La Santisima Trinidad, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico

la santisima trinidad, arroyo seco, nm

Blanketed in the first snow of the season, La Santisima Trinidad radiates hope to the surrounding community of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. Built in 1834, the historic church stands as a monument to the families who originally settled the area. That the Catholic faith thrived during a period when there were very few priests available to serve the faithful in the rural southwest, is hope to us in these uncertain political times here in the United States.

cupola, la santisima trinidad, nm

The ancient brotherhood of the penitentes is primarily responsible for nurturing the faith during this period, though their methods came under scrutiny by church authorities. Nevertheless, despite the severity of some of their practices, there continue to be many Catholics in the mountains and plains of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

graveyard, la santisima trinidad, nm          cemetary, la santisima trinidad, nm

On the day we visited La Santisima Trinidad, we found the church was locked. No one came forth to open it, so we explored. We enjoyed wandering the churchyard and examining the grave markers. They fill the area around the church. The building has obviously been lovingly restored. Learn more about that at the following link for inside pics. Several well-placed benches hint at a pleasant garden in warmer seasons.

graveyard benck, la santisima trinidad, nm

Click here to see some lovely pictures of the inside of La Santisima Trinidad:

http://altbuildblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/inside-la-santisima-trinidad-church-in.html

Once the snow flies and cabin fever sets in, a day trip towards Taos, New Mexico is always fun. Just 80 miles from Santa Fe, the Arroyo Seco area is full of historic sites, alternative housing, and breathtaking scenery. The town of Arroyo Seco, just 7 miles from Taos, hosts a number of boutiques and several eating establishments. Plenty of activity to satisfy the casual tourist despite inclement weather.

la santisima trinidad nm sign          historic church, la santisima trinidad, nm

Call to verify Mass and Confessions at the historic church and its missions, listed here: http://www.visitseco.com/arroyo_seco_catholic_church.php

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Tropical Palms RV Campground, Kissimmee, Florida

rv campground, kissimmee, florida

We found Tropical Palms RV Campground, Kissimmee, Florida through our Passport America membership. We just needed a spot for 2 nights, while we took in nearby Universal Studios, but once there, we wished we could have stayed for more.

tiny homes tropical palms fl

The RV spaces are clean and easy-in-easy-out. Mostly pull through. There is also a large section of tiny homes for rent. Several parks dot the complex, including a dog park, and there is a full-size pool, a kiddie pool, and a Jacuzzi. The laundry area is ample and the machines well maintained. The bathrooms are also very clean, with nice showers.

yak in pool, tropical palms, fl

We found dealing with the office personnel very pleasant. A staff member escorted us to our site, in a golf cart. We had plenty of 4G and were too busy during our 2 days there to really need the free wifi, so I can’t tell you how good it is. But in most cases that depends on how close you are to the signal, and how many people are on it.

tropical palms, fl dive in movie

Sitting outside under our awning was most pleasant, as the bugs were not bad. The swimming pool was convenient, right next to the laundry room, so we enjoyed several hours of splashing and swimming. Sadly, we were not there long enough to partake of the Toucan Café, the Friday night dive-in movie, or the many other activities taking place at the resort.

toucan cafe snack stand

We don’t normally care for RV parks and were happy to leave when the space next to us filled up. Despite this, Tropical Palms definitely gets 2 thumbs up. We will definitely stay there again. Especially in the off-season (if there is such a thing in Florida) when the crowds are gone.

For more info, check out the Tropical Palms website.

Tropical Palms RV Campground and Resort

2650 Holiday Trail, Kissimmee, FL 34746

  877-570-2267

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

hogwarts express

Our trip to Florida was much too rushed, but we thoroughly enjoyed our day at Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The rides:

Hogsmeade – The Hogwarts express sits just inside the gates, awaiting passengers to be ferried between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (requires a separate ticket or park-to-park admission. We felt the park-to-park admission was worth it for the day).

Tour Hogwarts Castle while you wind through the line for The Forbidden Journey. The Dragon Challenge seemed a bit too extreme for us, but the Flight of the Hippogriff was loads of fun, soaring past the pumpkin patch and Hagrid’s Hut.

Hogsmeade Station experienced a brief shut down as the train underwent some minor difficulties, so we continued to tour the town until we were able to board the Hogwarts Express. We love trains, even if it is just for a 5-minute ride to the other Universal Park.

 

diagon alley

Diagon Alley has quite a bit more shopping and a few more rides than Hogsmeade, but it also closes up earlier, so get there with enough time to enjoy all it has to offer.

 

escape from gringotts          harry potter dragon

Diagon Alley – Escape from Gringotts is rollicking fun. Atop the bank is a fire breathing dragon. Inside is an opulent reconstruction of the movie set, designed to entertain you as you wind through the line for hours awaiting your 2-minute experience. We were lucky. The longest lines we had to wait in were about 30 minutes. Without the express pass.

 

knight bus            grimmauld place

Other fun highlights outside Diagon Alley include the Knight bus (outside only) and 13 Grimmauld Place (outside only).

nine three quarters

Kings Cross Station – entering platform 9 ¾ was not as exciting as we had hoped, but we got over it, as the excitement of boarding the train mounted.

The food:

 

leaky cauldron

In Diagon Alley, traditional pub fare is available at the Leaky Cauldron, along with pumpkin juice and butterbeer. We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, with butter beer and pumpkin juice. Altogether too much sugar! I got a tummy ache.

Carts throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley purvey bottles of ice cold pumpkin juice (be ready for the $7.50 price tag) and mugs of butterbeer.

