Reflections on Arizona

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of hearing about the presidential election. I’ve already early voted so no amount of cajoling or scare tactics can change my vote now. I. Am. Done. Shut up already. (As a political junkie, however, I will watch Tuesday’s election returns with spellbound interest.)

So assuming you’re as sick of the election as I am, I won’t bore you with a political post. But how about travel? The talking heads on the news keep pointing at maps of the United States when they’re telling us the latest poll numbers and about how the electoral college works. Don’t those blue and red and purple maps make you want to skip around the United States? Well, they inspire me.

Several years ago, I blogged about all the states I’d visited (and the ones I missed) in a six-part series. Perusing the list again now, I realize I still need to visit a number of states in the northeast (plus Alaska and Hawaii — alas, I’ve never been to either). But I also realize that driving through a state doesn’t provide much beyond geographical information. One needs to eat there and talk to the locals and peruse the bulletin boards in the local diners to understand a little bit about the soul of a place.

My Beloved and I spent most of our winter last year in Yuma, Arizona (please don’t confuse Yuma with Huma — we’re talking about travel here, not politics, remember?). When I talk wistfully about it now, my friends say, “Yuma? What’s so great about Yuma?”

Well, Yuma is no Grand Canyon. They’re both in the state of Arizona, but Yuma is a windswept desert, not a majestic canyon. The Colorado River runs through both the Canyon and through Yuma so there’s that.

Here’s what I found interesting about Yuma:

  • The desert. In the wintertime, it’s a beautiful place early in the morning and just after dusk. The temperature is perfect, maybe even a little bit cool. And the air is dry, dry, dry. When you look across the horizon, you can see for miles. Look up, and the star sparkle brightly.
  • The restaurants. There are no Michelin-starred restaurants there, but a Minnesotan wouldn’t know one when she sees one anyway. I liked the authentic Mexican taco stands and the yummy ice cream joints. And I still remember the Italian place with huge portions and half-price wine on Wednesdays. It’s a frugal Minnesotan’s dream.
  • The winter population. I’m sure the locals hate the snow birds, but I kind of like them. Retirees have led interesting lives. They’re not too demanding (especially the Canadians). And they go to bed at 10, so they make great neighbors.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get to go back to Yuma. And I’ve added a new wish to my list of things to see in Arizona: Chicago Cubs spring training.

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