Sunday, October 23, 2011

Michigan to Santa Fe, NM Itinerary: August 2-9, 2008

Sat. Aug. 2, 2008
7:15 a.m. depart Ann Arbor, MI > IN > IL
11:45 a.m. E rest stop lunch at Mile #117 I-80 IL
1:48 p.m. E crossed Mississippi River at Byron enter IA – fourth state
Stopped at rest stop at Mile 300 on I-80 IA
E. Kunze Farm Implement Exit 215 I-80 IA (tower blue grain wagons)
3:14 p.m. E Mile 258
4:30 p.m. E. rest stop at Mile 147, I-80 IA
5:36 p.m. E. arrive 304 Kellogg, Dallas Center, IA
MILES: 579
Dinner w/ Virginia Howell, Kathleen Warren & her son Cole Warren, 7 and tour of Dallas Center inc. Tasty Cup ice cream

Sun. Aug. 3, 2008
8:10 a.m. E depart Dallas Center, IA
gas in Adel, IA 3.70 gal
wind generator Stuart, IA
8:45 – 9:20 a.m. E Walnut IA ($20)
10:11 a.m. C arrive Omaha, NE – fifth state
10:40 a.m. C Mile 432 rest stop w private dining pavilions and “funky glass barn” on hilltop near Ashland, NE
11 a.m. C two wind generators Mile 405 near Lincoln, NE
1 p.m. C Aurora NE
2:20 p.m. M Big Springs, NE
2:30 p.m. M got on I-76 enter CO (drove 482 miles from IA to CO) – sixth state
Dinner at PF Changs in Southland Mall: “South of God dang Denver, just off highway robbery!” AJT re: $8.50 in tolls on Denver bypass road
10:30 p.m. M arrived Pueblo, CO
Miles Dallas Center to Pueblo: 781 (trip thus far 1366 miles at 28.3 mpg)
Stayed at Wingate/Wyndom in Pueblo ($99)

Mon. Aug. 4, 2008
8:22 a.m. M departed for Taos
10:20 a.m. M arrived in New Mexico – seventh state
NM-64 sighted antelope on the way to Taos
Cimmeron 6427 elevation
mid-afternoon arrive Taos, NM
early evening arrive Santa Fe, NM

Tues. Aug. 5, 2008
Opera house tour
Café Pasquale
Marriage of Figaro

Wed. Aug. 6, 2008
Bandolier National Monument (monsoon, pinon pines, double-winged saltbush)
Billy Budd

Thurs. Aug. 7, 2008
La Boca
Cathedral Labyrinth
Ten Thousand Waves spa

Friday, Aug. 8, 2008
8:10 a.m. M depart Santa Fe
8:27 a.m. M exit 282 on I-25 through Gallisteo Basin
9:13 a.m. M I-40
10 a.m. M Santa Rosa, NM exit 277
10:50 a.m. Las Palomas NM
11:21 a.m. wind farm to east on mesa near San Jon, NM (50 plus wind generators)
11:39 a.m. M (12:39 p.m. Central time now in TX) crossed into Texas – eighth state (on day #7)
100 windmills north of exit 42 on I-40 near Vega, TX
1:36 p.m. C Amarill, TX
3:01 p.m. C crossed border to Oklahoma – ninth state
3:15 p.m. C picnic at rest stop near Erick, OK
5:24 p.m. C gas & food at Mile 125 I-44 in Oklahoma City, OK
6:45 p.m. C Bristow, OK
7:10 p.m. Tulsa, OK
7:30 p.m. crossed Arkansas River east of Tulsa, will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, OK
Landscape before Tulsa and into MO looks familiar like upper mid-west. Mile 321 I-44 Spring River crossing
8:48 p.m. C cross into Missouri – tenth state (fourth today)
stayed overnight at La Quinta Inn in Joplin, MO
Total miles today: 756

