Last Day in Phoenix

My last day in Phoenix got rained out, but the rain was a welcome reprieve from the heat. I’m sure the locals would agree.

I will have to visit Phoenix again one day soon, during the winter months, when I have more time to plan and more things will be open.

But, to make the most of the day, I decided to go out anyway. I did not go out for very long; the rental car that I was driving was very small and I’m nervous about driving in the rain in foreign places. In Houston, where I live, it floods a lot, so I am always concerned about street flooding, no matter where I am.

To start the day, I decided to go out of the way to get lunch. I ended up at the In and Out Burger, a place that I’ve heard a lot about!

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I cannot recommend the In N Out burger, though. The menu is very limited and the burger wasn’t that great. Perhaps there’s something that I am missing? Maybe that’s the fun of it, having fewer choices and eating a small burger? I’m not sure. Like the media ¬†always does, I’ll blame the hype of this establishment on the millenials. Sorry Millenials. Ha, ha, just kidding. No, seriously, what’s so great about this place? The bun didn’t even have sesame seeds on it. A disgrace!

The rest of the day, I just drove around, somewhat randomly, taking photos and looking at things along the highways.

Whatever this thing was, it was the highlight of my drive. I had never seen anything like this. It is a, ummm, I have no idea. It’s like a very large hill, but the sides have big holes. It’s like Swiss cheese had a baby with a mountain, or something like that. Perhaps I should Google it and get a proper name for it. Whatever it was, it was majestic and very, very interesting!

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The most surprising thing about Phoenix was the architecture. I really liked how lots and lots of the buildings were one story; many had flat roofs. Then, there were these really, really interesting buildings, like this apartment building, that kind of shot up along the roads. Many of the newer apartment buildings were, what’s a good word…fantastical! Very interesting designs, colors, shapes, etc. And, I love how the folks in Phoenix incorporate greenery into the landscape in interesting ways. This was an apartment building in Scottsdale, which isn’t very fair from downtown Phoenix. Look at those bright red patios and hanging plants over every balcony! GORGEOUS.

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This is the shirt I wore to drive around. It’s a glitter skull. I was going to wear it to the John Mayer concert and look super cool, but I found the other shirt and wore that one instead.

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The photo below will only be humorous to the folks in my hometown of Shreveport. I saw this place, named Kokopeli’s and laughed out loud. In my hometown, Kokopeli’s is a very rowdy and often times fatally violent night club. To see this quaint little gift shop baring the same name was like an inside joke that I shared with myself.

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I saw these horse sculptures while riding around in Scottsdale.

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This video shows a short detour that I took through a residential area. Look at the short houses and the really, really nice roads. I also found Phoenix to be very, very clean!

This video shows more of the very nice and well kept roads in Phoenix.

 

And on to my last Phoenix related story!

Take a look at these two gentlemen.

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These two probably nice, but definitely ANNOYING gentlemen were in front of me at the airport. Goodness!

These two guys were German, and I think they came to Phoenix to buy every, single used electronic item in the whole damn city.

Do you know how nowadays you have to take out your “larger than an iPhone” electronics and place each one in a separate bin? These guys used probably 10 different bins, I’m not kidding. They very methodically took out every, single, damn, item, oh, my, GOD.

I am glad that I’m usually at the airport very early; I was able to wait behind these guys and still have time to eat a salad and walk leisurely to the gate and make a restroom stop before boarding started.

Also, these two guys also had two of their bags searched. I also had my roller, carry on luggage searched because I had found some super discounted bath bombs at Ross and purchased them. They were only $2! But, they set off the TSA agents, so I had to be searched. When the guy asked me what they were, I had the intelligence and common sense to call them “bath soaps” instead of “bath bombs”, because, well, you know, I was in an airport. I would probably be in a holding cell right now if I had made that mistake.

The flight home was better than the one going there, except for the terrible landing and quite a bit of turbulence. It’s 9 hours later and I still feel queasy, but I’m glad to be back home.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures in Phoenix.

Until next time, my friends…

Summer Time in the City

It’s Tuesday in Phoenix!

It’s also the first day of August!

Do you know what those things mean? They mean that it’s still hot as hell in Phoenix! NEWS FLASH, uhh, not!

After an eventful day of traveling and site seeing, I slept like the dead last night. My body is also on Houston time, two hours ahead. So, at around 7:30 pm, I was thinking, “Gosh, when will the sun go down?!”

