Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday's Two-Hour Tour

Welcome back to the second installment of "Neal and Ally Go West (and shed their winter peacoats for Old Navy flip flops)." Before I start, let me just say that y'all are so freakin' cute (yep, Mama Virgo...THAT is how you spell "freakin"). Because...

A) I was actually kidding about the burdens of Army wives. I mean, yes, we are basically in the Army, too. But I am, in case you missed it, a bit of a Drama Queen Supreme and truly I don't expect trumpets and confetti over being an Army wife. I am an Army wife, daughter, and granddaughter. I 100% knew what I was getting myself into. But thank you for your kind words. I'd be a liar, liar pants on fire if I said it didn't make me all warm and fuzzy (like my new scarf from Foxy. Thank you very much, darling!) and

B) For being bloggers, y'all are shockingly shy. I admit, the uniform is intimidating. But just remember that under that uniform the guys are wearing black spandex biker shorts underwear from UnderArmour (the kind that hugs EVERYTHING) and the women are wearing Army-issued black bras and panties. So, really...they are just like you and me. And just like you and me, they like to hear from others that they are doing a good job. Sometimes you have to lose a limb to receive praise in the military. That should not be the case. I'm not saying you should go out of your way to thank a whole platoon flying out of the Atlanta airport. But if you see one walking towards his/her gate...please don't be afraid to extend a hand and a thank you. Especially if it's a young soldier. Can you imagine going to war at 19 years old? You know what I was doing at 19? Keg stands. I was NOT preventing my battle buddy from getting his head blown off. That's not cockiness you see in their faces. It's fear. So...show a little love.

Phoenix is 2 hours behind us which was flat-out fantastic. I wake every morning without an alarm clock at 8:30 (yes, I don't have any children in the house. I work for myself. It's a luxury that will not last forever). That means that I woke every morning in Phoenix at 6:30. How fantastic that I actually added 2 hours to my day! (With the exception of Monday night, I still managed to stay up until about 11 every evening...truly adding hours to my day. It was phenomenal). We had breakfast with the 50 or so other soldiers in the dining room (AKA chow hall and please excuse me if I lapse into military time. That's life with Neal). Embassy Suites has a cooked-to-order breakfast, complete with omelettes, pancakes, and french toast. There's bacon and sausage on the side. This is a standard soldier breakfast. It's hog-heaven for me. Goodbye, Hampton Inn eggs:
hello, Breakfast of Champions (and yes, that picture was taken by me and yes, I actually ate an egg. Bleh).

After breakfast, Neal was to report to Registration at 0800 and I was to pick up my rental car at 0930. (There was some discussion about this arrangement...mostly a whine-fest on my end about how I don't choose to be as independent as he thinks I am and how I shouldn't be expected to find my way back to the airport and back to the hotel on my own...on my own, WITH a GPS, though). I think it actually worked out better for me that he wasn't there. I arrived at Budget in the airport, chatted up the desk clerk, mentioned my husband was at an Army conference and I was going to do some gemstone shopping for my business. She asked for a business card, I immediately produced one. I bought a box of 500...all you have to do is look like you may want one. She asked if I wanted to upgrade. "Oh no, thank you. Really it's just for me to get around during the day." She asked if a 2-door was OK. "Oh yes, sure. We have a Prius. We're used to matchboxes." Then she handed me the keys and told me where to go. And I went. And I picked up this:
If your first reaction is "Holy HELL. Sweet Jesus, thank you!!" Then that would be roughly the same as mine. Oh heavens, this car was fun. AND I looked good driving it. Blonde-ish hair blowing in the wind...blue eyes matching the paint job perfectly. Neal says they would have never given this car to him. I didn't believe him until I returned it Thursday morning and saw a guy, roughly Neal's age, returning a Hyundai. Yes, I will choose Independent Mustang over Co-Dependent Hyundai any day. Also, Colonel Ketchup, who is roughly 8 years her senior, is very happy to have a pin-up. Even though he has a new ding in his right front quarterpanel, he is still very handsome (with a brand new canvas top) and I'm sure he and Catalina would take to each other quickly.

I've been reading The Women for about 8 months. I started under a misunderstanding of who the author was, what the story was about and lost total interest about 40% in (my only indicator of completion, thank you, Kindle). Anyway, I did remember that Taliesin West played a major role in the book. Lo and behold, Taliesin West is located in Scottsdale, which you can wander into from Phoenix while merely looking for a gas station. So, I planned a tour for 1:30. Neal was interested in going, but he had to work so I made myself available to take him to lunch and then headed over.
Sidenote: yesterday I said we lunched at a fancysnobby place. That was actually Wednesday. Will cover it tomorrow. Tuesday was BBQ. I mean, tangy, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth BBQ that I didn't think was available outside of Memphis.

