A handful for twenty-five cents. That’s right; the same amount of chocolate-covered coffee beans from Godiva or any other hoity-toity chocolatier would be at least two dollars. We probably ate at least fifty each. We were on a mini-vacation, so I’m talking any time of day or night.
Our trip to Flagstaff, staying at the Hotel Monte Vista, was a warm-up for upcoming longer journeys, Dan driving/ cycling cross-country in his van, while I gallivant from Boston to Turkey to Greece, to the other side of the world.
Chocolate-covered coffee beans contributed to a small taste of adventure. What can I say? At home in Tucson, we lead pretty quiet lives.
To the right of the hotel’s registration desk (and our beloved candy machine) was a vintage-hip bar. It was Mojito Monday ($5)! I simply had to imbibe.
But food must come first, we smartly decided. Shrimp and grits topped with a bit of barbecued pork was my choice, along with a yummy happy hour margarita at the ultra-cool Latin restaurant a few doors down.
Hitting the Monte Vista bar had been on my bucket list ever since I first laid eyes on it five or six years ago. It was so inviting, so western.
“The blackberry mojito is my favorite,” the desk manager told us. It was a yummy after-dinner delight.
We were asleep by 9 p.m.
We didn’t only drink and eat on our getaway, honest.
Heading outdoors is always high on my list.
The next morning, Dan wanted to show me Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Underneath the giant arch, we made our way around sleek pools of water. Higher and higher we climbed. We survived, but not without some scary steps up the steep, slippery rocks. Thrilled to emerge safe and sound, we ran into two young men. One had peyot (curly sidelocks), tzitzit (stings hanging out of his shirt), both sure signs of Orthodox Jewry. I started singing a Passover song in Hebrew. Maybe I was thanking the Jewish God for getting me through in one piece (Dan had already figured out a way to save me if I fell).
“How do you know that?”the regular-looking young man asked. The religious one, perhaps he was Israeli, stared at me. Maybe had never seen a woman my age with purple-streaked hair climbing over huge rocks, or not wearing a sheitel (wig). Anyway, I wished them both a happy Pesach, surprising myself that I would say that (I tend to ignore the holidays of my heritage).
But isn’t life about surprises?
Sometimes I’m still astounded that I live out west, near the old, old West of 800 years ago. The Wupatki Pueblo knocked my socks off. Secluded in the desert around 40 miles outside of Flagstaff, I could imagine gentle humans living there. The U.S. national monument literature made a point of saying that all native peoples were welcome.
That was last weekend. On May 3, I’ll take off on Sheila’s Excellent Adventure, the highlight reaching the other side of the world, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where I’ll visit my fabulous son and daughter-in-law, Ethan and Steph. They’ve booked a three-night stay for us at an old Soviet resort at Lake Issyk-Kul. Mineral hot springs, horseback riding around the world’s second largest alpine lake (I’ve never been on a horse), and who knows what else awaits me? Stay tuned…