For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Dateline: Arizona

Dear Kay,
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What a group of brainiac architecture freaks! You got it–we were indeed at Taliesin West when Mr. A–Mount Clifton–erupted. The tour guide told us the temperature was 113 degrees, or 45 Celsius.
Caliente! I’ve never been in that kind of heat before. It was so hot that the M & Ms in David’s suitcase melted. That ain’t right. M & Ms are supposed to survive anything. It was so hot that the mist-shooty spray things at the outdoor mall evaporated before any sinus-saving mist could actually reach anybody’s sinuses. I was all climbing up the park benches trying to snorkle up the stuff. Hell, I’d have gone into that Eileen Fisher store and bought the INVENTORY if they’d got the humidity level above 11 percent.
We covered a lot of ground during our week in Arizona. We saw a lot of nothing, which was one of my main goals. It’s spoze to be all empty out west, right?
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Boulder City nothing.
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Kingman nothing.
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Grand Canyon nothing.
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Cameron nothing.
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Wupatki National Monument nothing.
I have some conclusions:
1. It’s harder than you might think to see real, actual nothing. Every time I thought I had a really good eyeful of nothing, there’d be some human thing in there: power lines, barbed wire, dudes on burros, a guy selling $29 helicopter rides. (Maybe it’s just me, but I want to be paying more than $29 for a helicopter ride. It just doesn’t seem like enough to cover the things I like to see in a good helicopter tour program: maintenance, parts, substance abuse program costs.)
I realize that it might be easier to see actual, real nothing if we stepped off asphalt pavement. But you know me better than that–there’s bears out there.
2. The Shaynes would have made excellent pioneers. You should have seen us–crammed together in our hotel room (five hotels in eight nights, a regular covered wagon train we were), me knitting that most humble of projects, sock after sock. The children pitching in and making do with their humble pastimes, complaining only when something was boring, stupid, hot, dumb, or pointless. Hubbo masterfully hunting and gathering the bare necessities of life on a wagon train: the Wall Street Journal, decent coffee.
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3. Look how relaxed I am, how totally unflummoxed I am by the 3,000-foot drop to my right, how I’m watching Clif dangle on the railing without a wrinkle in my brow. OK, so my feet are still tingling with terror as I look at this picture.
We saw dams and bombs and General Douglas MacArthur’s airplane. We saw Jupiter (see it? that dot in the sky? JUPITER, people), red rocks, and altitude, and a Grand Canyon ranger who single-handedly paralyzed a long string of cars by explaining with love the entire national park ticketing system. I watched this guy for so long that I memorized his very features. I see him in my dreams. I hear his voice, every night: “Are you planning to visit more than two national parks this year?”
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I finished three socks during this trip. Toothpicks make good stitch holders. I couldn’t find my sock pattern, so I was amazed that I could remember it enough to keep making socks. I didn’t have a tapestry needle until Sedona, which was about eight weeks into our trip.
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Koigu of this nutty variegation is fun to knit, but the results are murky, if you ask me.
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See? It camouflages well in a pinon tree, I’ll admit.
By the time we made it to Sedona–the world headquarter for energy vortices that come out of the earth in some way that makes the juniper trees twist up–my vortices were in serious need of adjustment. But I didn’t really get much chance to try out our hotel’s spa offerings. (“Reading of the Moment,” $135. Here’s MY reading of the moment: these people are NUTS. “Aura-Soma Color Reading,” $195. Here’s MY color reading: I am really PALE. And I am heading to the yarn shop.)
Where, of course, there was solace to be found:
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Can you believe the lack of commercial branding on this stuff? When I asked the shop owner where it came from, she made a vague gesture toward the door and said, “Oh, a woman . . . she comes in . . . dyes it herself . . .”
I leave you with a condor, who sailed over the Grand Canyon for ages without even flapping her wings. Clearly, she’s got her energy work under control:
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Love,
Ann
PS Thanks to everyone who commented about the death of Kitty. I really appreciate it.
PSS 06/06/06! YEEOWKS! It’s the apocalypse!

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. no. that’s TWINKIES that are supposed to survive anything.
    and i can tell you, even the cock-a-roach of foods doesn’t do so fab in 113.
    stop with the socks, already. you’re freaking me out.

