Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, Horne and Brown

I have been looking for "Welcome to Mesa" signs, the sort of howdy to be seen when entering just about any berg. So far, with the exception of a small "Entering Mesa" sign that due to its placement on the side of the Superstition Freeway doesn't exactly lend itself to a photographer on foot, I have yet to find a single "Welcome to Mesa, Founded Way Back When, Population a Whole Bunch and Counting" sign on a major arterial street at the city borders. However, there is this Welcome that can be found on Horne, just north of Brown Road. A rather off beat place to put a welcome sign, kind of like putting your home's welcome mat in the hall bathroom, but there you go.

According to the mayor's office, this location is where the South Canal, Consolidated Canal and Tempe Canal intersect, but it sure looks like just one big canal to me. I'll have to Google a canal map to see just how those three make this one.

Canals are popular places for folks to take strolls jog bicycle or sometimes even fish. No gondolas, though.

Looking north from the middle of Horne Road. Anywhere in Mesa where you have a clear sightline to the north or east you can see mountains. It's kind of cool. But of course there aren't many places other than the middle of really wide, generally very busy streets where you have those clear sightlines. I was lucky with very light holiday traffic.

I couldn't help this one. The Direct TV van parked in front of a house with a Dish Network dish. The neighbors have Direct TV, though.

And kind of across the street was this lovingly landscaped front yard. I couldn't do it justice with the late afternoon light, but there you go.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 21, back to downtown

I know, we're backtracking here. But the May 23rd entry is a bit gloomy and I wanted to post something a bit more upbeat today. So, even though it will not be standard practice here on "Mesa 2010" to plug or pan any local businesses, I can't help but put in a good word for a very nice downtown restaurant called Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine.

I first saw it during one of my early Main Street explorations. It was morning and the place wasn't open and the only shot I took was from across the street. Then, we went to 2nd Fridays last week and we saw that the place, like just about all of the downtown restaurants, was nicely busy. We took a look at the menu and our son told us that he had heard good things about Nunthaporn's. But we had already had our dinner, so we made a plan to come back and check it out. Which we did the following Friday evening. We got there early and there were only a couple of other occupied tables. But the service was very attentive. And the food was wonderful. I couldn't resist trying #411, "Evil Jungle Princess". Good choice. In fact all four of us gave thumbs up to our selections, including our vegetarian son, who really appreciated the fact that just about all of the entrees could be had with tofu instead of meat. Not something he is used to at most restaurants.
So anyway, I broke my rule but if you like Thai food, give the place a try.

Oh, and after dinner we paid another visit to the SunDust Gallery. We had spotted a painting in their bargain basement (quite literally a basement with noggin protecting pads on the low doorways) the previous week and with a bit of tax refund burning a hole in our checking account we wanted to see if it was still there. It was. And now it is above our fireplace. An original Howard Scherer. The frame that came with it was awful, but Michael's was having a sale on frames and we took care of that problem ASAP.

We think it looks good in its new home. It might not be Grant Woods "American Gothic", but that's okay. We can always just go downtown and see a really big version of that one. At least until they stretch their legs and wander off this July.

So long from Mesa!

May 23, McKellips and Center, NE Corner

We aren't exactly hardcore antique shoppers. My wife, not surprisingly, is more into it than I am, but I find it it can be an interesting way to pass part of an afternoon every once in a while. And one of the places close to where we live that has been a stand-by when it comes to hunting down that certain tschotske or end table has been Treasures from the Past Antiques on McKellips Rd. So this afternoon we decided to check the place out and see if maybe they had something that would work in the breakfast dining area to hold some houseplants and maybe provide a bit of miscellaneous storage.

The strip center that Treasures from the Past is in is not that old, but it has certainly seen better days. For a while there was an automotive shop, a gym, a card and gift shop, a couple of restaurants and, if memory serves, some sort of embroidery store. Well the auto shop and the gym closed up a while ago, one of the restaurants is gone and so is the card shop. Persevering amid this bleak retail landscape has been Treasures. But they are going away too.

Like many antique "malls" Treasures has consisted of individual display cases as well as divided open sections each featuring merchandise from a certain individual or family. Like a giant neighborhood garage sales under one roof. Today a good percentage of the cubbies were empty, almost all the rest were marked at 30-50% off and most of them looked pretty darned sparse. A few vendors were in there packing up their stuff.

There is a lot of auto traffic that goes by McKellips Center every day. I do hope that one day soon it will be a place where commerce once again thrives.

Cindy's Cafe.* The one apparently going concern on this corner.

So long from Mesa.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18, Gilbert Road just South of the Red Mountain Freeway

This is an area of large homes. Some quite lovely, some a bit, well, ostentatious I think is the word I want. This one has a terrific north view of fields and mountains, but the most immediate view is the Loop 202 Freeway, also known as the Red Mountain. Not sure that's the location I would pick if I had the funds for a home like that, but then again it's not a problem I'm likely to encounter for some time!
The rest of the photos will be presented without commercial interruption.

