A Tweet Tour of South West USA: 5 (Phoenix to Grand Canyon)
(Four previous Tweet Tour posts got published back in September 2011. Then pesky business intervened as pesky business will. This was not to the taste of the remaining posts, however, who complained about getting left in limbo. So here comes post number five: Phoenix to Grand Canyon (via Sedona), Wednesday 24th August 2011.)
The hotels, from humblest to mightiest have swimming pools and you can, if inclined, sit on your balcony and watch the bikinis and trunks perform the posing stroll (“the day may be hot, but I’m even hotter”). As evening darkens and the strollers take their heat elsewhere, you might even venture down for a private dip. As we did.
Chris’s exit from the pool was unexpectedly sudden, and as I performed a dripping stroll behind her I wondered why. Back at our room it appeared she had pulled a muscle in her thigh. But the symptoms were odd – invisible bruising – and, as the evening wore on, an increased feeling of unwellness.
This wasn’t good. Chris is one of those people who has reason to be wary of deep vein thrombosis on plane flights. Had something coagulated three days earlier and been stirred into action by her swim?
The next questions were what to do. Swallow aspirin or consult a doctor? Risk a stroke or risk the holiday? How caring-sharing would it be to condemn her to possible observation in a hospital ward for the next week? These things can happen. We have experienced them.
So we decided to carry out the observation ourselves. En route. In car.
Said observations, however, were not at their sharpest during our first stop at Rock Springs. I was bombed with driving, Chris with her mystery affliction, and both us gasping for iced teas. We took the opportunity, of course, for Rest Room visits, and I took less time than usual on the men’s Chaise Longue so I was out and waiting while she was still inside.
Not wanting to miss her, I went to the main entrance by the souvenir shop section and patrolled back and forth with blank-headed, stumbling determination.
Nor did she want to miss me, so, on emerging, she patrolled the Rest Room entrances with blank-headed, stumbling determination.
From where I stood she was out of sight, but the waitresses were visible. They stood in the cafe section that lay between us. And they had a tendency to look from side to side. They’d look from rest rooms, to main entrance, and back. Perhaps they wondered what epic quarrel was keeping us apart. Perhaps they wondered if they should try bringing us together.
But some delicacy of local etiquette held them back. After all, this was Wild West territory. If we really wished to work ourselves into a shoot-out who were they to interfere?
I forget who found whom, but the potential of the situation was thrillingly obvious. Invest enough energy and we could blame each other all day long. Next day too. Maybe we could sabotage a whole week.
On the other hand, Sedona was beckoning and Sedona was a destination that merited full attention.
So we gave the whole thing a shrug and got in the car.
I’d already heard of Sedona as a New Age magnet, a sort of American Glastonbury. Before we’d flown out, we’d studied brochure pictures and decided Sedona would be a vital diversion en route to the main business – the Grand Canyon.
Well, Sedona was worth more than a diversion. As we swooped off the Interstate 17 and onto State Route 179, she quite forgot her wounded leg – and indeed our Rest Room choreography – as red rocked buttes and mesas floated up the car windscreen, into our disbelieving eyes, and jumped about in our boggling brains.
This was what she’d come west for – for wonders and wows and I-can’t-believe-I’m-heres. And she’d got them even before the main event.
Better than a hospital ward, eh?
We strolled from the car park, along the side roads, and on to the High Street shaking our heads with delight, and as we entered the yellow-umbrella’d Taos Cantina for lunch we could hardly pass through the door for craning our necks behind.
After our Chicken Relleno and Tequila Lime Chicken – and of course acres of iced tea – we strolled the Uptown area in a daze of amazement. The shops and restaurants were generally one storey affairs, cowboy style, so the mountains could put their hands on the roofs and peep over the tops. Hello little humans, they would say.
But the best effect was the gaps between shops. There’d be a side road, you’d step into the gap, and the mountains would leap at you, red of rock and extravagant of shape.
- Sedona is a town of inarticulate wonder. Red butte slams out of a corner ‘Wow!’ you say. Red mesa blocks the high street ‘Wow!’ you gasp
- Past the taco restaurant ‘Wow!’ Between the clothes shops ‘Wow!’ Before the crystal shop ‘Wow!’ Sedona is a challenge to the articulacy
- It’s a town of long range mugging. You walk past a shop, two, then a gap – and a mountain smashes through and mugs your brain
- Laughably extravagant shapes burst out of street gaps and mock your incomprehension. Go on, they challenge, say ‘Wow!’
- ‘You call us Cathedral, Sugar Loaf, Bell?” they crow. “Can’t you do better than that?’ – and they preen into new, impossible poses
The locals seemed to have imbibed the general good feeling. At a crystal shop, for instance, we asked about a book on Vortices (those are the energy centres reckoned to give Sedona its oomph). The shop girl, alas, could not help, but when we speculated about living in Sedona she proceeded to assist with gusto. Whipping out her mobile phone, she brought up photos of her own house and we oohed and aahed for a convivial quarter hour.
Then as we stepped from the shop there were the mountains again, leaning in at all points, waving, cooing, uplifting, inspiring.
The twenty four mile drive to Flagstaff afterwards may have been vertiginously winding, and the sixty five flatter ones to Grand Canyon may have been bum-numbingly long, but I was able to bask in the glow of doing the Right Thing. Chris was resting in the passenger seat. And getting lots of boost in her Wow capacity.
Excellent for the general health, I did not doubt. She wouldn’t be seeing any old hospital wards. Nope, she’d be seeing the Grand Canyon – although, as dusk deepened, I suspected she’d not be seeing it that day.
May I invite you to make certain purchases? (I may? Why, thank you...)
(a) The Salamander Stone (by my most excellent and trusty pal, Mrs Me) from one of these outlets:
Direct from the publisher, Burst Books: click here
Amazon UK: click here
(b) The Two Worlds of Wellesley Tudor Pole (by Mrs Me’s most excellent and trusty pal, Me):
Amazon UK: click here
Amazon.com (US): click here
(You’ll be getting both of them? Well, that is an admirable choice, if I may say so...)