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Ramada – part 2

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Travel | 3 comments

papago-park-picnic-table

It was really interesting last week to find out your words for what I’d call a ramada.

Ramada At Usury Pass

It comfirmed my suspicion that it’s a word used primarily in the southwestern U.S., where our proximity to Mexico shows up in bits of Spanish peppered through our language.

Fountain hills ramada

Around here, it’s not unusual to hear words like mesa (a flat-topped mountain, literally “table,” and the name of a city) or arroyo (a dry stream bed), call a cottage a casita (which you can see in a few of the listings in my Airbnb post), or say garbanzos instead of chick peas.

And we tend to call the type of cover that goes over a picnic table a ramada. It comes from the Spanish rama (“branch”). Ramada is the adjective form, so it would roughly translate to “branched” or “covered in branches.”

Ramada in tucson

Here are some of your words…

“We say pergola over here in Australia, but I love ramada as well!”
Linda (Circle of Daydreams)

 

“I didn’t know the word Ramada, but this now makes me wonder if that’s where the name of the hotel chain comes from? I would have called that a shelter or a pavilion.”
Mel (Stirrup Queens)

 

“I think here we’d call that a pergola or even a ‘wooden marquee’ – I’ve never heard of ramada in this context! I knew I’d heard that somewhere though and recall now that there’s a chain of hotels here called Ramada: probably the only use of the word I’ve heard! I see others are mentioning the hotel too…. I see the dictionary says it means an arbour or porch, from Spanish: I wonder if it’s very regional usage in the US then…”
Different Shores

 

Casa grande ruins

I wasn’t able to find the story behind the name of the hotel chain. I imagine it comes from the sense of a ramada as a shelter, but it does seem odd to name your hotels after a structure with no walls!

Mission garden tucson ramada




Where the photos were taken:

1. Papago Park, Phoenix
2. Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa
3. Fountain Park, Fountain Hills
4. + 6. Mission Garden, Tucson
5. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coolidge


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Heroes Rescue Phoenix Comicon from Real Peril

Posted by on Jun 17, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

“Wands, sonic screwdrivers, plushies, masks, fairy wings, empty holsters, signs attached to costumes, fur suits, cardboard made costumes and non-weapon props, dishware associated with costumes, empty quivers, hats and helmets, Power Ranger Morphers, and umbrellas, by example, are allowed.”

– from the updated Phoenix Comicon prop policy

Fairy wings and dishware were not in dispute on the first day of Phoenix Comicon 2017.

By day 2, however, a lot had changed.

Phxcc

The Punisher vs. The Power Ranger

The event started out like past cons. The doors of the Phoenix Convention Center opened the morning of Thursday, May 25, and attendees began filing in.

Among them was a man of about thirty with black clothing concealing body armor, a large bag that no one looked inside, and a full event pass.

Later we would learn that his name was Mathew Enrique Navarro Sterling, but he was under the delusion that he was actually The Punisher, a Marvel Comics character focused on vigilante justice. A reminder on his phone said “kill JDF.”

Carrying four loaded guns, a knife, pepper spray, and throwing stars, he went up to the second floor of the convention center.

Phxcc

Then, in perhaps the modern equivalent of Bond-villain-esque monologuing, Mathew started sending Facebook messages about his plans to an acquaintance.

His alleged targets on site included police officers and actor Jason David Frank, who is known for playing the Green Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and would be at the Con all four days for photo ops, autograph signings, and a Friday panel.

Rayko via http://rayko.com

Cops and Cosplayers

On the receiving end of the messages was Rayko Takahashi (professionally known simply as “Rayko”), a singer, composer, personal trainer, and avid cosplayer in Los Angeles. She’s also the first hero of this story.

The two had only met once, in 2014. Over the next year, they exchanged friendly messages about his fitness goals. Then, one night after a concert, Rayko got off stage to find her phone full of messages from Mathew. His tone had changed, and he was threatening to harm another cosplayer. Rayko stopped communicating with him, gave the woman a heads up, and contacted a friend who is a police officer.

