Monday, November 03, 2008

Phoenix and the Heard Museum

We are home now, and it is too easy to let the trip record slide. There are a couple of days left though, and a couple of wrapup posts to make.

Our last day in Phoenix was a travel day, but that wasn't until the evening. We reviewed options, and decided on a visit to the Heard Museum. After packing and re-packing, and after breakfast (the Holiday Inn Express throws in a good free breakfast, but the coffee is the usual US execrable weak brown water) we set out. Michael suspected there might be beads, and indeed there were. There was a terrific exhibition called Home, which was all about home crafts of the Indians. Rug weaving, beads, jewellery, and magnificent basket weaving. Of course the beads always interest me, but I can see how the basket weaving could become a passion. Such fineness, detail, design. There was a magnificent display of Katsina dolls, too much to take in. I took issue with a display of some fine knitting - one completed legging and the other in progress. The sign said they were being knitted on sewing needles, but a) I did not see any eye for threading yarn, b) their points were not sharp enough to be sewing needles, unless for leather, and c) they looked exactly like my fine steel double-pointed needles. Hmmm.

There was another section which reminded us very much of the Smithsonian Indian Museum. Lots of very little, quite similar, and very wordy displays for each individual tribe. I can just see all the politics involved in these displays. The message is often one of harmony and love for the earth and the sense of solidarity with people, but this fragmentation into tribes is also a message of Us vs. Them.

We had a coffee, and Michael was terribly disappointed to find that there was only one variety of coffee - regular. No espresso. The usual pale weak brown water.

The shop was fantastic, but we are just retailed out. Not that we've bought much in the way of souvies, but we have learned from past experience that what looks good in the US southwest does not look good in a little terrace house in Sydney. The style just jangles. And because my mother is from New Mexico, I really do have enough in the way of silver/turquoise jewellery.

After the Heard Museum we set out in the car without a clear plan. We kind of had a mall in mind, with a food court for lunch, but didn't have any of our usual reference material. All the brochures had been packed or ditched. So we drove around and around, ending up in Glendale. It seemed utterly deserted. Although we found a kind of historic area with shops, there was not a soul to be seen. Could be because it was in the high nineties out there, with a merciless sun. A moment to note: we passed the Bead Museum, and I passed it without a flicker of interest. Yes, bead point has been passed.

We found a Visitor Centre, which was manned, and got some directions. We found ourselves at the Desert Sky Mall and had some lunch from the Mexican place. Tamales for me, my favourite.

We were now in travel mode, so took the rental car back to the airport and started the long process of getting home.

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