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Photographic Vignettes # 23

I went to a wedding over the weekend at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.  I admit I’ve always had a particular fascination with churches and cemeteries, and I have a great deal of affection for the local cathedral.  For one thing, despite having a super traditional looking neo-Gothic style, the interior is far more colorful and cheery than you might expect.

I also have a good deal of nostalgia and sentiment attached to the building; my cousin was in the choir for years, so much of my childhood was filled with concerts there.  In high school, I gave a concert there.  A close friend once played a mild prank on me by timing our climb of the bell towers such that we were right above the bells when they chimed the hour.  I thought I was going to fall to my death.

A cathedral wedding is far too big for my taste, but it was nice enough.  They even opted for a simpler service that didn’t include a full mass, which was nice.  There was a big gap between the wedding and reception which was awkward, but there was a lovely view of the sunset to make up for it.

Western Tower


Gothic Exterior

Wide Interior Shot

Column and Ceiling

Sycamore Lined South Temple

Sunset from Rice Eccles Stadium

Photographic Vignettes # 20

I’ve been very fortunate in that as I was growing up, my mom’s flight benefits allowed us to be able to afford travel that would otherwise have been far beyond our reach financially.  When you’re paying for taxes on airfare, but not the actual ticket cost, renting a car and spending frugally makes traveling through Europe similar to traveling in the U.S.

Thrack has only gone on one trip with us (my ticket price for standby tickets is significantly higher as an adult, also, I’m poor), but it was a wonderful trip.  France is quite lovely itself, but the food was unbelievable.  We covered much more ground than we usually do on a trip of this type specifically because I feared it would not soon be repeated.

We generally try to avoid tourist traps, but in Carcassonne, we kind of broke this rule.  We stayed inside the fortified town itself and strolled the (relatively recently repaired) walls; it was like going back in time. 

View of Fortified City

Walking the Walls 1

Walking the Walls 2

Walking the Walls 3

Walking the Walls 4

Walking the Walls 5

Walking the Walls 6

Walking the Walls 7

Photographic Vignettes # 19

There is a little visited national monument at the corner of Utah’s boundaries that lies more or less due East from Mesa Verde called Hovenweep.  Unlike when you visit more accessible places like Natural Bridges, you are granted much greater quiet and solitude.  When we walked the rim of the Little Ruin Canyon (the most accessible of the five village ruins), we didn’t see another soul.

The ancient stone masons’ work, though no longer maintained and ruined, shows great skill, matching pitch and curve to fit the stones around them, and in the case of Boulder House, inside a giant eroded stone.

Stronghold House Wall in Foreground, Boulder House in Rear

Twin Towers

Boulder House

Thrack and Unit Type House

Unit Type House

Hovenweep Castle

End of box canyon and Square Tower

View from box canyon's end

Photographic Vignettes # 18

Even now, textbooks that talk about the West discuss it in very ethnocentric terms.  Native tribes, past and present, are generally given token handwaves, while the primary focus is on the exact dates and names of the white invaders.  Many other places in the United States are left with little trace of the tribes that used to call those areas home.  We have lots, even of ancestral puebloan peoples that left long before Europeans began their incursions here.

Intact Entrance

Excavated Kiva

For a long time, the people who lived here were mostly called Anasazi.  But that name doesn’t make a lot of of sense, as it is Navajo for “enemy ancestors.”  Some of their abandoned places are simply empty, while others show signs of being burned before the people left.  It’s still a great mystery why so many structures are abandoned.

Unprotected ruined walls

There and Back Again: Our Roadtrip to SoCal

This is very, very late and I’m sorry.  But I can only say this: it’s over five thousand words.  It includes pictures and cute videos of dogs at the beach.  Feel free to skim as necessary.  I’m putting it up anyway, because I don’t want to have the specter of this monster hanging over future postings.

My Parent's Birds, Mango and Bobber

My cousin got married during the first Weekend in May. And while we were trying to decide on plans to get down and back, we realized that while we had people lined up to watch our pets, my mom had no one to watch her dog. So after checking with my aunt & Grams, we decided to drive down to California with our Midna and my mom’s Bonnie Lass, while an aunt and uncle here in Salt Lake looked after our three collective conures.

