TOUR OF THE ROCKIES SIERRA NEVADAS, GRAND TETONS – TOC

Our Tour of the Rockies road trip was inspired by the sizzling Arizona summer heat. Or more precisely, trying to get away from it. After 3 months of 105F to 115F weather, and barely three cooler monsoon days in between, we decided to head straight north into presumably cooler mountain areas - all the way to Canada. Alas, that was not to be. Hot weather and smokey haze generated by widespread forest fires in the western states, stayed with us all the way to Wyoming. That's where and when we decided to change our plans and do a turn-about-face. Instead of a Tour of the Rockies, our trip became a Tour of the Grand Tetons and the Sierra Nevadas.

EUROPE 2017: THE GRANDEST OF THE GRAND TRIPS

The idea about this entire trip was conceived last fall (2016) as a possible cruise down Europe’s longest river. When that did not pan out, Placido Domingo’s AIDA became the magnet that drew us to Vienna. Spending some quality time with my family there was an extra special bonus. And then when we sold my Rainbow Shower property in Maui, having worked like slaves for a month to make it happen, Elizabeth and I decided to go on this European trip and take this “cruise on 4 wheels” as our “reward” for all the hard work. We have traveled around the world many times in the last 9 years. And all of those trips were wonderful in their own way. But this month we have spent in Europe is not only the longest but also the grandest of them all.

NEW YORK, PRINCETON… BUT MOSTLY “AIDA”

The main reason for this short trip is the performance of AIDA at the Metropolitan Opera. This is something I had been planning long before we left Maui. And now it is coming to fruition. We are finally going to see the "grandest of the grand operas" performed by one of the world's top opera companies.

RETURN TO AUSTRALIA: BRISBANE, PERTH, DUNSBOROUGH, SYDNEY

RETURN TO MY FIRST YIN HOME - THE BOLT HOLE, DUNSBOROUGH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA     TABLE OF CONTENTS   Feb 8 - AUSTRALIA, HERE WE COME! Feb 11 - TOURING BRISBANE ON FOOT... TILL IT HURT! Cyclone Marcia Wreaks Havoc Nine Days Later [updated Feb 20] Feb 12-13 - CHIME & RHYME IN DOWNTOWN PERTH; BIKE RIDE AROUND SWAN RIVER ESTUARY Feb …

BEETHOVEN’S NINTH AND WILLIAMS’ TALLIS FANTASIA

Last night, Elizabeth and I attended a marvelous performance by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and of Vaughn Williams' Tallis Fantasia at the Mesa Arts Center. The program was a perfect combination of mellow, dreamy and pastoral English composer's "fantasia," and the deeply moving and spiritual "Ode to Joy", arguably the greatest piece of music ever written.

OUR WEEKEND IN TUCSON, TOMBSTONE AND BISBEE: LOTS OF ACTION AND FUN

Part 1: A Disappointing Play Our weekend in Tucson, Tombstone and Bisbee was originally inspired by a play staged by the University of Arizona performing arts students and graduates. In the past years, we had enjoyed a number of good shows there on the Tornabene Theater stage, Not this time. The play "Tigers Be Still" …

SEDONA: BEAUTIFUL MORNING HIKE IN RED ROCK COUNTRY

This is the last day of our trip. We are already home, meaning in Arizona. And nature may have said the best for last on our 3,000-mile journey through the American West. Or not. Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as Elizabeth remarked this morning on our 2.5 hour-hike on the Hiline trail. And what a hike it was! Take a look at these panorama shots first we took from the trail. I have not been hiking much this summer due to excessive and prolonged heat in and around our home in Scottsdale. Elizabeth had not done it all until yesterday (at the Walnut Canyon) and today in Sedona. So what had been a fairly easy trail for us in the past, turned into a challenge this morning.

HEART FLUTTER AFTER REENTERING ARIZONA, HIKING IN WALNUT CANYON TO 900-YR OLD CLIFF DWELLINGS

When we crossed the border between Nevada and Arizona after driving over the Hoover Dam, my heart fluttered for joy. "We are home again," I said to Elizabeth. "And my heart knows it." I then told her about the same warm feeling in my heart when I returned to Arizona 16 years ago, in September 2011, after cruising through 10 western states right after 9/11. During our drive on the I-40 toward Flagstaff, Elizabeth suggested we make a side excursion to the Walnut Canyon. She remembered visiting there 17-18 years ago the ancient Indian cliff dwellings from the 12th century.  It was a great idea and a fun detour on our route to Sedona, our final destination for tonight. Even though Arizona has been my home for three and half decades, I had never been there before.

LEAVING SIERRA NEVADAS, SEEKING “LOVE” IN “SIN CITY”

After two wonderful days at Mammoth Lakes, Elizabeth and I continued out journey south. Our ultimate destination was Las Vegas, Nevada. But for the first couple of hours of our drive, we paralleled the southeast Sierra Nevadas. SEEKING "LOVE" IN "SIN CITY" Those who know me well, also know that I hate Las Vegas with a passion. The city's real name should be Sin City. It stands the worst of the US traits... greed, love of money, belief in a free lunch, porn etc. But Las Vegas has one redeeming feature. Occasionally, the casinos put on good shows, like tonight's performance of the acclaimed musical - The Beatles LOVE: Legendary Musical | Cirque du Soleil​ at the Mirage (see https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/beatles-love).