February 9. We arrived at Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa, Arizona after a drive of 155 miles. This officially completes our drive from Estero, Florida. The final totals: Drove 2,689 miles and used 234 gallons of gas in the 12 nights on the road. Plus, we discovered we still like each other and haven’t lost the “gypsy” in us after three months of staying put.
We followed Highway 70 the entire way until we got to Globe, Arizona in the Superstition Mountains. We picked up Highway 60 and dropped down from 4,500 feet to the valley floor where is was 20 degrees warmer. Love this climate. This marks our first visit to this park. We have stayed at two other Maricopa County Parks (Cave Creek and White Tank) and Usery is number three. It is lovely.
Our site is on the inside loop, which we normally don’t select but the choices for a two-week stay were limited. This site is lovely and there is no one on our front-door side. Our “backyard” is very private, with a stand of saguaro and the mountain about 1/4 mile away. Plus, we are near the bathhouse, which is great. The showers are immaculate and water is hot. We did a complete set-up which means bikes came out of the truck, screen house was assembled, awnings went up and rug, chairs and tables were put in place. Then, we did a dry run to the airport in daylight since Peter is flying out really early in the morning. Mesa is a big and bustling suburb of Phoenix, which itself is pretty spread out. It’s only about 25 miles to the airport and relatively easy via the 202 Loop. Successful run, early to bed.
February 10. Up at 4:00am and to the airport to deliver Peter for his six days of snowboarding with friends near Bozeman, Montana. It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me that I did get lost on the way back home. It was super dark and easy to get turned around when I couldn’t see the mountains. No big deal. Thank you GPS for the rescue.
The first day alone in T2 is always a bit disorienting. I often feel like there is something I should be doing while the Airstream is quiet. So I got caught up on bookkeeping, checked for things to mail, drove to the post office, got in a bike ride, and hustled around. Then, I began to settle into the wish list for what I hoped to experience in this alone time. When I imagine this time more like a silent retreat, I feel myself relaxing into its delicious nature.
One of the personal indulgences of this time alone is changing my eating for a few days, switching to raw foods and giving my body a boost of nutrition. Peter and I eat really well and mostly vegetarian, but I have found that whenever I move from one climate to another, my body responds with “OK, what are we doing now?” Today, my meals started out with two of those amazing Texas grapefruits that I wrote about recently, and a glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. Lunch was a kale smoothie (kale, banana, fresh mint, unfiltered mango juice, Florida orange juice) made in our Ninja blender. Then supper of a huge spinach salad with carrots, celery, red cabbage, and great avocados (those had been really hard to find before we got to Arizona). In between there were snacks of carrots and celery and avocado dip. Oh yes, and lots of water. A great start to the time here.
On an impulse, I decided to take myself to a late-afternoon movie. One the advantages of being in a metropolitan area, is having so many movie theaters close by. My sister recommended that I see Hidden Figures, based on the true story of three African-American women working at NASA in 1961. It is such a powerful movie and it had me crying, angry, cringing, laughing, and crying some more. These were brilliant, courageous, vulnerable, and strong women whose story of silent determination is told in this beautiful movie. I sent a text to my two oldest granddaughters urging them to see it. Once more, a reminder that we stand on the shoulders of giants like these three women.
Slept soundly after the evening serenade from the resident coyotes. Full moon?
February 11. After an early morning walk discovering the Nature Trail here in the campground, I took my first cup of tea out in the screen house. This place is so quiet in the early morning with just the chatter of busy birds filling the air.
As the day unfolded I felt gently pulled into writing and catching up on some of the recent articles from The New Yorker. It was then that I came across a mention of the 2017-Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject that had just had a special screening in New York hosted by Stephen Colbert. The film, Joe’s Violin, is the story of a Holocaust survivor who donated his violin to an instrument drive in New York City, changing the life of a 12-year old girl in the Bronx, and unexpectedly, his own. The New Yorker is making it available for free and so I watched it. If you haven’t seen it, please do so here. Bring plenty of Kleenex. This is “a powerful testament to our potential as human beings”, as Nicholas Alexander Brown wrote. I needed to be reminded of this hopeful message of our human potential in the light of the current discourse of hatred and fear that is hanging heavy in the air.
After seeing this film, and now watching the moon rise through the stripes of clouds over Usery Mountain, I am going to wrap up this post. There is nothing more to write other than to wish you a loving and peaceful day. Thank you for traveling along with us.
Peter continues his “winter time” in Montana while Liz soaks up warm days and marvels at the Arizona sunsets from their Airstream, as their pilgrimage to here continues.