Staycation Vacation

Merriam-Webster defines staycation as “a vacation spent at home or nearby.” It’s not a complex concept; the word is simply a combination of stay and vacation. We first moved to Arizona in 1993, and we’ve been enjoying staycations ever since. Because we now live in Anthem on the northern most reaches of the metro Phoenix area, it is super easy to experience nearby amenities that are completely different than where we live. And, of course, such journeys inescapably provide photoremedy opportunities.

Ingo's Tasty Food - Arcadia (fine art photo)

Ingo’s Tasty Food – Arcadia (fine art photo)

Our most recent staycation involved a sojourn into the North-Central Phoenix area, and epicurean adventures to the historic, yet hip, Arcadia neighborhood.  We stayed in what used to be accurately referred to as a resort, and it still bills itself that way. Since it is a significantly “tired” facility, and not resort quality in my book, I refused to get my camera out to take pictures of the facility. Highlights of our otherwise wonderful trip included:

Great food

Good Wine

Fun Food Shopping

Ice Cream (the best I’ve ever had!)

Sweet Republic Ice Cream - N. 16th St., Phoenix

Sweet Republic Ice Cream – N. 16th St., Phoenix

Looking at an attribute list that features great food, good wine, fun food shopping, and the best retail ice cream I’ve ever had, it becomes increasingly clear that staycations will continue to be an important part of our future travel planning efforts. After all, sometimes there’s no place like home.

Back to School

Saint Augustine of Hippo, who has proven to be a fountain of knowledge that has watered seeds of wisdom for so many since the fourth century, is best known for his Christian and theological teachings.  He also proved prophetic when it comes to travel.

Augustine has been quoted as saying, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”  In my book, this doesn’t mean you have to be a world traveler; there are often gems we have overlooked in our own communities or regions. A couple of weeks ago, Mary and I added some pages to our travel book with a day trip to the Arizona neighboring mountain communities of Pine and Strawberry. Not only did we beat the heat, but we savored a great home style meal at Pine’s Randall House and snuck in bit of photoremedy.

Since we were not in a hurry, we also made a side trip to the historic Strawberry School. This diminutive log building is known as the oldest standing school in Arizona. It only operated as an “educational institution” between 1884 and 1916. School House Exterior jAfter largely sitting idle for more than a half-century, local residents restored the school and it was formally dedicated as a Historical Monument in 1981. Thanks to a great group of volunteers, the Fossil Creek Road structure allows visitors a nostalgic opportunity to momentarily return to the days that preceded the education related technological advancements featured today.

I’ve driven past the Strawberry School turn off dozens of times, but I’m extremely thankful Mary and I finally slowed down and took such a glorious step back in time. Next time you find yourself being overly entertained by technology or even bored, make time to write a few new pages in your book – whether this requires traveling half a world away or right outside your door.

Splashing Into Heaven

Children Quote Card

A Memorial Day Weekend trip to Anthem Community Park’s splash pad with our grand kids brought the familiar Bible passage (above) to mind. And, the more I look at the images produced by this short photoremedy journey, the more I find myself thinking, “Once again (as always), Jesus has it right.”

Isabella Splash 5b (1 of 1)

Emmett Splash 8 (1 of 1) - Copy

If heaven is full of souls with child-like glee, enthusiasm, and explorations, I want in. It’s gotta be a blast!

Arizona Spring Flowers

Flower Quote 2

Each Spring, I experience the seemingly inexorable pull towards Arizona flower-related photoremedy. I know those who have not visited the Great American Southwest have a hard time picturing flowers in the desert; it is almost as difficult as trying to imagine a Redneck passing up a cold beer. The colorful gems, though, flourish during the Spring in Arizona’s breathtaking Sonoran Desert. They triumph on the ground and on trees, while consistently painting the ancient mountains in brilliant Spring colors.Gavilan Peak 1j

Flowers can also be appreciated in well-manicured gardens. Traditionally, I have focused a greater percent of my efforts on capturing Spring wildflowers. This year, however, garden-grown varieties have received most of my photographic attention. African Daisy 1j

A few of the of the images I have captured (and developed) this year are featured in the gallery below. Just click on any image to view the selections in slide show mode.

Note: The photoremedy mission is to encourage those fighting chronic pain and other afflictions to consider using photography as a powerful tool to move their focus away from the pain. In the process, we strive to enhance readers’ ability to see beauty and experience elevated joy in their lives. There are many gifts that can accompany health challenges; one of the greatest offerings is it frequently forces sufferers to set better priorities for their lives and assists them in seeing the world in new and more meaningful ways. 

Birds and Beasts

I See You  (1 of 1)

We consistently use the photoremedy term throughout the blog. What is photoremedy? It is simply the impressive range of benefits associated with the “good medicine” that photography offers those who get a healing-like rush from the creative process associated with taking and developing compelling images.

Got a light- (1 of 1)

Bird in flight 1j (1 of 1)

Want guaranteed photoremedy? Grab the kids and/or grandchildren and head to a local park that features birds and waterfowl or a local wildlife zoo. It’s worked wonders for me in 2014. Some of the images I’ve captured this year are featured in the gallery below. Just click on any image to view the selections in slide show mode.

Calm Duck 1j (1 of 1)

Off the Strip

The days of $9 hotel rooms and 99-cent shrimp cocktails are long gone for Las Vegas travelers, but good deals are still out there if you look carefully and time it right. During our recent home renovation project, we had to be off our floors for a few days. We ended up going to Vegas because the rates for off-the-strip resorts were less than half of what they were for limited service hotels on our side of Phoenix.Harley_Davidson-2 (1 of 1)

We generally stay on the strip, but this time we made a point of seeing new sights in the Vegas area. The adventure created some great photoremedy opportunities as we checked out Freemont street at night, visited Lake Las Vegas for the first time, and poked around scenic Lake Mead. Click on individual images below to view in slide show mode.

Mary and I aren’t big gamblers, but we do enjoy visiting Vegas frequently. The new Hoover Dam bypass has made it less than a five hour drive from our home – even with the multiple stops I need to make to stretch my legs and generally load up on fresh ice for my back. Regardless, one thing is always certain when visiting Las Vegas. There is always–whether you are on the strip or off of it–plenty of opportunities to snap a few memorable images.