Oh, I forgot to write about the expensive, but tasty, dinner I had last night. I had a turkey burger from the hotel restaurant, which is called “The Blue Hound.” It’s some kind of chic and swank place; I know this because I looked at the full menu online. My guilty pleasure of staying in a hotel room is ROOM SERVICE. I know that it is overpriced, but how often do I get to ring some friendly person up and they have the food delivered to my bedroom? Then, I can eat the food, in the bed, knowing that the bed will be re-made in the morning, by someone else? There’s simply nothing like room service.

Here’s a photo of the delicious food from last night:

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I had a turkey burger with fries, unsweetened iced tea, free tap water (the water in the background in the bottle cost $8, which is why I am celebrating the free water in the glass), and a strawberry trifle. The strawberry trifle was surprisingly good, but not as surprisingly good as the turkey burger. It was flavorful and beautifully presented.

The other thing I failed to mention last night was this creepy bird sculpture. It is about the size of a real bird, and it creeped me out when I first entered the room yesterday. It is some kind of creepy green bird sculpture thing, covered in felt or some such foolishness. This bird is my least part of the room. I hate this bird more than I dislike the Phoenix temperatures.

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This morning, I ordered room service again for breakfast because I was starving. I also had to order some toothpaste, since I forgot mine at home. Both came and were quite satisfactory.

I am not feeling well again today, though, and that’s kind of a bummer. Also, several of the things I wanted to visit, like the Frank Lloyd Wright house Taliesen West, is closed for the summer. I understand why things would be closed during the summer here; the heat is brutal. So, I decided to just go out for a few hours, even though I am not feeling so great.

I first went to Target for some supplies to help with my current ailment.

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Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a BRAND NEW TARGET! Have you ever been into a brand new Target? I haven’t and Target is basically the best place on Earth in my opinion. So, for a Target to be both TARGET and NEW, was basically the best thing ever!

I did not take photos inside the store because I didn’t want to be *that* obnoxious, but it is small and the ceilings are lower than what I am used to. Whenever I travel, it’s always fun to compare things to how things are in Houston, where I live. The saying “everything’s bigger in Texas” is true in lots of cases. This Target was almost what I’d describe as “quaint” when compared to the smallest Target that I know of in Houston. It had all of the essentials I needed for my ailment and a Starbucks, which of course I visited. A drink from Starbucks can cure almost any ailment, right?

When I left the Target, I casually wondered where all the homeless people are. Since it is so hot here, I wondered if there were special places for them to sleep. Where I live in Houston, it is very, very common to see homeless or transient people, so for them to be missing from the “urban landscape” (excuse me if that’s offensive, I have no idea how better to say what I am trying to say) is strange and noticeable for me.

Just as I was leaving the Target, I heard a lot of loud yelling and fussing. I then saw a man, dressed a little shabbily, talking and fussing very loudly with himself. He was making threatening gestures to people as they walked by, but nothing aggressive enough for people to run or even seem really upset by it. Perhaps he’s well known in that area; perhaps it’s just too damn hot to even be afraid of anything. What are you going to do? RUN? In this heat? Hell nall.

That experienced reminded me of home, all of the countless transient or others in need who I see every day. Perhaps some of them need mental health services, perhaps sometimes they’re inebriated. Either way, the guy outside of Target still reminded me of home.

After the Target visit, I decided to go to the Heard Museum. It had very high ratings on YELP and other internet places. On the way there, I took some more photos of the roads. I am obsessed with the roads here and it is fun to compare them to roads in Houston. First, every road that I have driven on has been smooth and pot hole free! That’s a big change from driving on the roads in Houston!

Also, all of the roads I have experienced have such nice trees and other plants planted alongside. I love all of the beautiful angles and photo opportunities the greenery gives as you’re driving along.¬†IMG_6418IMG_6426IMG_6428

 

I also found a cactus and two people riding their bikes, even in this crazy heat!

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I made it to the Heard Museum. It is an art museum and they had a big Frida Kahlo exhibit going on.

Sorry to spoil it here for you, but I did not go inside and see the exhibit. I began to feel even less well while I was there, so I decided to tough it through long enough to go into the shops, get souvenirs for family, and then head out. However, I have to say that there is so much beautiful artwork on the grounds of the museum; I do still feel like I had a great experience there.

