Photo by Chris Shovel
On March 18, with two big Masters Touch buses and a truly beautiful day, approximately 90 OLLI members and friends left from the YC campus for a long-anticipated trip to the Japanese Gardens and the Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix. Thanks to all the recent moisture to Arizona, the roadside wildflowers were beginning to appear and the ground itself looked as if it had just been transported from the Emerald Isles.
We arrived at the Japanese Gardens, and were promptly divided into four groups, each with a knowledgeable tour guide. Our guide, Diane, explained the Ro Ho En engraved on the lovely entrance gate and the purpose of Japanese gardens for people everywhere as a place of peace, tranquility, beauty and centering of the mind, away from their hectic lives and schedules. While the gardens are only 3 acres in size, they represent all world zones as one slowly progresses through them. The pond in the center has marvelous schools of Koi fish in pinks, yellows, silvers, and some even with blue markings, all hoping to be fed by us. These are both donated and ‘home-grown’, in all sizes, and beautifully exotic. As we walked, the art of bonzai was explained, and the wide variety of trees pointed out. There is an authentic teahouse, and the elaborate tea ceremonies and traditions were described. With several delightful bridges, lovely waterfalls, and tranquil areas, this truly is a quiet haven in the midst of Phoenix busyness. And we actually drove under the gardens when going through a tunnel on the way to the Wrigley Mansion – amazing!
With beautiful floral landscaping and a view to die for, the Wrigley Mansion overlooks the Biltmore Hotel and the homes within the Biltmore grounds. This was the smallest of the five Wrigley homes (at 16,850 sq. feet!) and a 50th wedding anniversary present in 1932 from William Wrigley, Jr. to his wife Ada. In 1992, it was purchased by Geordie Hormel. Originally, he only wanted to buy the priceless oak Steinway player piano (one of only two) in the living room, but found that Mr. Wrigley had willed that all furniture must stay with the Mansion – so he bought it all! The tour included various rooms, with intricate ceilings in Art Deco patterns and colors, Catalina tiles (from Wrigley’s own Catalina Island factory), and verandas with wonderful views, including Camelback Mountain. After the tour, our group had a delicious lunch in an upper dining area overlooking the main dining hall and with panoramic views of Phoenix.
After lunch, we boarded our buses and headed back to Prescott. This was a very enjoyable trip, and our thanks to the OLLI people who scheduled and worked on it.
Submitted by Pat Beaugrand
You can find out more about the Japanese Gardens by following this link: http://www.japanesefriendshipgarden.org/
You can find out more about the Wrigley Mansion by following this link: http://www.wrigleymansionclub.com/