Wednesday, December 25, 2002 


I had the distinct pleasure this year of not putting ANY energy into Christmas.  I didn't buy gifts for anyone, and I didn't plan any sort of hoopla for December 25.  And I just have to tell you: it was FABULOUS!  I cannot recommend this highly enough.  Christmas has gotten to be the most awful time of the year for most people - they're stressed out, spend too much money and are chronically depressed.  I cannot tell you how many times people told me that their holidays were unpleasant and that they were relieved to have them over with.    We as a culture have collectively let this become an annual capitalistic scourge, and it is simply time to stop this insanity and say no.  Go out and have dinner with your friends and family and celebrate the right thing - having each other.  Alright, sorry, little diatribe there - I'm finished now.

When we awoke Christmas morning, we fell under the spell of having caroused a great deal the evening before, but also of not having to get up at any particular time, and so stayed cozy in our beds and chatted about cabbages and kings for a very long while.  A little shot in the arm of hotel coffee helped me muster the energy to get in the shower.  When I emerged I found a fire merrily roaring away on the television, accompanied by cheesy carols.  Nonstop video of a crackling blaze, classic andirons and all.  Dave had thoughtfully found it on one of the cable channels.

R_45_Christmas_Morning_at_the_Thunderbird.jpg (70704 bytes)   R_46_Dave_Warms_Up.jpg (80852 bytes)

After a luxuriantly slow start, we bid adieu to the quaint charms of both the Thunderbird Motel and Show Low, Arizona, and set out on a brilliant blue day.

R_47_Thunderbird_Motel_Sign.jpg (93130 bytes)

Since it was Christmas, the only signs of life we saw while driving through remote Arizona were at convenience stores, so we decided to make our Christmas feast from the snack bin.  The snack bin was filled with goodies I had procured while combing the aisles of Central Market's bulk food aisle prior to our departure.  Christmas dinner menu for Shiree: raw whole almonds, Parrano cheese and dried nectarines, with dark chocolate espresso malted milk balls for dessert.  Mmmmm---mmm!!

The scenery we watched as we nibbled our snacks was barrenly beautiful and much more extreme than either of us had imagined Arizona would be.  We had passed out of the high mountain terrain and were driving through an area where dramatic cliffs and canyons loomed up on both sides of the road.  The horizon was thickly dotted with winsome Sagurro cacti.  A recent dusting of snow made everything dazzlingly white.  Scenic pullouts abounded, and we stopped at many a bend in the curve to ooh and aah. One of the pull outs featured several large boulders that had been painted with numbers in a neat little grid, and giant holes had been bored under some of the numbers.  They seemed to be a tribute or memorial to a group of people with particular ones designated in some fashion, but we couldn't for the life of us figure out what they were for.  I can't believe neither of us thought to take a picture!

As we passed through Globe, Arizona, we were treated to the glamorous sight of butt ugly strip mining operations scarring many of the hillsides.  Copper mining seemed to be one of the industries of choice.  Globe would make an ideal poster child for pretty much any ecological concern you would care to name.

On the other side of Globe, though, we stopped at a rest area blanketed in thick snow when we spotted a breath-taking canyon view a short distance away from the parking lot.  We plunged through snow that was easily 10" deep to get to the canyon's rim.

  R_51_Cruiser_at_Unknown_Snowy_Canyon.jpg (106390 bytes)   R_49_Unknown_Snowy_Canyon_02.jpg (148712 bytes)   R_48_Unknown_Snowy_Canyon_01.jpg (115337 bytes)

Dave took a picture of postcard perfection that expertly captures how serene and happy and relaxed I was.  The only sound other than the drone of a occasional distant car was the river far, far below, making it's way across a shallow fall.

R_50_Shiree_at_Unknown_Snowy_Canyon.jpg (142865 bytes)

On another lonely stretch of highway, in a tiny little town whose name escapes me, we discovered a working drive-in theater.  Signs of recent human habitation indicated it was still being used as a real drive in theater, but it was of course utterly abandoned on a chilly Christmas afternoon.  The dramatic light caught my fancy once again.  Dave  helped Bill chalk up another photographic souvenir. 

R_52_Drive_In.jpg (107837 bytes)      R_53_Drive_In_Ticket_Booth.jpg (78708 bytes)      R_54_Bill_at_the_Drive_In.jpg (85826 bytes)


With the light fading, we decided to drive by Phoenix and give it a look-see.  Well, we didn't like what we see'd (golf course count way too high) so we didn't even get off the freeway.  Just kept on driving.  As the last of the light faded Dave began an evening nap, and I put the new Bob Mould CDs on the player and drove into the night.  The sky was crystal clear and stars were clustered thickly in every direction.  We pulled over on a quiet road to just get a gander at the stars in the deep dark of roadside nowhere.

We rolled into Kingman, Arizona late in the evening, finally ready for some dinner.  There was a fairly large truck stop, so after sizing up our other choices, we opted for that.  A mediocre buffet was to be our fate, but even so, you can still make a decent salad out of pretty much any salad bar if you choose right.  Our waitress was perky and friendly, and as usual, Dave had her engaged in conversation shortly after we arrived.  Dave knows how to ferret out good tips from the locals, and he really scored big this time.  When advising us about what was fun to do around there, she encouraged us to follow a long squiggly road that led to the west rim of the Grand Canyon.  "What kinda car you got?" she paused to ask thoughtfully.  "A cruiser" I responded.  "Oh you'll be fine then."  She warned us that the road curved back and forth and was bumpy, but was well worth the drive.

After dinner, we lost our momentum and decided to stop for the night.  Pursuant to Dave's suggestion, I veered off onto old Route 66 to find a good 50s style motel to stay in.  And boy were there a lot of them!  We opted for the Hill Top Inn because of its januty cypress trees and funky sign.  Well that and it boasted the best view in Kingman!   They wouldn't lie, would they?