Thursday, August 22, 2013

Traveler at Home: Scottish Rite Temple

A Santa Fe Landmark, the Scottish Rite Temple
Last week I had an opportunity to go on a tour of the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe with a MeetUp group. I hadn't done anything with that group before, and was impressed that they'd managed to finagle a private tour. I have always been under the impression that the Temple was super secret and nobody was ever allowed inside unless they were Masons.

Wrong on many accounts.

The temple is often the location for weddings, dance parties, tango classes and other activities that require a large hall with a good finished wood floor. The hall is both dining room and dance floor. And hanging from the ceiling are three chandeliers created and donated by Charles Lewis Tiffany, a long time Mason who had come to New Mexico for his health. According to our guide, the three lamps are worth more than the entire building.

At right angles to the hall is the largest open air kitchen in the state of New Mexico. The kitchen is not as large as the one at the state pen, but that one is organized into several rooms. This is the largest single room kitchen. Three enormous coffee urns, fired by giant gas burners were among many large devices designed for cooking and serving up to 1400 people at one meal.

The temple is used by the Masons for morality plays. In the large auditorium there is a grand piano, many wonderful material backgrounds rolled up in the space above the stage, and some lovely paintings of the Alhambra in Spain, the inspiration for the bright pink building.

Backstage was the costume room with beautiful embroidered robes in glass cases. They looked like they were one-size-fits-all.....and probably were since they are used over and over by many different sizes of men.
Tiffany chandelier

The center courtyard, a feature that vaguely resembles the real Alhambra, was filled with flowers and was quite striking with the pink stucco, bright white clouds, and deep blue Santa Fe sky.

The Scottish Rite Temple is quite a landmark, and now, not such a secretive one. It was a pleasure to see it from the inside out.

Inside the large auditorium

Nicely landscaped courtyard

Painting of the Alhambra

View of the stage

Costumes in the wardrobe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Capture the Color

For the last couple of years there has been a photo contest for travel bloggers. The contestants are asked to publish, on their own travel blogs, photos embracing each of the five colors: Red, White, Blue, Yellow, and Green.  I thought I might have a small chance of winning, so I'd like to submit the following photos with captions of where they were taken, and the year.

Wish me luck!!

Yellow:  Sunset on an old building in San Cristóbal
de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. February 2013

Red:  A little cliff-side café in Ortahisar,
Capadoccia, Turkey, October 2012

Green:  Iceberg in teal waters, near Nome Alaska,
July 2009

White:  14 year old Nazil with pet chicken, his grandmother & mother,
 in the tufa cave town of Ortahisar, Capadoccia, Turkey,
October 2012

Blue:  Sound reflective sculpture in the International
Terminal at DFW airport, Dallas, TX  February 2013

White: Marble figures in the Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
December 2012

Red:  Gondola in Venice, Italy
December 2012

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Short Flight

I've always been a fan of risk-takers, people who put their money on the line in the hopes of making a product or offering a service that will pay back their investment with great profits.

So I've tried, as often as possible, to support those businesses when I can.

A new air shuttle service exists between Los Alamos, NM, and Albuquerque's Sunport. The airline has small planes that seat about 9 or 10 passengers, and each plane has two experienced pilots.

Patty and I, on the trip back from Mexico, ended up stranded in Dallas thanks to summer thunderstorms. We had to spend the night and arrived the next afternoon in Albuquerque. We decided to take the little shuttle rather than spend three or four more hours waiting around for buses, trains, or friends to come pick us up.

The cost was just under $50 each for the one-way trip, and boy what a trip it was!

First, there was  no security, we just went to the desk and checked in. The luggage was weighed, and we were asked to give our weight too. (How embarrassing!). Then the pilots figured out where each of us should sit inside the plane to keep the weight balanced. I noticed the heaviest people were put in the back. I sat in a single seat and the woman seated across from me weighed about as much as I did.

The plane was a single engine and small. Seat belts were tight across the lap and had hard tight shoulder straps. After the bumpy liftoff into cloudy skies that threatened rain, I was thrilled they were tight.

We bounced and rose up through turbulence until, at around 11,000 feet, the plane leveled off and quit jerking up and down. From up there, we could see the colorful New Mexico landscape as I'd never seen it before.

For 30 years I've driven over what I was seeing below, and at no time did I ever guess that the hills along the freeway shielded the view of deep red exposed sandstone. There were ridges, hills, open swaths of denuded land flanked by piñon trees that looked like round green balls, mining operations, and caliche cliffs. It was gorgeous!

I wished I had my Cannon 40D with the lens that adjusts for movement, because the pics I snapped were blurry no matter how hard I tried to hold everything still. The plane simple vibrated too much.

Initially I was terrified but after a safe landing with such calm and professional pilots, I will travel to Albuquerque's airport this way from now on. A two hour drive reduced to twenty minutes just can't be beat for that price.