Dear Friends and Relations;
In case anyone asks, or needs to know, I do not like the desert.
Today I headed out early to complete another round of the Pearson Language Test required for certification to teach (read: keep my job) in Arizona. I have never before been south/west of C… and it is fine by me if I don’t go that way ever again.
The 2-lane, no shoulder “highway” leaves the White Mountain Apache Reservation, and winds its way through the San Carlos Apache Reservation. (Kind of like leaving the Hatfield’s to travel through McCoy territory). After creeping through the construction areas, I entered Salt River Canyon.
Salt River Canyon.
Nice name for an area that inspires more prayer than any other road I’ve ever been on. I don’t know who engineered this piece of real estate, but they did an amazing and fascinating job. Who would have thought you could actually lay a road that close to the edge of the precipice, and, oh, look, another switchback, so in case you missed it the first time, you can get another view of the river WAAAAAYYYY down below. Or I believe it is, anyway. I was so focused on clenching the steering wheel and saying my prayers (“Hail Mary in a Handbag!” or something just as profound), that I missed the view. I did take time to notice all the conveniently located “run away truck” driveways, though … as if they’d stop a truck from catapulting over the edge of the world…
So, gentle reader, if you are planning to fly out here, and if you want me to pick you up at an airport, I suggest you fly into Albuquerque, New Mexico. I wasn’t too fond of the traffic and heat over there, but there’s no canyon between here and there. Canyon. Deep. Winding roads. Lots of switchbacks. And keep in mind it is better not to think about what is actually underneath the tarmac. If it looks like the monkey bread I was driving past… well, there are some things you just shouldn’t think about.
And that wasn’t even the desert.
No, the desert was later. After Globe. After Superior (no lake). After crossing the Queen River Bridge. That’s where the desert started. First saguaro on the left. How-dee-do saguaro, popping up all over the landscape, like some giant snack tray of hors de’ oeuvres (or however you spell “cheese plate”). Never mind the tunnel – no one told me there was going to be a TUNNEL! I’ve been known to drive two days out of my way to avoid a tunnel. First the canyon, then the bridge – did I mention the bridge? Then the tunnel….yes, Albuquerque folks, AL-BU-QUER-QUE! I’m not gonna come get ya in Phoenix, nope, nah-ah, especially not in winter ice and snow (we haven’t gotten to the desert yet. The Tonto Mountains have snow, and below zero days, so no, not winter!)!
After the test, I tried my best to have another view of the desert, and see if I could at least appreciate it’s beauty. I thought the entrance to University of Arizona was pretty cool, and then I realized it had a lot to do with the fountains and bougainvillea – not exactly saguaro and whatever those other things are.
Nope. I don’t like the desert. It does not in any way make me yearn for a reason to return to Phoenix. Not, say, like a view of a tall pine might put one in mind of Vermont, and then, next day, you and the dogs are on your way to Chester or Grafton. That sort of thing.
I can live without the desert. And, Lord God and all the Little Fishies know I can live without another trip through Salt Creek Canyon!
I’m not even sure I need to go to the GRAND CANYON. I think I’ve used up all my prayers in one trip to Phoenix.
My friend Teddy and I talked about things she and her family of three small children and a handsome, daring husband, might want to do when they come out. “I don’t think we’ll go to Grand Canyon,” she said. “I can already hear myself saying ‘Don’t get near the edge’, ‘Stand back’. I don’t think it would be relaxing until they’re grown up more.”
I am significantly grown up, and I can’t say as I felt at all relaxed while traveling through Salt Creek Canyon.
Canyons are best seen on postcards, I believe, not from the edge of the front seat at too many miles per hour with a train of anxious cars following behind.
“O, Most Merciful God on High….”
Photos from 2015 – It is amazing how one can adapt