Monday, September 15, 2014


When my husband asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said I wanted to explore new spaces.  In other words, I wanted to travel and get a break from all of my responsibilities at home.  He couldn't take much time off from his job, and my daughter couldn't offer more than a weekend to pet sit, so we decided to just spend the weekend at some place close to home, but far enough away to be a new experience.  Since moving to the Phoenix area, the only places within Arizona where I have traveled have been Dragoon, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and Cottonwood.  We decided to spend the weekend in Prescott for my birthday.

We didn't even get out of Phoenix before all hell broke loose.  The car in front of us on the freeway suddenly changed lanes, and there, lying across the entire length of our lane right in front of us, was a shovel.  My husband tried to change lanes, but couldn't because we had clingers on each side of us, and at 70 mph you can't exactly brake in time, so we ran over the shovel.  Holy freak!  The tires hit the handle of that shovel, sending the traction control alarm into fits, and throwing the spade of the shovel up into our car.  It made quite a racket and I thought for sure everything under the chassis was torn up and that my side of the car would need body work to repair all the dents and scrapes.

We pulled off the freeway and examined the car, and it was as if it had been protected by an Angel.  Despite the raucous crash, I could not find a single dent or scrape anywhere.  My husband spotted some liquid dripping from underneath the car, though, so we turned around and went back into Tempe to a service center.  The mechanic said there was something like 47 cars in line in front of us, so they couldn't get to it today, but he stuck his head under the car to take a look and decided that the dripping fluid was normal water drainage from the condenser.

We decided to take his word for it and keep driving so that we wouldn't have to cancel our trip.  I had driven up the 17 to get to Cottonwood, so I wanted to take a different route to get to Prescott.  I had planned to take the scenic route, but missed the first turn off.  We found another turn off that led to Wickenburg, which is another town I've been meaning to visit.  I expected Wickenburg to be flat and dry with lots of chaparral, but it was actually green and hilly.  Upon seeing grass everywhere, I realized how long it had been since I last saw grass.  I also saw horses everywhere and began thinking that might be a nice place to retire.

Then we drove through Yarnell where we lost several firefighters, and after seeing the mountainous terrain, I totally understood how easy it would be to get trapped in that environment.  I was surprised that Prescott was a mountain town.  For some reason I expected it to be at a higher elevation, but flat and spread out.  Prescott reminded me of Flagstaff, and where I used to live in Nevada.

We stopped at Bill's Grill for lunch.  As we pulled into the parking lot, we heard this terrible noise and thought it was something under our hood.  The car had been damaged by the shovel after all.  However, when my husband shut off the engine, the noise was still going loud and clear.  It turned out to be cicadas!  We decided that the sound of the frogs in Hilo was less annoying than the sound of cicadas in Prescott.

I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, and instantly began bloating so bad that I had to undo the button and zipper on my jeans.  That turned into some pretty painful food poisoning.  When we got into town, there was some kind of celebration at the courthouse square, and trying to find a parking spot was difficult.  By the time we found one and walked to the square, it had started raining and everyone had packed up and left.  Then we found ourselves dodging in and out of stores to avoid the rain and lighting.

We couldn't check into our hotel until 4:00 PM and had several hours to kill.  That wouldn't have been any big deal if my intestines weren't spasming relentlessly.  We wandered around Whiskey Row, which was packed with locals and tourists, and I couldn't take two steps without someone bumping into me.  I just needed some place to sit down and die silently, so we went into an empty bar to kill some time.  Within seconds of us sitting down, this raucous crowd came in, surrounded our table, and person after person kept bumping into me, doubling the intensity of my stabbing pains.

I like to try out new beers, and I saw an advertisement on our table for a new beer, so I ordered it. The bartender didn't know what it was, so the owner informed her they were out of it. I ordered something else, but they were out of that too. It seemed the only beers they carried were the usual yuck you can get out of a freezer at a mini-mart for a fraction of the price.  Our two beers cost more than a six-pack.  I sipped my beer slowly to give me a chance to frequent their bathroom.  When the band started showing up and sound checking their drum set, it was time to get out of there for sure, before I added a headache to my list of symptoms.

