AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

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AArdvark
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by AArdvark »

DAY TWO

SEDONA


"Ho-ly shit."
This was the extent of my vocabulary as we drove into the red rocks area. I couldn't seem to find a better descriptive term for the Sedona landscape. The closer we got the more incredible the scenery. Sedona is absolutely beautiful. All that scenic beauty makes you want to move there. Well, maybe not move there but certainly visit a lot. If I moved there I would miss the change of seasons. As it was, all the stores had their Halloween decorations up but outside it felt like summertime. I can't imagine Christmas in Arizona with temperatures up in the sixties.
If you're into art then Sedona is the place for you. The place is packed with art galleries and studios. There's so much of an artsy vibe they even decorate the trash bins and roadside sound barriers. Don't get me wrong, they do that in New York as well, only in New York they use spray paint and gang tags, it's not the same thing. There's this hippy, Burning Man vibe going on in Sedona that makes you want to sit on a park bench in the shade with a big sloppy grin, maybe play an Indian flute while giving your cash away to the passers by because money is just a tool of the establishment, man.
On top of the laid back vibe there's a big psychic, wacky, head-scarf crystal culture. All the women seemed to be dressed like Rhoda, weird. I bet you could stand in the main street with a rock and hit a dozen vortex mind and body cleansing spas/herbal tea rooms. The place reminded me of Roswell, New Mexico, which I've never visited but have a repressed memory which was, at a guess, erased when I was abducted by the greys. An hour of mind cleansing vortex spa treatments and some herbal tea would probably let me remember more clearly, but let's not get crazy.
One of the first things we did was visit the ruins of Palatki. This is actually a national park with actual park rangers. The thousand year old dwellings are some miles from Sedona and tucked back into the base of a large cliff. To get there we had to drive way out into the scrub and then down eight miles of washboard dirt road. It was pretty bad, like riding along in a cement mixer. Luckily we had a rented car with a damage waiver.
The rangers provided walking sticks for the tourists, which I thought was a little silly. I have gone on many a boy scout hike and never needed a stick to help me along. The rangers said the sticks would assist with balance because the trail up to the ruins is very rocky and uneven. Yeah, well I've had a drink or two in my day and I could tell you all about uneven walking. And those hard-core hikers that go around with those stupid ski poles, they always look like idiots to me, so I'll pass on carrying some dumb stick. The ranger went on to explain that tapping the ground with the sticks also alerts any rattlesnakes in the area that they need to get out of the way.
Oh, rattlesnakes. Huh, never thought about that, perhaps I will take a stick after all. Hey, maybe I could fight a rattlesnake, like Zorro, that would be cool! Hi-keeba, slithering death, take that!
My wife, who is deathly afraid of snakes was less than thrilled to hear all this information. She managed to walk maybe a hundred yards on the trail before she announced that she just couldn't do this. Her hands were already sweating and shaking slightly. She would go back and wait for us in the snake-safe zone at the visitor center and listen to some of the female tourists hit on the rangers. I tried, but I never saw any snakes, not a one. They must have known I was coming.
On the drive back to Sedona we passed many places where people had parked their trailers way off in the distance and were camping out in the middle of desert scrub nowhere. Personally I consider camping to be anyplace that doesn't offer room service, but these campers had nothing. No water or electricity or cell service, just whatever they brought with them. It looked very desolate.
"It's called Boondocking," my friend said. Being an avid camper she knew about these things.
"Boonwacking?" I asked from the back seat, not hearing her correctly, "Those people are called boon-wackers? What do they do it for?"
"It's being isolated. You know, a getting-back-to-nature kind of thing."
"So they're wackos going off the grid, only with rattlesnakes and scorpions stopping by for coffee."
"It's not that bad, they have their trucks and ATV's and things. All that isolation is supposed to be refreshing."
"So's a hot shower, "I replied, "but we don't have to go in the middle of nowhere to get one."