Sat. Aug. 9, 2008 Happy Birthday, Alisa!
7:24 a.m. C departed Joplin
9 a.m. b’fast in Springfield, MO, Mile 77 I-44
(route home: 44E to St. Louis take ring road 270 to 70E to Indianapolis to 69N to MI to 94E to A2)
11:25 a.m. C St. Clair
12:27 p.m. C crossed Mississippi in St. Louis to IL
4 p.m. C entered IN 70E to Indianapolis
8 p.m. E entered MI
9:30 p.m. E arrived A2
Total miles today: 838

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


We missed seeing mezzo Isobel Leonard the summer we were in Santa Fe, but the mountain air must have been conducive to romance because that fall Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Isobelle Leonard married in New York and they had their first child this summer of 2010.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Home -- Alisa says – August 8 & 9, 2008

We got up on Friday morning in Santa Fe, packed up the car, consulted our maps, had a final waffle as Las Palomas and hit the road home at 8:10am MT. I took the first driving shift as we drove South from Santa Fe to pick up Route 40 East across Texas and into Oklahoma!

My favorite roadside attractions on the trip were the antelope in NM and the crazy combine sculpture in Willamsburg, IA (later found to be implements called ‘wheat trailers’); while Mom’s favorite roadside attractions were windmills and rest stops. We sighted windfarms on this leg of the trip in San Jon, NM and then again near Varga, TX. Ahhh, the beauty of sustainable energy!

We made it thru the Texas panhandle and into state #9 of our journey at 3pm CT. Oklahoma! surely lived up to its punctuation. Beautiful state, good drivers and a lovely turnpike with a nice tolltaker who told me I had a beautiful smile…mom loves opera singers, but I do have a thing for a man in a toll booth.

We slogged into Joplin, MO and snagged the last room in the town for the night at about 9pm. The town was full with Vietnamese-Americans in town for a pilgrimage to Marian, MO. We split a beer for dinner and fell asleep watching ‘House’.

Saturday was my 39th birthday and it felt just right to be spending it heading home. We left Joplin at 7:20am CT and headed toward St. Louis. We crossed the Mississippi at noon and deviated from our AAA TripTik by heading toward Indianapolis instead of Chicago.

The weather got cooler as we drove and we hit some big rain outside of Fort Wayne, IN. We arrived in the Great Lake State at 8pm ET to beautiful blue skies and those wonderful state troopers who don’t even blink when you buzz past going 80! I think he recognized that I was a native. We had a wonderful trip and saw so many beautiful places, but coming home to MI after 8 days, 3110 miles and 10 different states was pretty fabulous. It took us another hour & 15 mins to get to Ann Arbor. We ended up back where we started at 9:45pm on 8/9/08. Thanks Mom, for a wonderful time!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Labyrinth -- August 7, 2008

We departed 9 a.m. for Tesuque/Shidoni Foundry along Bishops Lake Road out of Santa Fe through Big Tesuque Canyon. All the mountains are covered with clumps of Pinon Pines – because of the drought, a bark beetle has been able to invade many trees and dead trees are visible everywhere. The park ranger at Bandelier told us about the death of the Pinon Pines that cover the mountains everywhere here.

The Shidoni Foundry at Tesuque is apparently one of Santa Fe’s premier attractions according to the signs. We didn’t have time to appreciate it fully, but strolled the outdoor area where moderate-sized sculptures were displayed and the indoor galleries with smaller works.

Siegmund and Sieglinde by Beckie Kravetz (see BK Sculpture Studio)

My favorite finds were bells formed of used gas tanks fitted with elk-hide wrapped clappers that sounded heavenly – created by a local artist who lives in the hills and shoots his own elk, according to the sales associate. He also makes wonderful iron torii gates from which to hang his gongs and temple bells.

We intended to have lunch at the new cantina on King Ranch at the Santa Fe Opera, but when we arrived at 11 a.m., lunch was not ready and it became apparent that while we would have been served, the area was really meant for the opera company employees and we decided not to stay. We drove to the Santa Fe plaza and parked on the street and had lunch at La Boca, a tapas restaurant on Marcy Street that had been recommended by everyone we spoke to. It was very nice -- small, unpretentious, elegant in the way of an old-fashioned French restaurant with wood decor and white linen. We shared a mixed-green salad with olives, crab and scallop cannelloni, and shrimp au brochette with a chocolate sauce.