When the rain stopped we drove around Prescott Valley and then checked into our hotel.  The rooms were small, old, and stuffy.  There was no air flow whatsoever.  We searched for a thermostat, but there was none.  Then we tried to open the windows, but they were painted shut.  I finally pried one window open, only to discover another window behind it that was stuck even worse.  I was just about to go ask the front desk for a different room, or check out and go to a different hotel, when air suddenly began flowing out a vent in the ceiling.  I suspect they just waited until someone actually checked in before letting the air conditioning kick in.

I was still feeling ill by dinner time, and asked if we could just go to the restaurant across the street so that we wouldn't have to lose our parking space by driving somewhere.  Little did I know, the "bar and grill" across the street had multi-course meals, each course costing between $20 and $40.  I didn't want to be there all night in my condition, so I skipped the entree, and ordered Walleye.  It came covered in spinach, which was covered in some kind of salad dressing that burned the inside of my mouth.  I like spinach, but the burning dressing made everything pretty much inedible.  So, I was still hungry after that "course".  I thought it would be safe to order a dessert, because all they had to do was cut a slice and bring it out.  Wrong.  They had to make the dessert fancy and presentable, so there was a wait with many apologies explaining that other people had ordered desserts ahead of us.  I kept longingly looking across the street to the window of our hotel room...

We chose the Hassayampa Inn, because it was listed in my book of haunted places in Arizona, but I was too wrapped up in battling my cramps to notice if there were any ghosts.  The hotel was definitely historic.  So, was its plumbing.

Our waitress the The Prescott Station was scarce because the place was packed, so the manager actually started serving us.  I think she could tell that something was wrong with me.  She was trying to make conversation so that I would have a good experience.  I kept turning around and looking at this gate that I planned to run through in case I could no longer fight off the effects of the food poisoning.  I was in pain, woozy, clammy, and had chills, but so far hadn't vomited or soiled myself.  However, I knew that could happen, so I felt I had a better chance getting across the street to our hotel than trying to stand in line in the restaurant for a bathroom.

Despite being an upscale restaurant, servers kept bumping the back of my head as they passed behind my chair, and not a single one said, "Excuse me."  If I could sum up my experience in Prescott, it would be "too many people in too little space and a lot of ridiculously loud motorcycle engines."  It was difficult to carry on a conversation while walking down the street or while on the restaurant patio, because of all the motorcyclists revving their unnecessarily loud engines.  My husband started telling me about an episode of South Park on the subject of loud motorcycle engines, and that cracked me up.

Our tiramisu finally arrived, and I was so relieved to finish up and finally be leaving.  I didn't want to risk telling them it was my birthday in order to get a special dessert, because I didn't want to get stuck having to wait for them to gather all the servers to sing to me.  Then my husband announced that the waitress gave us the wrong bill.  It appeared that we had paid for someone else's bill with our credit card.  I eyeballed the gate and considered running back to the hotel while my husband worked out the bill.  The manager saw our pained expressions and came running out onto the patio to see what was going on.  She said she would take care of it, and she did, in a jiffy.  I was so relieved to get back to the hotel, so that I could wrestle some more with the ancient plumbing there.

I thought my problems would be solved with a good night's sleep until I discovered that I packed the wrong medications.  I only had half of my blood pressure medication, so I substituted something else for the other half, and was able to get a full night's sleep.  I felt better in the morning and we had a delicious breakfast at El Charro, but then the remnants of the symptoms from the previous day's food poisoning kicked in again and I had to run back to the hotel.  I was feeling discouraged, because we had a trail ride scheduled for 9:00 AM in Mayer.  I had to take my chances and just go.

I struggled for the first few minutes of the trail ride, grimacing and moaning, dealing with gut pains as well a motion sickness after going from moving in a Cadillac to moving on a very clumsy horse that kept randomly dropping to its knees, but I eventually felt well enough to focus on the ride and start taking pictures.

I rode right on the butt of my husband's horse in part because the cowboy who helped me mount made it clear that he didn't want me pulling on the reins.  He said sarcastically, "Don't hold those reins so tight.  He does have a bit in his mouth, you know."