Since Salt Lake to Yorba Linda is a long damned drive in one stretch, we opted for a stopover at a really reasonably priced casino in Mequite, NV, that not only accepted pets, but didn’t charge a big fee to have them stay in the room. Two 5 hour (ish) drives is much better than trying to drive straight through, especially when you consider having to pack up, feed/water, potty-break two dogs.

Midna and Bonnie on the Drive

I don’t think either dog had ever been on a long drive before, but my mom’s dog is a much more confident traveler.  Midna it turns out is okay with maybe one long drive between houses she’s staying at, but refuses to eat or poop if you stop over through hotels and the like. She gets quite stressed, and is even pretty hesitant to drink water in the car. We’ve also discovered a whole new set of weird neuroses involving grass. Or rather the need for grass before a she can actually relieve herself. We tried and failed during potty breaks in the desert area behind the hotel room to get Midna to even pee, no matter how long we let her wander or sniff. We even went further away from the area immediately next to the hotel and let her off leash in case that was the problem. It wasn’t. Our solution was to make sure we stopped by a little park maybe half a mile away so she could do her business, but we now know our dog is crazy. Well, crazy in a whole new and exciting way, I guess.

The beginning of May seems to be a nice time to travel through the desert.  With all the rain, we saw blossoms all over, including this very pretty white flower that is much bigger than most the small scrubbish stuff that blooms in the spring.  I have no idea what it is, but they were everywhere on the trip down to California.

Mystery White Flower

We also learned a lesson about this particular hotel and the way that noise and footsteps are magnified through the ceiling above. While I’d definitely stay here as stopover again, I will definitely ask for an upper level room (Midna’s stair anxiety notwithstanding). We didn’t sleep especially well the first night we stayed at the hotel (on the SLC-SoCal leg of the trip) because the dogs took a long time getting used to unexpected noises above them. Lots and lots of growling and barking, mainly on the part of my mom’s beagle. It was a little frustrating and I was a bit irritable the next day.

Bonnie in the Park in Mesquite

May I just take a moment to complain about California drivers? Now people tend to rag on the drivers wherever they live (while assuming they are one of the few good ones) and that’s more or less just human nature.  But I swear, driving in California makes me 10,000 times as anxious and uncomfortable as driving anywhere else I have because they don’t actually behave predictably.  After years of spending childhood summers there, and now having driven there as an adult, I have come to one unifying idea about drivers in California: they do what seems most expedient for them personally without taking anyone else around them into considerations.  It makes for some stress-inducing driving.  It comes into play pretty soon after crossing the border, from what I’ve seen, so I believe there is some sort of bizarre social dynamic at work in training drivers within the state of California that produces scary fucking car operators.

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Great Architecture, New Architecture and Good Food

Thrack and I went to the new Whole Foods store at Trolley Square finally.  I was very impressed, but I’ll get to that part later, because now that I’ve actually been inside the building, I want to talk about the redevelopment too.  If you do not care about buildings because architecture/old stuff is boring and stupid and I’m a crazy person (very possible), just skip down to where I’ve bolded a heading about the food itself.

When I first heard about the decision to put in a really large Whole Foods at the historic Trolley Square, I was a little concerned about the impact on the mall, but I was more confused about how the company would manage the difficulty of having two stores much too close together.  To be fair, it wasn’t on purpose, but they signed on to put in the new building at Trolley just before they acquired the Wild Oats company, which operated a store just North of the location.  Everything I had heard was that the smaller store lease was a long-term ground lease that the landlord was opposed to buying out early.  But as it turned out, they were finally able to terminate the lease on the smaller store as they opened the new location (wondering how much the lease buyout was).

For those who don’t live here in Salt Lake, the little mall at Trolley Square is a charming local redevelopment of the beautiful old trolley barns in downtown.  It’s one of the redevelopments of older buildings in Salt Lake that I’m very grateful for, because it makes for a quirky shopping center with a great sense of history; malls so often feel generic and impersonal and Trolley Square is anything but that.  One thing I had always loved was how some tenants of the mall really embraced the whole concept of the property.  It’s closed now, but there was a little tavern that operated within a trolley car parked outside; and the Old Spaghetti Factory has an old trolley car in the restaurant for themed seating as well.  The Simon Malls Property Group picked the property up ages ago and has put funds into the infrastructure in recent years, most importantly the parking, which had always been a bit tricky.

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