Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another Saturday Jaunt

For our "tourist" experience today we decided to drive into Phoenix and visit the Capitol Museum.  This lovely building was built in the last years of the 1800's and put into use as the state capitol building in 1901.  It was used continuously until 1964 when the legislature and the governor's office moved into spacious new buildings.  The new Senate is to the left of this picture, and the House of Representatives is to the right.

The original capitol building was turned into the Capitol Museum, and what a good idea that was!  It's a lovely building, with all those beautiful wood floors and the lovely wood trim around doors and windows.

On the first floor there is an extensive display of the battleship, the U.S.S. Arizona, commissioned in 1916, refitted around 1928.  Never served in combat, and was stationed in Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, the "day of infamy," the devastating Japanese attack on the large number of U.S. Naval vessels stationed there.  The Arizona received a direct hit from a large bomb which detonated its fuel and arms storage.  It blew up in a fireball and sank within minutes.  One of the Japanese airmen said it looked like a volcano erupting.

The picture shows a piece of the hull which was later salvaged.  On the screen beside the fragment is a video of a young sailor who survived the attack, though burned over 50% of his body.  There is footage of him as a senior citizen, recalling that horrific day.  Well over 1,000 sailors died on the Arizona.  There is a fine memorial building on the scene today, but it needs to be replaced because of subsidence.

This was intended to show the chandelier hanging from the dome, but really highlights how shiny the tile floor is.  This is the "well" on the second floor.  You can look down into the first floor or up through the third and fourth floors and into the dome.  That always makes me feel so vertiginous!  I stay away from those railings.

I thought the ceiling was interesting and attractive.

There were several other displays in the building also: history of the postal service in Arizona, the state emblems (bird, fish, etc.), statues commemorating the various groups of workers that helped create the state (minors, cowboys, etc.).

There was an interesting display about the "Harvey Girls."  I had never heard of them before.  A Mr. Harvey convinced the railroads that they would attract more clientele if they provided good, clean eateries along the way.  He recruited young women, built lodges and restaurants staffed by these pleasant, well-trained young women and it was a huge success.  Passengers could let the station master know what they wanted to order for dinner.  The order was then telegraphed ahead, and when the train made a stop, the order was ready to be served.  That meant passengers could have a good meal and not miss the departure of the train to the next lap of the journey.

There was also information about the formation of the government and the various ways that citizens participate, through referendum and initiatives, in addition to voting, and the use of recall.

We had had an easy drive into Phoenix, along Hwy 60, Grand Avenue which runs at a true diagonal from Wickenburg to the heart of Phoenix.  We find that Saturday is an excellent time for venturing into the busy city.

When we went back to our car in the parking lot (surrounding a lovely little park) there was a huge number of motorcycles and motorcyclists there.  Kind of tough looking people.  We no sooner got into our car to leave when they all congregated behind the car, and we weren't able to back up.  After a bit they thumped on the trunk--a little scary, but they were just interested in letting us know that they would move out of the way so we could drive away.  They had gathered there for a "Ride for Veterans."  We smiled and waved and were on our way.

Really, around 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon downtown Phoenix streets are almost empty.  We went east on Jefferson and north on Center Street and were soon at the Phoenix Museum of Art.

We stopped in the cafe, which had been recommended to us by the woman in the Museum Shop.  It was noisy!  That surprised me.  We each had a bowl of turkey, white bean and carrot soup.  Delicious and filling.  A little expensive at $22 with a tip for the two of us.  That is, just simply a bowl of soup and a glass of water, no crackers or biscuits.

Then we spent the next three hours at the Art Museum.  So much to see!  Jim especially enjoyed the Chinese/Japanese rooms, with their explanations of the symbolism in the artwork and the focus on the meaning of death and the afterlife.  I find it hard to relate to Oriental art and feel more akin to traditional European and American art, of which there was a lot.  We did not manage to visit all the galleries, and for myself I really skimmed through the displays the last half hour and still didn't cover everything.

Coming home there was a bit more traffic, but it wasn't bad as Grand is three lanes each way all the way.  Most of the distance the speed limit is 45 mph, but traffic tends to exceed that by about 10 mph.  So we arrived home in good condition just before 6 p.m., after another good day of doing the "tourist thing."

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