Do it with a heart wide open.

My aunt has talked about her take on Arizona for years, and now that my sojourn has come to a close, I have my own opinions. While I have found a natural kind of love for my own home of New Hampshire, there is definitely something special about the vast, sun bleached desert. As with any place that has been viewed in photos but not experienced, I had certain expectations of Arizona. I left with a very different idea of the landscape and what it had to offer.

First of all, it was very diverse. My mind's eye saw typical sand dunes, cactus and bone-dry landscape of every movie set in the mid-west. While this was one aspect of Arizona, it was just the beginning.

The "main drags" in Tuscon certainly consisted of everything I had intuited; dirty brown rust on just about every plant, animal and building in view, with an over abundance of southern based fast food restaurants and Mexican eateries stacked on top of Walmarts, K Marts and such. But just outside of the cities and suburbs there was immense beauty, all different kinds of beauty.

On the very outskirts of Tuscon is an outdoor museum with several names; more widely known as the Arizona-Senora Museum or simply, the Desert Museum. The ride to it was amazing as we drove down a deep winding road into vast green hills that were actually reminiscent of some huge European valley. I felt like running through it singing "The hills are alive!", but not for fear of being spanked by the surprise tiny cacti that hide among the bushes.

I was forced to push my aunt around in a manual wheelchair, since all of their electric chairs were charging. I can't say I got the best possible experience of it because I was throwing her up and down the hills with the sun beating on my reddened skull. Also, it was a combination museum, botanical garden and zoo, and the first exhibit was a pair of cougars.

Mountain lions are grossly abundant in Arizona outside of the cage, something I had experienced when on a nature tour I was on shortly before the Desert Museum visit. We were riding around Safari-like and there were dozens of big red evil signs screaming [[HIGH MOUNTAIN LION ACTIVITY]] which I read as [[DON'T GET OUT OF THAT THING TO TAKE A PICTURE OR THEY WILL EAT YOU ALIVE]]. Really, that wasn't far from the truth based on the neon green papers they handed out that explained how there were cougars coming out in the day and actually stalking people. Stalking.

So, when I walked up to the mountain lion exhibit, I was a bit perturbed. The information given to me had been that it is best to look them directly in the eyes and not to lose that visual contact, lest they make you out as weak and yummy. Naturally, I stared those two up like we were about to break-dance it out. Although I was probably safe enough, I still felt like they could somehow get to me, with the knowledge that they were literally just off of the beaten path from where I slept at night.

Then there was the famed Tombstone, which seemed a little hokey to me, but had it's merits. On one hand it seemed a homogenized and touristy wild west where only maybe there were once real cowboys and showdowns. It was one long strip of shops filled with overpriced turquoise jewelery, Native American symbols and pictures; and all the cowboy hats, snake skin belts and commemorative key chains one could stomach.

Yet there did seem to be a bit of that Cowboys-and-Indians dirty dog west kind of feeling in the air. If you venture away from the glossed up version of something that was once untamed, you could almost find the feeling of it. Almost.

All in all, it was cute, and most of the time I felt like I could have had the same experience from the feau-west at Canobie Lake Park.

My diamond in the rough was a large town just past Tombstone. It has a silly name, so I automatically loved it.

Bisbee. Bis-bee.
Busy bee. Business. Bee. Bis. Bizz.
You can call me fruity if you like, but it had me at "hello".

I fell especially in love with the alley that was as if it had been cut out and shipped from some in-between place in Italy or Spain or something. Unfortunately, I had eaten about ten meals and drank a dozen or so different drinks, so I wasn't in the mood sit on the patio of the little restaurant that pulled on my heart strings.

The majority of Bisbee was littered with antique and novelty shops, specifically aimed for the out-of-state visiting type like myself. It didn't seem to be a place one could actually call home without wanting to hurl oneself off of the nearest mountain, which wouldn't be a far throw. It's literally built into one.

None the less, charming.

At the end of the day, Arizona was a great and different kind of retreat. It was in the low 80's every day, with that dry heat that the elderly seem to find irresistable. I found it a welcome change from the shit-colored snow and bizarre weather that has been changing with the days of the week. I didn't think much about work, and mostly just enjoyed the atmosphere. It was what I needed - I will never regret a moment of it.


Am I rightside up or upside down?

Alas, my week is about halfway over.

It's been nice so far, unfortunately not quite awesome. Monday brought clouds, chilly temperatures, and off-and-on rain showers. It seemed nearly as cold as a warm March day in New Hampshire.

We checked out the local Casino and played a long round of Bingo. The Casino was cute, but not impressive, the Bingo was expensive and the payout was bad. It was a bit of familiarity for me, which is something I needed with all of the foreign sights and feelings.

Everything here feels sort of half alive, dormant somehow. Most of the vegetation is dry, thorny and sick looking. Yet there are instances of life and color in between, some prehistoric looking trees and the occasional patch of wildflowers. There is always a visible backdrop of the jagged mountains, mostly because there is very little that could hide it. Sans Monday's dreariness, the sun has been intense and the warm breeze endless. It's incredibly foreign in comparison to the northeast - exactly what I've hoped for in a vacation.

We went to the Phoenix Zoo yesterday, an outdoor oasis of sorts. Of course, all of the animals that we wanted to see were given their daily sleeping pill or hiding in a far corner. I can't exactly blame them, I would keep my distance or attempt to nap through the thousands of eyes on me. Yet it was a lovely place with lots of tree cover and a very pretty pond [from afar, I definitely wouldn't want to rent one of their boats for severe fear of falling in it].

It had all of the negatives that go along with such attractions; four dollar bottles of water and six dollar hot dogs, neglectful parents who thought taking along extra children was a good idea when they can barely keep track of their own, the constant smell of wildlife poop.

We were able to check out some small shops on the ride there and back, so I was able to knock off some gift requests from my friends. We're running low on money now so we have to start becoming uber conservative with it.. at least the rental car is amazing with gas - so much so that my aunt wants to buy it immediately. The hope now is that we can go to Mexico with the people who are housing us, apparently we're a couple hours from a small fishing and touristy village with beautiful beaches and more beautiful liquor.


I say my hell is the closet I'm stuck inside.

I have officially arrived in Tuscon, Arizona with very few bumps and bruises. Emotionally, or otherwise. I do, however, feel like my bones have somehow shifted and gained weight through this process. I guess it's what people call "jetlag".

We left Boston on Sunday afternoon, around 3:45pm. I was comforted in the takeoff by the spectacular Harbor view we had. I recognized every building while we zoomed off into the clouds.

The first portion of the trip had us on a 4 or so hour flight with a stop in Dallas Fort Worth, where we hung out for about ten and a half seconds. It would have been nice to have spent some time there, from above Dallas seemed like an attractive city with a lot to work with. It had quite a bit more water than I would have expected. Maybe that's because I always think of this area of the world as dry, desolate and full of tumbleweeds.

I think that the biggest adjustment for me has been the time difference. It was only an hour change from Boston to Dallas, which was no big deal. For heck sake, we were only living an hour earlier a couple weeks ago, anyways. All I had to do was look at my clock and remove that amount of time. Simple enough.

But then we had a 2-or-so hour flight from there to Tuscon and that's when things went awry for me. How do you tell your body that's it isn't 11 o'clock at night, but actually 8pm? How do you pretend that you haven't spent 6 long hours feeling like the world's heaviest bag of bones west of the Mississipi? I know this isn't exactly an age old question, but it is to me. I've never done this before.

I mean, the clock is telling me that it's nearly 6am. I've been up for two hours, and I never-ever get up at 4am. I know that I'm still registering on Eastern Standard Time, which means that I may be going to bed really early and waking up earlier for half a week. Which is half of my vacation.

Hopefully it works itself out.

It was rainy when we got here, and actually chilly. Almost exactly like home, except the air smells different when it rains. It has a strangely sweet scent, to me a mix of mint and manuer, which was foreign enough to my brain to give it a red flag. I haven't actually seen the city, as it was so dark that the only thing that stood out to me was the bright neon sign for a strip club. Plus, I was so tired, and such a different kind of tired, that it wouldn't have mattered if it was sunny and beautiful.

I shall tell you about my days to come, dear Blog, since we have a few sources for camera and I forsee some mis-adventures ahead [did I mention I'm here with Auntie Chris? Ya].


She's gonna break free.

I'm about to leave for my very first plane on my way to Tuscon, Arizona for my weeklong sojourn in the sun. Of course, I'm pretty nervous about it.

I'm flying out of Boston on American Airlines. Everything seems to be set up the way it should.
Thought I should give you the heads up just in case I die. Cause you know. What goes up must come down & it's not always the pretty way.

This is my first real vacation. Wish me luck & fun!!


I'll be watching you.

Oh. My.

I know this may not be news to anyone in particular, but it's the sweetest internet invention I've discovered in my lifetime. It's what I call "Googlestalk" but what Google actually calls "Street view". It is awesome.

This is how it works: use Google to search for an address, as long as it is in a major city that the website has captured [mine is one of them] then you can click on the little photo, and voila! You can now virtually walk down that neighborhood and stare in people's windows like the Googlestalker you've now become. To be fair, most windows are pretty well blurred, as are license plates and other sensitive information.

Normally, I probably wouldn't think of this little tool as a stalking mechanism, but that was the first thing I ended up using it for. Let's just say I have a crush, and the crush's address is public record, so I kind of had to look. Why? I don't know. I blame it on Googlestalk. It made me do it.

What? I'm not actually going to go there. Except virtually...

I'll be in the air for 6 hours.

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