10 Tips for Finding Inspiration

What do you do when the creative well seems to be empty? When you don’t know what to blog about or what to photograph? When the creative juices just aren’t flowing? Inspiration disappears for all of us from time to time, and it’s something I personally have struggled with for months.

Visiting the park in Anthem Arizona. Waterfalls, ponds and birds.

Since Al and I won’t be traveling much this winter (we’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona, till April), I find myself wondering what I should blog about and what might be new for me to photograph. Ever since our son moved to Phoenix in 2009, we’ve spent a substantial amount of time RVing around the Phoenix valley, and I’ve written dozens of posts in the past about our time in this Arizona city.

I suppose I could re-purpose some of my old blog posts, but that would keep me inside the RV and in front of the computer, and as much as I enjoy my computer time, the reason for living the RV lifestyle is to seek out new experiences and new sights and not sit in front of a computer screen all day.

The incentive to go out and about is easy when we’re visiting new places, but takes a little more effort and reflection on my part when I’m living a stationary life.

Reflections of life. Tips on finding creative inspiration.

Reflecting on the past can help direct you in the future …

Now that I’m sitting in a familiar city that we’ve already spent a significant amount of time exploring, I find myself reflecting on the past for inspiration.

During our last year of owning a sticks and bricks home along Colorado’s Front Range, Al and I decided to pretend we were tourists.¬†After all, Colorado Springs is a major summer destination for many. It was amazing the beautiful sights we discovered right in our own backyard (well, not literally in our backyard, but around town).

I’m grateful that we took the time to explore a little more of Colorado Springs before moving away. We still never made it to the top of Pikes Peak, but perhaps that’s an impetus for us to revisit.

So, think about your past. Think about a memorable place or time, and ask yourself where, when, and why? Memories can serve as wonderful inspiration. All I have to do is think about our five week stay along the shores of Lake Powell this past April, and a smile comes to my face. There was no lack of creative inspiration with scenery like that!

Alstrom Point

Me enjoying the scenery – overlooking Lake Powell.

Meet new people …

Attending a conference, a seminar, or engaging in a local “meetup” group, forces us to mingle with new people. In the RVing world, this is an everyday event as our neighbors are forever changing. RV parks are a social mecca filled with activities, and meeting new and interesting people is always inspirational. But what if you don’t live in a setting that’s easy to meet new people?

At the end of November, I decided to attend a local WordPress meetup group. I thought it might be a good way to meet locals outside of the RVing community, as well as get a little WordPress help. You see, I’ve had difficulties commenting and liking some of my favorite blogs.

It all started about a month or so ago. I have a bunch of blogs I follow via the WordPress Reader along with receiving posts via email. I used to be able to easily comment or ‘like’ an emailed post, but no more. Grrr … without getting into the nitty-gritty of my frustrations, I was hopeful in meeting some local techies.

Although I enjoyed mingling, this meetup group is geared toward the self-hosted WP user, and therefore, of little help to me. With that said, listening to other creatives was inspirational, making my attendance worthwhile. I might go again or maybe I’ll try some other “meetup group.

waterfalls

Go for a walk and search out the beauty around you …

Phoenix, Arizona, is known for its mild winters and beautiful blue skies. The other day was cold and dreary. There was a thick cloud cover and the threat of rain. It was late afternoon when I decided to don my sweatshirt and head out on a photographic outing.

My husband was perplexed and expressed concern about the poor weather conditions, but when I explained that today was the perfect day for me to shoot a waterfall, he understood …. well, not really, but he did a good job pretending he understood.

I headed off to a local park in the quaint town of Anthem, Arizona (far north Phoenix valley). It’s a beautiful park with ponds, waterfalls, a Veterans Memorial, baseball/soccer fields, a skate park, railroad, a Sunday morning farmers market, and more.

I had a fabulous time playing with my camera and searching out creative inspiration. That little outing was exactly what I needed to get the creative juices flowing, and I’m so glad I didn’t let the weather deter me.

holiday railroad. Enjoy a festive holiday train ride through a park

Study other creatives …

Visit a local art gallery, museum, or library and immerse yourself in other works of art. My recent sculpture tour in Scottsdale found me appreciating the talents and vision of the various artists and asking myself, “What inspires them?

If your creative outlet is writing, are you as awed by J.K. Rowlings talent as much as I am? Sometimes I like to go to the local library and peruse cookbooks looking for recipe and photography inspiration. A library is a great way to discover works of art.

And let’s not forget about music. Listening to the words of a favorite song or dancing to an irresistible rhythm can be very inspirational. Unfortunately, the music gene doesn’t run in my family, but I’m an appreciative listener.

Reading blogs …

I’d have to say, my most favorite (my favorist ūüėÜ) way to find inspiration is via blogs. Seriously, you my friends, are the best creative inspiration around. When I’m really stuck … you know, staring at a blank screen ‘stuck’, and can’t begin to figure out what to write or share, I turn to my favorite blogs.

If that doesn’t work, I go in search of new blogs. Don’t you love it when bloggers write a post linking to other inspirational bloggers? I know I do! Of course, there’s Pinterest to consider, but blogs still rule in my humble opinion.

Tips for creative inspiration

Write a bucket list …

Ask yourself, “If money were no object, I would ….?” Write down a list of things you’d like to accomplish … places you’d like to visit … maybe it’s a dream job … maybe you’d like to publish a book, whatever comes to mind. Be honest with yourself. I bet, when you read that dream list that many of the things you’ve written down are attainable.

Research! Whatever the subject, see what other’s have to say about it. What do they say about that dream job, about publishing that book, or traveling to that destination you long to visit? If you don’t have the physicality or finances, perhaps writing a blog post about those bucket list items will be a start to fulfilling a dream, and your writings might inspire you, as well as others.

Spiritual Enlightenment …

We all have something we believe in that helps us get through life. For some, it’s attending church services regularly while for others it’s a way of living one’s life. I have friends who tap into their spiritual beliefs by reading the bible or¬†devotionals everyday. Another friend of mine has quotes delivered to her inbox daily, and these quotes serve as her inspiration and enlightenment. Many use meditation, prayer, or both.

I know when I tap into my spirituality, I feel a sense of renewal and hope. That renewed feeling helps me focus and work toward goals.

enjoying fall leaves

Meet a friend for coffee (or a drink) …

Enjoy some one on one time with a friend over a cup of coffee or a cocktail. Be the listener and really listen to what’s going on in your friend’s life. What are their motivations and goals? How do your ambitions compare or differ?

Maybe they recently read a fascinating book that would make for a great blog article or maybe that photo shared on their phone was taken at an unusual angle, giving you inspiration for your next outing with the camera.

A relaxed get together with a friend is something we should all do regularly!

Take your camera in search …

Take your camera (or phone) on an outing devoted to photography. Be a tourist in your hometown. What would you share with someone visiting your town/city for the first time? Walk around your neighborhood and find unique things to photograph.

My¬†neighbor, here in the RV park in Phoenix, is a photographer. In an effort to exercise, he walks around the park, up and down the streets, regularly photographing interesting sights … the little yard decorations, door details, interesting plants, colors, etc., and in the process, he gets in his steps.

If the weather is too cold and blustery in your neck of the woods, think about heading into the kitchen and cook/bake something new … then photograph it. Step outside of your comfort zone. Photography is about finding out who you are and focusing on the world around you.

reflecting on life, thought provoking

Listen to your thoughts …

Allow yourself to slow down, look inward, and listen to your thoughts. Although my camera shutter clicked often at the park the other day, I did take time to just sit on a park bench and watch the world go by. I watched the ducks drift by on the pond. I listened to the trickle of water from the nearby waterfall. I watched the storm clouds swirl about. I watched the changing light on a mountain as the sun was beginning to set.

I thought about the photographs I had just made, and recognized my strengths and weaknesses. I was feeling creative, a feeling which I hadn’t felt in some time, and it felt good. I needed this time at the park to just be …¬†to listen to my inner voice and listen to my thoughts.

It was at that moment I realized, I don’t have to travel to far away places to be creative … to find blog material, photographic material, inspirational material. I just need to look at things from a fresh angle and shake up my routine.

time

10 Tips on how to find creative inspiration …

  1. Reflect on the past. Analyze fond memories and decide to create new ones.
  2. Meet new people – interact, learn, and find out what inspires others.
  3. Go for a walk and immerse yourself in your surroundings
  4. Study other creatives
  5. Read blogs
  6. Write a bucket list
  7. Embrace spiritual enlightenment
  8. Meet a friend for coffee or a drink
  9. Take your camera in search
  10. Listen to your thoughts

If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us – Daisaku Ikeda

How do you find blogging ideas and subjects to write about? How do you tap into your creativity or decide what to photograph? What inspires you?

How to find creative inspiration    10 tips for finding blog ideas. How to find creative inspiration.

(affiliate links – holiday gift ideas)


Unshakeable: 365 Devotions for Finding Unwavering Strength
Ring Video Doorbell
Tire Pressure Monitor for vehicles and RVs

Atomic Wall Clock with Indoor/Outdoor Temperature
Hummingbird Feeder
Seasonal Garden Flags Set of 4

Advertisements

A Scottsdale Walking Tour

We were off to an early start. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I was on a mission. I was in desperate need of blog material and photogenic subjects. I needed some inspiration and knew Scottsdale, Arizona, was just the place to visit.

sunrise in the desert southwest

We’re off to an early start! Sunrise in the desert southwest.

I enlisted the company of my daughter and husband. Although, I’ll admit, neither were particularly eager to join me on my photographic outing. I remember there being some eye rolls and me being the subject of their amusement, but when I bribed them with mouth-watering treats found at the Scottsdale farmers market,¬†they quickly jumped on board …. and they didn’t even complain when I told them I wanted an early start to the day …. much to my surprise, I might add.

(To enlarge photos in a gallery, simple click on any image. To return to the post, click on the x found at the top right corner)

After we were fueled with coffee and filled with sustenance purchased from local vendors at the farmers market, I consulted my little map of downtown Scottsdale. We would be going on a walking tour visiting seven of Scottsdale’s most beloved public art sculptures.

Sculptures in Historic Old Town Scottsdale

It’s impossible to visit Old Town Scottsdale and not walk by our first sculpture on the tour; The Yearlings by George-Ann Tognoni. This is a monument to wild horses and depicts three bronze yearlings galloping in full stride.

The Yearlings Scottsdale Arizona

The Yearlings sculpture

This sculpture serves as a backdrop to family photo shoots and is especially popular during the holiday season when the sleigh and Christmas tree are set up.

Another popular photo shoot spot is at the LOVE sculpture. LOVE by Robert Indiana was conceived when the United States was involved with the Vietnam War and became a symbol for peace. This famous sculpture is one of the most celebrated works within the pop art movement.

Love sculpture in Scottsdale Arizona

The Scottsdale “LOVE” sculpture sitting at a temporary site near the library.

Robert Indiana created the first version of LOVE with stacked capital letters for a personal Christmas card designed for friends in 1964. In 1965, the Museum of Modern Art selected Indiana’s LOVE design for its official Christmas card.

The original sculptural rendition of LOVE was fabricated from Cor-ten steel in 1970. It can be seen at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Dozens of other LOVE sculptures are now on display around the world.

Scottsdale LOVE sculpture

Al and me at the Scottsdale LOVE sculpture 12/17

As of this writing (12/18), the Scottsdale LOVE sculpture is located at a temporary site near the Scottsdale public library. The bridge in the area sustained severe water damage caused by a leaking fountain resulting in the closure of Drinkwater Blvd and the necessity to relocate the sculpture.

