Fall Foliage – the Golden Aspens

Hello friends! Long time no speak. I’m sad to say that my travels have recently been…bleak. Arizona is just too hot to do anything outdoors, I’m afraid. I have, however, been to my fair share of (highly air conditioned) driving excursions—which is what I’d love to share with you today. ( I am skipping the part about the shopping malls I have been to.)

People think that New England is the only place to find fall colors, that Massachusetts fall foliage and Vermont fall foliage are the only places where the trees turn majestic colors to welcome in the new season. Well, those people could not be more wrong! Beautiful fall colors can sneak up on you just about anywhere where there are trees, and sometimes as early as August. Just the other day I saw a lovely maple changing. Arizona and New Mexico fall foliage is absolutely stunning. I plan on driving out the forests around Santa Fe at the end of September when maples really are at their peak. And I’m not going to get a chance this fall, but a few years ago I drove up to southern Colorado and fall foliage in Colorado, against the blue mountains and blue streams, are the image of perfection.

So I’m not knocking Catskills fall foliage or  New England fall foliage or the colors of other northeast towns that become completely covered with oranges, golds, and deep reds—I’m just saying that you shouldn’t forget about the changing colors of the southwest! If you happen to be in Arizona this fall, give me a call and I’ll show you what we’ve got to offer!
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Hot Springs Spas in America

Yes, I’m still a little spa crazy, but this time it’s with a new twist. I went on an impromptu weekend getaway with another recently divorced girlfriend (though I guess for me it’s been over a year already – wow.) to the Ojo Caliente Mineral Hot Springs Resort & Spa in New Mexico. I really feel like my first massage was some sort of gateway drug. Now I just can’t get enough and I’m trying more expensive and more intense varieties. So now, not only do I love spas, but I love spas with hot springs on their premises or nearby. What better way to relax both before and after a spa treatment then by soaking in hot mineral waters, sweating out toxins, feeling the cool air whisk around you, and to just feel cuddled up in healthy warmth? Especially as it gets colder out, these hot springs make for fantastic warming up – though when it’s cold outside, it does make it nearly impossible to get out of the pools! So apparently this one in New Mexico is not so unique (though it was spectacular and I highly recommend it). There are hot springs spas all over the country. It is a genre of relaxation that you must try! Here are the ones I could find:

Enjoy!
Martha
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Christmas in Albuquerque

I have a daughter, Janet, with whom I’ve been mostly out of touch for the last five or six years. It is a long and painful story, which is now in the past and I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy have plagued me (and her too, it turns out), and this holiday season, we made our amends and spent some time together. It was intense, emotional, and very special, to say the least. The best part of it all, is that I saw my six year old grandson, Shane, who I had only met once.

Janet lives in Albuquerque, so it was fun to travel around a new city, take Shane to some parks and museums, and do a little roadtripping on the way there and back, while I was at it.

Shane’s favorite place by far was the American International Rattlesnake Museum. It wasn’t his first time there either. Apparently it’s a popular spot among the six year old boys… though, I must say, less so with the 60 year old women…eek! I also took him to the Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum, which was much more my speed.

Probably the highlight of our trip was riding the Galaxi Roller Coaster at Cliff’s Amusement Park. I’ve never been so scared in all my life, but seeing Shane’s excitement made it all worth it.

Janet is a historian, so found a babysitter one day for Shane and took me to some of her favorite sites, including the Pueblo Cultural Center and the Turquoise Museum (which I LOVED), and had lunch at a nearby reservation where she’s got a few friends.

It all went by so fast, like a dream. There were certain moments, like when Janet and I stayed up late talking over a cup of tea, one single woman to the other, where I literally had to pinch myself. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and this Christmas we each gave each other the gift of forgiveness and family.

I wish the same to all of you and a wonderful holiday season,
Martha
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Arizona’s changing scenery

While fall foliage is perhaps most well-known in New England, that’s not to say that those who live out in the southwestern more desert-y areas of the country are left without beautiful fall colors. And while Phoenix is still unbearably hot for the most, I’m filled with hope (and prayer!) that soon the heat breaks, the cool winds come, and the leaves on the trees start to turn their majestic hues of reds, yellows, and browns. Here are some great places to soak up the best of Autumn in Arizona:

Maybe in a few weeks it’ll be cool enough to venture out for a day hike…in the meantime, stick to your air conditioned car and go for some scenic drives through these areas. Enjoy! Happy Fall!

Martha
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Phoenix is TOO HOT!

It is just so so hot in Phoenix that my time off from work is rarely spent outside beyond the short walk to my car. So I’ve compiled a list of great air conditioned spots to hang out in Phoenix. Drink lots of water and have fun!

  • Metrocenter is a great mall in Phoenix. I usually head straight to Macy’s with my coupons or to Bath & Body Works where I always spend too much time and money. When I go with a girlfriend, Ruby Tuesdays and the movie theater are generally on the list.
  • Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa – I’ve mentioned this one before and now I’ve finally gone and checked it out…WOW! I’ve become a spoiled spa goer!
  • Phoenix Art Museum is another great indoor spot. This is a huge museum with a great collection, and a nice café.
  • Arizone Science Center – I’m not such a science museum goer, but this does happen to be a very good one so I’m putting it on the list.
  • Heard Museum – A unique collection of Native American art. This is a great place for visitors (but who would visit Phoenix in the summer??) because it truly epitomizes the southwester spirit. Definitely go to the café while you’re there.
  • Paradise Valley Mall is another great mall (again with a Ruby T’s) and provides good solace from the heat. And I’ve been known to drop by their morning walking club…
  • Cerreta Candy Company is a unique place to head when you need a change of scenery. A great place to bring kids, this candy factory offers free tours Sundays through Thursdays. Watching the chocolate flow is just mouth-watering.

Stay cool!
Martha
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Top Luxury Resort Spas in the U.S.

I was afraid this might happen. Ever since my first massage at the Mirage Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, and then my subsequent spa treatments at the Avalon Hotel & Spa in Portland, I’ve been ACHING for more! I want another hot stone massage and I think I’d benefit from a facial a week. And my hands would look so much nicer if I just took care of them. I don’t want to indulge too much, but I think at my age, after spending and saving so conservatively for 60 years, I should not feel guilty at the occasional indulgence. Now I just need to figure out what “occasional” really means. Once a week? Month? Year? I’m thinking month.

Fodors lists these ten spas as the 10 Top Luxury Resort Spas:

Well, I think it would be unreasonable to visit all of these spots, but at the very least…I’m calling the Arizona Biltmore right now to make this month’s appointment! Does anyone have any other recommendations in the greater Phoenix area?
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Top Ten Summer Picnic Spots

I came across this article about Memorial Day picnic spots, and since I sort of missed Memorial Day this year (I was on the road), and since there’s no rule that you can’t picnic after Memorial Day (on the contrary), I figured I’d post the Top Ten Picnic Spots now, for the summer.

Just so happens that the first three (of ten!) spots are in my homestate, two of them just south of Phoenix, Arizona and therefore, quite easy for me to get to!

Next on the list is 90 miles north of Phoenix in Sedona, Arizona:

And here are the rest:

So pack and picnic and enjoy the sun! Maybe I’ll see you in Tempe!
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