Sunday, November 22, 2015

RoadTripSix: Sedona-ish and Tucson

Given the weather in Northern Arizona we decided it was time to migrate south for the winter. Arizona, I believe, is relatively friendly to migrants, so long as they're headed South. We drove down through Sedona. Sedona is a very beautiful town. It is also a very fancy one, and even though we were recently hygieneated, we didn't feel quite comfortable getting out and exploring the art galleries, wine boutiques, and new-age mystic healing centers, so we continued through town until we found a Circle K on the outskirts, where we bought a Six-Pack and some Fritos.

After a night in the motel we wanted to find some place warmer and away from it all in Central Arizona. But sometimes to find that hidden gem you have to take the road less traveled. And you start down that road only to find out exactly why the road is less traveled. It's because nobody should be driving down that road in a minivan. Some people just aren't well equipped for the road less traveled. No shame in that. There's a lot of good stuff on the well traveled roads. Go see a museum or something. But also sometimes you're stubborn (all the time?) and you keep going down the road anyway, wincing at the screams of pain coming from the bottom of your minivan and trying to ignore the pompous laughter of the barren desert surrounding you. Then finally you arrive at a beautiful desert stream oasis and you realize that it was worth it all along, although your minivan vehemently disagrees. Your minivan doesn't care for streams.

It was way worse in real life.
Live streaming.

The last paragraph was meant to be a riff on Robert Frost's poem further research revealed that it's actually called “The Road Not Taken” and it isn't actually about being brave and individualistic and doing unconventional things, and most of the world has had it wrong, and poet scholars have been laughing at us for a long time. So be it. I wasn't trying to write a metaphor anyway. What I was talking about was the literal road less traveled. We've been driving down a lot of sketchy dirt “roads” on this trip. This one in particular was near Camp Verde, AZ and was the worst one of them all, but with a most beautiful payoff, relative to its surroundings. We parked the van streamside in our new private wilderness and enjoyed the stars and the babbling waters. It doesn't get any better than that. Unless you have all of that plus a TV marathon of “Yukon Men” and some Del Taco.

In the morning we woke up and took the road slightly less, less travelled back to the highway and continued south towards Tucson.

The drive from Sedona down to Tucson is not especially pretty. There's Phoenix which is essentially a huge strip mall, so far as I can tell. There's an endless procession of Border Patrol trucks who find my beat up minivan very suspicious until they see me driving it. And then a lot of dry earth. Mostly dry earth.

Tucson is much more attractive than it's big brother to the north, with 360 degrees of mountains surrounding the city and as many saguaro cacti (pronounced sah-WAH-ro) as humans. Tucson is home to the largest cacti in the US. It is also home to sub-$2 gasoline. It is also the home of Cameron Jones, which is the main reason for selecting it as the location for the unofficial biannual reunion of our closest Peace Corps friends. The large cacti were just an added prick. I mean pirck. Perk?

It's pretty pretty in Tucson.

Say whaaaaaat?!?!

We thawed out pretty nicely in Tucson with temperatures in the high 70's. We rented a house for all of us to stay in. We followed the usual reunion itinerary: eat, hike, drink, laugh, fun fun good times and happy feelings. We ate seafood because, as they say, “when in the desert, try the seafood.” We rode bikes to relive the feeling of saving world…when it was convenient. We went to the local breweries. I'm just listing stuff we did. It was a great weekend. I ate a steak. You can ride in the back of a pick-up truck legally in Arizona. I like that a lot. 

Anything goes in the Wild West! Hey, stop at the red light.
Beach cruising. 

Down on the dude ranch after a hard day of wrangling cattle.

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