Our walk takes us into Scottsdale’s Art District

With two sculptures checked off the list, we continued our walking tour which found us venturing into Scottsdale’s Art District. The Jack Knife sculpture serves as the center of attention for the art district and sits in the middle of the road.

Jack Knife by Ed Mell is a giant bronze sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco giving a nod to Scottsdale’s Western heritage and the city’s official seal.

On to the Fifth Avenue Shopping District

Who knew Scottsdale had a “Fifth Avenue” shopping district! Now for those of us that have actually shopped at the real 5th Avenue …. as in New York City’s Fifth Avenue, this Fifth Avenue is quite a bit different, but still fun. It’s kitschy, small, and is a long-time favorite with tourists boasting dozens of unique shops, award-winning restaurants, and the famous Bronze Horse Fountain.

The Bronze Horse Fountain was created by Bob Parks, who owned an art gallery in town. This piece showcases the beauty of five Arabian horses as they play in the fountain. I love how they were decorated for the holiday season with wreaths.

Bronze Horse Fountain Scottsdale Arizona

Bronze Horse Fountain

The Scottsdale Water District

We continued our trek. Not far from the Bronze Horse Fountain, we rounded a corner and walked up some stairs. We found ourselves along the Arizona Canal and noticed the bronze sculpture on the other side of a bridge.

Colorado Artist Herb Mignery is a noted western artist and sculptor. He gained early recognition for his classic and humorous western cartoons and rose to fame when he started sculpting scenes from his early Nebraska farm and ranch days.

In Passing the Legacy, a vintage 1860s horse and rider represent the original Pony Express. The lead rider reaches back to grasp the passing legacy, ready to plunge forward into a new era. It took twelve months for the artist and fabricators to refine and create the life-and-a-quarter size bronze monument, which is 20’ long.

Scottsdale Arizona Canal

As we continued our walking tour along the canal and amongst a beautiful park setting, we took great pleasure in the wonderful fall weather that Phoenix is known for.

Water is a precious commodity in a desert and controlling flood water is crucial, especially in a high density urban environment. Phoenix and her surrounding suburbs do a great job in beautifying these man-made waterways. More efforts are ongoing toward waterside recreation and beautification along these canals.

This Scottsdale section of the Arizona Canal is particularly attractive and popular with cyclists and pedestrians alike. Lighted art over and in the water are changed up regularly and the picturesque park setting serves as a great spot for festivals.

The Soleri Bridge & Plaza was designed by the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri. The bridge was designed to demonstrate the importance of solar movement.

The bridge is anchored by two 64-foot pylons and is twenty-seven feet wide on the south side narrowing to eighteen feet on the north.  Situated at a true north axis, the bridge is intended to mark solar events produced by the sun’s shadow.  The six-inch gap between both sets of pylons allows the sun to create a shaft of light as the earth moves.

Most Entertaining Sculpture

The Doors by Donald Lipski is an interesting and entertaining work of art. The structure consists of three 28 foot tall doors that lean against one another on an angle. They are made of Brazilian hardwood, mirror polished stainless steel, and thousands of hand forged steel rivets and strapping.

The Doors sculpture in Scottsdale Arizona

Approaching the “Doors” sculpture in Scottsdale, AZ

When we stepped in between the doors, we were met with a kaleidoscope effect that shines from sunlight during the day and LED lights at night. We were entertained by multiple reflections of ourselves. The experience is enhanced with sound … various sounds of bells, chimes, swooshing, and flute can be heard in and around the sculpture.

A kaleidoscope self-portrait visiting The Doors in Scottsdale Arizona

A self-portrait inside the “The Doors” – a kaleidoscope

I’d have to say, we found this sculpture rather entertaining and found ourselves lingering in and around it. I’d love to go back at night to see what it looks like all lit up from the LED lights.

End of our walking Tour of Scottsdale

Our Scottsdale walking tour visiting the most popular art sculptures in the area took us less than 2 hours full-circle and accounts for all the photo-op stopping and playing around that we did. The sculptures gave us purpose to meander down streets that we had never ventured down before. What a fun and special excuse to explore this entertaining desert southwest city!

This leisurely city walk allowed us the opportunity to see interesting sights and take note of eating establishments for future visits. There’s no shortage of fantastic eateries in Scottsdale. The biggest problem is deciding where to eat when given so many choices.

Okay … time to plan our next adventure!

Additional Scottsdale Information

For more information and downloadable maps – click here.

(affiliate links – Are you still holiday shopping? I’m almost done!)
Life Is Good Heart Tree Everyday Mug
LEGO City Pickup & Caravan
Balsam Wreath
Last year we bought our son this doorbell for Christmas – he loves it!
Ring Video Doorbell

That’s a wrap!

There’s a major up side to returning to familiar territory.¬† I think we can all relate; we¬†go on vacation to some new and exciting place and have such a wonderful time that we can’t wait to return again and again and again.¬† And although that¬†may mean¬†we’re not exploring¬†other exciting destinations, that doesn’t mean new discoveries aren’t made.Rockport Texas

To me, it’s kind of like watching a movie for the second or third time.¬† Character lines are heard that may have missed the first go around, or¬†there’s a¬†better understanding of a plot.¬† I feel, some movies are actually better the second time around.

I think the same can be said¬†about¬†traveling to a familiar place.¬† This was our third January spent in the Rockport, Texas, area and our best visit yet.¬†¬†I’ll be the first to admit, this is a place I probably wouldn’t recommend to most folks unless one’s interests are either birding,¬†photography, or sportsman activities¬†(fishing/hunting).¬† Considering Al and I enjoy that stuff, it works perfectly for us.Rockport

For those more interested in beaches, quaint shops, and plenty of dining options; Port Aransas on Mustang Island is the place to go.  I even found myself visiting the island three times during the month of January exploring some of my favorite places.

