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Raising Arizona

December 18, 2009

And so we fled Vegas in a “mid-sized” SUV and after some confusion over American freeways left Nevada and found ourselves in Arizona. After passing through desert we arrived at our destination, Flagstaff, where a Christmas parade was unfolding in the darkness. I have no idea what Star Wars and stormtroopers have to do with Christmas, but laser guns tricked out with fairy lights are awesome. It had been snowing and so great swaths of slush and snow lined the streets, burying bicycles chained to stands.

After a bit of wandering we found a motel and a room before setting out in search of food and drink. For the first time my Australian drivers licence was deemed unsuitable by the barman so I sulkily drank a coke with my fish and chips. We returned home and passport in hand returned to the same bar where I somewhat haughtily flashed my passport and ordered a beer. Lining the walls of the bar were no less than 17 large screen TVs showing sports. No matter where you go to drink in this country there is a guarantee of there being at least one TV showing ESPN. This is in no way annoying, and Bush’s foreign policy was genius.

Despite the barman’s assurances that college had just finished and so the place would be packed, the bar remained somewhat dead, so Rusty and I made conversation with a gay Navajo man. We then set out to try elsewhere and after a few bars found a club that was reasonably full of people. After attempting to steal a table that was apparently occupied we met a trio of college kids who drank and danced with us. The menage-a-trois split briefly after one guy went out for a smoke, the other guy danced with Rusty and the girl patted my cheek and told me I was cute before going off and grinding both guys on separate occasions. With the night slipping on and being exhausted from the day’s drive, we slunk off home.

Before going to bed I rather stupidly drank the last of the rum we had brought from Vegas straight and woke up the next morning completely hungover. After negotiating with my stomach on the best way to get out of bed without vomiting I stumbled to the bathroom. Some further concessions were made as I half sat, half stood in the shower while lukewarm water ran over me. With intense concentration I managed to fumble for the soap and shampoo and with difficulty I dried and got dressed. The whole agonising process took over half an hour, and the usual promises of never drinking again ensued as I struggled downstairs, drank three glasses of orange juice and ate two blueberry muffins.

Outside it was snowing a blizzard and so our hopes of going to the Grand Canyon were dashed. With me still struggling to get things together, Rusty volunteered to drive to Sedona and so we set off. The roads soon got icy on the right side of the road as the ploughs hadn’t been in our direction yet. After a rather hairy drive we arrived in Sedona where it was no longer snowing but raining instead. We drank hot chocolates and marvelled at mountain ranges and clifftops that rose above the mist. Sedona is quite a lovely little place, and in good weather would be even better.

We returned to the car and headed back to Flagstaff where we found a hostel staffed by a guy who resembled a potential love child of David Spade and Seth Green. The fact that his name was Dave only furthered this connection. Our bags stowed we set off for the supermarket and also found an iPod transmitter for the car. Back at the hostel we made dinner and discussed violence in sports with a bunch of people before setting out for Sunday night drinks, which were even quieter than the previous night’s efforts.

The next morning at breakfast we met an English guy called Tom who was trying to work out how to get to the Grand Canyon. Since we were going to the same place, we offered to take him and his companions Mickey and John, and so after a quick petrol run we picked up the three boys and set off. Much was made of Mickey’s apparent bad luck (or general incompetence according to Tom): in his first week in the US he had managed to lose his passport, his cashcard and then his wallet. After an hour or so we arrived at the park entrance. Rusty had been given an annual pass by someone back in Hollywood, and despite her horrible attempt at forging the signature on the back of the card to prove it was ours we were waved through for free.

We parked the car and walked through a snow-filled forest to the canyon rim trail. Photos and any attempt I make to describe it will simply fail to do it justice. The first thing you notice is the sheer size of the canyon. It stretches miles wide and so the other side is far off in the distance. The longer you stare at it the less real it seems. The next is the depth; in most places you can’t even see the bottom, which is over 2 km deep in parts. Plateaus and ridges jut out all the way down to the Colorado River that runs through it. And finally, there is the silence, which is broken only by the occasional “Oh my gawd” from dumbstruck American tourists. The whole experience was so wonderfully peaceful we unwittingly spent three hours walking along the trail, causing the three boys to miss their bus to Vegas by the time we got back to Flagstaff.

With the boys returned it was time for us to leave town too. I took the wheel and we made our way on to Winslow whose only notable aspect is its appearance in ‘Take It Easy’ by The Eagles (“I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”, and I can truly say it is not a terribly fine sight to see). The town features a number of motels and not much else. We opted for a Motel 6, where I was devastated to learn that The Simpsons had lied to me and they don’t in fact cost $6 a night. We ate leftover pasta before picking up a tub of Ben & Jerry’s from a nearby Safeway which we polished off in front of the TV. We rose early the next morning as we continued our road trip east, into New Mexico.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 21, 2009 2:25 am

    I’ve had this open in a tab for a while now…it has spawned perhaps four new posts since I first left it open to remind me to read it. I think this says a lot about the relative efficiency of each of us as travel bloggers…

    On the bright side, I now have video – check it out!

    Keep up the good work my friend, this is great writing đŸ™‚

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