After lunch we walked to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi where I wanted to see the paved labyrinth in the cathedral garden. We did not have time to walk the labyrinth, but I took some pictures to use in my labyrinth workshop I’m giving this fall for Howell Recreation Authority.

It’s a beautiful labyrinth paved with several types of differently colored stone that looks similar to the stone used to build the cathedral. I would guess it’s about 25-feet in diameter.

I particularly loved the beautifully shaped lunations that highlight the circumference. The lunations are the circular shaped stones that form the border of the labyrinth.

Before departing for Santa Fe, I looked up labyrinth sites and counted 19 featured in the online Labyrinth Locator. But Alisa was the one who discovered the cathedral labyrinth while I was at the opera on Tuesday and told me about it. I’m so glad she did; it is really beautiful.

On our way back to the car, Alisa stopped in a tiny Christmas décor store called Susan's Christmas Shop at 115 E. Palace Avenue. She bought several stamped tin ornaments as souvenirs for her friends. She bought an antelope for herself as a memoir of our first day in New Mexico when we encountered the antelope.

We spent the afternoon at Ten Thousand Waves spa. We arrived at 1:30 p.m. and before our treatments, Alisa had booked a private bath with a large whirlpool tub, sauna, and plunge pool, open to the elements, in a walled garden with hummingbirds everywhere.

I had a spa Fusion treatment with Carlyn; Alisa had a Thai massage. My treatment room had an attached enclosed patio. I could hear the thunder and rain outside and feel the breeze – very pleasant. My treatment featured an amalgum of several of the spa treatments offered at Ten Thousand Waves: Thai massage, body exfoliation and hot oil treatment including hair and scalp, foot massage, exfoliation and hot oil.

The spa had a foot bath and contoured benches where you could relax by the waterfall in the garden between treatments. It was raining lightly and Alisa and I sat in the rain while waiting for our final massages. Our checkout experience was not optimum, but all-in-all we had a lovely day.
We finished at 5 p.m. and stopped at Whole Foods to get a lunch for the casita.

I turned in early. Alisa did some packing. Heading home tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Billy Budd -- August 6, 2008 p.m.

At 6:08 p.m. Wednesday evening Alisa and I departed for the opera house to hear Benjamin Britton's Billy Budd with baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes singing Billy and tenor Bill Burden as Captain Edward "Starry" Vere.

We arrived in time for the 6:30 opera talk that was excellent with a discussion of Herman Melville's and E.M. Forster's preoccupations. We weren't given any paperwork on the presentation so I don't have a record of the presenter. He was very, very interesting and did something I thought was useful in preparing for the opera: he had us sing some of the motivs.

After the presentation we shared a veggie wrap and refreshers while seated in the theater courtyard enjoying the evening and the company. We spoke to a gentleman from Los Angeles who had missed the end of Tuesday's Figaro because he had passed out at intermission. The medics were called and he was taken to the hospital to have a cut on his head attended to. He blamed himself for the mishap, saying he had overexerted himself in the thin air of the mountains.

The gentleman looked healthy and fit on Wednesday and said he had fully recouperated. I wondered before I left for Santa Fe if I would have difficulty with the altitude, but only found I had less stamina on stairs and puffed when walking more than short distances.

I wondered how the singers managed, but none that I heard seemed to be at all affected.

We took our seats in the auditorium. With no curtain, I saw the fo'castle of a ship at the back of a sharply raked stage with the pilot wheel stark against the cloudy Santa Fe sky. The ship's foretop and crossmast held center stage. As the evening light faded the motley sound of horns, drums and flutes rose from the orchestra pit. The last rays of the evening sun glinted of the wheel and illumined the darkened scene -- a perfect night in Santa Fe.

