My wife recently sent me a quote written by Paul Coelho that I liked. It read, “I refuse to walk carefully through life only to arrive safely at death”. I’ve always subscribed to this type of thinking and found these words encouraging and motivating, so much so that I felt moved to get out of town for a little adventure. Lucky for me, my son who plays college rugby, was scheduled to play a couple matches over the weekend in Arizona. What a perfect excuse to hit the road for a weekend in Arizona.
It’s a long haul from the Bay Area to Phoenix, unless you’re flying, but what’s the fun in that? I decided to drive instead as I planned to spend some time wandering around and exploring the back roads.
Following a fairly uneventful drive down to Arizona, twelve hours of uneventful in fact, my first landing-place was downtown Prescott and its famous Whiskey Row district, a block-long set of historic buildings housing old saloons, taverns and restaurants. Whiskey Row’s most famous destination is the Palace Saloon, originally built in 1877, and still very much in character. I’ve visited, and some may even say frequented, many old saloons over the years. I’ve been drawn to their rich history and reputation. The Palace Saloon in fact was patronized in its early days by none other than Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. I wondered if they sat right about where I had. Maybe, but I’d bet they didn’t order a martini.
The famous rock band, the Eagles, had a hit record back in the 1970’s called “Take it Easy”. The lyrics included the line, “Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see”. I’ve always wanted to do that, you know, stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona (I must admit my life goals are fairly modest). Downtown Winslow is only a few hour’s drive from Prescott, and with an opportunity to check off another bucket list item, I headed up the road. When I arrived to the famous corner for a quick photo, I noticed a lot of fresh cut flowers lying on the ground and Eagles music blasting from a nearby building in remembrance of the recent death of the band member Glenn Frey. It was a nice tribute.
I can’t speak for other states, but as far as Arizona goes, it has some funny-named cities. There’s “Bumble Bee”, “Tombstone”, and “Carefree”, but my favorite is “Why”.
Of all the available choices to name a city, who, or should I say why, would someone choose “Why”? I didn’t think I would find out, but I wanted to see “what was happening in why”.
Highway 60 runs south from Winslow along the outer edge of the Tonto National Forest and through the Fort Apache and San Carlos Apache Reservations and across the Salt River Canyon, a spectacular drive with awesome views and scenery not too dissimilar from a mini Grand Canyon.
I stopped briefly at the Drift Inn Saloon in Globe, one of the oldest continuously operating saloons in the State of Arizona, established in 1902. Globe is a very small community and the local saloon effectively serves as the de-facto community center and meeting place for the local residences.
Leaving Globe and heading toward Why, the landscape quickly began to change toward long and lonely stretches of hot, dry desert. I like the solitude of the desert because it allows me time to think. As my mind began to wander, I suddenly noticed in my peripheral vision a tall-standing saguaro cactus seemingly with open arms and prepared for a comforting hug to lonely travelers. However, I didn’t fall for its deceptive overtures, but did manage to stop for a photo opportunity.
Finally arriving in the city of Why after a good days drive, I quickly understood the meaning behind the name. For there is very little in Why aside from a fuel station, a camping area and a small market with the appropriate name of “Why Not”.
My weekend trip to Arizona was filled with fun and adventure, and a couple thousand miles of spectacular and scenic views, and renewed motivation to continue exploring the roads less traveled.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention, the rugby matches were great to see. After all, wasn’t that the whole point of my trip?