It was my birthday last week and as a special treat I flew to Gilbert, AZ to visit for a full week with one of my best friends I made in college, Britt. Come March she’s likely to move even further away to pursue work in D.C. so we had been planning on making time to visit before then. The trip that came out of this was something else. Having never been to Arizona before I felt like a stranger in a pleasantly strange land.
Notable differences in AZ:
Everything is spaced way the hell apart. Land is cheaper in the low, dry desert and it feels like you’re driving the length of L.A. just to enter a different neighborhood.
Everyone was so frick’n nice! I think now it’s in no small part due to being with Britt and staying with her family who own a business that takes them all over Phoenix valley. Everybody Britt meets she makes friends with no matter how tentatively the encounter. Her parents are equally good natured and never turn down an opportunity to talk. The result was that every store clerk, every acquaintance of Britt’s or her parents we met was like catching up with old friends. It sounds unremarkable until you come home and feel like you’re in an ocean of people who want to mug you.
The history is everywhere. With multiple museums and destinations dedicated to the Native American, Mexican, and even Dutch heritage of the valley and names like Apache Land and Hieroglyphic canyon surrounding us you can’t help but wonder how (and why) anyone settled here in the dust to make a home. In L.A. where the melting pop heritage of America is as palpable as anywhere it’s easy to take it for granted. It’s a city people come to for something. Gilbert and it’s neighboring towns is a place you grow up (and possibly out) in. Britt made sure I got a crash course on the oldest peoples who’s culture make the state so rich in personality.
Somethings I did and you should too in AZ:
-Visit Goldfield the ghost gold mining town. Very touristy, but the attractions-including the mine tour, native reptile/insect museum, shops, and zip line-make it well worth the short trek east of Gilbert. It also neighbors the Apache Land museum.
-Tortilla Flats. Scenic, Canyon lake adjacent, and prickly pear ice cream!
-Dancing at Club Katz. Held at an elementary school, this is the first thing we did and possibly the most fun I had all week!
-Phoenix Art Museum and the Science Center. The Art Museum is on par with the MOMA, ‘nuff said and the Science Center is largely interactive making it ideal for kids (or kids at heart like Britt and I).
There’s so much more (ice skating, racket ball) and I couldn’t have asked for better way to spend my birthday given the way things have been going. So much happiness in one week it depresses me to wake up and remember that isn’t going to be every week in 2014. Possibly the best part was the gifts I received from Britt and waking up to a hand made “Happy Birthday” poster in the bathroom. There were tears.