Tuesday, July 21, 2015

THE PARKER, PALM SPRINGS: A SOUR TASTE





Final night of the road trip.

Palm Springs, from whence we launched.

This time, an overnight at The Parker, a supposed "high end"resort (though they prefer the word estate).

Bad move.


It is clear The Parker discriminates against children.  

And as my two grandsons are part of the equation, we are not just relegated to their North Building, but as far as one can possibly get from the lobby/bar/restaurants (figure a quarter-mile).





So far away, in fact, Internet connection does not exist.

The Parker's way of handling it:  "The Internet is down, being fixed, should work in an hour."

Not!  

Hours later, still no Internet.  

Someone is sent to assess the problem.   

Finally, some honesty:  "Out here, you're too far away."

Phone call to Amex:  "Don't plan on me paying anything for this experience.  You booked it, you're eating it."



What you do when life hands you a lemon...


DESERT STORM






Had we driven this road just one hour later...

I-10 closed at collapsed bridge in Desert Center



Monday, July 20, 2015

SOMEWHERE IN ARIZONA





Down below:  Alien abduction induction center.  Or maybe where the passengers from MH370 are held?


SEDONA GLIMPSES



Storm brewing

Summertime is monsoon season in Red Rock Country.

Most afternoons, torrential thunderstorms blow in and settle the red rock dust.


(Too bad they haven't washed out Tacky-Town, otherwise known as Woo-wooville, near where Rt. 89A intersects with Rt. 179.)



Last light


Morning mist


SEDONA: MARIPOSA



The Crystal Door.  
A portal to...


Dining with a view 
(that ain't no mural...)

Just opened a month ago; already a big hit among Sedonans.


The Gang


THE ROAD BACK TO RED ROCK





Excerpted from Surreal Bounce, in which Sedona is included as part of an odyssey in search of creativity and madness:



It is time to follow the advice of a vortex book I’d picked up.  

Its message, essentially, is that Sedona is a collective vortex.  

So the thing to do is choose a spot where you feel most comfortable, be it upon a red rock or a toilet, and meditate.  

My spot, I’d already figured, is the open-air terrace bar at Fort Enchantment—serenity unspoiled by the swarms—cocooned within Boynton Canyon Vortex, a view of Kachina Woman.

It feels appropriate to drink something indigenous to the region.  

So I sip silver peyote juice from a martini glass, its rim coated with salt, while scribing these notes into my leather-bound journal:


This isn’t one you’re supposed to work at; you’re supposed to slowdona, as the T-shirt says, choose a spot that best reflects who you are, and meditate.  

I prefer to contemplate (rather than meditate)—and my favorite contemplation mode is with a cocktail or a glass of wine all on my own, nobody to talk with, and nothing to read, just my thoughts and me.  

Sitting on this terrace at dusk, watching for a full moon behind red rock, a buzz of people around me, I’m the only one alone.





Sometime during the night, in the total blackness of my room, I am jolted awake by a burst of electricity.  

Since I’m not plugged into anything, it must be of the metaphysical variety.  

Half awake from the charge, I feel a tingling in my left hand, as if circulation has been cut.  I try to shake it off but it morphs into a fierce swirling storm beneath my knuckles, moving slowly, clockwise, from left to right.  

This tornado is halfway across my hand before I tweak to what’s going on:  

Metaphysical shock treatment!  Vortexed! 

I allow the sensation to play out.  

When it reaches the base of my thumb, the twirling electrical current turns and reverses, motioning the other way under my knuckles, counter-clockwise, until, very slowly, it fades and disappears.  The whole episode lasts about a minute.


Kissing Rock


Old Native American proverb:  God created the Grand Canyon but He lives in Sedona.



Sunday, July 19, 2015

THE GRAND CANYON





Williams, Arizona bills itself as the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

And indeed it is.

Just a one-hour straight run up Route 64 to Grand Canyon Village, on the south rim...







It is hard to describe the Grand Canyon, though words like spectacular and astonishing come to mind.


El Tovar Hotel:  fine dining with a view


Built in 1905, El Tovar is the only hotel on the Grand Canyon's rim.




Saturday, July 18, 2015

ROUTE 66: WILLIAMS, AZ





Of all the towns along the old Route 66 in California and Arizona, Williams is the most reminiscent of a bygone era before the Interstates.




Though bypassed, Williams has found a way to survive (on hype) as a relic of the past; it remains an authentic slice of Americana.






