Back in Sedona we walked around the main street for a while, checking out the different shops. One of the cool places we found sold fossils. It was a high end store that was part art gallery/museum, of course it was. Some of the larger fossils in there sold for thousands of dollars. They cater to all kinds of rich folks in Sedona, think Indiana Jones with a check book. I bought a plesiosaur tooth, mainly because the cool fossils, like megalodon teeth and t-rex teeth were too expensive. Buying a rarity like a real live (dead) fossil made me feel slightly guilty, and I wondered if there were some black market shenanigans going on. The sales lady assured us that these were all legit fossils from Wyoming and didn't need to be in a museum or anything. I'm sure the fossil police or whatever, would have shut them down long ago if there was any shady back door dealings going on in there. After all, we could probably buy stuff like this online anyway if we thought about it. It's not everyday you get to walk around with a real sea monster dinosaur tooth in your pocket, even if it does keep poking you in the leg. It was like getting bit over and over by the loch ness monster and how cool is that?

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Jizaboz
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by Jizaboz »

I saw a fucking snake in my very desert-like front yard the around the same time and almost picked it up while picking up dead sticks.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair, man.

That’s cool you bought fossils! In my moms last few years, she was super into mining gems and finding fossils along the way outside of the tourist belt so to speak.

I’m still holding on to some of her best “rock specimens” rather than tossing everything to keep the collection going. It’s one of those things I always had interest in but never took the time to really hunt or tumble rocks and such.

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AArdvark
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by AArdvark »

I was going to link this thread after looking at Nessman's Arizona photos but I never put my pix back up after my depression episode a few months ago. Is it worth me re-linking my photos? Should I start a poll?

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey »

I would enjoy the pictures, yes.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

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Flack
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by Flack »

Another vote for pix!
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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bryanb
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by bryanb »

Yeah, Vark, you should definitely bring back those photos...in fact, it looks like the comeback has already started which is great. I thought your photos did a really nice job of capturing a non-stereotypical and multifaceted view of Arizona. When Covid-19 is a thing of the past, the BBS should send you and nessman back to AZ to take the UFO tour in Sedona.

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AArdvark
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by AArdvark »

Funny, we were just talking about going back out there in a year or so. Maybe seeing the North rim and environs this time and flying back from San Diego

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AArdvark
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Re: AArdvark's Arizona trip thread

Post by AArdvark »

I was going through my floppies the other day and I came across this third blog post about the trip last year. I had forgotten all about it. I had written four blogs in total but the fourth is mostly a rant of me bagging on Las Vegas, nothing fun happened there, so I deleted it. So here's the third and final entry...Enjoy!



DAY FIVE

THE GRAND CANYON

I'm skipping days three and four. Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and Meteor Crater National Hole-in-the-Ground were OK but somehow not very remarkable. They are the places you go to say you've been there, maybe get a cool t-shirt but that's about it. So lets get right down to the core of modern tourist travel, The Great American Package Deal!
Our Package Deal included two nights at the Grand Canyon Railroad hotel in Williams, a day trip train ride to the Grand Canyon and accompanying bus tour. Also included were two breakfasts and two dinners in the fabulous Fred Harvey buffet room (live music nightly!) In many ways this is a good idea, it would take a lot of dicking around to arrange all this stuff piecemeal, so having it all-in-one was convenient.
The flip side to the Package Deal is that hardly anybody under fifty uses it, apparently. We were surrounded by... no, infested by, old folks. That's not exactly true, there were a couple of families with kids, but they were the exception. Mostly the place was stuffed with old, blue haired, non-smiling biddies and stringy duffers complaining about everything, picking over their food in the restaurant, like sparrows with forks and just generally sucking the fun out of the hotel. Even the bar was subdued. The highlight of the evening was a party of four elderlies playing Snap-Bo. Everyone else looked like they were waiting for a bingo game to break out. We retired (pun!) early because, what the fuck.

The next morning after breakfast we were all treated to a cowboy show at a mock-up western town. It was rather pointless and certainly in need of a good script writer, but the cowboys got to shoot off their guns and that made some of the the old folks smile a little bit. Cowboys shooting guns probably brought back memories of their youth. I was in a New York State of mind and kept having nervous thoughts about open-carry and a city wide lock-down. Gotta love the modern age we're living in.

