Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strolling Goodwin

What a difference one city block can make. Alive with activity every day, Gurley Street is the heart of the city. Walk one block to Goodwin and you're in a quieter world. So it was as I strolled toward the Square. When the drug store is closed of a Sunday, the little shopping center tends to be dead. But not this particular week -- behold the tents and buzz that signify Event. Enough so that I'll do a separate post one of these days.

The big news on Goodwin is that the Fremont Plaza is getting a major make-over. I'll be curious to see what sort of butterfly emerges from the cocooning I saw Sunday.

This quasi-Mediterranean-style structure holds a particular fascination for me because I watched it under construction. Wasn't particularly prepossessing at that time; I called it the Imposing Cardboard Edifice. Reason? Underneath that stucco are walls of made of particle board, a building material I simply can't believe in. Maybe I'm just old fashioned in my preference for brick, stone or plain ordinary concrete block.

In short, I have more faith in the construction of this little building that now houses El Gato Azul. For years, this small concrete block structure sat next the creek -- an obvious prime location just waiting for a restaurant with outdoor patio -- and remained a square white blockhouse with few interesting features until the Blue Cat arrived. Now I can enjoy the rooftop garden in summer.

As I was about to cross the creek, this old-timer passed me and I snapped a picture of his highly decorated walking cane. He's one of the town's fixtures.

Next -- a store at the Old Fire House Plaza dedicated to pampered pets. Even a new local dog magazine! I wonder how these enterprises will fare in the current economy.

Right next door are the new premises for Ian Russell's gallery -- and the digital photography services that Rich will soon offer; I presume that the windows below will give visitors to the Old Firehouse Plaza a good idea of what's going on once work is finished and the curtains are down.

Look what I saw when I turned around to face the street! Remember the rickshaw? It was my luck Sunday to see it in action, operated by neither a studly young hunk as in Scottsdale nor a bent immigrant as I predicted. He seems to be enjoying his scene thus far.

Nearing the Square, I was reminded that blackout curtains in the south windows of the Galloping Goose result in the best reflections I have found in any shops downtown. I couldn't resist taking one more picture; when I turned back toward the street, there below was the corner that's obviously a branch of the local Republican party, to judge from the signs. Note that a realtor's stake is up; so much for that touted multi-function condo building announced with great fanfare a year or so ago.

A final Goodwin Street sight. As a one-time smoker, my sympathies are with the outcast.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mural on Goodwin Street

No, the tree is not in the art, but in front of it! Walking down Goodwin Street to the dog do at the Square Sunday provided an opportune moment to zoom in on the small mural. It's up the hill on the south side, between the Show Business video store and the little chiropractic office. I know nothing of the origin or authorship; not a word has been published though Tombo posted a photo back some months, probably because the art adorns the wall of a private dwelling. The spirals are handsome enough, though I don't understand just what they represent. However, the artist appears to really be into the helix; even his small cacti spin. He must agree with my prime cosmological principle, namely that the spiral is the basic geometry of the universe. Think galaxies, snails and DNA.

Linkage: Over in the UK, Judith set out to locate the sites where, 100 years earlier, her mother-in-law had painted a series of water colors; she describes her pilgrimage in a series of four lovely posts. If you're up to the excitement, view Willow Lake and the Dells from a video camera mounted on a remote control plane. And for owners of felines in particular, Boxelder recommends Simon's Cat; I heartily agree. Finally, here's a follow-up to my recent post about Alaska and its latte shacks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The earliest known rock paintings are dated to the Upper Paleolithic, 40,000 years ago, while the earliest European cave paintings date to 32,000 years ago. So Wikipedia assures us. We aren't doing nearly so well with our public paint jobs, the oldest of which appear to be plain business signs on brick walls. I began this collection while I was visiting in Memphis. It's a city much of whose past is no longer useful and so it sits there, wearing out as it awaits the wrecking ball.
In this one case, an exception was made, incorporating a wee tidbit of history into the waterfront gentrification project. (BTW, I just noticed that the cotton factor owner's name remains barely visible at the top of the renovated building.)

Since we do not really have the remains of any past industry in downtown Prescott, at first, I feared I wouldn't find similar ghosts of our past. Cortez Street proved me wrong! The first sign I discovered was an old Head Hotel ID, visible from the north. Of course, I reasoned, the new owners have not yet bothered to paint over it. Besides, it was only quite recently that the name of the venerable hotel was changed. In any event, I was quite wrong; I suspect it was deliberately retained...