THE ROAD TO JEROME



Jerome is nestled onto the mountainside


I first visited Jerome, Arizona in March of 2014, my second road trip in the CoW, and my favorite overnight stop on a three-night swing through Arizona and Nevada.




So when I discover, to my delight, that Jerome is a mere twenty-nine miles from Sedona, it is a no-brainer to return.



Jerome Grand, left of center, Ghost Central


In addition to penning short novels set around longer road trips, I am writing a nonfiction book based on the whole road-trip experience.

Here is what I wrote about Jerome, as part of last year's road trip:



Once The Wickedest Town In America.


Now America’s most haunted:  a living, breathing ghost town—as promoted by its 444 inhabitants, who these days survive on tourism, not copper mining.



The road up curves through canyons, producing splendid panoramas, a constant reminder of the vastness of the United States, and our planet; of all the natural beauty mankind has yet to spoil.

Jerome was one of the biggest copper mining centers of all time—once a big bustling city with luxury goods, brothels, saloons, and much affluence.

World Wars meant boom-times, literally, as the copper barons dynamited mountains to get at the copper ore needed to manufacture weapons.


The end of that war led to the Jerome’s near collapse, worsened by the stock market crash of 1929.


World War II came along and revived Jerome briefly.  But renewed momentum was not to last.  Residents sold their homes for bus fare out, or simply abandoned them.



In the early 1970s, the flower power generation began to tire of their Haight-Ashbury scene, and cities in general.  

Some moved to Bolinas, a fishing village north of San Francisco.  




ERINGER: SURREAL BOUNCE...: SURREAL BOUNCE: BOLINAS, THE UNFINDABLE TOWN, OPENING SEQUENCE

Others discovered Jerome, which had become an almost ghost town, with only a few natives clinging to what once was.


What do you do with a ghost town?


Hype the hell out of it!


So now Jerome is Salem-West: 


They celebrate Halloween the whole month of October; everywhere you look, ghosts and more ghosts are coming out of the old wooden facades; some genuine, many contrived—they’re making the best of what they got and exploiting it for all it’s worth.

On this late weekday afternoon, it seems worth quite a lot, as parking is scarce and many people roam the streets, whose shops do a brisk business.

We could have stayed at the Jerome Grand Hotel, formerly a hospital and reputed to be Ghost Central, but decided instead on the Connor, in the middle of everything, partly due to its high-spirited female receptionist.



She eyes me.  “You’ve got to sign the rules.”

“We don’t believe in rules,” I say.


She pushes a page of small print across the counter toward me.  “You in particular.”


Singled out.  Again.


“Does this mean we can’t have our midnight soccer game down the hall?”


A genuine metal key opens into an old fashioned room with a sturdy bed, clean coverings, solid furniture, and a window that opens onto Jerome’s main drag.  The bathroom is basic and clean, the lighting incandescent.  (In other words, more homey than The Parker in Palm Springs at a quarter the cost.)


Downstairs, energy pulsates, as if the vortexes of nearby Sedona extend to this durable town.  


You can keep swimming pool lounges and spas with fancy mud baths and mineral facials.  The only thing you need for your face is olive oil in the morning and a vodka wash at night to remove grit.  


Life is about motion, not lounging.




SEDONA SUNSET



View from Fort Enchantment


Yup, I was just in Red Rock Country only two months ago.

But I was on a vigorous five-nighter up to Colorado and across to New Mexico:  a road-trip setting for a short novel.


Sedona is so enchanting, I had to return a.s.a.p. and this time stay a few days, do a metaphysical recharge with all the magnetic energy, and, of course, launch on a couple local road-trips.


Red Rock Country is probably at its best when the sun begins its descent.



Kachina Woman sucks one in.


SEDONA: CASITA WITH A VIEW





Ok, so maybe Bombay Beach was just an aberration.

My real summer vacation:  Red Rock Country.

Known for its vortexes, including...


Kachina Woman


Reputed to be Sedona's most powerful vortex.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

BOMBAY BEACH: STAIRWAY TO...





Maybe not exactly what Led Zeppelin had in mind.




But, hey, when you're on summer vacation, a beach is a beach.



BOMBAY BEACH CULTURE



Bombay Beach Art Museum


Bombay Beach is very serious about culture.

Not only does it have an art museum, and assorted installations...





...it also boasts a literary appreciation society...





Furthermore, Bombay Beach is on the cutting edge of architectural ingenuity, especially with regard to modern lifestyle...