Even though nothing happened then, when Rayko received violence-threatening Facebook messages from Mathew on May 25 of this year, she took them seriously, again contacting Sgt. Scott Nichols of the Hawthorne Police Department in California.

He figured out that Mathew was likely to be at Phoenix Comicon and called the Phoenix Police Department.

phxcc phoenix convention center

Action

Eleven minutes after the call came in from Hawthorne PD, Phoenix Police had located, subdued, and arrested Mathew without anyone being injured.

He plead “not guilty” at his preliminary hearing and is currently awaiting trial for attempted murder and other charges. His bond is set at $1,000,000.

PHXCC prop ban signs

The Aftermath

The incident made headlines internationally, and Jason David Frank has been using his platform to encourage comic cons everywhere to increase their security procedures.

So. Suspect detained. The citizens of Phoenix are safe again, and Day 2 the Con could resume as usual, right? Wrong.

Phxcc

In response to the incident, Phoenix Comicon, the convention center, and police department announced that the next day, and for the remainder of the Con, entrance points would be limited, bags would be checked, people would be metal detector wanded, and replica/prop weapons would not be allowed in – including “Weapons from fictional sources (Light sabers, plasma weapons, laser, phasers etc.)” – and could only be sold if exhibitors immediately wrapped them up afterward.

phxcc

With fewer entrances and additional security screening, lines wrapped around the building the next morning. Unexpected waiting outside during the heat of the day the Friday of Phoenix Comicon seemed familiar from last year’s registration issue, but this time all con-goers were affected.

Later in the day, more security personnel were brought in and the lines moved more quickly the rest of the Con.

phxcc prop ban

#propban

Because it’s Comicon, and people wear all sorts of costumes with all sort of props, the ban required some amusing clarifications, like the quote at the beginning of this post.

“Ghostbuster proton packs are allowed however the Neutrino wand will need to be disconnected or permanently attached to the pack.”

Attendee and vendor reactions to the prop ban were very mixed. Some saw it as an important security measure, while others felt it was an unnecessary damper on their Con experience. A lightsaber vendor packed up and left.

Some cosplayers came up with creative alternatives, replacing props with funny signs or balloons.

phxcc deadpool with balloon props

One comment thread in response to Phoenix Comicon’s Facebook announcement in particular seemed to exemplify the points of view*:

stomping a bee that already stung you does absolutely nothing to prevent other bees from stinging you. just like this fake weapons ban won’t do anything AT ALL to keep another lunatic from waltzing in like the Punisher.” –Trey Lee Williamson

“I don’t understand how very few commenters on this seem to realize how severe this whole thing is and giving up a stupid cosplay prop for safety measures is not the end of the world.–Salvatore Roulston

“I live in Washington and am appalled and prop ban just lost you thousands of revenue for next years con. Punish hundreds who have worked hours on their cosplays because of one Lunatic.. thanks for your concern for our safety but no thanks for tickets next year. 😡” –Ashley Marie

“I’m a cosplayer from Washington and this is still honestly one of the best shows I’ve attended. I thank them for their quick response in light of the event that took place. Was it inconvenient, yes, but the show could just as easily been cancelled. Instead they came up with this solution. I’m appreciative that no one was hurt and that the con went on for the rest of the weekend. Count your blessings folks.” –Muni Moore

Indeed. Whether you agree with the response or not, our quick-thinking heroes gave us more blessings to count.

phxcc


*Comment spelling and punctuation have not been corrected but some were shortened.

Photo of Rayko via rayko.com.

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May 2017 Photo: Ramada

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Travel | 10 comments

There was sliver of the moon over the ramada at Mission Garden in Tucson.

Pergola at Mission Garden, Tucson

The spiny “branches” across the top of the roof come from the ocotillo plant. You can see what they look like growing in the desert in the photo below.

