another beautiful flight, but the pics are all in our heads because the views were non-photogenic due to haze and broken clouds. Anne did snap this sunset just as we approached Salina, KS to land.

0946 Salina Sunset

0946 Salina Sunset

The very helpful woman at the airport was busily booking a great and affordable room for us while her mascot Bob looked on from the wall opposite.

0947 Booking With Bob

0947 Booking With Bob

So tomorrow if the weather is willing, we’ll fly again. We’ll see… 🙂

 

2011/05/27

Thou Art

Chicago has just made our list of top cities. Adding to the fun we’ve already had here in such a short time, today began creatively. Looking out the window I saw the reflection of our hotel in the office building across the street and then noticed the top of a nearby building that I snapped by squeezing the camera out through the narrow window opening of our room for my first pic of the day.

0673 Inn Chicago

0673 Inn Chicago

Walking to ride the El I snapped the exotic looking Lux where we ended up for a surprisingly affordable dinner on the way home tonight.

0675 High Lux

0675 High Lux

We liked how the name of the bus route resonated with our increasingly quirky mood and gathering energy.

0677 Inner Drive

0677 Inner Drive

The city’s architecture seemed even more enchanting somehow, even the buildings we’ve already seen and photographed. The designs change as you move around, and they all interact to create a sum greater than the parts.

0688 Dance of the Buildings

0688 Dance of the Buildings

Then there’s the art. It’s everywhere! Because it radiates from the infrastructure and buildings, every public installation takes it up another notch. Many of the larger works are innately interactive, and one of the better examples is the Cloud Gate.

0741 Cloud Gate

0741 Cloud Gate

You could video the people coming and going, and that itself would be art. So many angles to see, and ways of distorting the city, ourselves, and our reality so that everything we perceive is Art (in case we forgot). The dynamic grand Crown Fountain nearby does something similar.

0750 Crown Fountain

0750 Crown Fountain

With so much art everywhere, I was reluctant to go indoors to an art museum but luckily Anne persisted and we took our now more open eyes into the Art Institute of Chicago.

0757 Indoor Art

0757 Indoor Art

One of the first exhibits we encountered was the extensive gallery of doll house miniatures so detailed and creatively-lit that photos of them look real without the perspective of an observer in the frame.

0775 Art of Small

0775 Art of Small

As outside, people interact with the art and each other to become very much part of the creative process, inviting you into a magical realm beyond reality.

0795 Art Moving & Still

0795 Art Moving & Still

Here and there are spectacular views of the city, including of course its artistic buildings like the Pritzker by Frank Gehry.

0806 Art Inside Out

0806 Art Inside Out

The art on display is so spectacular it felt at times like walking through a really good art book covering every genre and era of great world art.

0827 Vincent

0827 Vincent

So many of the works are familiar, and we had absolutely no idea how many of our favorites live here along with many spectacular works that are new to us.

0845 Abundance of Art

0845 Abundance of Art

We walked for three hours, didn’t see all of it or pause long enough to deeply enjoy most of it, and when we went back outside the light falling on the buildings was almost overwhelming.

0847 Light, Shape, Color & Movement

0847 Light, Shape, Color & Movement

That sunset glow also nudges us to think about flying West tomorrow. We’ll see how it looks in the morning, but surely we’ll find time for at least a tiny bit more Art on the way out to Tripp. Of course, even if we don’t it will permeate our journey through the city and beckon us to return for another lesson in the art of life.

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