Monday, December 26, 2005
Christmas In Arizona Travelogue
It's been a crazy year for me. My family moved from the Eastside of L.A. to the Westside, which is a bit of a culture shock in itself. Then, just as we were starting to get settled in Culver City, my husband got a great job offer which would require him to relocate to Arizona.
So I'm writing from Arizona this Christmas. For the first time in my life, I'm planning on moving away from Southern California. We had contemplated this move to the desert once before, several years ago, but decided that the culture of Scottsdale at that time was too homogenous for us to comfortably fit in. "Fitting in" has never been one of my strengths and I think my daughter has inherited that trait. Well, either Scottsdale/Phoenix has changed over the past few years or my own lifestyle has changed to the point where my needs are now closer to what this area provides. Perhaps it's a bit of both. Still, there are some things which will require getting used to.
Earlier in the week, my husband found a scorpion in his jacket. Luckily he saw it right before he put it on and was able to shake it out onto the yard. The same evening we had a large coyote (not like the skinny ones you see in the canyons in L.A.) cross in front of our car as we were driving down one of these dark streets. It seems many people out here consider street lights to be "light pollution" because they ruin your ability to see the stars. I am an avid stargazer, but there's something about street lighting that just makes me feel safe.
My husband, daughter and I drove up to spend part of the long weekend in Sedona. We drove in, awestruck by the red rock formations, but when we got to the town, we couldn't wait to leave. As soon as we parked the car, we were accosted by a timeshare salesman who promised to set us up with a free hotel room for the night. Fortunately for us, his phone seemed to be having problems and he couldn't get through to the hotel office. He began cursing his bad luck and slamming the phone on the counter. We walked out the door as he hurled the phone against the wall. The rest of the uptown area was not much better, just crowded with tourist shops and overpriced food choices. It's a shame, because the natural setting is just amazing.
After heading out of Sedona, we decided to spend the night in the quaint town of Jerome instead.
Jerome is a great place to visit if you:
A) Are not afraid of heights
B) Like to drink in bars
C) Are not afraid of ghosts
The town is famous for having ghosts and we ate dinner at a little place called the Haunted Hamburger, where the power went out about 15 minutes after we sat down, plunging the entire place into darkness and candlelight. Later, my husband dragged me up to the old Jerome Grand Hotel for a nightcap. This hotel was converted from an old mining hospital and it just feels creepy from the moment you walk up to it. The proprietors proudly display various photographs of unsuspecting visitors accompanied by unexplained "spirit orbs". Sleep that night was difficult. I kept hearing noises. I haven't been that eager to get up early on a Saturday in a long time.
We had breakfast in one of Arizona's oldest restaurants, The English Kitchen, which once housed an opium den in the basement and has a colorful history of its own. A few blocks away, the remnants of the old redlight district are still visible, including the famously haunted House Of Joy.
On our way back out of Jerome we stopped for lunch in Prescott at an old fashioned saloon called The Palace. The Palace had quite a colorful history too, having hosted the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. In the ladies restroom was a picture of Little Egypt, one of the more interesting entertainers who had performed at The Palace. Legend has it that during a big fire which wiped out most of the town, the local saloon patrons lifted the ornately carved wooden bar out of the burning building. Once they'd saved the bar, they continued drinking at it while the rest of the businesses burned. I like a town that has its priorities straight. Speaking of priorities, one of mine is to never skip a meal, and I just noticed that all of my "travel activities" seem to center around meals. My husband says that I plan my itinerary around my meals and that seems to be true! But he plans his itinerary around where to find cocktails, so we make a good traveling team.
Now we're back in Scottsdale. The beautiful resort where my husband works has been and will continue to be our temporary home for the next month or until we find a permanent residence.
L.A. and all my friends and family out there will always be in my heart. I will miss that city, but after all, it's only a 6 hour drive. It's time for a little change. May all of you enjoy a wonderful holiday season surrounded by people you love.