Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Truly Great Time

Last night around midnight, I got home from a 5 day weekend in Arizona. And I had a spectacularly great time. Such fun people, saw 4 of my favorite people. Wore capris, sandals and tshirts everywhere, as opposed to the 40 degree rain we're having in Oregon. I laughed more in the last 5 days than I think I have in months. It was the break I've really really needed.

Some highlights:
Randomly, one of my friends from my internet forum was driving through town on a road trip right when we were in town. So we went out for lunch with her and her dad. It was so much fun. I've only met her in person a few times, and I think this was the best time.
Later that night, we went to the pre-wedding pizza and pool party, where I got to give the bride a good hug for the first time in, I think, at least 2 years. It was too cool to swim, but a bunch of us hung out with our feet in the pool. That's the bride next to me in the blue dress, and Lynn's disembodied head floating behind me.

The next day was the wedding. Before the wedding, we met another internet friend for the very first time. She was pretty much the nicest most awesome person ever, and so was her husband. It's always so strange meeting internet friends. I've been talking to Michelle for years and years, so once we got over the oddness of talking in person, it was like we were just picking up where we left off. We hung out with Michelle and her husband Jason throughout the wedding.

Don't we look spiffy! The wedding was so very sweet. Claire looked beautiful in a lace dress, her groom, Jason, was such a nice guy and they looked so very happy. I was thrilled for both of them. The reception was really fun and casual. Fantastic tamales and Mexican food, awesome music to dance to, and really touching speeches. It was a wonderfully nice time.

Bright and early the next morning, we drove to Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico. Super long drive, but really gorgeous. I never really thought of Arizona as a mountainous state, but we climbed some major mountains, and at the top, there was snow on the ground. We saw some really stunning painted hills on the way, tons of saguaro cactus, and lots of mesas. When we got to Zuni, we stopped in at the visitor's center. The woman there told us that no photographs were permitted anywhere on the reservation, due to a ceremonial dance that would begin in about a half hour. And why don't we go and watch! So we stopped into a few stores where I bought two amazing kachina dolls and a turquoise pendant, then went and parked near the old church that was actually built around 1660. We looked through two buildings and could see bits of the dancers. We started to approach to see better, and two Zuni women directed us around a few buildings so we could climb onto a roof of a pueblo and get a better view from there.

It was amazing. I looked around, and we were the only non Zuni people. This wasn't a dance for the public, for tourists. This was a real dance, for them. There must have been 40 men, with capes, coyote skins, huge masks covered with flowers and evergreen boughs. It was a dance for moisture--rain--as the woman in the visitor's center told us. From what I remember, I think most of the dancers were dressed as corn dancers, sun dancers, and some others I'm not sure about. There were also mudmen, who are evidently the mischief makers. It was incredible, standing up on somebody's roof, watching this dance. The drums were beating, and the dancers would shake rattles all in unison that sounded like a giant rain storm. I looked to my side at one point, and several men watching were tapping their feet in perfect unison with the dancers.  It was an amazing experience.

After the dance, we headed out of town, towards the very small town of Holbrook, AZ. It's on historic Rt 66, and we knew from checking the day before, that there was one of those old wigwam hotels. That was our goal. On the way, we passed the Petrified Forest National Park. It had closed 10 minutes before, but the man at the gate waved us in anyway. The sun was setting, and we only got to the first few viewpoints, but we saw the Painted Desert! We look down, and with the golden sunset shining on them, the hills were painted in reds and yellows, oranges, bits of green. It totally blew my mind. It was probably the most beautiful natural scenery I've ever seen. I was so sad that the sun was setting and we couldn't see more. But that one image in my head was well worth it.

Finally, around 7pm, we roll into Holbrook. We find the Wigwams easily (they're pretty easy to spot, after all), and decided that we only wanted to stay there if we could get an actual Wigwam, since they had some non-wigwams in a separate building. We walked in, and snagged the last Wigwam! We were giddy with joy. It was so damn cool. The inside was basically round, with two beds in the front room, and a slightly awkward shaped bathroom tucked into the back. It was so fun and goofy to stay there.

The next morning is when the timing starts to go awry. We had calculated that we needed to leave Holbrook no later than 10 to make it to the airport by 1 or 1:30 so I could catch a 3:25 flight. We check out of the Wigwam around 9, and stop for breakfast (green Hatch chili enchilada with an egg on top...so SO good!). The there was a thrift store Lynn wanted to stop in at. And then we find the really cool rock shop. The rock shop took quite awhile. It was really awesome though. I bought some petrified wood, a turquoise necklace and a piece of unpolished raw turquoise. Oh, and a deer antler! Plus, there was this:

So wonderfully hokey Route 66-ish!
Around 10:30, we stop in Winslow Arizona for coffee, and I calculate that if we leave at 11, we've got three hours of driving and we'd get there right around 1. Wait...how the heck did I calculate that?!?! There's trouble brewing!
But we're in Winslow. We had to stand on a corner!
And then I had that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

On the road again, we quickly realize we're somewhat screwed. I needed to return the car, get back to the terminal, get through security and make it in time to check in for a 3:25 flight, and it was now 11:15. There was no way. At least the speed limit on the highway was 75. Even so, it was 2:45 when we checked the car in. By that point, I was actually pretty calm. I knew I didn't work the next day, I knew that there were other flights to Portland that night. This would just have to work out.

When we got to the ticketing counter, the woman just chuckled and said there was no way in hell I'd make my flight. So she gives me a standby ticket for a 7:25 flight, and says I'll probably get a seat, but as a backup, gives me a confirmed seat on a 9pm flight. Lynn's flight doesn't board until 6, so we go sit down and hang out for awhile. I suddenly get a text message from the airline that the 9pm flight was cancelled! Oh crap. Now I don't have a contingency plan if I miss the 7pm flight. I walk up to a counter, and the super helpful woman there gives me tickets on a flight to Oakland, then a later flight from there to Portland. I'd be on Lynn's flight! But I've still got standby on the 7pm flight, that would get me home several hours earlier. It's such a gamble! When I go up to check again right before Lynn and I go check in for her flight, she tells me that there are at least 3 empty seats on the 7pm, and that I'm the only one on standby. I'm almost certain to have a seat...but I have a confirmed flight on an earlier flight. Ack! What to do! I end up picking the standby flight, and in the end, I get a seat! Yay!! Everything went smoothly from there, except for my seatmate spilling cranberry juice all over me. Sigh. Regardless, I'm home and tucked in bed by around 11.

There was so much laughter, friendship and exploration on this trip, it may well have been the best trip I've ever been on. It was endless amounts of fun. I'm so happy I could be there for Claire's wedding, and it was the catalyst for a totally fantastic weekend.

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