In Love with American Highways

The vacation started at Palm Springs, with relaxation, the likes of which I hadn’t experienced for a very long time. We were lost in the timelessness of long days and short nights for a week that appeared to stretch into an eternity. No one wore a watch and we never knew what time it was. We could see the moon and the stars glittering through the palm fronds swaying in the desert winds and cooling our sun baked skins. Time appeared to have come to a standstill within this make believe world of lotus eating. We occasionally emerged to take in a street fair or two, watch street performers and buy fresh mangoes and cherries.

From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation

Sun and palm dappled screen doors of our room:

From July 2009 Vacation

We met interesting people…an author, astrologer, gemologist, newspaper editor…all rolled into one person… smoking a medically prescribed intoxicant and reading palms. She called me an old soul because of the grid of crisscrossing lines that covered the space between the base of my thumb and my life line. She also called me “complex”.

Is that why I called her an interesting person in the first line of the last paragraph? Who doesn’t like being called a complex old soul? But I didn’t get much of an insight into what lies ahead for old souls except that the precious stone – tanzanite – could work wonders for aged souls. Especially the tanzanite purchased at a San Francisco store in Union Square, called Simayofs.

Our friendship didn’t last too long because the lady’s husband got offended when my husband didn’t agree with his assertion that Kid Rock could sing Aerosmith songs better than Aerosmith. The hubby was accused of being guilty of “contempt prior to investigation” by the renaissance lady’s hubby who stalked off in a huff, putting an end to the budding camaraderie of complex old souls.

Old we were, because we were the only couple there who were boasting eighteen years of marriage. Everyone else we met had been married for the third or fourth time, each attempt lasting no more than two or three years. Some people wanted to hear our “story” or our “secret” and others in this fifth or sixth decade of their lives who wanted to be like us when they “grew up”.

Oh well, anniversaries are the perfect time to feel blessed and special and to tell ourselves that we got something right. Did we…? Only the next eighteen will tell.

Next came the road trip phase of our vacation. We could have taken a day trip to San Diego, which was only two hours away…or we could have gone to Laguna Beach or Newport Beach, all within reasonable driving distances. But I suppose short drives are just not interesting enough for us. Sedona, AZ was mentioned in passing. We played with the idea and rejected it because it would have been a ten hour round trip to base camp at Palm Spring. We were feeling more mature and sane until we woke up the next day and as is the norm, said, “What the heck, let’s drive to Sedona! It’s only 5 hours away!” I had been there once before with a girlfriend and co-worker. It had been enjoyable enough but I had always wished I had done it with the hubby.

So we took off. We drove up the mountains, felt our ears pop several times as the car climbed up to elevations of 4-6000 ft. For most of the drive the land was dry, the landscape stark. Saguaro cacti reached up to make peace signs or wave us on. And then suddenly everything around us turned red. We were in Sedona, AZ. The mountains were glowing red in the twilight hours, the rock formations looked curiously sculpted or man-made, every mountain or plateau concealing an image of either a reclining Navajo or a horse wagon, or even Snoopy and Lucy lying back and gazing at the stars.

We signed up for an off-road adventure that took us up and down and all around the mountains, the forests that started off as saguaros, agave and prickly pears and gave way to junipers and conifers at higher altitudes. Every plant, said the tour guide, had healing properties, except for mistletoe. We finally got to see mistletoe up close. It was quite a harmless looking thing but we were told it was a deadly parasite that was leeching the life away from so many other plants. It was supposed to be poisonous, the kiss of death for so many plants in these parts. Why then did people kiss underneath the mistletoe? A forewarning perhaps? After eighteen years we are grateful we never found ourselves under ominous mistletoe all those years ago!

Sedona, AZ:

From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation

In the middle of the forest we saw a shack that cowboys inhabited in 1885 and where rattlesnakes burrowed under rotting floor boards now. The tour guide told us not to enter I I think he is trying to scare Anil from entering, Kokopelli style, in the pic below). But of course, the hubby had to step inside and take some pictures…despite sage advice from our palm-reading friend who told him to stop taking all kinds of physical risks, to never jump from cliffs of Jamaica again, or to jump fences or park benches, or try riding motorcycles or walking mopeds up Martha’s Vineyard hills. He emerged with some cool pictures. He also got up close and personal with this bull with the creepily glowing eyes.

From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation

During the tour we were also told that Route 89A that headed out of Sedona and into Flagstaff, AZ had been voted the most scenic road in the US by National Geographic magazine. This made Flagstaff irresistible to us. We like to collect highways, towns and cities and Flagstaff was going to be next. Here are some of the pictures we took while driving to Flagstaff, AZ, elevation 7000 ft.

At 6,000 ft, when we stopped at a scenic overlook, we found a Navajo art fair. We had to stop and look and buy. We bought some gifts for friends we were going to meet in San Francisco. I also bought myself a pair of malachite earrings; no tanzanite…not yet…this wasn’t Simayof. I hope malachite is good for me!

From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation
From July 2009 Vacation

The next long road trip was from Palm Springs to Walnut Creek. We found ourselves at my FAPSian friend Mohit’s little guest cottage again. Everything felt so familiar, Priya and Mohit’s hospitality, the lavish surroundings, the super friendly labs – Sam and Frodo. We spent a wonderful two days there. This time they introduced us to the show Stargate Mission. We really got into it and hope to continue to watch all episodes of every season.

Anil and I also met Rajiv in San Francisco. He treated us to Darjeeling tea, almond cakes and two or three hours of engaging conversation. One doesn’t even notice the passing of time when conversation flows and sparkles with easy and comfortable segues from one topic to the next and no awkward silences.

And now here we are, the last night in Palm Springs. We’ll be in a plane all day tomorrow and will get home a little past midnight, with just a few short hours before it’s back to work again.

Looking exhausted and drained of color at the end of the vacation and signing off from Palm Springs:

From July 2009 Vacation

1 Comment

  1. What a lovely lovely vacation. And what wonderful pictures.


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