Today was election day. The day when Arizona gets to decide if our kids are important enough that we can shell out an additional one cent in sales tax for the next three years so our schools won't have to drop all sorts of sports and arts programs and increase class sizes to the point nobody will get a decent education. The programs that remain will likely survive only on participation fees that will effectively lock out a lot of students. Lots of folks are opposed to it and I'm sure they are lovely people in many ways, but if Prop 100 doesn't pass we are essentially saying that only people who live in houses like the ones above need or deserve the sort of opportunities all children in our great state and nation should have. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. And, of course, I voted.

So long from Mesa. See you next time!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 14, IMP Fest Downtown Mesa

Yesterday evening we attended 2nd Friday in downtown. Not quite the raucous if largely cheerful affair we experienced in Phoenix' First Fridays, but it was a fun time. As soon as the sun went down the temperature was very comfortable. The street was blocked off, so no traffic to avoid, just relaxed folks strolling about, eating, browsing the shops that were staying open later than usual, listening to music and checking out the street merchants.

We ate early, at Cucina di vita. The place was busy and folks were constantly wondering where to find menus to peruse before they got up to the order counter. Our son had the idea of placing a couple of them on the outside of a display case right where people would stand while waiting. It seemed a good idea and we saw quite a few patrons check them out. We did not charge for our contribution to the feng shui of the place.

Lots of cars were on display, with the emphasis on Volkswagons.

 Including this rare beauty with right hand steering.

You just don't typically see this many people on foot anywhere in the Valley of the Sun. It's a nice sight.

The musician, whose name I unfortunately did not catch (please feel free to let us all know in a comment!) sounded very good. Those kids obviously agreed with me.

Lucero and the Blues Crew were performing "Keys to the Highway"

I could have easily spent the entire evening in the Book Gallery, the sort of bookstore I imagine Bernie Rhodenbarr, the main character in Lawrence Block's wonderful mystery series, owns and runs (when he isn't solving crimes).
Sweet Cakes, renowned for their large and very tasty cookies, has recently opened a yogurt shop next door. We just had to give it a try. Not sure about the Fruity Pebbles they offer as one of the toppings, but they've got the place decorated nicely and our frozen yogurt was very good. I had Andes Mints on mine.

Mangos Cafe was doing a nice business. Lots of their patrons were taking advantage of the outside seating, but I couldn't resist the vibrant colors of the interior.

Spray paint artist at work.

We could have easily dropped a lot of money at SunDust Gallery. Only thing keeping us from doing so was a lack of money to drop.

We gave a listen to Darkness Dear Boy before we called it a night.

So long from Mesa!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11, Center between 1st and 2nd Streets

A beautiful, unseasonably reasonable day temperature wise today. Maybe got into the low 80's. Throw in a breeze that perked up into a healthy approximation of a gusting wind every once in a while and a sunny, sunny sky and you've got one nice day. So, since I had another early day at work I couldn't resist a short tromp about another little section of the downtown area.

You'd thing that having a whole 'nother street named after him would be enough, but Mr. Dobson also got the corner of 1st Street and Center on his resume.

A bit of the high rise landscaping surrounding the Mesa Municipal Building

And some of the helpful info at the door. No smoking, firearms or skateboarding. Makes sense. Oh, and closed on Fridays. Budget crunch, you know.

Here's a link to the Sirrine House info at the Arizona Museum of Natural History site. Interesting info about the building and its history. Sadly, it too has fallen victim to budget woes. Open only for special events.

SW Herb Shop (and Gathering Place)
Kinda wonder if it is a place Mr. Sirrine would have patronized. Mebbe.

So long from Mesa. See you next time!

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10, Main Street between Alma School and Extension

Back to Main Street. This afternoon I strolled a stretch of Main just a bit west of downtown and not that far from Mesa's western border, where Mesa's Main Street turns into Tempe's Apache Blvd. This bit of Main is devoted very much to Things Mobile, whether it be shops with lots of chrome wheels on display outside or small auto dealerships (and one that used to be not-so-small) or mobile home parks. Also some apartment complexes, a few restaurants (past, present and future), and a rather large party store.

Here you go, in no particular order.

This building for many years housed a Bob's Big Boy restaurant. This was a favorite of our family when my sister and I were kids. Feed a family of four for about ten dollars.

Get your news and your Real Mexican Food at Adrian's.

The Landmark Restaurant is located in a historic building on the corner of Main and Extension. It was one of my father's favorite spots later in his life (after my sister and I had grown up, moved out and had kids of our own). We had quite a few celebration dinners there.

Darner's has been a Mesa fixture for decades. Unfortunately they lost their Chrysler franchise recently and the place is looking a bit underpopulated lately, More even that other car lots.

Former location of Mesa Audio (I'm pretty sure that's what it was called. I bought most of my stereo equipment there in my younger days. Still have a nice set of speakers from there. The place was owned by a couple who for a while were neighbors of ours. Until they moved to a more expensive part of town, that is.

This mobile home park has every amenity. Shuffleboard, mail delivery and trash pickup all in one convenient location.

Fracture Fiberglass

Épernay is a commune in the Marne department in northern France (according to Wikipedia). It is also an apartment complex in Mesa. According to me.

So long from Mesa. See you next time!