  2. Sounds like your trip was so….thirsty!
    Glad you made it back alive. And with socks. What a very odd place to be knitting socks. xoxo Kay

  3. Great to see you survived the home-state. I question why we live in AZ, then I remember…no snow. It’s freakin’ hot here EARLY this year…and don’t belive the lame-o-meter temp readings from the officials– real temps are closer to 117-120 this week. Did you make it to Scottsdale Fashion Square or Kierland Commons?

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip! And especially glad you’ve been assimilated to the sock knitting vortex. You’ll never be the same again.

  5. Hmm, I know a couple of people at Grand Canyon. Sadly, for me at least, neither was your ranger. I’ll bet he was trying to sell you the National Park Pass.

  6. I am sad to see that Mount Cliff did not get to throw up over a) the side of the Grand Canyon; b) the side of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, AZ; or c) the ticketing-system park ranger.
    I am happy, however, to see that even in 113 degree weather, you were not so dehydrated that you couldn’t get yourself to a yarn shop.

  7. Wow, you made it back in time for the apocolypse. Cool. So, you thought the desert was desolate? Until the last few months, it was my home. I’ve spent my life handling dry heat. It’s a subtle beauty of color variations. They have strange Navajo Churro sheep that survive in the desert. Great wool. Personally, I’ve been trying to survive the humidity here in Alabama. It’s new to me. I’m not used to having sticky hands when I’m knitting. I have found that most places are air conditioned and that means babies need little booties and blankets. The south has it blessings after all. Welcome home.

  8. From one who finds the nothing, the altitude, and the DRY heat soothing, thanks for the pictures.
    Just looking at it, I feel like my lungs are filling with fluid here in humid New York (and it’s not even hit the BAD part of the summer yet.)
    I grew up not knowing that I sweat a lot (lots and lots) because out there it evaporates straight out of your skin.
    Ahhhh… the Empty Drylands…

  9. “but it’s a dry heat”
    isn’t that what everyone in AZ says.

  10. Will you make nothing out of that handpainted silk?

  11. Glad you got to see so much of my home state, Ann! I’m a Tucson native (now living in Michigan). I love it when people say “but it’s a dry heat” — my response is “so’s my oven!” And as the Shaynes can attest, hot is hot! 113 is no picnic even when it’s dry.
    Your socks look beautiful!

  12. Okay, best comment ever: “Wow, you made it back in time for the apocolypse. Cool.”
    topping off a RILLY GOOD TRAVEL diary, with a reference to Mssr Colbert… That’s it, I’m throwing in the towel on Tuesday. It can only go downhill from here.

  13. Not only did a condor fly over, but you got a fab picture of her! (Do we know for sure it’s a her?) What serendipity!
    06/06/06 indeed.

  14. Whew! Glad that’s over. I was worried we’d lost you. But now you’re home. And with socks! Great!

  15. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you had absconded with *my* children and *my* hubbo, you described them so well.
    Welcome home!

  16. Apocolypse, schmockalypse, it’s only got 1 hour and 2 mins to go if it’s going to make it in time here in London!
    Holiday looks good though. Rocks everywhere. Almost emptyness. Bit warm though….. (this is only the 3rd day the yellow thing in the sky has been visible here. Ignore me, I’m jealous)
    x x x

  17. 59 mins, by the time I’d typed that in….

  18. Not for nothing (as the locals say here) but that was a swell travelogue. And love those socks you’re churning out.

  19. Gotta love the Hoover Dam Snackateria. You did go there, didn’t you?

  20. My favorite phrase when visiting parts of the west and midwest is that “there is a whole lot of not very much” out there. Not as absolute as “nothing” because that can be argued with. But I must say that there is immense beauty in the not-very-much and nothingness. Sounds like a great trip.

  21. Did you make it to Jessica Knits in Scottsdale? When I was in AZ in JANUARY, (sorry had to rub it in)I popped in and bought some souvenier yarn. Beautiful store. I get their email newsletter every month and they’re hiring. OMG, hiring.
    Good call on avoiding the $29 helicoptor ride. I have friends who thought they got a good deal on a hot air balloon ride out there and LIVED to regret it. Makes a good story but excitement like that you don’t need. The balloon company wanted my friends to pay additional to cover the cost of the Sheriff’s office rescue in the desert.
    I love AZ, it’s a dry heat after all. ;-)

  22. Hey there, is that a little Canadian sock yarn seeing the world? Looks familiar to me.
    Around these parts, we say that it just ain’t a vacation until somebody hurls. Or gets poison ivy, or food poisoning, or travellers diareah, or…
    wait, I think maybe our vacations suck.

