One night we had an appointment with some people who lived about 30 miles outside of Phoenix. As we drove down the highway … we enjoyed an unbelievably colorful sunset that changed from oranges and yellows to pastel colors. For miles and miles we watched the sky as it faded into darkness.
We went to a lot of indigenous restaurants on our trips. One of our favorites was Cornish Pasty.
Cornish Pasties (meat pies) started in Cornwall, England back in the 1200’s. The miners would take the pasties to lunch in the mines. Because the miner’s hands were covered in arsenic, they would hold a pasty by the crimped edges and then discard the rest of the crust for the “ghosts” in the mine. (Or something like that.)
Originally a pasty would have meat and veggies in one end and something sweet in the other.
When mining in Cornwall slowed down, many miners came to the copper mines in the Upper Peninsula to find work … which is why you find a lot of pasty shops in the U.P.
Which does not explain why the Cornish Pasty restaurants are in Arizona .. We ate at the one in Tempe.
I had a shepherd’s pie pasty and let’s just say, that’s my kind of food. Really delicious.
So one night we decided to head to downtown Phoenix and wander around and see what we could see. What we saw was a city with skyscrapers and a park with some artsy stuff including a netting sculpture entitled “Her Secret is Patience.” (Truly, I could spend the rest of my life staring at the huge net before guessing that name. More commonly it’s called Jellyfish or Tornado.)
We walked around looking for a place to eat and ended up at Steve’s Greenhouse Grill which says its burgers were voted the best in downtown Phoenix – not sure how many burgers are in downtown Phoenix – but it was fine. Though the memorable part of this restaurant was the server who was surprised to “see me on the weekday, because I’m usually there on the weekend.” Though I told him I had never been there before, he was sure I was one of his regular customers or my twin sister is. Interesting. Unless my parents aren’t telling me something, I didn’t know I had a twin sister. He was so insistent, I almost wanted to stick around and meet this other me.
We headed back to the car and passed “Her Secret is Patience” once again – which was now lit up – a neon beacon in the night sky.
Tucked away on a quiet street in Wheaton, Illinois is a place called the Marion E. Wade Center. A research goldmine for those studying seven world-renown authors: George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Owen Barfield; J.R.R.Toikien; Charles Williams; Dorothy L. Sayers and C.S. Lewis. The place has a library room where scholars can peruse dozens of books written by them and about them. The library includes dissertations about the various authors, letters and private papers.
And although the “museum” part of the Center is small, it contains some fascinating pieces including C.S. Lewis’ teapot and Dorothy Sayer’s glasses. The three centerpieces of the collection, however, are the actual wardrobe that inspired Lewis to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, his desk and also Tolkien’s desk where he sat to write The Hobbit.
Their lives often intertwined and the collection includes letters they wrote to each other. You might have read their books, but did you know these facts?
Dorothy Sayers (author of several classic mysteries including The Nine Tailors and several non-fiction books about her Christianity) credits Chesterton with saving her faith.
Lewis encouraged Tolkien to finish the Lord of the Rings. He also wrote reviews of Toilien’s work (a great marketing tool).
C.S. Lewis stated: “Though it seems like a kindness to wrap a child in cotton-wool, it is in the end unwise, for the child must learn to stand on his or her own feet one day. The longer that day is needlessly delayed, the likelier it is that the child will be overwhelmed when it finally comes.”
All the authors were open about their Christianity at a time when the world saw Christianity as a belief system scorned by the intellectuals and only adopted by the superstitious.
Lucy, in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” was dedicated to Owen Barfield’s daughter, Lucy.
Lewis had a habit of losing his hat and when finding it (no matter how soggy from being left out all night), putting it on his head and continuing to wear it.
Tolkien did not like The Chronicles of Narnia.
Four of the authors were part of a group of Lewis’ friends called “The Inklings.” They met once a week to challenge and encourage each other – often in a pub called The Eagle and Child near Oxford University which is still open today. (Wouldn’t it be fun to go there for lunch?)
The Wade Center isn’t huge and exhibits cover only a large room – but if you enjoy reading or learning about seven authors who wrote about their faith at a time when doing so was not popular (is it ever popular?) you will enjoy a visit here.