It's about a two hour train ride to and from the Grand Canyon. You don't just sit and chat and enjoy the landscape passing by, however, oh no. Each passenger car has their own attendant and PA system. Our train car attendant was a cross between a cheerleader and a stand-up comedian. One of the first things she instructed us to do was to call out "Wildlife! Wildlife! if any of us passengers saw any animals outside.
Naturally thirty seconds later I called out: "Hey! It's Bigfoot, Bigfoot back there! In the trees!" My wife hit me in the elbow and told me to stop messing with the old people.
One of the things I have learned from sightseeing tours like this is that the tour guides, or in this case our cheerleader, usually have a pretty set script. They rattle off all sorts of facts and tell jokes like crazy because they say the same stuff day after day. Maybe the old people didn't realize this because they laughed at the stupid jokes and said things like: 'well, for heaven's sake' or 'is that so.'
I remember back in 1986 when I took the Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan Island. The tour guide told us all sorts of interesting facts and stuff. I took the same boat ride again in 2006 and in twenty years, except for the missing Twin Towers and the Captain Sully airplane-on-the-Hudson part the speech hadn't changed a bit.

A few minutes later our train passed a North Pole Christmas Village set up by the side of the tracks. Our cheerleader/attendant told us that they do a Polar Express ride every December. My wife said that we should go.
"Why would we do that?" I asked, thinking that it's a long way from New York to Arizona to do something as doofy as go on a Polar Express train ride.
"It would be fun," she said. "We'd get hot chocolate and we could all come in our pajamas."
This made me spit out my water and get a case of the laughing hiccups. When she realized what I was laughing at she hit me in the elbow, twice, and told me not to be so gross.
There's hardly a dull, or quiet, moment on the train ride because of the cheerleader's constant yammering spiel on the P-A. And when she's not talking there's the strolling entertainers, moving from car to car. Guitar Hopeless, or whatever he called himself, was one of two singing cowboys and neither one was very good. He sang 'The City of New Orleans' and a couple other songs and then recited that stupid RinderCella story that I first heard in Boy Scout camp back in the mid-Seventies. It's probably where he first heard it as well. Naturally the old folks loved it. I fled to the bar car, where the beers were expensive, but quiet.

When we arrived at the South Rim of the Canyon the first thing we did, after a two hour train ride, was take a bus tour. The bus driver was from Eastern Europe and very knowledgeable (no doubt he was also reciting a spiel) about the Grand Canyon but he sounded suspiciously like Borat.
"Gran' Canyon is ver' like sexie time-uh."
But the views really were spectacular. On the way up, our train car cheerleader told us not to bother taking a zillion pictures: "Because they'll all just look the same. Put the phones away and just take it in."
She also said it was the loudest quiet you'll ever hear. And you know what, she was right.

On the ride back back someone spotted some of those those husk-varnas or Valvoline rat-pigs, or whatever they are. Apparently they're rodents in disguise or something.
"They look like pigs," said our cheerleader, "they act like pigs," (probably smell like pigs too) "but they don't like to be called that." I rolled my eyes. The old folks tittered.

Three quarters of the way back to the hotel the train started to slow down. Our cheerleader pointed out a horse trailer and pickup truck that someone had halfheartedly tried to hide behind a large scrub tree.
"Uh-oh," she said, "I think we're going to get robbed!" She said it in a tone of voice that indicated that this happens every trip.
Then she told everyone to scream when the cowboys came to our car. Of course it was the same cowboys from the morning show. They came aboard and 'robbed' everyone. In New York City this activity is known as street begging.
Here's the thing about the Great American Package Deal, there's a lot of tipping involved. Thinking back on it, I believe I tipped more people in that twenty-four hours than the rest of the vacation combined. There was our server at breakfast, the train car cheerleader, two mediocre guitar players on the train, the bartender in the club car, the Borat bus driver, ('Tenk yu! Hi fiyvuh!') and our server when we ate lunch at the Grand Canyon restaurant. By the time the cowboys showed up to rob us I didn't have any bills smaller than a ten spot and they really weren't good enough actors to get that much. My wife had five bucks in dollar coins so I gave them that. It made me feel a little cheap handing out change but I noticed some of the old biddies didn't cough up a dime. That made me feel a little better.
One of the blue-hairs in the seat in front of us, obviously caught up in the spirit of the moment, asked the cheerleader why don't they just -not- stop the train.
She replied: "Because our cowboys won't jump from moving horse to moving train for minimum wage."
I think that was her best line the whole trip. But I also think she had a lot of practice.

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