A familiar sign
The flag was at half-staff because of Nancy Reagan.
Cutest mascot with the cutest expression ever
I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, going to a Cubs spring training game would’ve been on it. However, I’ve only been in Arizona maybe four times in my life and none of those have been during spring training.
Until this year … We didn’t go out of our way to work it out, but our visits at the Phoenix churches just happened to be during the same time as spring training. We had a church visit in the morning and another one at night – but were able to get to Mesa for the game.
A thanks to Cindy because although she is a big A’s fan, she made the sacrifice to go with me.
Sloan field (named so romantically after the Sloan Valve Company) is the largest of all the Cactus League parks with seating for approximately 15,000. The day we were there, the attendance was 15,300. Tickets for the Cub games are also the most difficult to get – so you need to order them early.
The park is has a touch of Wrigley Field in its designe, which is very cool (although instead of rooftop seating, Sloan has grass sitting.) We bypassed the grass and sat along overlooking left field – right at the fence. The players are not accessible – though I guess if you know exactly where to stand when, you can get autographs – but you’re talking a fairly major park here.
The announcer welcomed us:
It’s a beautiful 64 degrees for today’s ballgame! And in Chicago it’s a beautiful 66 degrees!
But the day was baseball-playing perfect!
Cubs loss, but even that was ok. The game didn’t count and it was all rather glorious.
I don’t usually have the opportunity to hike through a desert, but that sunny afternoon in early March was absolutely perfect desert-hiking weather.
We headed to the outskirts of Phoenix to the Sonoran Desert Preserve. We didn’t have a lot of time, but time enough to wander up the hillside through the blooming brittlebush and saguaro. Each cactus seemed to have a different personality as they stood guard over the park.
Cindy’s favorite were the cholla cactus (also known as the teddy bear). Their spikes glistened in the afternoon sun, illuminating them against the royal blue sky.
The first thing we saw as we started up the path was a lady on a horse, adding to the old west panorama (though I don’t think old west cowboys/girls wore helmets.)
I am intrigued at all the different landscapes – even in our own country. Each has a different type of beauty and is breathtaking in its own way. I think that’s why I love to travel so much – to think God created this all for us to enjoy.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
Spring has come to the desert
Horse and rider
Cholla or teddy bear cactus
Phoenix in the distance
Me by a saguaro cactus
A blooming brittlebush
Cindy standing by a saguaro
Cactus on a Hill
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.
The desk where J. R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit
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).
The Wardrobe, carved by Lewis’ grandfather in Belfast and then taken Lewis’ home in Oxford … and eventually to Wheaton.
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.
So no park, but we did see a lot of Joshua trees.