I had always been a tenor fan – the higher the better, until I got to counter-tenors and Handel with mezzos just didn’t do it for me. I always thought baritones sounded like they were burping instead of singing. Until I saw Don Giovanni in Cincinnati in 2004 with Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the don. I had never seen anything like it in my life – Rhodes energy, passion and power poured off the stage. And the music! His tender “deh, viene al a finestra” was the most seductive voice contrasted with his fury in the final act when he ripped off his shirt and leapt across the stage. I’d never given opera singers’ bodies much thought before that, (truly) except as musical instruments. I’m not sure opera singers should disrobe on stage, but I’ll tell you the theatrical impact was stunning.

Since then, I have been willing to give baritones a little more leeway. I thought Hvorostovsky was brilliant in the Met’s Onegin last season, although I only saw it in simulcast. I enjoy Nathan Gunn and saw him perform Billy Budd in Pittsburgh last year. I collected Rhodes CDs: The Voice, Vagabond, Love for Three Oranges, Faure’s Requiem, and Mozart Arias and got his Little Prince DVD. I saw him in Cosi in Cinti last summer, but was disappointed because the part is really not big enough for him.

I’d known for over a year that Rhodes would be in Santa Fe, and truthfully it was hard to believe that the night had come -- that I was sitting in the Santa Fe opera house anticipating an evening of complete joy.

First, the orchestra under Edo de Waart was brilliant; second, Bill Burden as Vere was magnificent; third, the chorus was glorious. I never quite got Billy Budd musically, but this performance made the sound comprehensive to me for the first time. The insular world of the story, the sense of fantasy, Claggert’s “natural depravity” – all represented and transformed in music. And those crazy nets with men continually swarming up and down.

I was upset with the P’burgh Budd because they left Nathan Gunn hanging from the rafters while Vere finished up and it freaked me out – that can’t be good for a singer! And what if something happened and he fell down!

But this was worse, ‘cause there was no harness to save Rhodes as he muscled his way up and down, over and across a web of nets twenty feet off the ground in an incredible display of agility and power. And he had wind to sing magnificently on only 66-percent of sea-level oxygen.

I’m always surprised by the depth and the power and the lusciousness of Rhode’s voice. I also loved when he sang with the huge chorus and all that male anima was amplified. There were at least three dozen men on that stage, at times. At one point – during the ode to England -- Rhodes is the spearhead of the chorus in a choreographed segment that mimicked the surging of the sea and evoked the power of the royal navy.

An odd thing happened in the second act when Billy punched Claggert and Claggert fell down dead. People in the audience laughed. They laughed quite a bit. It wasn’t really funny, but it was slightly odd. It’s too bad Billy couldn’t have hit him with a marlinspike or something; it would have been less amusing.

During the curtain calls the entire rear of the stage was blocked by the sail that hid Billy’s body from view during the hanging scene. Almost unseen behind the sail, while the supporting cast was taking its calls, Burden/Vere, Rose/Claggert and Rhodes/Budd embraced in acknowledgement of a great work accomplished. I wanted to share in their congratulations.

By midnight my night of Billy Budd at the Santa Fe Opera was ended: it was worth every minute; it was worth every penny; it was worth every mile.

Note: The production earned a positive review by Anthony Tommasini in the August 2 New York Times .

Bandelier National Monument -- August 6, 2008 a.m.

On Wednesday, August 6, we departed at 8:30 a.m. after breakfast at the hotel. We stopped for gas and at Albertson’s grocery down the street to buy a picnic lunch and drove to Bandelier National Monument, elevation 6066 feet, about 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe. We arrived at 9:45 a.m. and took a guided walk to the pueblo excavations and then climbed along the cliff into the cavates the Pueblo people built into the volcanic tuff wall of the mesa.

The park ranger on our tour said the park is named for amateur archeologist Adolphe Bandelier who excavated sites in the Frijoles Canyon in the 1880s. Park buildings were constructed by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

I understand the CCC also installed the stairways and railings that allow easy access to the cliff sites, for which I am grateful.

Archeologists are currently working in the canyon, meticulously removing cement from an earlier reconstruction of the Tyuonyi (chew-OHN-yee) village – which I think is a granary, not a village.

