Thursday, 25 January 2018

Proceed with Caution, but Proceed.

sometimes you have to get near the edge to move forward
I never think about moving but….

On this trip, I have more than once placed myself in the current environment and imagined the possibility of being a part time resident.  By part time, I mean more than three or four days.  In the past two weeks, I have done this with two specific places, which could not be more polarized and opposite in every respect.   Except for the one fact; that I could not afford real estate in either.

Part of traveling is noticing the outside world and how it differs from my own world.  Interestingly, my world is perfect and lovely and not complex.  These are the traits that help me consider only “part time” residential upheaval.  I miss home on this trip.  I miss the morning stretch that leads to coffee, that inevitably leads to the to-do list that leads to blood and sweat of those projects and the introspection during, as well as the sense of accomplishment after.  I even miss the limited choice of dining experience.  Mexican or Italian?  So far it has only been Mexican...damn margheritas.  This trip on the other hand, has been nothing less than FOOD and drink.

Anyway.  The contrast of home life and travelling that so far has found interesting places changed or ones that I have not before been, inspiring, is more cultural.  I think this is what happens to “adults”.  Once we discover a personality and calibrate our moral compass and put the final touches on values, we match our living situation to suite.  I realize, not everyone has this option, but I argue that to a certain degree, never having been a fan of the syndrome that has folks sitting around in their own muck saying, “I wish” or “if only”.  But I can remember many times before, travelling and just sort of being a tourist about everything.  A temporary person in a temporary place.  This time, everything seems like an opportunity, a judgement for compatibility.

 I note the environment, the smells, the light, the flora, the water, sounds, people, their attitudes, do they look happy, content, curious, ambitious.  I read many years ago and have since seen copycats in print and in concept about the ‘Happiest Places in the World’.  It mostly, of course, is about the people being happy, not the actual place. The happiest places consistently seem to be where the people have nothing at all except their gratitude.  Some take a lifetime to develop gratitude, some have it handed to them at birth.  The rest of us just grow up accordingly, adding a little more each day as life instructs organically.  Finding small unique opportunities in small places, apparently appeals to me.

Because you might be getting annoyed if you have read this far… Patagonia, Arizona.  We spent an unfortunately limited amount of time here camping the Eggcellence in a spot closest to a necessary hot shower at Patagonia State Park.  For one very short day we wandered into town which is very small.  Not important.  What is important is what has been done with that small space in the attitudes of the people we met.  As if the book boxes practically on every corner don’t say enough about the small community, there was a tiny market with a grand selection of farmers market wares, greater than I had seen outside of Austin.  We got a small bag of greens and some brussel sprouts to go with dinner that night along with a goat cheese.  A small coffee shop where we had an ice cream cone but others were delving into delightful looking sandwiches and soups, was a must stop.  The town even comes complete with a saloon, original in it’s design.  Seriously, not one thing has changed since it opened.  Not one molecule of dust on the faces of long dead animal corpses staring down from the rafters, has been given a second thought.  But, the beer was cold and the bartender was friendly and the cheese crisp with green chilis was hot and a reminder about easy snacks.  I felt like a local, stealing glances at the dude ranch patrons there for a lunchtime field trip from their trail ride.  Then I realized that the locals don’t care and stopped paying attention myself.  No, there wasn’t much to this little town, but there was enough to imagine owning a small bit of space there to visit often.  There is even a pretty neat little motel there I wouldn’t be ashamed to put up a visiting family member or friend.   Before we even left town that day, I already wanted to come back a few weeks later to an advertised dinner theater and several upcoming events at the quite lovely Opera House.
sculpture outside Patagonia Opera House

I am skipping the San Diego connection because what can I say...where would I even start?  Besides, I think Abby covered some highlights and the most important thing in my opinion, having a host that is able to streamline you to the best destinations is a Godsend.  I wanted two things on this trip, some good ice cream which led to delicious gelato at a place called Bobboi in La Jolla.  I also asked for some good Ramen.  Done.  I was told that I can say I had some of the best Ramen in San Diego, not far from the house at a place called Tajima.  Delish.  Imagining being in the giant surf of the Pacific Ocean was another highlight.  Remembering that many things are not that far removed as we make them out to be in our busy lives. 

Fast forward back to Arizona, this time the northern route for my second favorite townish spot I wouldn’t mind finding a small place to call home a few months a year.  Cottonwood, Arizona.  It lives just below Clarksdale and Jerome, the old mining towns and south from Sedona.  It is a neat little town with a little bit more of a leg up than the previous mentioned, Patagonia.  It is home to some tasting rooms, good restaurants, pleasant people that seem to like being there.  It is not pretentious or assuming.  It doesn’t feel touristy so much as some of the other parts of northern Arizona.  What it does not have, is a farmers market.  A disappointment, but I see it coming down the pike someday soon.  Even the bartender at a lovely place called Crema in old town Cottonwood seemed disappointed with that aspect of the town.  Meanwhile, Jacob was responsible for delivering us the best pre-train breakfast of eggs benedict with avocado and chorizo along with an amazing breakfast cocktail for each of us.  If ever in Cottonwood, I highly recommend http://cremacottonwood.com/ for it’s food, staff and ambience.
having breakfast at the bar at Crema before our train ride

While I am on the subject, the tacos at Adriana’s Mexican Food restaurant are also a great find.  My favorite was the carnitas.  Still craving that taco again.  The restaurant is owned and operated by a husband, wife and young son who do an amazing job.  The town of Cottonwood is also home to a brewery called THAT Brewery.  Let’s just say, I brought home beer.   If you want a little more variety, there is a place in Old town called the State Bar, where you can taste beer and wine hand picked from around the state, as well as a Saki made from a local source and reported to be very good.  I did not try it, but I would not doubt the claim.  http://tribunenewsnow.com/atsuo-sakurai-introduces-japanese-sake-to-arizona/ 

I will end this here because I don’t know how to put closure to what seems like a never ending adventure!  A little bit of down time and regrouping at Abby’s parents house is a good way to wind down an exhaustive trip.  The first trip!!  We'll keep looking back for a short while as we recap this trip I am sure!!
leaving Arizona in the driving wind and snow


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