Unfortunately, the 1:30 tour was sold out, but the 2:00 was available. I wandered the grounds near the entrance, took some pics and emailed some people back (sometimes a BlackBerry is a beautiful thing). These are a few of the more interesting pics of Taliesin West, accompanied by some tour guide facts...because what's the point of paying $28 for a tour if you can't spread the knowledge?

Frank Lloyd Wright loved ancient art and you see little pieces all over the estate, in very unexpected places. And he loved oriental architecture, which is pretty obvious if you've ever been in one of his buildings.

This is, what I would consider, the back of Taliesin West, although there's not really a front or back door...it's more like a meandering campus. The windows behind the stairs in the left are to the drawing studio. Wright built Taliesin West to function as an elite school, open to students who wanted to train under Wright. In reality, they were less of an apprentice and more of a serf...helping to chop vegetables, working the land, and helping to maintain the structure. But they could say that they interned under Wright, so that's something, I suppose. It is STILL a working school with accreditation. Students pay $30,000 per year for room, board, and tuition. They still travel to Taliesin in Wisconsin in the summer and back to Taliesin West in Scottsdale in the winter, just as they did with Wright. And the first female student admitted to the school still lives on campus. She's 96. The water here is less of a pool and more of an emergency water supply. When Wright built, Scottsdale did not exist. Taliesin had already burned down twice in Wisconsin. He was anxious about not having water. Plus, he was in the desert. But it makes for a beautiful picture.

This is the furthest point of Taliesin West. It now looks out over Scottsdale, which grew up well after Wright was established. When he looked out over his land, he saw the ocean. If you squint your eyes, the mountains become the horizon, the bushes and trees become the sea, and the cacti become the coral. So, he brought his developed land to a point here, to form the "bow of his ship."
And then...they put in the power lines. Wright was pissed and initiated plans to move. His wife (like the 3rd or 4th one...the last one anyway and thus the reason to write The Women and Loving Frank) refused to move. So, he turned his attention away from the "ocean" and back towards Taliesin West and the mountains in the distance, giving this view:
No pictures were allowed in the grand living room or either of the bedrooms (apparently the secret to a successful marriage is separate bedrooms). I'm not sure why but when they forbid us to take pictures of the Sistine Chapel it was because Kodak owns the rights to those pictures. That was just stupid enough for me to snap a quick one anyway. But taking a prohibited picture is much easier in a sea of 200 people than it is on a tour of 15.

Wright's wife, Olgivanna, loved sculpture and she held contests for the students. These are just a few of the beautiful sculptures that came from those contests:
This one was titled "Repunzel"

I took this one specifically for Surferwife because this is how I see her.
And last, but not least...
I have to share this with you because it's shear genius. This is a picture of the Taliesin West movie theater. The tables unfolded so that students could have dinner and then watch a movie. Wright hated that when you wanted to cozy up to your best girl, with your arm around her and your left leg crossed over your right, you had to then crane your head to the left to see the movie screen. Neck cramps were not his thing. So, he designed the seating to angle, allowing you to be turned and still view the screen without turning your head. Single? You were sitting sideways for 2 hours.

When Neal finished his day, we headed over to the Desert Botanical Garden. Truly, I took about 75 pictures of cacti, which I will spare you, and only show you these 2:
This is...I don't know...snake cactus?? Whatever it is, it totally freaks me out. It grows like kudzu and is prickly, to boot. BLEH!! I don't miss you, snake cactus!!

We finished up at the botanical garden as the sun was setting and it was getting close to dinner time. We vroom-vroomed over to Souper Salad, which I ADORE (if only for the fact that Neal can get his daily intake of romaine lettuce, beets, and cucumbers while I can load up on every salad held together with 2 cups of mayonnaise). If you are an entrepreneur and looking for your next big challenge, will you puleaze bring this to Kentucky?? Or even just east of the Rocky Mountains? I promise we'll keep you in business. The Kroger salad bar is not the same.

Tomorrow is gemstone shopping, lunch with the fancypants of Phoenix, and manager's reception day 2. I know these posts are long and it takes awhile to read them. It takes me twice as long to write them. But I hope you are enjoying them. If not, no hard feelings. I'll meet you back here on Saturday when I will return to a more abbreviated version of myself. I know how that thing called life gets in the way and am not at all offended if your blog reading time is restricted to anything 500 words or less.


