“It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place … I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
I began the first day of my road trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so I could see aspens in their shivering-in-the-wind golden fall leaves, by singing and dancing around to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” The song put me exactly where I wanted to be: excited about my upcoming adventure.
When I had the car all packed and ready to go, it was 7 a.m., a great time to start a trip. Five minutes down the road I realized I had forgotten my binoculars, something no birder – which I am – never travels without. Fifteen minutes later, I was back at the spot I made the U-turn.
Fifteen minutes after that, I realized I hadn’t had my morning cup of coffee, which I had planned on making and pouring in my to-go cup for the trip. I assume it slipped my mind when I packed a cooler with sandwiches and other goodies for the trip, since I didn’t want to spend money for food.
Another 15 minutes later, my pocket book $4 lighter after waiting in a lengthy line at Starbucks for a latte, I again headed out of town. It was after 8 a.m. when my canine companion Pepper and I finally took the ramp to Interstate 10, leaving Tucson in the rearview mirror.
It was a pretty typical start for one of my road trips.
The morning was overcast and dusty, as a stiff breeze rolled across the desert roadsides. But I was upbeat, unhooked from all electronics, including my car radio, and scanning the landscape for surprises on a route I had traveled quite a few times before since moving to Tucson almost three years ago.
Those trips, however, were for taking my daughter to the doctor in Phoenix, or to the Phoenix airport, not just for the pleasure of it, which in my experience is the beginning of a whole new book. The first thing that caught my attention after I turned onto the interstate was Picacho Peak. It intrigues me because of how it stands out in the Sonoran Desert landscape, presenting different and distinct profiles depending on the viewing angle.
What I didn’t know before the trip was that Picacho Peak is the site of a Civil War Battle. The skirmish was fought between an advance party of Confederate soldiers from Texas and a Union Cavalry patrol from California. The site marks the westernmost battle of the war. The Confederates won the April 1862 battle, but by May of the same year, a stronger force of Union soldiers from California pushed the Confederates back to Texas.
But the history of the 1,500 peak, which served as a landmark for travelers well before my time, goes back much farther than that, It’s all explained by exhibits at Picacho Peak State Park that now sits at the base of the 1,500-foot peak. It was well worth a stop on my way. — To be continued…
Bean Pat: Write like a weed http://tinyurl.com/nwtm53n Good writer’s advice.