I was just trying to be polite by holding my horse back so that it wouldn't irritate the horse in front of him, but the stable hand made it clear that he didn't care about that.  He just didn't want me pulling on the reins.  Unfortunately, the reins were so short that I had to hold my arm out straight and low on the horse's neck to give him some slack.  Starting off the ride with a sarcastic comment made about my riding choices didn't do anything to improve my mood.  I hate it when I'm trying to be considerate and someone misinterprets my intentions as stupidity.  I've been on rental horses where I got chewed out for not holding my horse back. You just can't win at these public stables. No matter what you do, it is always wrong.

Then I found out that our trail boss was hard of hearing, and his horse was much faster than ours, so he kept getting way up ahead of us, and every time we ran into trouble, our calls for help fell on deaf ears.  My horse kept ripping the reins out of my hand by throwing his head down to the ground, and I'd have to scramble to grab them before he flung them over the top of his head.  I also kept losing my stirrups several times when bushes and tree limbs got a hold of them.  Both my husband and I got stabbed and scratched multiple times, because the trails were almost non-existent.  The guide explained that we were riding on government owned property, and the government wouldn't allow them to alter the trails to make them more horse friendly.

There were times when I just wanted to stop to gather my wits about me after struggling to hang onto the reins, the stirrups, and my camera, but it was hard to get the guide to hear me way back at the end of the line.

We went through a lot of gates...

And saw some mines...
The bushwhacking was the most painful part.  Here we are in relatively short brush, but I couldn't take pictures when we were pushing through tunnels of scratchy trees because my neck strap could have gotten caught on branches.  My husband's horse Larry liked to scratch his belly and butt on the bushes.

There were places we couldn't ride through unless our guide pruned some branches...

We went down some steep, rocky cliffs, but it was worth it when we ended up riding along a riverbed to get out of the heat.

Larry kept stopping to drink.  I was glad that my horse Smokey wasn't interested in the water, because I would have lost those short reins had he stopped for a drink.

We found a treehouse...

Through gates...

And more gates...

All in all, it was good to get out and see other parts of Arizona.  I am so used to seeing not much beyond cacti and Palo Verde trees, and it's nice to know that our state has unique landscapes at each elevation.  As our guide plowed through all these bushes and rocks, I asked if they had rattlesnakes there.  He said they didn't.  They had no wild animals there.  I thought how nice it would be to just ride without having to worry about all the dangerous creatures we have around our house.  But then our trails are definitely better than what they had to contend with.

I'll admit that part of these travels I take around Arizona are in search of a good location to retire, because I don't think I will be able to withstand too many summers in the Phoenix area.  I realize that this summer has been especially hard with me having to go outside every hour or so to deal with the dogs and horses, but it won't always be that way.  People can survive the summers here just fine as long as they stay in air conditioned houses.  I've just got too many things to do outside right now.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

NOTE: If you plan to leave snarky comments on my blog on my birthday, consider yourself not worthy of my time. You might also want to start taking a look around you and stop wondering why you don't have any friends.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Happy Birthday!

My hubby is still working at the Phoenix airport and commuting home to NM every week, but he has also been hired as the head lacrosse coach at University of Northern Arizona, so he has heen discussing moving to northern Arizona in the future.
Maybe we'll be neighbors. Haha!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - I'm very happy for you and your husband. I know it's been hard on both of you having him work at the hottest airport in the nation, and so far from home. Happy birthday to you too!

ellie k said...

It would be good If Lisa would buy the house that is for sale behind you. Good neighbors good friends. Happy Birthday to a blog friend, sorry your week end didn't
Turn out like you planned. At least you were in good company, most hubbies can be really great company.

Cheryl Ann said...

Happy Birthday! Also, I hope you are feeling better!
Cheryl Ann

achieve1dream said...

I'm so sorry your birthday didn't turn out well. At least the ride was pretty cool. That mine is neat!!!

I know I already mentioned this on a previous post but please look into the gluten thing. Your symptoms sound so much like my dad used to be before he stopped eating it. I had the major gas pains and bloating. I haven't had a problem since I stopped eating gluten.

Anyway I hope you get a chance to get away for another weekend and I hope it goes better. *hugs*