  23. thank heavens you weren’t cooked alive!…..what a supportive family you have! those boys are troopers…and that includes the hubby.

  24. Yes, I concur with my fellow “Zonies”–it’s hotter earlier than usual here. Played softball at 6PM on Sunday and I got so red-faced that my coach thought I was on fire.
    Dry heat, yes. Much like an incinerator or a pizza oven. But there is a lot of beautiful stuff here, too. And it really is nice in the cooler months of the year–all 2 of them.
    Looks like your knitting adapted well to the heat.

  25. Just a question about the plane you saw…was that General Douglas MacArthur’s plane (not George)? I know he’s got a plane out there in one of the plane museums. My dad lived in the Philippines for awhile (and I grew up on a road named after Gen MacArthur), so this caught my eye.
    Glad to hear y’all had a great trip! I remember that it was crazy hot when my family took a trip to AZ, too.

  26. Thank you for sharing your pictures. Every time I see pictures of red rock I miss the West (I’m from Utah, lived in AZ and NM). I determined that when I am old and wrinkled and retired I’ll stay in Vermont for the summers and move back West for the winters where I will wear big skirts, long, grey braided hair (ala O’Keefe) and tend a small cactus garden. Of course retirement will be generously sprinkled with knitting.

  27. Is somebody feeding silkworms in the vortices? Lovely yarn!
    Amazingly enough, the Apocolypse (Alpaca lips?)missed the annoyingly red state of Texas tonight. Goes to show… you jus’ can’ believe ever’thin’ yo’ read.

  28. I’m positive that the The Grand Canyon Park Ranger was in the Utah Parks a few years ago. Really interrogated us about what our travel plans were and tried to sell the National Parks annual pass. Sounded like one of those Financial planners on late night tv. Loved your travel pix and stories.

  29. I had to laugh reading your description of “nothingness.” I have traveled over a good deal of the state many times imagining that this must be what the early settlers saw. So little has changed. But there is a certain fascination in the state that as you travel over a hill the landscape can change dramatically. We loved Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, the Grand Canyon and, of course, the mystical magical Sedona… especially where you slide down the rocks on your “hiney” in the water… somewhere near there.

  30. I lived in Scottsdale for five years.
    When folks ask what living in Arizona is like, I always say, “There’s a reason that the Anastasi Indians left.”

  31. OMG!!! We got paralyzed by that guy at the canyon about 3 weeks ago. We had 10 people in front of us and it took 45 mins for him to get them through! My man was freaking out the whole time because he was about to propose! I had no idea, but I have nightmares about that ranger.
    If I had realized, I would have warned you!

  32. i loved taliesin west. i love arizona! did you have any prickly pear ice cream/candy/syrup/jelly?

  33. I just got back from a trip to Arizona myself, and I hear you about needing a little humidity in your life. Dry heat for sure…but hot is still hot. I agree with you about seeing a whole lot of nothing out there. There is definitely a limit on the amount of red rocks a person should have to see in a short amount of time.

  34. Wow, Sedona…home of the blue smoke woo-woo. I am a Californian and tend to think we have dibs on that granola-eating-birkenstock-wearing-hippy-dippy stuff and so now I feel like I got a bargain only paying $50 for my Aura soma reading.

  35. Wow Taliesin -super cool. Would love to go there some day.
    My tip next time you’re looking for a bit of nothing holiday: train trip across the Nullarbor Plain in Australia. I did it when I was a teenager.
    We’re talking so much nothing that the only thing it’s got is the longest straight of railway in the world. and some telegraph poles alongside the track. and the odd eagle’s nest in said telegraph pole.
    Although I have no idea how the eagles build their nests because there wasn’t any vegetation to be seen as far as the horizon. Which is a long way, being as it is totally flat. I mean it- literally nothing as far as you can see, for a day or so.
    Makes Kingman look like a rainforest.
    Albeit a hot one!!