...because I found these other remnants of the past when I lifted my eyes higher than the shop windows on yesterday's walk. In every case, I was looking south along Cortez. The above sign probably referred to Valley Natl. Bank which occupied the building at the NE corner of Gurley and Cortez until 1957. As for the Prescott Hotel (below), never heard of it. However, it's pretty obvious that these painted signs have been deliberately preserved. Does anyone know of other such ghosts around the downtown area?

There is one more ghost of Prescott past just east of the Sullivan Lake dam. Too bad we lost the railroad. According to information that Marc Pearsall compiled in 2007 while working for the Arizona Department of Transportation, the railroad offered to sell the entire 28-mile Prescott Branch line, with rolling stock and locomotives, to the community for about $700,000, but the city could not come up with the money. So reports the Prescott Courier. Ah, if only we had known then what we know now, we would have one less ghost.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The last roses of summer...

Don't just sit there this afternoon! Get out of your house. Mosey on over to the Sharlot Hall Museum grounds and...

...smell the roses. I was there today and the rose garden is gorgeous! It is now fall, the air is slightly crisp, the plants are all very, very happy.

I say that as one who never was and never will be a rosarian. By me, roses require more time and dedication than I'm willing to devote. Quite happy, I am, to leave the work part of rose care up to the gardeners at the museum grounds.

I'm quite happy to simply admire the many colors and forms.

But one of these days soon we'll be visited by frost. The time to see the rose garden is now!

Hope I see you there!

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Alternative" transportation

Mind you, I use the term alternative with some trepidation. It's a term that carries a lot of political baggage and I really don't want you to think that I have turned PC on you. On the other hand, what I'm showing here tonight are certainly alternatives to the automobile. You be the judge. You decide, too, if you'd want to shop for groceries on a rainy day in one of these vehicles.

Is it a dune buggy or is it some other type of contraption? I thought that dune buggies rode on bigger, puffier tires, but maybe this plain pipe racks unit is designed for a different sort of tough terrain. Definitely for the outdoorsy driver and/or passenger.

Now, scooters are definitely in play these days of high gas prices. I'd say that featuring one in a fashion shop show window is truly a sign that Vespas and their kin are an accepted mode of transportation.

In fact, my recent walk down Miller Valley provided an opportunity for a close-up examination at Scooter & Auto Source, right next to Chuy's. The little green fellow was especially cute, though I wouldn't ride him on highway or byway where I might meet up with louts in a high-clearance, high-volume pick-up.

Many of the scooters here are battery-powered plug-ins. No stop at a gas station required. And. You can even buy your scooter decorated with Flames, woo-hoo!

As I was photographing his assorted vehicles, Mark Tetreau, the proprietor, offered to take my picture. How could I refuse! Of course, I selected the scooter that bore the most resemblance to a hog!

People-powered modes of transportation, namely bikes, are very popular here in Prescott, even though persuading the city fathers to establish bike lanes on major thoroughfares appears to be a lost cause. Too bad. I know that it's illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, but I'd be scared to venture out on one of our streets.

However, seeing this particular alternative on Cortez Street this afternoon gave me pause. It smacks of Third World, it does. In my mind's eye, I can envision fleets of bike-taxis full of touristas on our streets, pedaled by illegals (because no Muricans would stoop to such employment). Tell me it isn't so!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Underfoot along Summit

Question: what do we have lots of that's suitable for landscaping Prescott. Water is definitely not the answer. Which might explain all those rocky median strips next such streets as Summit where I took this handful of pictures recently. Quite fascinating, the variety.

This wildly patterned large stone sat in the midst of other, smaller chunks of similar schist.

While a lone quartz stone was a highlight amonst these darker rocks.

Sacred Heart sits well above street level; the slope landscaping uses sandstone in different sizes and shades of red.

Volcanics are popular, in part because of the color but also because, frankly, they are full of air bubbles and thus don't weigh nearly as much as other landscape rocks. You'll see a lot of "boulders" down in Sun City that are easy for an old-timer like me to heft; yes, they originated in certain types of volcanic explosions.

This is a more work-a-day gravel for parking spaces. Not nearly as bright or big as the other ground covering stones. Of course, all these spaces need to be carefully covered with black plastic tarps before dumping and arranging the rocks. Look what happens if you don't (below); Life has a way of finding every possible niche to make a home.

Now, if I may be permitted a bit of cynicism: I seriously doubt that folk (or institutions) are trying to save water when they landscape with stone. I'm sure they expect, instead, a carefree, permanent arrangement that is sufficiently unpleasant underfoot to discourage kids from rough housing or walked dogs from pooping. Almost the only maintenance needed is a blower to remove autumn's crop of leaves. Until. One day, a crack develops in that black tarp and Life reasserts itself. As pesky as it can be, I vote on the side of Life!
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