I spent an enjoyable week in Arizona with a friend who moved there recently for health reasons. The weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. It was the end of October. And it wasn’t too hard for my friend to talk me into staying for Halloween.
I arrived on Tuesday and we spent Wed and Thurs touring local art attractions and on Friday we were going to go to Sedona. Since it would be about a 2 hour drive, I decided to get some granola bars out from behind the passenger seat under some other stuff I collected on my journey. The granola bars were in a clear plastic backpack and when I pulled out the bag it wasn ’t zipped. I noticed a piece of snake skin in the bag and thought, “I don’t remember picking that up anywhere.” I pulled another bag out to see if there were any different types of bars and it was filled with snake skins. I am not the type of person to panic, so while my friend was already sitting in the front passenger seat, I walked around to the other side of the car and opened both doors. She wondered what I was doing and when I didn’t answer right away she asked, “Should I get out of the car?” I replied, “Yes,” not knowing if there might still be a snake in the car. The night before I had left the sunroof open but didn’t think a snake could get out that way. Of course, I have no idea how or when a snake got into my car to begin with. Could a snake get into my car through an open door? I may have left a door open when I was unloading the car. Other than that, when I was traveling from California I stopped a lot to take pictures. The scenery was beautiful and I stopped quite a lot. I would pull off the side of the road and get out of the car, leaving the door open behind me, just to be sure I wouldn’t accidentally get locked out of the car. I would leave it running, so I wouldn’t think that a snake could sneak into my car behind me or would even try with the car running? I guess that I am just glad that I never saw a snake and somehow never reached back for the bag of bars while I was driving. Can you imagine reaching behind you for a snack bar and ending up with a snake instead? And, if I let my mind race, I could think of all kinds of scenarios that could have resulted in an accident or worse a trip to the hospital for a snake bite. I have no idea what kind of snake was in my car. The skin lined up on the ground measured over 4 feet and I keep remembering a time when I thought I heard something rattling and turned off the radio and the air conditioner to listen for a potential engine problem. By this time, I was traveling alone and even though I have a cell phone, the last thing that I want to happen aside from an accident or snake bite is a break down! So I turned everything off and listened and it stopped. I assumed it was a car near me even though I wasn’t necessarily aware of a car near me at the time. Could it have been a snake rattling in the back?
Well, to be on the safe side, especially since my friend was completely freaking out and NOT going to get back into the car if a snake might be in there, we unloaded everything out of the car. We took everything out of every box and every bag to be sure there wasn’t a snake hiding anywhere. We looked in the trunk, under the hood, under the seats, and under the dashboard. Once we were convinced the snake had moved on to its new home in Mesa, AZ, we packed up the car again and instead of heading to Sedona, since half the day was gone by now, we went to Scottsdale, which was much closer.
When we were in Scottsdale, it seemed to me that I had been there before. I had traveled West to Las Vegas with my parents when I was 16. It had changed a lot in 30 years, no surprise. I hadn’t seen so many galleries all in a row anywhere that I had been yet. And bronze sculptures were something I hadn’t seen yet either. The galleries had not only beautiful work, they had incredibly expensive artwork. There were paintings there priced over $50,000! We went into a gallery where the artist who created the work on the walls was manning the gallery and I asked, “What would you recommend to someone who wanted to be a famous artist?” His reply was, “Kill yourself!” I have been accused of being blonde under my haircolor which covers my gray hair and this was one of those moments. I replied, “Why? You don’t want any competition?” I expect I’ll never run into that artist again outside Scottsdale and if I run into him again and continue to play “dumb” he won’t know the difference.
Other conversations with gallery owners indicated that the economy was definitely hurting business there. While there were many galleries, there were also a lot of empty spaces. Arizona was one of those states with the highest foreclosure rates. Because my friend’s sister was in real estate there, I found out that many people were letting foreclosures happen just as an investment strategy. Why continue to pay the mortgage on a million dollar home which is now worth half a million, when you can now get a two million dollar home for a million dollars?
We had an especially unusual experience on the way home, too. Or, I was continuing to be blonde that day. The moon looked quite unusual in the sky, like a bright orange ball. I have seen a bright orange moon before, usually lower in the sky. But, as we got closer, it seemed to have a white light at the bottom. One thing about Arizona, the Pheonix area that is, it seems that they planned it from nothing in the desert, so this large area has a perfect grid of streets. It makes it very easy to get around without losing your sense of direction. You can follow the same road for miles. That is my explanation for what I am about to reveal. As we got closer and closer to the moon, which you also don’t usually do in a car, it looked more and more unusual. Turned out, it wasn’t the moon at all, but a large balloon floating over some store to promote some special sale.
We obviously had a very long day, snake or no snake and all. It is getting closer to the time I will had to begin home again and I am NOT looking forward to it. Maybe I can get my oldest daughter to come here to go to college. Maybe I can convince my parents that this weather would improve my father’s health. Maybe I’ll move here and drag them all with me. It’s a good time to buy real estate here. It is only six hours from my son in Los Angeles.