Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Pine and saguaro

Wednesday evening I headed to Love Field to one-hop my way to Phoenix. After storm delays, the connections finally fell into line. On the plane, I read R.F. Delderfeld's "Theirs was the Kingdom", a huge Victorian family saga. Delderfeld wished very much to write a Forsyte Saga, but the work falls well short. Delderfeld's portrayal of a by-gone day is afflicted by some of the by-gone values he himself brought to the narrative voice. Still, it was a very good read. I also read a book I bought at paularubia's massive bookstore sale, Leslie Nielson Jennings' "Mill Talk and Other Poems", which was simply delightful--unassuming, reasonably spare rhymed verse circa 1942. I landed in Phoenix on time, and rented a car.

My Arizona business this time took me to Prescott, 100 miles north of Phoenix. Even though it was nearly nine p.m. when I landed, the air was hot with that "forced air" dry heat, like an apartment heating unit.

I debated whether to stay in Phoenix, or to drive north toward Prescott that night. I dislike fighting rush hour in cities I don't know well, so I elected to begin driving north. I got on Interstate 17, and headed on toward Prescott, resolved to stop when I got tired. The elevation soon began to climb, and a small sign said that I should turn off my air conditioning to avoid over-heating. Soon I was at 5,000 feet. I turned off the Interstate onto the highway for Prescott. The desert regions differ from rural north Texas, because here even the more remote areas have a small town interspersed every few miles.

I was in a town called Prescott Valley, just ten miles or so from Prescott, before I found much "town" worth stopping for. I settled into a Days' Inn, because it had an adjoining Denny's. I don't eat breakfast for dinner much these days, but I ordered an 11 p.m. Grand Slam Breakfast, with the eggs scrambled. The air temperature was cool and pleasant. I fell asleep atop the covers in my motel room, with the television playing something forgettable. I had hoped a Kinko's would be available, so that I could work on some work late night, but Kinko's has not yet invaded the Prescott Valley.

The next morning, I awoke early and drove to the nearby Prescott National Forest, so that I could take a walk before my morning shower. The turn-off for the forest said "Lynx Lake", though I saw neither lynxes nor a lake. I turned off at the first trailhead,
and began to walk. I had the place almost to myself.

The scenery had few cacti, other than prickly pear such as one might see in Texas. Instead, pine trees, chapparal and scrub shrubs dominated the trail. I saw a gorgeous manzanita plant, all red limbs and branches. Birdsong was everywhere. Arizona is always a marvel to visit, because the bird life is so abundant and varied.
I saw an Arizona bluebird, as well as a hummingbird flitting about a trumpet vine. Surrounding me on all sides in the distance were sharp, rocky desert mountains. Although Phoenix' high today was 108, the Prescott weather was much less warm.

After my business concluded in an old office building built as a bank in 1900, right on the charming town square in Prescott, I hit the road again back to Phoenix. I stopped at Sunset Point, a rest stop midway with gorgeous views of mountains in the distance. I also turned off on an exit called Bumble Bee, so that I could snap saguaros close up. I love to see saguaros, as well as the smaller cacti. I always love cacti in general, for that matter, so beautiful and so tough. I love things that are graceful and yet a bit thorny.

I stopped at an outlet mall for lunch, so that I could get a quick slice of pizza or two at a food court. I found the place had a remaindered books store, and soon found myself buying scads of books for nearly no money. On the plane home, I finished Harry Harrison's anti-war future history satire about a "galactic" war "hero", alternating between that and Horace's odes in translation. Horace had a way with words--watch the seasons,
Torquaz, because they mean someday you're gonna croak, more or less, over and over. This seemed timely to me, more or less, right now.

I realize that I must live this weekend with discipline and with fun. I must work hard this weekend, and yet I insist that I must have leisure and rest. I plan on having it all through the triumph of planning. My wife got my weekend started off right. When I arrived at 11 p.m. from the airport, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and tomato soup awaited me.

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