The shopping:

 

magic knitting needles

Ollivander’s wand shop offers instruction in choosing wands – economy or deluxe. The deluxe version allows the wizard to perform magic at several spots in the wizarding world. Got wands for me – Molly Weasley, of course; the boy – Sirius Black (who knew?!), and my daughter – Snape.

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes offers just about everything it does in the movie and more. We made sure to get a chocolate frog, peppermint toads, and some other delectables. Quite a few visitors toured the park in Madame Malkin’s “bespoke” robes. Luckily for my wallet, I had made us robes a few years ago, which were still quite serviceable. No wonder I identify so closely with Molly Weasley. It was great fun going through the shops and looking at all the wizarding items. Borgin and Burkes’ shop is as creepy as it was in the movie.

The rest:

raptor

Back in Hogsmeade, we decided to explore other areas of the park and made our way to Jurassic Park, where we narrowly escaped being lunch for a “friendly” velociraptor. Jurassic Park was exciting, especially since we had recently seen Jurassic World in the theater.

By the time we made it to Marvel Super Hero Island, it was raining. Not wanting to crush our belongings in ride lockers again, we took turns under the umbrellas with the backpacks.

spidey ride

Adventures of Spider-Man in 3D is thrilling. The close calls really get the adrenaline going. Storm Force Accelatron is a good old fashioned spinning ride.

At the end of the day, it was relaxing just to sit and enjoy the atmosphere of Hogsmeade – something we should also have done in Diagon Alley.

hogwarts castle

Note that Universal does not allow guests to bring in coolers and the lockers are quite small. Certain rides have lockers available for personal items, but they are also very small. Free for the duration of the ride, though.

My notes for future visits – keep backpack light. Just a few snacks and water. Shop just before leaving – your wands will get crushed in the tiny ride lockers. The “all day” lockers are not much bigger than the ride lockers, but if you must bring additional items, they’re a good option. they are located in the Marvel Studios area of Islands of Adventure. Also nearby are the cell phone and tablet charging lockers. This was a new feature to me and seemed like a very good idea. Though I carry my own power pack, there was a time I didn’t, and phone and camera batteries can get used up quickly on trips like these.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Florida – Making the Most of Not Enough Time

florida cranes

The Silver Bullet is coming up on her first birthday. With me, anyway. Last year, the man-of-the-place purchased a truck bed off Ebay, and decided for the price of shipping, we could go to Florida to pick it up and have some fun while there. It also provided an opportunity to test out the new-to-me truck, pulling the trailer on a long drive. She did very well, by the way.

truck, bed, trailer
Silver Bullet, carrying truck bed, hauling trailer.

Although the trip was way too quick and not scenic enough, (we stayed on the interstate) we were in a time crunch, to not spend too much time away from the abuelo. From Colorado, we made dry camp in a parking area outside Amarillo, Texas. The following day we stopped to have lunch at Cracker Barrel with my brother and his wife.

cracker bqrrel checkers

After our lunch date, we zipped along into Louisiana and stopped near some train tracks, where we could put the slide out and cook some dinner. Another early start. Another long driving day and we made it to Florida. We parked it at a farm, thinking it was the one we were headed for, but it was next door. Luckily the guys were friends and were very patient with our goof.

tropical palms florida

After picking up our merchandise, we treated ourselves to 2 nights in an rv park (which we got for ½ price with our Passport America Membership) and went to Harry Potter world at Universal Studios. Had a great time.

harry potter dragon

While in Kissimmee we also did the brakes and enjoyed the pool at the rv park. Very much.  Then it was back to long driving days.

tropical palms pool florida

We zipped through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, getting introduced to boiled peanuts on the way – yum! Rivers and swampland were visible from the interstate, but we didn’t get off to explore. Sheets of rain slowed, and at one point completely stopped our progress for a while. When we finally emerged, we were grateful for dryer weather. Even though fuel prices were significantly lower in the southern states.

gas price mississipi

This would be a great trip to do again, sometime. With plenty of time to explore, and no torrential rains or potential floods to contend with.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

A Holy Year in Rome – The Ultimate Guide Book

A Holy Year in Rome

What better way to see Rome than with someone who’s loved living and working there for over 30 years? A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis makes me want to visit Rome again. Gypsies accosted us right inside the church last time I was there. In addition there were death defying encounters with traffic. Not to mention the endless wanderings thru tourist traps. Joan makes Rome come alive with fascinating people and colorful history. She also provides insider travel tips and advice.

A Holy Year in Rome, is subtitled The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy. It begins with a description of the book’s meaning of pilgrimage and shrines. Next comes a glossary of terms. Such Catholic ideas as jubilee, basilica, and cathedral can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, the author explains the concept of holy doors in simple language.

Ms. Lewis gives an interesting history of jubilee years from the first one in 1300, through the current one. She explains why Pope Francis called an extraordinary jubilee. She also points out the significance of the dates of opening and closing this jubilee.

A full chapter is taken up by a self-tour guide book to the 7 pilgrimage basilicas. It features the highlights of each, in an orderly fashion, from entering to exit.

Another chapter contains a history and detailed description of the catacombs and their frescoes, paintings and stuccoes.

One chapter offers a self-guided tour of the vatican city-state.

Yet another is devoted to a history and guide to the pope’s second home, Castlegandalfo.

The book concludes with 3 chapters of Rome-specific travel advice. Joan gives her readers insider tips on navigating and getting the most out of their Rome visit. She also recommends books and links for further reading.

I thank Sophia Institute for providing me with a review copy of A Holy Year in Rome. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis

(c) 2015 Published by Sophia Institute Press

248 pages

Available from http://www.sophiainstitute.com

$19.95 paperback/$9.95 ebook

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr