25 January, 2009

Remembering What I Loved

Socializing IRL was rather a bit of a shock. I live one of those semi-hermetic lives in which I'm perfectly happy home alone, but even hermits need to kick up their heels every once in a while.

Won't be at the Rodeo Steakhouse again, though. Who the fuck makes a margarita with Jack Daniels? And then they started blaring really awful country and western at us. It's a good thing we were close to home, and the roomie was gone. Alas for my poor friend, he got to go waltzing down memory lane with me. Yup. I busted out the photo albums.

It was initially because we're going to Arizona, and I was showing him some of the places we'd be visiting. Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater. The San Francisco Peaks. Places where I roamed happily through all the years of my young life. I'd subject you to those pics, too, but alas, they are not digital, and Dana has no scanner. Dana is not only a hermit, but technologically impoverished.

I left home because I'd fallen out of love. Sometimes, to love a place again, you have to leave it. Spend some years elsewhere. Now, the irritating memories are faded, and the fun ones bubble to the surface. Running flat-out over the slickrock along a mesa in Page, with nothing between me and a 100-foot fall but a ledge four inches wide and a tenuous grip on sandstone. Standing on the side of a mountain surrounded by golden aspens and gazing out over miles of wilderness in the clear Arizona skies. Roaming the rooms of ruins, wondering what it was like to live in such small spaces.

There are things I miss. Strangely, dry dirt looms foremost in my mind. I love the sound of my shoes grating through gritty soil and rock as I roam. Northern Arizona's a place built from volcanoes. You can feel it when you run the earth through your hands. You see it all around you, in the cinder cones, the andesitic peaks, the ridge lines and the lava flows. There is a particular place at Sunset Crater where you can stand and stare into the heart of the caldera that splits the San Francisco Peaks. There is nothing like gazing into that beauty and realizing it resulted from catastrophic destruction. If there were people living there when the mountain erupted, they must have been mightily impressed.

I miss the demarcation between alpine climes and the desert. One side of the Sunset Crater/Wupatki National Monument is all Ponderosa pine. In just a few miles, you pass through juniper and piñon pine trees, and then, abruptly, the high desert looms. This Nasa Earth Observatory satellite image will give you some idea: we're looking northeast, from the pines to the Painted Desert:

For an absolutely spectacular aerial view of Sunset Crater with the desert on the horizon, go here.

All of this awesome stuff used to be my back yard. I could roam ancient plate boundaries, see the remnants of ancient underwater eruptions and seas, visit dinosaur tracks, wander at will through forests, deserts and plains - all without driving more than an hour or two from home.

Those were the good things. I do remember the bad as well - Northern Arizona has very little in the way of big-city culture, and Phoenix is, well, Phoenix. I definitely prefer Seattle. And it's nice not to feel dessicated all the time.

But I loves me my original home state. It'll be teh awesome to go adventuring there again. I especially can't wait to tramp through Wupatki one more time.

What about you lot? Any nostalgia for the places you've left behind, or are you of the "ran away and never looked back" persuasion? And do you believe it's at all right for a restaurant to offer up a margarita that contains not one drop of tequila?


Cujo359 said...

There are certainly things I miss about the place I grew up - cheesesteaks, those few weeks in spring and fall when the weather isn't unbearably hot or cold, rooting for really bad professional sports teams that always manage to disappoint (we have that here, too, of course). Still, I don't think I'd ever go back there. I chose this region because it fit me better than the one I left.

Visiting the area I grew up in generally reminds me of that.

Anonymous said...

I'm not far away from where I grew up, and I visit the area from time to time. Perhaps it's time for me to be more appreciative.

RE: Jack Daniels Margarita: it may actually be good, or not, but it's NOT a Margarita. Sounds like they're trying so hard to be hip that their outseam's ripping.

Unknown said...

Don't forget the smell of the high desert in NorAz after a rainstorm! There will always be a part of me in Arizona but this is so much better!!

One Fly said...

This is a special place for sure. So Dana - Cujo allowed me to use the picture of you over the blow hole on my post about Wupatki.

Thank you for that as well. OF