Here are some photos I took on the grounds of the museum. I took these photos with my iPhone camera. See if you can notice any quality difference from these and the ones from yesterday, which I took with my DSLR.

REFLECTION POOL AREA

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OUTDOOR SCULPTURES

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MORE SCULPTURES HONORING THE SERVICE OF NATIVE AMERICANS IN UNITED STATES MILITARY ACTION

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MY FAVORITE SCULPTURE; THIS ONE MADE ME HAPPY FOR SOME REASON

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OTHER VIEWS OF THE BEAUTIFUL MUSEUM GROUNDS

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CURIOUS GREEN TREES (have you ever seen a tree this shade of green? I have not; after I noticed these at the museum, I started to see them EVERYWHERE!)

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THE WALL OF PAPER FLOWERS & ME TAKING A SELFIE IN FRONT OF IT

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THIS CURIOUS, YET DELIGHTFUL, ROUND WALKWAY THAT SWIRLS DOWN INTO THE GROUND

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I would take photos of the items I got at the gift shop, but they’re for family and I don’t want to ruin the surprise for them.

Oh, when I was in the museum gift shop, one of the employees asked me if I was there with a large group of women, there to take a jewelry making class.

I said no, and he said, “Oh, I ask because you like somewhat exotic.” In my signature, very dry sense of humor, I replied, “Ahh, I look somewhat exotic because I am. I am not from here. I’m from a far off land known as Texas.” I didn’t laugh or anything; I was still not feeling well, but I can’t really help myself being a little bit of an ass whenever possible.

The teenagers in line behind me whispered, “Did she say TEXAS?” I am not kidding. All of this really happened to me.

The clerk responded, “Well, you ARE VERY EXOTIC!” He said that and let out a very loud chuckle. Since the gift shop was very small, a part of me wished that I had not amused him quite that much. I regretted making him so amused that he felt he needed to laugh so loudly and speak even louder. But, I guess it was ok. When I got back to the hotel, I looked in the mirror and tried to find what on my face made me seem exotic, since I had not spoken at all when the clerk told me I was “exotic.” I should say that I have seen very few Black folks here, but I have seen a few, so surely my race isn’t what made me look exotic to him. I suppose it’ll remain a mystery.

After leaving the museum, I went to Dairy Queen and ordered a salad and fudge sundae. I sat in the car, not wanting to go in and not wanting to order another $30 meal from room service, and ate the salad. It was surprisingly good, the sundae was a little sub-par, since they gave me peanuts instead of pecans and omitted the whipped cream and the cherry. I felt a little jipped, but decided I would enjoy my paltry sundae as best I could.

I listened to the latest episode of “Levar Burton Reads”, my new favorite podcast. If you’re unfamiliar with Levar Burton and/or podcasts in general, I highly recommend his podcast. It’s like having a friend in the car with you, reading you a great story, and who doesn’t want that?

After that, I drove the sad little rental car back to the hotel and wrote this post. Tonight is the John Mayer concert and I am going to rest up a bit before it starts. I’ll be there whether I feel like $1 million dollars or .01 dollars. I am excited!

Stay tuned tomorrow!

 

51st Post and My 5 Minute Gratitude List

Tonight I tried to brainstorm lots of things to write about, but I came up empty handed.

The truth is, like I wrote before, every day isn’t an amazing, crazy adventure, whether you’re living in the town you grew up in or in a very foreign place. Life is what you make of it, but I don’t think we should obligate ourselves to make every day amazing or crazy.

The past year or so has thrown me for a loop; there have been lots of good news and bad news, change, stress, and adjustment for me. To be honest, nowadays, I quite enjoy simple, low stress, no excitement kind of days. Life has given me enough excitement and stress to last me a good long while.

Perhaps, I’m also just getting older. Even though I almost constantly obsess about what I should be doing, my mind and body have grown into a kind of peaceful tiredness. I am rejecting some of the worry that I used to embrace with open arms. I thought worrying was a part of doing. I now understand that it isn’t.

So on days like today, when the most interesting thing I did was iron three shirts (which is totally out of character for me, which is why it was quite interesting), I have learned to be deeply thankful for the nothingness.

But, no one wants to read about nothingness, so I struggled to know what to write about today, until I came across a writing exercise. The writing exercise was to write a list of the things for which you are thankful for 5 minutes. The instructions said to just write and don’t worry about putting the things in an order, or getting to a number. The purpose is simply to be mindful of your gratitude for 5 whole minutes.