Mustang Island and the Corpus Christi area hold special memories for Al and me individually.¬† During Al’s¬†Navy days, he¬†was stationed in Corpus Christi and the aircraft carrier he was trained to land a plane¬†on has now been turned into a museum.¬† My memories center around my parents and their RVing days.¬† It was not uncommon for the kids and me¬†to visit my parents during their winter sojourn to Mustang Island.¬† Fond memories, indeed.Rockport Fulton Texas

Back to Rockport – Fulton and my new discoveries … these two quaint Texas coastal communities¬†offer plenty of options to keep me entertained (in addition to my birding, that is).¬† After a two-year renovation, the Fulton Mansion was once again open to the public and at the top of my list to visit.¬† This 1870’s French inspired home has been beautifully restored. (click on any photo to enlarge into a slide show)

 

I found the self-guided tour of the mansion interesting as I was transported back in time.¬† One of the rooms on the second¬†floor was left as original as possible showcasing damaged lath and plaster walls.¬† Parts of the ceiling and flooring were also left exposed to share some unique materials used in the construction.¬† I never would’ve thought¬†to use¬†sand and seashells as insulation between floors.¬† My Real Estate background had me reading each word displayed regarding ownership of the property and the prices each party paid.¬† Back in the 1960’s the front yard was actually an RV park and all the historical photos were extremely entertaining.

Touring the grounds alone is also worthwhile with its wind swept Oak Trees, manicured garden, and serene ocean view.Rockport Texas

There was more history for me to discover in downtown Rockport.¬† Since I didn’t have anything to shop for, I strolled the main street looking for things to photograph.¬† Architectural photography remains a challenge for me, so I’m always looking¬†for opportunities to practice.

Shopping in Rockport, Texas - quaint, unique shops and interesting structures

Shopping in Rockport, Texas – quaint, unique shops and interesting structures

No shortage here of things to photograph as all the buildings are unique and one of a kind.¬† And just because I didn’t have any knickknacks¬†to shop for doesn’t mean this former shopaholic didn’t step into a shop or two.

Most of the shops cater to the tourist crowd, even the local Ace Hardware store gets in on the action.¬† Aside from¬†exploring the little shops in the downtown area, I found myself visiting¬†stores throughout the community.¬† Stores I normally wouldn’t¬†visit if it hadn’t been for my quest to find a pair of rubber boots.¬† You see,¬†I was in dire need of a pair of rain boots if I was to go out on the boat with Dennis.¬† His funky little boat required that I board from the water and the temps were way to cold for my Keen’s, thus the need for boots.¬† But not just any old rubber boot would do.¬† Come on, they had to be somewhat fashionable after all.

Visiting the local Garden and Feed store had me longing for a home with a yard. That feeling was quickly passed though :-)

Visiting the local Garden – Feed store had me longing for a home with a yard. That thought quickly passed ūüôā

Finding rubber boots wasn’t an issue in this coastal community.¬† It was the fashionably cute part that was difficult.¬† I wound up running all over town, including the hardware store, feed store, stores an hour away in Corpus Christi, and eventually turned to Amazon.¬† Every time I found a pair of boots I liked, they didn’t have my size!BBQ

Whew…. all that shopping had me working up an appetite and this year’s new restaurant discovery was just five minutes up the road from our RV Park.¬† Stevie Lew’s is¬†a locally owned,¬†family run business with everything homemade.¬† My chicken BBQ sandwich was delicious as were the chicken tacos that I tested on visit number two.

Fresh roasted coffee beans

Fresh roasted coffee beans

They even¬†roast¬†their own coffee beans and it smelled wonderful.¬† I forgot to buy some coffee on my way out ūüė¶¬† Next time!¬† See, there’s always a reason to return.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful markets around here.¬† Texas is home to a grocery store chain called H.E.B.¬† I’m always able to find what I need at a reasonable price and the employees are usually¬†very helpful and friendly.¬† I’ve never had a bad experience at a H.E.B.¬† And then there are¬†all the local¬†seafood market’s which need to be explored.¬† We pulled out of Rockport, Texas,¬†with every square inch of our RV freezer filled with fresh shrimp and fish.photography

Our time along the Gulf Coast¬†flew by, and I’ll admit, we weren’t ready to leave.¬† That said, we’ve talked about¬†spending two months along the coast next winter, but then again, the desert has a strong pull.¬† Ah, we’ll need to sit down and do a little scheduling and time management.¬† There are worse¬†things to contemplate!vultures

Last year I did a post on the places we¬†camped in this part of Texas.¬† Click here if you’d like more information on camping options.

So, I think¬†I’ve about summed¬†up our time along the¬†Texas Gulf Coast –¬†shopping, museums, photography, fishing, hunting, birding, photography, eating, boating, sunsets, sunrises,¬†did I mention¬†photography.¬† That’s a wrap!¬†¬†Next up,¬†we’re back in the desert southwest .photography

amazon

Therapy comes in many forms

The intoxicating beauty of towering red rock sandstone monoliths and¬†buttes…. rocks aptly named Coffee Pot Rock and Cathedral Rock…. equal parts of rugged and¬†luxury….¬† a small town blessed with¬†an abundance of beauty and surrounded by National Forest land…..Sedona, Arizona

These words barely begin to personify stunning Sedona, Arizona.  Sedona served as stop number two for my excursion with my daughter, and as you might expect, it did not disappoint.  Ashton was pleasantly awed by the angular rock formations, high mesas, and stunning colors.  Sedona

Talk about a visual treat.  A feast for the eyes.  An abundance of beauty in all directions.

SedonaThose beautiful red rocks serve as a backdrop for a number of outdoor activities ranging from spiritual pursuits to hundreds of hiking and biking trails to guided Jeep excursions.

Lots of great dining options

Lots of great dining options

Since Ashton and I only had a couple of hours to tour the area, we set our sights on exploring the shops.  Sedona is well-known for its vortex energy and folks from around the world come here for healing and spiritual renewal.

SedonaMany of the shops focus on the metaphysical¬†and sell jewelry made from various crystals and stones, each serving a¬†distinct purpose.¬† We stepped into the Sedona Crystal Vortex shop and found ourselves learning the metaphysical value of the array of polished stones.¬† The store offered everything from loose stones, to stunning pieces of jewelry that I would classify as “Art”, to simple elasticized bracelets.¬†Sedona

As we perused the numerous bracelets, we read the¬†special benefits¬†of wearing particular stones.¬† It seems there’s a stone for whatever ails a person.

 

SedonaMy skeptical nature may have had me doing an eye roll, but the bracelets were cute and thus I figured what the heck.¬† It certainly couldn’t hurt to wear one of these ‘healing‘ bracelets and¬†I can always use a little help.¬† Hmm….. I pondered which stone(s) would be¬†most beneficial¬†for me;¬†¬† creativity, energizing, harmony,¬†inspiration, courage, grounding, prosperity, calming, balance?¬† The list went on, and although I was tempted to walk out of there with half a dozen bracelets, my wallet thanked me for walking out empty-handed.¬† Perhaps¬†I should have indulged in¬†a citrine¬†stone bracelet = prosperity!

Ashton, on the other hand, found healing and inspirational therapy at a wine shop.  Following a little wine tasting, she walked out of the store with two bottles of Arizona wines.

Sedona

We spent another hour engrossed in retail therapy before heading off for a little spiritual enlightenment.Chapel of the Holy Cross

Regardless of one’s faith, a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a must.¬† Built in 1956 this Catholic Chapel rises 70 feet (21m) out of a 1,000 foot (300m) red rock cliff.

Sedona

I must admit, a quiet moment of reflection inside this church had more of an impact on my aura than any of the crystals or healing stones I handled that day.  Perhaps my chakras are in need of attention.

On that note, I know just the place to go to have my chakras aligned, engage in vortex energy, have my aura analyzed, or¬†purchase stones to help heal whatever ails me ūüėȬ† Yes, Sedona…. I shall return.¬† I’m itching to hit your trails!

Sedona

Before heading out of town, we made one final stop.¬† Not only had I worked up a thirst, but I felt compelled to show Ashton the architecture on this one of a kind McDonald’s.¬†Sedona Yep, this is the only McDonald’s in the world where the arches are turquoise instead of golden.¬† So when I told her we were stopping at the Turquoise Arches for soft drinks, she was initially perplexed¬†and later¬†humored.

Crystal Healing
November’s Chopin Fashion Handmade Metal Leaf Pendant Wood Prayer Bracelet Link Wrist Necklace

A hauntingly good time

October!¬† With a briskness in the air, it’s¬†the time of year to¬†enjoy¬†fall colors, carving jack-o-lanterns, sipping pumpkin spiced lattes, and embracing ghosts and goblins.¬† Halloween is one of my daughters favorite holidays and since this October finds her living in Phoenix, Arizona, I knew just the place to take her for a ghostly adventure.Jerome

JeromeFirst –¬†on the home front, it didn’t take¬†Ashton long to¬†settle into her new home.¬†She’s become quite proficient¬†at moving. ¬†This however, is the first time she’ll be living with¬†two straight guys¬†– her¬†roommates (one of which is her brother).¬† Her entrance into the home might be compared to that of a tornado whipping through Kansas.¬† She obviously has no trouble taking charge of a situation.

The first thing¬†the whirlwind¬†did was reorganize the kitchen and clean out the fridge, followed by some house cleaning and the rearranging of furniture.¬† I’m not sure the guys¬†initially knew what hit them, but¬†they seemed to be ok with¬†her take charge attitude¬†and actually like some of the changes she made.¬† I know they certainly aren’t complaining about¬†Ashton’s culinary skills.Jerome

So once she felt settled, I took her on her first Arizona excursion.¬† A little over an hours drive north of Phoenix is the quaint mountain town of Jerome.¬†¬†Jerome prides itself as being America’s largest ghost town.

Jerome This former copper mining town grew from a settlement of tents to a roaring mining community and is now¬†a bustling tourist and artistic community.¬† On the outside, Jerome doesn’t appear to have changed much over the past 100 years.¬† Many of the buildings built in the late 1800’s are still standing and have been proudly renovated.¬† However, due to the 30 degree incline of the mountainside, some of these historic buildings have slid a bit down the hill from their original location;¬† the most famous being the town jail.

Ashton in front of the sliding jail

Ashton in front of the sliding jail

Checking out the famous sliding jail was first on our list followed by shopping.¬† My daughter and I¬†always enjoy strolling through shops¬† especially when there are unique, one of a kind items like the huge kaleidoscope assortment at Nellie Bly’s.

the most unique kaleidoscopes you'll ever see can be found at Nelly Bly's in Jerome, Arizona

the most unique kaleidoscopes you’ll ever see can be found at Nellie Bly in Jerome, Arizona

JeromeIn addition to¬†the world’s largest collection of¬†kaleidoscopes there are other one of a kind collectibles.¬† Ashton and I were enthralled with the creative talents displayed in the numerous shops in¬†Jerome.¬† But all that shopping¬†had us working up an appetite.

Haunted Hamburger

Skeletons seem to be invading the Haunted Hamburger Restaurant

After climbing a bunch of stairs (remember this town is built into the side of a mountain and there’s nothing flat around here), we arrived at the Haunted Hamburger.

Dining with a view

Dining with a view

Someone is scaling the wall wanting to join us

Someone or something is scaling the wall wanting to join us

note the skeletal fingers as Mr. Skeleton attempts to join us

note the skeletal fingers as Mr. Skeleton attempts to join us

We dined outside and enjoyed drinks, a great meal, and an awesome view.¬† But no ghosts.¬† Only skeletons.¬† Supposedly the building is haunted and you can read the story here if you’re interested.

JeromeWith nothing spooky happening at lunch, we continued our search and trekked up the road to the Jerome Grand Hotel.  Constructed in 1926, this Spanish Mission style building was once home to a modern and well equipped hospital.

By 1950, the hospital closed due to the slow down in mining, and the building stood vacant for 44 years.  In 1994, the building was purchased, renovated, and turned into the Jerome Grand Hotel.  There seems to be a high level of alleged hauntings, from strange moans, to coughs and images, to doors slamming without explanation making this a very popular destination for amateur ghost hunters.

The Jerome Grand Hotel displays some of the most gory Halloween decorations. Daughter love it. Me? Not so much.

The Jerome Hotel displays some gory Halloween decorations. Daughter loved it. Me? Not so much.

Zombies, blood, and gruesome are the things I dislike about Halloween much preferring little kids dressed as princesses and teddy bears

Zombies, blood, and gruesome are the things I dislike about Halloween much preferring little kids dressed as princesses and teddy bears

Glass BlowingAfter I was totally grossed out by some of the decorations, it was time for me to pull daughter out of the haunted Jerome Hotel…… not that we had any paranormal encounter mind you, but the place¬†in general¬†gave me goose bumps, and not in¬† good way.¬† Was it the decorations or the aura?¬† Didn’t matter, it was time to move on.¬† Somehow I didn’t sense Casper, the friendly ghost, lived here.

Next stop; the glass blower.¬† Watching this artist create little glass blown pumpkins was much more to my liking, although daughter is still laughing about my unease at the hotel.¬† Aren’t these glass pumpkins adorable?Glass Blower

The town of Jerome is well-known as being haunted and has been featured in several paranormal television programs and publications, but the over all history and vibe to this town is what¬†keeps many¬†returning…. me included.

"Mommy, I want that"

“Mommy, I want that”

interesting items available in a shop

interesting items available in a shop

Jerome is home to some fabulous art galleries

Jerome is home to some fabulous art galleries

Be sure and stop in at Nellie Bly

Be sure and stop in at Nellie Bly

Ashton and I shared a fabulous day exploring Jerome and October seems to be the perfect month to visit for a hauntingly good time.¬† Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for the mine tour or wine tasting (much to daughters dismay) or exploring some of the side streets.¬† Having merely scratched the surface of this quaint town, she and I are already talking about a return visit.¬† Next time Ashton wants to spend the night, some place haunted preferably.¬† I don’t think so!!!

Numerous places for wine tasting

Lots of great dining options

Jerome

Could this place be haunted?

There isn't a bad view in Jerome

There isn’t a bad view in Jerome

Casper

The Everything Ghost Hunting Book: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Exploring the Supernatural World

The Windy City

By now, you all know I grew up in the Chicago suburbs.¬† Thus, the city of Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart.¬† During past Illinois family¬†visits, we always managed to squeeze in at least one trip into this iconic city.Chicago, IllinoisWhen I was in my twenties, I thought nothing of driving into the city.¬† With the exception of a school bus, public transportation was foreign to me.¬† Plus,¬†I always preferred the freedom of driving my own car.¬† Now a days, I wouldn’t fathom driving in Picasso Chicagodowntown Chicago traffic, opting instead to take the train and walk to all the amazing sights this city has to offer.¬† Plus the Metra Transit System¬†is just so very convenient.

With Lollapalooza¬†scheduled during¬†our¬†targeted¬†downtown venture, we¬†chose to forgo a Chicago sojourn during this Illinois trip.¬† The addition of hundreds of thousands of concert goers invading the city acted as a deterrent to us like¬†Raid to¬†a bug.¬† Ah, next time I’ll do a better job checking event dates.

It you’ve never visited Chicago, I highly recommend you do.¬† Obviously it’s one of my favorite cities.¬† Here’s a sampling of¬†things to see and do……

1.¬†¬† Millennium Park is a¬†wonderful place to stroll around.¬† This 24 acre park was constructed in the late 1990’s.¬† Sculptures, water features, a music venue, and gardens are a¬†pleasure to explore during a warm summer day.¬† The¬†“Cloud Gate” elliptical sculpture other wise known as “The Bean” is a photographers delight.¬† The Chicago skyline is uniquely reflected in this seamless stainless steel structure resembling a drop of mercury.

Millenium Park Chicago

Me back in 2009 in front of “Cloud Gate” aka “The Bean”.

2. РNext door to Millennium Park is the Chicago Art Institute Museum.  I was in elementary school the first time I visited this beautiful art museum.

Art museum lions

I’m standing behind one of the famous copper lions in front of the Chicago Art Museum.

Although at the time I found¬†the visit¬†rather boring, today I’m extremely grateful to have been exposed to¬†this level of art at such a young age.¬†¬† I remember one painting¬†in particular making an indelible impression upon me¬†(I was a mere¬†eight years old) –¬†Seurat’s – ¬†A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.

French Impressionist art

My daughter stands in front of my favorite painting. Georges-Pierre Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte

Until this day,¬†this Seurat¬†is one of¬†my favorites.¬† So much so, that I had a large print hanging in¬†my home office that I purchased at the museum.¬† Did you know there’s¬†not one brush stroke, only dots?¬† The entire canvas is composed of dots. Amazing!

French Impressionist art

We had a reproduction of this Monet hanging in our living room.

I’m such a huge fan of French Impressionism¬†that our sticks and bricks home was decorated¬†almost exclusively¬†with art¬†purchased from the Museum Shop.¬† And they remain waiting for me in a storage locker ūüôā

My 2009 visit with my daughter, is most memorable.¬†¬† Ashton had just completed a college prerequisite “Art” course of some sort and was sharing all kinds of fascinating tidbits on various artists including Seurat and Monet.¬† Until this art class, she hadn’t realized she grew up surrounded by famous works of art.¬† Cultured, indeed ūüėČ

3. – A nice¬†walk down Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile) is a shoppers delight but head south and it’ll take you to the Field Museum.¬† Everyone loves the Field Museum; young and old alike.¬† The new dinosaur room even impressed me and I’m not necessarily into dinosaurs.¬† I can most likely be found in the Gem Room salivating over the largest pink diamond or blue sapphire.

