Hello Friends and Family,

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Retirement Anniversary XI

Today, a momentary interruption of our Sedona/Grand Canyon/Las Vegas/London Bridge Tour to reflect that the calendar indicates that I have just passed the 11th anniversary of my retirement from HP. It has been a marvelous time — let's hope the future will be equally fulfilling. Looking back, one year ago I was sharing photos of our trip to Oregon to visit my long-time friends Steve and Karen Packer who live in Portland, Oregon. Here was one of my favorite photos from that trip — Johnny on the beach just below the Packer's beach house. Johnny loves the ocean but discovered that it is too cold to swim here without a wetsuit — but he enjoyed it anyway.

Next up is Captain Packer as we prepared to go crabbing. It is such a treat to be able to catch a bucket of Dungeness crabs, add some oysters from a local oyster farm, all of which then become the basis of a feast where the seafood was in the ocean earlier the same day. Seafood lovers know that fresh seafood is the best. Thank you Steve and Karen.

Reluctantly back in Arizona, I was still thrilled to be able to share photos from Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and studio located in Scottsdale at the foot of the McDowell mountains. Wright began coming to this area in 1933 and in 1937, he purchased the land for some $3.50 an acre. Additional land was added and subtracted over time but the property still consists of about 500 acres. The architecture school survives with students spending part of the year here and part of the year in Taliesin in Wisconsin. As you may recall, I decided to take the "Behind the Scenes" Tour since this was my second visit to Taliesin West — I thought it might be interesting to see some of the places not on the shorter tour. It did not disappoint.

Continuing the theme of Frank Lloyd Wright and his work, I shared photos from my visit to the David and Gladys Wright House, designed by the master architect for his son and daughter-in-law. The house is regarded as Mr. Wright’s last residential masterpiece.

Unfortunately, there has been a battle between the foundation attempting to preserve the home and some neighbors who object to noise and traffic that the home might attract. In fact, the property was purchased and saved one day before it was to be torn down. I was lucky to visit when I did because tours have been suspended as the dispute rolls on.

In Tempe is another Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, ASU Gammage Auditorium, built in 1957 based on plans originally drafted for a proposed opera house that was never built. Unfortunately, Frank Lloyd Wright and Grady Gammage (ASU President) both died in 1959 so neither saw the completion of their shared vision. The R.E. McKee Company was hired to complete the construction which began in 1962 and was completed in 1964 with a total cost of $2.46M. It continues to host concerts, Broadway shows and University events.

In March, I shared photos from the Desert Botanical Gardens which was presenting a nighttime light show exhibit entitled "Sonoran Light" by artist Bruce Munro. Daytime is always fun at the Gardens but the light show was spectacular.

Next up, Johnny and I visited the Renaissance Festival which is held every year from February through March, on the east edge of the Phoenix metro area. It is a delightful time to see folks dress up in period costumes and assume the role of a citizen of that period in Europe. Throw in some games, rides, attractions and, of course, food and you have an enjoyable day.

In May, I published shots from the Hall of Flame Museum in the east part of Phoenix. This had been on my bucket list of places to visit and I was blown away with the number and quality of the fire fighting equipment on display — some dating back to the 1700s. I should have visited sooner — most enjoyable.

In June, I shared information about a series of crime novels which I has thoroughly enjoyed reading. They were written by Toby Neal, an author who grew up on Kaua‘i and now lives on Maui. The first book in the series, Blood Orchid, takes place on the Big Island of Hawai‘i featuring a young female detective, Leilani Texeira (Lei for short). Lei is smart but flawed, self-confident but vulnerable. But what really stood out for me was the author's ability to put us into real Hawai‘i. The sights, the sounds, the places, the smells, the way of talking, the interplay of different ethnic groups — for someone who loves the islands as I do and who lived on Maui in the mid-1980s, it was like being there again. I became so immersed in it, I was almost depressed when I read the last word on page 477.

If you still haven't dipped your toe into this wonderful series, it might be time to reconsider. You won't regret it.

In July, I published images of Arcosanti, "an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. Our goal is to actively pursue lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on Paolo Soleri's theory of compact city design, Arcology (architecture + ecology)."

I loved this shot of molten bronze being poured into molds for the bells that the artisans make and sell to help support and expand this experimental city.

In August, I shared photos of the red rocks and hills of Sedona, Arizona taken during our Pink Jeep Tour. Words are inadequate, you gotta see it on your own.

Finally, in September, I broadcast images of the Grand Canyon. After all, we live in "The Grand Canyon" state and when we have out of town (or in this case, out of country) guests, we have to share this magnificent scenery. If you have never been, do put it on your bucket list. Just try to avoid the summer crowds if at all possible.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos that I have shared during the last year. I really take pleasure in exploring and photographing sights at home and places to which I travel. There will be plenty more pictures as 2016 ends and 2017 takes over. My bucket list of places in Arizona to photograph seems to be growing not shrinking. Additionally, there are other places that I might visit this year — for instance, there is a total solar eclipse in the United States in 2017 and it will be near total in Blairsville, GA where my sister and brother-in-law live. Perhaps I'll be there as well. I hope you join me in my ventures, wherever they lead.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com