So, for today’s post, I will share my 5 Minute Gratitude List and some photos, taken this year, as I peacefully strolled down a street in the Museum District of Houston, Texas. Enjoy!

 

My Gratitude List

Being alive

Being mostly healthy

My hair is growing back

Electricity

Internet access

Medical insurance

Food

Opportunity to learn how to cook different kinds of food over time

Resources to buy tools that make cooking easier, more fun

Sharing my knowledge of cooking and baking with other people

Tea

Soy milk

Air conditioning

Socks for my cold feet at night

Clean drinking water

Always having had access to glasses and/or contact lenses to correct my poor vision

My own computer

The ability to read and write

Cell phones / blogs / ability to communicate easily with friends and family while traveling or at home

A place to go in the States / a home

Friends

Family

My education

My mother and other family members teaching me the value of education

All of my senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, speaking

The opportunity to work with / teach young children

The opportunity to work with / teach young adults and older students

Courage to go against the grain / go against things my peers do or did that do not align with my values

My own mind and set of values

My book collection

My cats

 

 

And…photos from a nice walk in the Museum District.

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Also, this is my fifty first post! WHOO HOOO!

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Learning in Lagos

I remember this thing, I thought to myself, rambling around my office storage closet. I pulled out my DSLR camera and sat down at my desk.

Inspired, I began to look through the tons of cupcake photos that I had taken with it. I purchased it a couple of years ago to get into food photography. At that time, I was beginning to tread lightly on the path to owning a bakery. I am sure that life will lead me back to that path one day; Lagos is just a short diversion.

After learning to manipulate the manual camera settings a little bit, I used to rush home after work to bake and set up my makeshift photo studio on my balcony. My treacherously narrow, but long, little balcony made for a great place to set my white backdrop, an artful arrangement of cupcakes, and perhaps a fork or something photogenic yet utilitarian, you know, to add to the artistic flair of my cupcake photography.

But here, in Lagos, I don’t feel comfortable walking around with a big DSLR camera around my neck. All of the photos I take when I am “out and about” are from a cell phone camera.

So, I decided to take my DSLR camera out to the backyard, which is meticulously manicured several times a week by the company paid gardener, DeCosta.

I searched around the yard for DeCosta, and after I was relatively sure he was either gone for the day or on a break, I began to snap some photos. A few of the things I had learned from figuring out the hard way how to use the camera started to come back to me. I mostly remembered how to manually adjust the ISO settings, but don’t you dare ask me what ISO stands for or anything else that will stretch my memory beyond it’s sorry capacity.

Here are some of my favorite snaps:

  1. The birds of paradise grow in my backyard just like the grass. This is astonishing to me because these flowers are super expensive to buy in the USA. I once received a bouquet of birds of paradise flowers and R hinted that they were quite expensive.

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2) Whatever these little red berry things are, they sure are cute, aren’t they? Should I eat some or make some tea out of some? Nahhhhh, I’m too far from home to have a possible bout with extreme diarrhea or something, so I will just photograph them, pretend that they’re cranberries, and think about turkeys.

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3) Look at how delicate and cute these little flowers are. They look like they were the inspiration for some spring time prints that might end up on a blouse from Ann Taylor or Anthropologie. Oops…now I’m thinking about online shopping in a country where I can’t do any online shopping. Guess I will go back to thinking about how gosh darn cute these little beauties are.

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4) The holy grail of photography: Capturing water movement. I am no where near a professional photographer, but a real professional photographer once told me that you know you’re worth your salt when you can capture a beautiful photo of moving water. I adjusted the ISO settings a bit to get this picture to come out this way. I got so excited that I remembered enough to get the photo to show a little water detail; I became satisfied with my results and happily skipped back into the house to upload the photos. I will try again one day soon, but in the meantime, I am still quite thrilled with how this photo turned out.

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Lastly, the featured photo, at the beginning of this post, was a happy accident. I took the photo when I first exited the house, stepping out from the extremely air conditioned and cooled air of the kitchen into the steamy outdoors of Lagos in the rainy season. Of course, the lenses of both the camera and my eye glasses fogged up immediately. I took a photo anyway, and when I looked at the photo later I thought it looked cool.

Whether you are far away from home or lying on your mother’s couch right now, what things are you learning and relearning?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

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