Monday, December 19, 2016

On the Road Again

It's interesting how my office can change from - serious office at home to on the road office - or holiday office.  The last few months have been a small office with the desk being a TV table.  I meant to upgrade that but somehow, it never happened.  I wasn't ready to put out the money for the short-term investment.  But in that office I finished a book, and the edits on two others, never mind some ideas for future projects.

We were in Arizona for the fall, enjoying a break from the dreary prairie fall weather that can be rain, sleet or full out winter weather and back again.   But now it's time to head home where my real office awaits - with reference books and space - yes, there's benefits to going home.

Today we headed through New Mexico after an overnight in Albuquerque.  I love the feel and look of New Mexico.  What I don't like is the endless stream of semis heading to and
from Albuquerque.  That aside, the New Mexico landscape is vast, wild and oddly prehistoric.  The towering cliffs and red rock, the wind swept plans, all of it seems to hold a story.  It's a place, I often think I'd like to stay for awhile, maybe enough time to write a book.  We'll see what the future brings.

In the meantime, it's further north and to Colorado where we meet what I've avoided right until the last days of fall - snow.  Snow arrives much earlier than the official date of winter, still a few days away but for today, the snow cover is minimal and the roads are clear.  Although the mountains looked glorious under a fresh coat of snow.  But then, a mountain is kind of like the best looking girl in the room - they can wear anything and still look spectacular.

Castle Rock is today's stop.  It is part of the urban sprawl leading into Denver.  Urban sprawl is an ugly word but Castle Rock is saved from that by the backdrop of snowcapped mountains that surrounds it.  Castle Rock is an easy stop before hitting Denver and then on to one of my favourite places, Fort Collins.  But Denver and Fort Collins are tomorrow - for today there's a little bar I can see from my window.  A cold glass of beer after a tiring day where I got to be the backseat driver (how tiring is that) and I sat in the front seat (confusing yet?).

Tomorrow, it's on to Wyoming.  I've travelled this route before but there's always something new on the open road.  Fingers crossed the weather holds.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Road Trip - Life Through A Different Lens

Our trip south is winding to a close and its soon time to head north and home where wishing for snow isn't part of my reality.  Christmas, except for one strange year, is always white.  The escape south has  been a good time.  It's a vacation but not really - more like a change of view from my office window.  My work day has been flexed around having fun.  That means getting up well before sunrise, which I regularly do but now it's just a bit earlier on almost every morning.  By the time the lights on neighbouring houses go on, I've already gone through a cup of coffee and a few hours of work.

The other day was different.  I was up early, the other houses, as usual, were in darkness.  But  I wasn't up early for work but for a road trip.  And as we pulled out of the driveway with the other houses in darkness excitement ran through me.

Our first stop was the Desert Museum just outside of Tucson.  This is a place we've wanted to see since our first trip down here over a handful of years ago when our trips south began.  They began because we were feeling landlocked as our Irish Terrier, Rourke,  was no longer young and we couldn't hit the road without him.  That limited our choices and had us come up with the plan for a road trip south.  Year one we arrived at the Desert Museum with the temperature perfect to leave him in the car for a short period of time.  We always made sure that we checked on him regularly and only left him when the temperature was well below seventy - and of course warm enough in the other direction.  But the signs clearly stated that no dogs should be left in the car no matter what the temperature - they'd break the glass to get them out, or so the sign threatened.  Frightening that such drastic measures had to be considered.  Who would leave their dog in hot weather - and no matter the weather, for any length of time?  Anyway, sometimes they have temporary kennels on such tourist sites but there was none of that.  The Desert Museum was a go no that year  and in a number of years that followed.  Until this year.  Sadly - we lost Rourke last fall.

So this year we arrive - me with a bit of trepidation.  I know there are animals here and i'm not sure how or what they're living conditions will be.  I'll be truthful, I don't like zoos.  So I was a little hesitant about what this might be about.  And while there were aspects of it I didn't like, what I did was that the animals all came there because they were injured and required rehab.  Once that was complete they remained there in habitats where a lot of effort had been made to make them as natural as possible.  Here, the mountain lion was majestically relaxed and clearly in his element.

The high point was the raptor demonstration
where the birds flew free on the command of their trainer.  It was amazing to see these birds flying just over our heads, catching prey and then returning to their handler on command.

Then it was on to Tubac, Arizona population 1,191 in the 2010 census.  The size alone and the few reviews had us expecting not a whole lot but it was on the way.  We were completely blown over - there was so much more than the little we'd expected.  The place was small but so eclectic and filled with artists and their work along with boutique shops bringing in unique and good quality crafts, clothing and accessories.  It was a shoppers dream  There wasn't enough time and one day I'm going to have to go back.  An hour and a half was all we had.  Way more in the day than hours in the day allowed - this will be a place marked as check it out again, spend an overnight.  Check out the funky cafes, the amazing art and the culture that ran like a live wire through this small town.

Next, we had planned
to see San Xavier del Bac but there wasn't enough time before it closed at five.  So there was another heritage site right outside town - Tumac├ícori is an older but smaller site.  We headed there.

By the time we left the site, it was dark but the freeway was crowded with rush hour traffic as
Peas and carrots from a can - winter memories!
we reached downtown Tucson.  After an hour of bumper to bumper traffic we hit open road once again and stopped in Coolidge in a little cafe - best described as a hole in the wall.  The counter and stools were not only reminiscent of fifties or sixties era but the worn linoleum confirmed that this cafe had aged in place.  The chicken fried steak and huge clot of gravy only completed the whole ambience.  Add to that, that it's been a long time since I've had canned peas.  I remember now, as a child, why I disliked peas that didn't come straight from the garden and was reminded of winter and canned peas.  But despite that small gripe, it and all the experiences of that day were invaluable.  They are what paint the layers on life and make it a rich and intense experience.  It might not have been a good meal but it was filling and the ambience was priceless rather like road trips!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Winslow, Arizona

I'm still playing catchup and moving backward to the last night on the road.

Waiting area for the train.
We spent that night in Winslow, Arizona in an old railway hotel that was turn of the century cool.  Not being a fan of the Eagles' song that has seemed to make Winslow famous, I was definitely a fan of that hotel.  And update, I came away a fan of the song too - somehow knowing something about the origins of a song makes you appreciate it that much more.  But back to the hotel, again wasn't sure what to expect.  A single room in an old hotel with no elevator is not something that comes with high expectations.  I envisioned lugging my suitcase up stairs - I was right there, in a dark and dingy - wrong on that one.

Very wrong...

The room was a comfortable size and old world elegance with furnishings that were both funky and old.  Full bookcases in the room and out.  A writer's dream!  Outside the room, the common areas were spacious and decorated with everything from art displays and reading nooks - even a memorial table for what I assume were once the resident dogs.  The hotel was an amazing place.  It's still is a drop off and pick up place for the railroad and there's a waiting area outside where you can sit comfortably waiting for the next train.  There was part of two floors that held entertainment for the guests From the funky grand piano to the paintings depicting stories behind each of the women who have been the United State's first ladies.  That was fascinating

stuff in the odd facts that were revealed and how the artist made the emotion real on the canvas.  And my favourite part - each room was dedicated to a famous person and a one page write up of their life was on the door - from the Doublemint twins to Betty Grable, if someone had opened their door they would have caught me lurking outside as I moved from door to door reading each of the write ups.  Fascinating stuff - too many to read them all though and I was feeling just a little creepy standing outside someone's door like that - even though it was really an innocent activity, really.

Then there was the reason for being here - we'd just missed the Take it Easy convention.  Yes, there is such a thing.  So the crowds have moved on but I still needed the picture.  The one beside the truck and of course then there were the requisite souvenirs.  Did I mention I'm not much into the song?  But once you're here you just fall into the mood of it all with Take it Easy and everything Eagles belting out from every store bracketing the area, the mood has been laid.

Well, I’m a standing on a corner 
in Winslow, Arizona, 
and such a fine sight to see. 
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Fordslowin’ down to take a look at me. 
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe. 
I gotta know if your sweet love is 
gonna save me. 
We may lose and we may winthough we will never be here again. 
So open up, I’m climbin’ in, 
so take it easy.

Excerpt from the Washington Post

And in other news!

There's a sale on!  If you haven't read my first two books, From the Dust and Ring of Desire, head on over to your fave online bookstore where they're on sale for 99 cents!  

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