Chicago's Field Museum

My son and I visit the Field Museum in 2007

My son, Logan, has always had an interest in dinosaurs…. what boy doesn’t?¬† He was in elementary school when the original Jurassic Park movie was released and visiting this display had his imagination running wild.¬† However, the Field Museum offers so much more than dinosaurs and gems.¬† Free admittance day is usually on a Monday and¬†thus a perfect time to take a quick stroll through the museum without feeling a need to dedicate an entire day.¬† Two hours in a museum is usually long enough for me.

4.¬† Skyline;¬† I’ve had the privilege of traveling to most of America’s major cities as well as those in Germany.¬† That said, in my opinion Chicago has¬†the most photogenic skyline I’ve ever seen.

photogenic city

Me and daughter in 2009 with the Chicago skyline in the background

With the exception of being in a boat on Lake Michigan,¬†the next best¬†place for a Chicago skyline photograph is near the Adler Planetarium.¬† One of these days, I’d like to be here at sunrise to photograph the skyline.

5.¬† Architecture;¬† you just have to love the amazing architecture Chicago has to offer.¬† Willis TowerFrom the Sear’s Tower (aka Willis Tower) to the John Hancock building to the old water tower to the original Marshall Field’s on State Street (now Macy’s), the mix between new and old is not to be ignored.

You could spend an entire¬†day just walking around Chicago looking at buildings.¬† I know, I’ve done it.

Not to be missed is¬†a visit¬†to a sky deck/observatory.¬† I’ve¬†been to¬†both the Willis Tower and John Hancock and although I prefer the view out of the Hancock building, others prefer the Willis view.¬† Regardless, a visit to one is a must.

6.¬† We all know what a taxi is, but did you know Chicago offers a water taxi?¬† This is a fun way to get from the Field Museum to Navy Pier or from Navy Pier to the train station.¬† In an¬†effort to give our legs a break, we’ve¬†taken both.¬† It’s a great way to see the city from another angle.

Trump Tower Chicago

The Chicago River. Trump Tower (tall bldg. in background)was still under construction in 2007.

7.¬† Entertainment; Chicago is known as the Second City….. second to New York Chicago, IllinoisCity.¬†Therefore, there’s always wonderful¬†theater and live entertainment to be found.¬† My favorite; Second City.¬† Here’s a list of¬†comedians who got their start at Chicago’s Second City – list.¬†¬†¬†Many ended up later joining Saturday Night Live.

And then¬†there’s Wrigley Field and Navy Pier¬†with their own entertainment venue.

Seriously, there is so much to see and do in Chicago that I feel guilty ending my list here, and don’t even get me started on the shopping.¬† So many fantastic shops.¬† Moving on….

Grant Park

Ashton in front of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

Lodging in Chicago is also part of the adventure with endless options.  We stayed at the historic Knickerbocker Hotel several years ago and enjoyed it.  We flew from Denver to Chicago partly to spend Christmas with family but to also expose our children to the city around the holidays.  If I had to visit Chicago in the winter, December is the perfect month to do so.  The holiday decorations are incredibly pretty.

Chicago’s a huge city¬†offering an abundance¬†of things to¬†see, do, and experience, but a little street smarts will serve you well.¬†¬† Safety first and always be aware of your surroundings.

Chicago, Illinois

Me and Logan near the Field Museum – 2007

Chicago has long been associated with gun violence; from the Al Capone days to today’s gang violence.¬† Much of the gang activity is within their neighborhoods and not much of a concern for any of the areas I’ve mentioned in this blog post.

What about RVing in Chicago?¬† I’ve recently read a couple of blog posts on¬†people boondocking (dry camping) at McCormick Place, Illinois’ premiere conference and convention center.¬† In both instances (at separate times) the couples found themselves parked in the parking lot alone.¬†¬† The only RV on site…..¬† Hmm, I wonder why?¬† Fortunately, they both had¬†an uneventful¬†and safe experience.¬† However, it’s not a place I would stay.

Staying in the country at the Paul Wolff Campground surrounded by forest preserve and cornfields sounds like the perfect place to camp for anyone wanting to visit Chicago with an RV.¬† From there, a one-hour train ride into¬†the windy city¬†will allow you¬†to enjoy all this¬†marvelous¬†place has to offer.¬†the windy citySo why is Chicago nicknamed “The Windy City”.¬† Since the city sits at the shores of Lake Michigan it does experience a fair amount of wind from weather, but no more than a bunch of other places.¬† The power of the name lies in the metaphorical use ‚Äúwindy‚ÄĚ for ‚Äútalkative‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúboastful.‚Ä̬† Early on,¬†Chicago politicians became famous for long-windedness.¬† Chicagoans were also considered braggarts.

But in another way, Chicago is actually earning the title of “windy city”.¬† Architects and engineers did not foresee the effects of tall buildings and air current.¬† In some areas, the wind is literally sucked down into the streets.¬† It may be perfectly calm in one area and extremely breezy in another.¬† Ladies hang on to your dresses, and men your hats!

There you have it….. Chicago, my kind of town

Patagonia Atom Sling, Black
City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago

 

 

A Tourist Destination

While February found us exploring southern Arizona, March had us meandering around the Phoenix valley.  Phoenix, Arizona, has become a regular stomping ground for hubby and me ever since our son moved here five years ago.

Superstitions

approaching the Superstition Mountains located on the far southeast side of the valley

Phoenix AZOver the past five years, Al and I have taken advantage of our visits by exploring all corners of picturesque Maricopa County.¬† As an RV’er, we’ve found this area to be one of the most RV friendliest of places giving us oodles of¬†parking options.

Not into RVing?¬† That’s ok as the lodging options are endless in that arena as well; from quaint Bed & Breakfast’s to Mega Resorts and everything in between.