Ocotillo

 

Runner up:

I loved colors and shading in this handpainted parasol at Phoenix Comicon!

Unikornis Art parasol at phxcc

Side note: I wasn’t sure how widely the word “ramada” was used outside the Southwestern U.S. for describing the type of covering supported by posts you see over picnic tables etc., like a roof without walls. In the U.K., I thought they might call this a “shelter.” My Twitter poll on the topic only received a few votes – all in favor of ramada – but my friend Kelli did mention that she thinks of a ramada as made of brick and of this as a “pergola”.

Ramada in tucson

Perhaps the thing itself is just more common here in the Southwest, where you need shade more than protection from rain or snow and desert trees may be too sparse to provide it.

Anyway, if you use a word besides ramada, the language geek in me would love to know!




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Chalk Robots

Posted by on Jun 5, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 9 comments

There was a chalk drawing of a robot on the ground. No explanation. Just an arrow.

La Ru robot

So, of course, we followed it – and the next one and the next one – down the steps behind Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Pike Place Market

We tried to guess where they were leading. A street art project? A robot maker? Nowhere? The den of our new robot overlords?

One lead us to turn the corner, and then, “Is that it? Is it a baby store?!!”

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

Nope. A larger robot drawing pointed inside a store with a chalkboard sign that answered my question: “{Ugly Baby & La Ru} Handmade local art for grown-ups and practically nothing for actual babies.”

Ugly Baby and La Ru chalk art

It was a gift shop owned by two artists – Rosalie Gale (of Ugly baby) and Lauren Rudeck (a.k.a. “La Ru”), who was there in the store that day.

Artist La Ru

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

She creates illustrations of animals and robots, and seemed delighted to hear her chalk drawings had lead us in. The store was full of craft kits, cards, and mini works of art, and I wanted to buy everything.

Ugly Baby and La Ru, waterproof art

Ugly Baby and La Ru, Seattle

The entire store wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, but I did take home a really great sloth coffee mug.

Coffee sloth!




 

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Year Four in Nine Videos

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Today marks the fourth anniversary of Travelcraft Journal! (And the 350th post!) I thought we could take a look back on the past year in 4 places, 4 projects, and 9 videos.
Pasadena City Hall

1. Southern California/Pasadena

First, let’s road trip to Pasadena in one minute. Of course, we’ll stop for date shakes on the way. Once we get there, we can visit the Norton Simon Museum and the jungle garden at the Huntington.

Video: Phoenix to Pasadena in one minute

Project: In honor of sea breezes and Santa Ana winds, make a mobile or wind chime!

Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas

2. Las Vegas

Next up: Las Vegas. There are lots of awesome things to do off The Strip, including the ArtBar and Downtown Container Park with its giant, music-blaring, fire-shooting praying mantis. If you want to go to The Strip, I can tell you how to get around and how not to get around, as well as why there are so many weddings there.

     
 

Videos:

 
Project: Make a scrapbook with playing cards.

Mount Lemmon trail

3. Tucson

Tucson is the home of Mt. Lemmon, Mission San Xavier del Bac, the annual Agave Heritage Festival, and the world premiere of the Riders of the Purple Sage Opera.
 

 
Videos: Driving to the top of Mt. Lemmon

Project: Try roasting your own agave or make a recipe that uses agave syrup, like a Bloody Mary with Grilled Pipián Mole Shrimp Skewers.
 
Tempe light rail station art - hands

4. Phoenix

Back in Phoenix, ride the light rail to check out the Phoenix Art Museum, a pizza festival, a lunch hour opera, symphony performance, or Phoenix Comicon.


 
Videos:

Project: Make a costume out of duct tape.

Check out our Airbnb recommendations post for places to stay in Pasadena, Tucson, and Las Vegas!

Salem

Bonus: Salem

Okay, no videos with this one, but, if you haven’t yet, check out Jessica Tennant’s posts on Salem, Massachusetts – part 1 and part 2.




