Rattlesnakes, cowboys, and desert rock 'n' roll
5 Oct 2007
|After breakfast and some shopping in Sedona we had a short walk, carefully avoiding the Vortices this time. There was a very strong wind, happily blowing the everpresent red dust under my contact lenses, but I had to have a walk before spending the rest of the day driving to Tucson, just by the Mexican border, through sandstorms, etc. We are going there to do Erica's family thing, specifically visiting E's step-daughter Sophie and her kids, who live there.
We are booked for the weekend into what is certainly one of the coolest hotels I have ever stayed in (The Congress). Like New York's Chelsea Hotel, except in Tucson. William Burroughs is completely wasted on reception, there is a big party all around here tomorrow with 24 bands playing, but best of all to anyone who has read the Illuminati books, John Dillinger the famous bank robber was arrested after staying here in 1934, when there was a fire and he insisted his suspiciously big chest (full of money and guns) was saved from the flames. This was before he was rescued from prison and recruited to a global anarchist conspiracy, etc (at least that is what happened in the Illuminati books). Unfortunately his room was already booked up. Anyway, this is a very rock 'n' roll, sleazy, colourful, cool sort of place and I rather like it.
Last night we went over to Sophie's for dinner, over in the Mexican part of town, which is quite different to downtown where we are. It was fun, and interesting to get a more direct American view of the US and things American. This morning its get up, have breakfast and move the car, because there is going to be a stage in the Hotel Car Park for tonight's festie.
We drove over to Sophie's and picked up her and her daughter Meema to go for a walk in the desert nearby. There were loads of great Saguarro Cactus, but the best thing by far - and a real thrill for us - was when Sophie disturbed a rattlesnake. Erica and I rushed over to have a look, and succeeded in spooking the rattler, which coiled up and started hissing, apparently a prelude to attack. As they can spring several feet, we retreated a few feet to watch. It was very hard to take photos, as it was so well camouflaged I couldn't see it through the camera viewfinder. We watched it for a while and then walked back. Meema had never even seen a wild rattlesnake before, so we were lucky, though it did make me watch where I was going much more carefully on the way back.
We dropped Sophie off and took Meema to Tombstone, not too far away. This was a full-on genuine cowboy town, most famous for the gunfight at the OK Corral and mucho other tales of hellraising in the bad old days when Tombstone was a lawless mining town and Wyatt Earp's brother was marshall. It is also full-on touristy now, as you would expect, but this was all good fun and didn't detract for me from the genuine history of the place. We went to Boot Hill, where near everyone seemed to have been killed or committed suicide, and saw a reenactment at the OK Corral of the famous gunfight. All good cheesy fun. Erica pointed out that we (not me!) were doing the grandparent thing: spoiling small child, theme park, ice cream...oh no, its started!
We drove back to Tucson, dropped Meema off, and got as near to the hotel as I could for cool music types and roadies, and now as I type, there is the sound of "one, two, one, two.." coming from at least three directions around me, as there are stages everywhere and it is gearing up for the evening mayhem. Being the true rockers that we are we went out to watch Sophie do her flamenco thing at a big Spanish Restaurant. It was hot stuff, very impressive. Then back home to see various rock bands on various stages and a hotel full of drunk bohemians and young people. Loud and fun, though the audiences appeared very tame by British standards. As we are tame too, we retired fairly early.
It wasn't a bad night's sleep considering. A lot of the bands were staying in the hotel, but being Americans they were well-behaved, none of the all night party mayhem and smashing up of hotels we associate with British rock stars.
Today we went off to Sobino Canyon to walk amongst cacti for a few hours. There was a bit of a crisis when Erica realised that she had left her camera at a lunch stop on the Rattlesnake Trail (didn't see any snakes though). And with every single one of her pictures on the card! The short version of the happy ending is that it was handed into the Visitor's Centre. Americans are so honest compared to Brits!
And tonight is a big family meal on Erica in our hotel restaurant; us, Sophie, her boyfriend Randy, and her two kids Meema and Sarakai. This may be a bohemian hipster joint but they do good food, so it was fun.