Superstition Mountains

Spring in the desert

Maricopa County wants you to visit.¬† It’s a tourist destination.¬† Whether you spend a long weekend or spend the entire winter, all visitors are greeted with open arms and offered amenities for just about anyone’s personal interests and taste.¬† And with nine months of beautiful weather and plenty of sunshine, it’s no wonder northerners flock here during the winter months.

Speaking from experience; June, July, and August can be uncomfortably hot making it near impossible to engage in any outdoor activities.  This is the desert after all.

Arizona hiking trails

hiking near Phoenix during spring time

Spring TrainingThere’s no shortage of beautiful Golf Courses, wonderful hiking trails, or delicious restaurants.¬† Then there’s the¬†various festivals, music venues, and sporting events.¬† This past February, Phoenix even hosted the Super Bowl.

Folks that enjoy baseball usually plan a vacation to Arizona in March to take in a Spring Training game.  The Cactus League is big business around here.

With only so many hours in a day,¬†hubby and I picked our priorities for the month of March.¬† Hiking, socializing, and festivals¬†seem to top our agenda.¬† Since I’ve already posted on some of the hiking we’ve done around Phoenix, I’ll focus on the socializing today.

bloggers

We enjoy happy hour over at Mike and Linda’s of “Bear Tracks Blog”. Mike fixes cocktails while I prepare nachos.

We reconnected with¬†some old friends and met new ones along the way.¬†¬†New friendships were forged with fellow bloggers.¬† As bloggers following each other on the internet,¬†we seem to know a lot about one another but¬†rarely meet in person.¬† It’s always an entertaining time though when we do connect face to face.

Since Phoenix is such a great place to live AND visit, it’s not uncommon for¬†one to live here full-time, part-time (like me), or sometime meaning there’s always another blogger in the vicinity.¬† So if you visit Phoenix, be sure¬†to put it out on your blog – if you’re into socializing that is.¬† You never know who will reach out to you and say, “Hey, I’m in the area.¬† Interested in meeting?”

Phoenix ArizonaThat said, it’s easy for two strangers to quickly become new friends.

A one hour coffee date turned into a three-hour chat fest with Nancy over at Two Trails One Road.  We could have easily moved from coffee onto cocktails as we got to know one another beyond our blogs, but alas obligations had us bidding farewell to each other.

We were so engrossed in our visit, that neither one of us remembered to take a photo.  Oh well next time, as I am sure there will be a next time.

Another morning I headed off to a Fine Arts Festival in the town of Carefree; a community on the far north side of the Phoenix valley.  This was my second time attending a festival in this lovely community.  The first time was with fellow blogger LuAnn and involved chocolate.

Carefree Festivals

Al and Mary from Tales from the Backroad

art festivals

Me and Mary in front of her stunning photography

No chocolate involved this time, but meeting this artistic couple was right up there.  Mary and Al are a couple of VERY talented people.

Mary writes a blog over at Tales from the Backroad.

Not only was it great meeting Mary and Al, I loved seeing their art work.  Did I already mention how incredibly talented these two are?  Impressive!  I hope to run into them boondocking in the desert next season.

The communities of Carefree, Cave Creek, and old town Scottsdale are known for their art galleries, unique one of a kind shopping venues, art walks, and festivals.¬† It almost makes me want a house again.¬† I’ve always appreciated the arts and find people’s talents almost mind-boggling.¬† I’m amazed by the¬†vision of an artist and awed by the wonderful sculptures and paintings one creates.

If fine art isn’t your thing, stay tuned for a little rough and tumble type of Expo we attended.¬† No arts or crafts involved…. it’s a guy thing!arts and crafts festivalsI’ve managed to do a bunch of¬†previous posts on Phoenix, Arizona.¬† For another¬†post with¬†some¬†different info,¬†click here.¬† AND if you’d like to¬†meet a lot of bloggers all in one place, consider attending the WordPress Event being held in Phoenix on April 18th.¬† Click here for more info on Press Publish.

Kiera Grace Family 10 Openning Collage Frame, 14.5 by 28.5-Inch, With 4 5 by 7-Inch and 6 4 by 6-Inch, Black
Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings: Pick up the skills * Put on the paint * Hang up your art

Dale Chihuly in Denver

As I continued to do more and more research on things to see and do in Denver, Colorado, I came across the Denver Botanic Garden  website and realized they were featuring a Chihuly exhibit.Chihully in Denver

You can’t imagine how excited I became upon this discovery.¬† When we were in Phoenix this past winter, I had every intention of visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.¬† However, my body due to illness had other plans and thus I had to forgo the exhibition.Denver Botanic GardenSo here I am, months later sitting in Denver, and I get to see first hand this gifted artists’ creations.¬†Chihuly blown glass

I was shocked by how many pieces of blown glass were strategically placed throughout the gardens.  The Denver Botanic Garden in and of itself is worth a visit and then add to it the Chihuly blown glass exhibit and this becomes a must see.Chihuly blown glass

Ah, but to entice you further….. the first Monday of the month is free admittance day to the Denver Botanic Garden.¬† Chihuly, flowers, and free?¬†¬† Yes, I was one happy camper ūüôāDenver Botanic Garden

It’s obvious to me that Mr. Chihuly modeled the below¬†glass sculptures after me and my curly hair.¬† Amazing likeness!Chihully in Denver Colorado

Chihully in Denver ColoradoI enjoyed myself so much that I may need to revisit and won’t even mind paying an admittance fee….. it is most definitely worth it.flowers and bees

I leave you with a few more photos of my day.¬† You can never be too rich, too thin, or¬†have too many photos….. eh!Denver Botanic GardenDenver Botanic GardenChihuly glass blowing
Denver Botanic Garden
gardening and art in Denver Colorado
Denver Botanic Garden

Chihuly 2015 Wall Calendar
gc_183444_2 Florene – Decorative II – print of famous chihuly glass art in red – Greeting Cards-12 Greeting Cards with envelopes