The Mohave Desert is dotted with Joshua Trees – and is the ONLY area where they grow. Joshua trees can grow up to 40 feet tall and the branches jag every which way giving them interesting shapes. They are pollinated by moths.
Because of the uniqueness of the tree in the Mohave, there is even a Joshua Tree National Park where the Mohave Desert merges with the Colorado Desert … called very originally Joshua Tree National Park. Although we didn’t get to the park this time, Ken and I did visit it on one of our visits to California.
Why is the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona?
The answer to the first question will need to be covered in another post.
The answer to the second is this:
Well, first of all, Lake Havasu itself formed when the Parker Dam was built in the Colorado River back in 1938. The lake runs 35 miles along the Arizona/California border and most of it cannot be accessed because of the rugged terrain that lines its borders. But there are a couple towns on the more accessible parts of the lakes: Parker and Lake Havasu City.
Chainsaw engineer, Robert McCulloch, founded LHC in 1963 and its become a popular spot for retirees to spend the winter. However, because of its out-of-the-way location, it’s not as much a tourist spot as other southwest locations.
Right downtown, however, is The London Bridge (yes, really from London) that connects a channel to an island.
The bridge was built in 1831 and crossed the River Thames in Londonnow. The bridge did its job for 140 years and lasted through two World Wars before deteriorating. Mr. MuCullough heard about this bridge that was no longer strong enough for traffic and decided to buy it for two and a half million dollars. Oh … and it cost him another $7 million to take it apart and rebuild it in Lake Havasu City.
And that’s why it’s there. A well-to-do man went antique shopping.
So, driving down the highway through the Mohave Desert, Cindy V. says, “I’ve always wondered what the Boron/Borax place was.” Or she said something very similar to that.
We decided to find out.
We drove down a road that meandered back to a large grouping of silos and building rising up from the desert floor – the only buildings anywhere in site.
Way back more than 100 years ago, a man named Dr. J.K. Suckow was attempting to drill a hold in the desert floor – looking for water. What he actually discovered was colemanite – a borax ore.
Other men heard about the find and began staking out the mine. The Pacific Coast Borax Company staked out several of those claims, including the original.
In 1924, Dr. Suckow drilled again and found basalt at 180 feet and a short time later, more coleminite. In 1925 another deposit of borax was discovered. This is now the world’s largest borax mine and the largest open-pit mine in California. Half of the world’s borates come from this mine which employs more than 800 people.
We were the only ones at the visitor’s center and because we didn’t have much time, we didn’t take time to see the video – just walked around the exhibit and then walked up the EXTREMELY WINDY ramp to see the mine. Took a couple pictures, but since it was EXTREMELY WINDY, we didn’t stay very long.
An educational stop for sure. If you’re driving by, it’s worth the stop.
So once when the kids were about middle-school age, we took the “scenic route” home (Wisconsin) from camp (in Montana) and went out to the Oregon coast and drove down Highway 101 to San Francisco. The rule was – no stopping at tourists traps, but we would choose a couple very cool things to do. Those two things resulted in an overnight stay right on the beach and a sunset boat ride around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Then once when Ken and I had a conference in California we headed south and then west to San Diego. At that point, we drove north on Highway 101 to Los Angeles.
And once Cindy (Vesperman) and I took a road trip from Monterey down to Santa Barbara on Highway 101.
That left one county on the California coast that I had not visited … a very, very small county, one that was hard to get … unless I went right to it.
The last few times I’ve been out to San Francisco various people told me they would take me “over the mountain” to Santa Cruz, but actually doing so didn’t work out.
This time … well, this time we decided to just plan some time to go …
So right from the airport, we drove south to this very small county and Cindy headed right for the boardwalk with stories of her childhood visits.
Everything was cloudy and quiet and very unboardwalk like – as if the whole world was encased in a fading fog …
Afterwards we looked for an indigenous Santa Cruz restaurant – checking out the best restaurants in town. Linda’s Seaside Cafe called my name. Small, but crowded, it didn’t disappoint.