Salem photo by Jessica Tennant.

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Light Rail Phoenix: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Mesa light rail station with train

People have asked me how to take the Valley Metro light rail in the Phoenix area, so I made a video guide.

However, if you prefer tips in written form, read on!
Phx light rail station Big map

1. Find where to go.

There’s just one line with 2 directions, Eastbound and Westbound. You can ride anywhere on the line all day for $4.

Westbound train route:

  • begins in downtown Mesa (Mesa Dr./Main St.)
  • ASU Tempe campus
  • Sky Harbor Airport
  • Downtown Phoenix (Phoenix Convention Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Chase Field)
  • Central Ave. (turns north)
  • Roosevelt Row/arts district
  • ends at 19th Ave. and Dunlap (near Metrocenter)

Eastbound trains start at 19th Avenue and Dunlap, retracing basically the same route, heading south and then east and ending at Mesa Drive and Main Street.

Phx light rail station At night

Schedule

To find where to get on and off the train and get schedule information, pick up a Transit Book, check the Valley Metro website, download the Ridekick app, or try Google Maps. If you don’t want to bother with the schedule, you can just show up. Trains run about every 10-20 minutes until around 1am.
Mesa park and ride with grid bike

Park-and-Ride

If there’s not a stop near you, you can drive to one of the 11 Park-and-Ride lots, where there’s free parking for people riding the light rail or bus. You just find a spot, lock your car, and head to the station platform.

Phx light rail station On Jefferson

2. Get your ticket.

You can easily get a pass from a fare vending machine at your stop before you leave.

Follow the prompts on screen to select an all-day pass and activate it immediately. Then pay with cash, credit or debit.

Your pass and receipt print from two different places. Make sure to pick them both up!

Tempe light rail station

On the Station Platform

While you’re waiting, check the signs to make sure in the right spot for the train going in your direction.

Stations have…

  • fare vending machines
  • scrolling LED signs that say when to expect the next train
  • seating
  • some shade
  • route maps (simplified to highlight the stops – not to scale)
  • drinking fountains
  • artwork inspired by the local area

Mesa light rail station art - serpentine

Stations don’t have…

  • restrooms
  • food or anything for purchase (except rail passes)

You can bring your own beverage with a lid on it.

On board Phx light rail station

3. Get on board.

Trains stop at every station. You don’t have to flag them down. If one looks like it’s not stopping, Don’t panic! It’s probably just pulling up farther.

When the train pulls up to the station, it will come to a complete stop, the doors automatically open, and you can step into any car. Find a seat or or a place to stand and hold on to the railing. If you are standing, try to move back away from the doors, so people can easily get on and off.

Phx light rail station Art

There’s usually not anyone checking tickets as you get on. It’s kind of on the honor system. Occasionally, though, transit officers in black and white uniforms will come through and check tickets after the train is in motion. Not having one can get you fined up to $500.

Watch and listen for your stop. You can find a route map above some of the doors. And before each stop, a recording will say “approaching station” then the station name and whether you’ll exit the train on the left or right side. The information is also on scrolling LED signs in the middle of the ceiling of each car. Once you arrive, wait for the train to stop and doors to open, and you’re there!
Tempe light rail station art - hands

– More light rail info –

  • Fare details.
  • Make sure you are waiting for the train going the direction you want to go. Most of the platforms are in the middle of the street and trains going both directions share them. However, around downtown Phoenix the line splits. So if you’re at the Phoenix Convention Center for example, the station for westbound trains is at Washington and eastbound trains stop a block south of there at Jefferson.
  • If you’re only going one way (to the airport, for example), you can purchase a 1-ride ticket. Once you purchase it, take your ticket and receipt. You have a two-hour window after purchasing to make your trip in one direction.
  • You may notice that there’s a “buy online” option on the Valley Metro website. This is NOT for last-minute purchases! Since electronic tickets are not accepted, you can order tickets online, and then they’ll be shipped to you via snail mail.
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