Tommy and I were lucky enough to take a trip to the West this month.
With so much happening, it was a difficult time to leave home but he was attending a National League of Cities meeting in Phoenix and wanted me to go.
He had been to Phoenix before and truly enjoyed it and wanted to share Scottsdale and surrounding areas with me. Scottsdale is just a 20 minute drive from Phoenix and I told him if he would take me to Santa Fe (artists’ haven, eight hours away) I would go.
Off we went.
If you foresee a trip to the Phoenix airport in your future, let notice be served: Sky Harbor airport (touted as the “world’s friendliest”) is savage on one’s feet.
To get from point “A” to point “B” (and there are MANY points to navigate – terminals, arrival and departure gates, check-in, etc.) it is so physically far that you walk your feet off.
It’s probably the largest airport I have ever been in.
You’ll walk there as much as you will walk half an hour in New York City – and that’s A LOT.
We stayed in downtown Phoenix, which has high-rise banks, corporate, centers, sporting venues and the convention center.
They also have a light rail that shuttles workers to and from their jobs and hits popular locations (built at a cost of more than $2 billion dollars).
Noticeably absent downtown was the presence of people. There were so few people walking downtown you wondered who occupied all those buildings.
There was also a notable absence of fast food restaurants. With the exception of Starbucks it was hard to grab a cup of coffee or a fast snack.
The convention attracted people from all over the country and most downtown hotels were full.
Wi-fi was not free in our room ($12 plus tax a day) so I ventured across the street to a Starbucks to send last week’s article to press.
This particular Starbucks, however, was part of the convention center so their WiFi only worked outside. Go figure.
Fortunately it was warm outside and I got the job done.
At a reception I met a lovely new person, Gail, who husband is a mayor in Arkansas.
We decided to visit the art museum the next day and agreed to take the light rail.
I am not trying to cast a bad light on Phoenix, but earlier that day she and a friend took the light rail to Tempe.
It was difficult to figure out how to pay the fare and she and the friend hopped on the encroaching train.
After making inquiries to fellow patrons they realized they should have purchased a ticket prior to boarding at a kiosk on the platform.
About 15 miles outside Phoenix a ticket agent asked for their ticket. They explained their dilemma and offered the agent the $3.50 fare they had in hand.
The agent had absolutely no sympathy for them and made them exit the train.
They were literally in the middle of the dessert and frightened when the train took off with the agent not waiting for them to purchase a ticket before re-boarding.
I’d like to think that if they were in Murfreesboro – or truthfully anywhere – their dilemma would have met a better fate.
Once, I was waiting for the traffic light to change in New York City so I could catch the bus and I noticed that the bus driver saw me. When I boarded I asked: “Were you waiting for me?” and he replied that yes, he was.
You don’t have to be a southerner to be friendly.
When we boarded the rail for the Art Museum we had proper tickets in hand.
There was a wonderful exhibit by Western artists (not always my favorite, but in this event provocative) and Gail, an artist, and I had a wonderful time studying the works, particularly portraits by Benjamin Wu.
The museum staff was friendly and charming and even promised to send Gail, who is building a new studio for her work, the name of the paint color used on the walls.
Santa Fe was a long eight hours away but proved to be all I hoped it to be. I knew we’d never venture there again so we soaked it all in.
We stayed at Hotel Santa Fe, a charming place we found on Priceline and enjoyed Southwestern food, Southwestern art and the culture, particularly the museums on Canyon Road.
The trip back took us through Sedona where we saw sights never imagined by my eyes; it unlike anything I have ever seen (google Sedona, Ariz., for photos).
Both Tommy and I took beautiful photos, but the one that is on my telephone screensaver was among the most beautiful of all.
It is a photo of our back yard, taken the morning after we returned home.
Colorful leaves were still on the trees in the backyard and the sun was shining gloriously over the river.
The winterberries had shed their foliage while we were gone. Their bright red berries, shining over the yard covered by a hard frost, was a sight to behold.
I feel so fortunate to go so many places, but last month, it was reinforced – as it is always that “There’s no place (quite) like home.”
‘Til next week.