We saw an excavated kiva, notable for its central stone from which the ancestral people emerged into the world – a kind of umphalos. I thought this had a nice resonance for Alisa who had seen the umphalos at Delphi years before.

I know that I am shallow to prefer the pristine presentation at Bandelier to a more gritty reality, but I can only appreciate what I can understand. I loved this place and hope to return.

We had our picnic in the park upon our return from the cliff, and departed for Valles Caldera National Preserve via a winding road headed west at 1:15 p.m. We curved around a mountain to 9,000 feet and pulled into an overlook to gaze upon the remnants of an ancient volcano at around 2 p.m.

I am grateful to modern geologists for their insight into the earth’s past and recommend John McPhee’s Basin and Range to those with a similar delight.

Our drive total totaled a paltry 125 miles, although we traveled far in time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Figaro -- August 5, 2008

Santa Fe Opera

On Tuesday, August 5, we had waffles for breakfast at Las Palomas and drove five minutes to the opera house to take a backstage tour. I’m glad we did this because it gave me a much better understanding of the unique nature of productions at Santa Fe’s John Crosby Theatre, named when it was built in 1998 after the opera’s founder who created Santa Fe Opera in 1957.

The most fascinating aspect of the theater itself is a massive elevator that delivers singers and scenery to the open rear of the stage. A huge concrete balcony two stories below the stage level is closed to the public and functions as the theater’s backstage, to a great degree. The other impact of the backstage tour was to impress the visitor with the significant nature of this operatic undertaking in which no trouble or expense is spared to create the most sophisticated and satisfying operatic performance.

A tour guide said she had met Teddy Rhodes working out at the Santa Fe spa. (No comment, out of deference to my daughter's sensibilities)

After the tour we took the hotel’s shuttle to Café Pasquale in the old town where we had a Santa Fe beer and shared salmon taco with cucumber salad. After lunch we toured the shops of San Francisco Street and I returned to nap since opera in Santa Fe has an 8:30 p.m. curtain – effectively 10:30 p.m. to my Michigan time-adapted body. Alisa planned to go to dinner with her friend Susan who lives in Santa Fe.

I departed at 6 p.m. to attend a 6:30 p.m. opera talk on Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro with Mariusz Kwiechen as the count, Luca Pisaroni as Figaro, Susanna Phillips as the countess, Isobel Leonard as Cherubino, and conducted by Robert Tweten for this August 5 performance only.

This classic production was perfect in every way with spectacular singing, especially the women, and the ensembles were wonderfully balanced, too. Phillips sang the countess with heartbreaking clarity and beauty – her porgy amor as delicate as froth carried by a massive ocean wave. Leonard played Cherubino like a boy, not a girl in boy’s clothing. When Cherubino dressed as a girl, (s)he was the most unlikely of females – and her singing was divine.

The elegant sets devised by Paul Brown featured a sparkling wall of glass and a silver boudoir along with Brown’s costuming all in Eighteenth Century splendor. Santa Fe Opera is in every way splendid. What a night!

I sat in row O just under the first balcony, but the sound was in no way impaired. As the sun set, a breeze turned the air cool, but a lightweight scarf kept me comfortable. The storm on Monday caused some difficulty with the performance of Falstaff, I heard, but not enough to disrupt the presentation.

A silk-embroidered Kashmir scarf for sale at the opera shop for around $500 would have been a perfect accessory – no doubt that was the point of offering them.

At intermission I had the pleasure of meeting reviewer and Opera-L member, Maria Nockin, who introduced me to Santa Fe Opera Press Associate Dolores McElroy. When asked about the opera's New Zealand baritone, Dolores said that Teddy Rhodes is open and friendly and easy to talk to.

An usher told me that unlike most singers, Rhodes attends the opera and can be seen roaming the campus. She met him at the employee swimming pool on the King Ranch -- a recently acquired facility adjacent to the opera house grounds that houses dorms, practice areas, a new cantina, and other amenities.