  1. Phoenix is one of the cities I long to visit. Am thoroughly enjoying your trip! Keep the travelog coming. Thanks. Oh, LOVE the car!

  2. Taliesen West is gorgeous and botanical gardens are wonderful. This is such a great trip. Thanks for taking us along!

  3. well, lucky me that it's a boring week at work, I get to travel to Phoenix during my breaks from real work. :)

    I think the pic of those eggs are seared into my brain...sick.

  4. I am LOVING these posts! But I have to say, I cheated just little because I peeked on facebook. :) You do such a good job of explaining everything. Man, i really need to check out that Taliesin West place too. I didn't even know that was there. (??) Okay, honestly, my hub's mom used to work at the Fairmont Princess Resort in Scottsdale and she could get us really good rates... so when we'd go visit her, we'd spend about half our time relaxing away at that resort and forgetting about the rest of the city. And then the other half of the time, we'd spend with her touring around Phoenix, Tempe, and some place waaaaaaay up north - some ridge? I can't remember now. So maybe i haven't been to lots of places in and around that area, but if you want to know about the Princess, I can fill you in! ;)

  5. Ok I now have another city to add to my list. Looks like you had a great time.

    If I could have separate rooms i would. after the lovin' I want to sleep

  6. so that snake cactus reallllly freaks me out. like bigtime.
    just like ivy creeps me out. i mean that stuff grows, and like climbs on things, and wraps itself around things. that's the stuff nightmares are made out of. waking up wrapped in snake cactus. or ivy. i just got the heeby jeebs.

  7. okay, i'm sorry this is not the point of your post whatsoever, but i can't get over those disgusting eggs. you could have gotten salmonella from those eggs. believe me. i would know. ugh.

    and the rapunzel art sculpture is kinda wicked cool and creepy at the same time.

  8. What a sweet ass ride! Lucky!!! (I adore mustangs of all shapes/sizes and years!). I drooled over all the Frank Lloyd Wright images. I have always loved his work. There is a house here where I live that I have YET to tour. Sad part is, I lived less than a block from it for 2 years and never went on a tour. Just drove by it and would swoon each time. I have to put that on my things to do this spring.

    I have to say the Rapunzel sculpture is my favorite.

    I have never been to AZ but you're making me want to go there, bad! :)

  9. no apologies about your long posts. i just read them in increments from naptime (around the time you post/i check) to bed time. so i always forget things that i want to comment on.

    So did you get the car because 1? you're awesome, 2) your hub is military 3) your gemstone talk. That part threw me for a loop.

    We have FLW shiz right around here in the Blo. But since every year from 2nd grade on up we had to take a field trip there, it lost its authenticity for me. No worries. you just sparked my interest and I may or may not go check him out again, soon. I love the Repunzel statue.

    I can't believe you are one of THOSE people. ya know, the ones who takes pics of cacti? I beg and plead of Mr Inc to not take picture such as that and animals at the zoo, and mountain shots. No judgement though.

  10. Nice ride! And thanks for the tip about hiking boots but I don't have any! Yikes!

  11. I was born in Oak Park (Chicago, Illinois) and lived the first three years of my life only doors away from Frank Lloyd's famous home. I have wanted to visit Taliesin and Fallingwater for a while now. Do you know that you spend an entire evening at Fallingwater alone now?

    Anyway, lovely photos!


    p.s. For some reason I was surprised that they issue BLACK bras and panties. I couldn't help getting a rather risque picture in my head...

  12. frank lloyd wright WAS a manwhore. AND a genius architect! i gave you an award over at my blog!

  13. Great pics - sexy car - weird eggs.

    I am dying to know about gemstone shopping. Something that I am pretty sure I will never have the opportunity to do.

  14. What a fun trip you had!! And I can sooooo picture you in your "upgrade" car, lol!!

  15. LOVE the car and all the pics. Sounds like a super fun trip!

  16. Lovin' the stories and the pictures! Can't wait for tomorrow!

  17. that car is sex on wheels. i want.

  18. I live about an hour from Taliesin Wisconsin--I've always wanted to go there, I think you've finally pushed me to get my heiny there!!!

  19. Thanks for giving servicemembers a shoutout. I am totally taking this as you saying i directyl to me! Phoenix looks fun!

  20. It took me like 2 solid minutes to figure out what the eff that was. Am I being compared to the Sagitarius guy? Because that's what it looks like!


That's it, let it all out....