Old Friends, New Stories

With my friend Marlene at her new home in Arizona.

I’ve mentioned Marlene several times. We met through blogging years ago when I asked for her address so I could send her my Christmas letter, and that’s when I discovered she lived about 40 minutes from my house. Naturally, we had to meet, and when we did we became friends immediately. A year later I moved to Rainier, and took myself about an hour and twenty minutes from her. This year she did one better and moved to Arizona, and took herself far, far away to be closer to her son. Ah well.

My road trip was an opportunity for my first visit post-move. I could see her new home and new town and say hi to her son she calls TS for Tech Support (who used to live with her in Oregon and house-sat for me years ago). After I explored Hidden Cove Park, it was one hour to Marlene’s place. When I arrived, Marlene gave me a tour of her new apartment and the building she lives in. Then we decided to go for a drive: to tour all the places she remembered from when she lived here long ago, and to include a favourite place to eat among those places, because we were both hungry.

Marlene and I spent several hours together, I don’t recall how many. The beginning of our drive was to see her son’s home, which is walking distance from where she now lives. What convenience. Then we drove for miles, getting a good sense of the area. It was an enjoyable day with lots of catching up, and talking about her strides in moving in and getting all her stuff from Oregon, and my road trip up till that point. I completely forgot to ask her about her recent trip to Germany. As she navigated me all over the place, she told stories from her old neighborhood, pointing to homes and recalling who lived there, and pointing to buildings in town and recalling what they were back in the day. The weather was ideal and the company was perfect.

We finally pulled into Darbi’s in the nearby town of Pinetop. Marlene told the story of how the business got started, and how she knew Darbi herself (who is still owner and still works there) and another original employee who has her own business across the road now. The place was packed, and that’s always a sign of a good restaurant. We stuffed ourselves and packed up the leftovers and finally headed home.

When we returned to Marlene’s apartment, her son TS showed up and said hi. He was there to help install new blinds. We discussed the best route to take to Phoenix and TS gave his suggestions. I was curious about their impressions because both of them had driven these roads for much of their lives. I said goodbye and we shared lots of hugs. It was three more hours of driving to get to the Airbnb that my brother Tanner and I had rented in Gilbert, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. So I needed to get on the road again…

Marlene had described Highway 60 as the route to avoid. She said it had too many curves, it went through the mountains, and followed the Salt River canyon. (The image at the right is a screenshot I grabbed from my phone – she was right about the curves!) She said the other way had wide, straight highways with lots of civilization along the way so travelers wouldn’t feel too far away from safety and food and fuel. She said Highway 60 was remote, and went through the town of Globe, which I had only been through once in my life on an incredible road trip long ago. She said everything she needed to say to convince me that Highway 60 was the perfect highway for me.

Soon I was in magnificent country. You can see the river on the right.
Traffic was not bad at all.
I spotted the moon above these two round, red plateaus.
Oh! The reds and greens and the angles and curves!
There’s that moon again. And another traveler, like me, out on this lonely highway.
After I had taken some shots, I walked back to my Jeep and thought it looked like she was in a car commercial. Such a pretty Jeep. ❤
Here’s that shot again, without a car in it.

I curved around and around, no wonder Marlene recalled this road. But I was perpetually in awe and constantly looking for a wide place to pull over. I missed multiple spectacular shots because I could not safely stop. I certainly couldn’t take photographs while driving in this section; my attention needed to be on driving. Eventually I reached the bottom of the canyon, crossed a bridge over the Salt River, and began winding up the other side.

On my way out of the canyon I was able to look back at where I had just been.
That curvy road had been a thrilling ride!
I came out of the mountains and looked across the valley.

When I crossed this desert and began to approach those hills on the other side, I finally saw cacti for the first time during my journey. It was getting late and I did not stop for photos and merely caught some lopsided images out my side window as I drove.

The world is tilting!
That’s better.

I arrived at the rental place just after my brother and his family did. They had already scoped the place out, chosen bedrooms, and started a load of laundry. They insisted I take the best room in the house, despite my protests. Oh, how nice it was to 1) be so warm I wore only a T-shirt and went barefoot, and 2) know I would not have to drive the next day.

8 thoughts on “Old Friends, New Stories

    1. Hi Lou! I’m glad you saw this one with your friend Marlene. Yes, she seems well. Her place is nice, and in a tasteful setting in a pretty town. There is still disarray and boxes yet unpacked – as is to be expected so soon after the move. She is determined as ever, and is getting better with breathing at high elevation, but has figured out a routine of unpacking until she is tired, then resting the remainder of the day. It sounds like her son is there often to help out. Everything I saw eased my heart and I hope the news eases yours too. ❤

  1. I’m so glad you fooled me into believing you were going the other way. I would have worried all day about that drive. It’s not as bad when the weather is accommodating but in the snow, I wouldn’t go near it. But then, I’m not much of a thrill seeker. Obviously. I so enjoyed your visit. I had not been out to visit any of those places since my return to this mountain.

    1. Ha ha ha!! I was wondering how soon after the drive I should tell you. I thought I’d wait till I was safely home and there was nothing left to worry about except attack chickens or creek flooding. 🙂 I was a little concerned when you both talked about getting stuck behind someone slow, but I was lucky and there was almost no one on the road. I am glad you enjoyed the “visit” to Highway 60 though, without having to deal with all those curves. When I glanced at my GPS on the phone to see the road ahead, I saw all the curves ahead and laughed out loud because that is exactly what you told me to expect. That’s when I took the phone screen shot that I included here. That picture was taken just for you!

  2. Most excellent that you met Marlene and you had some good times together and that you fooled her into believing that you were taking the other highway! Hilarious! 😀 You shots are straight from some movie. Hell and High Water comes to mind. And the last sentence made me feel how tired you must have been after all that solo driving. At least you had some time off coming.

    1. Ha ha ha!! I knew it was a matter of priorities, and hers were different than mine. I also suspected she would worry about me. So I nodded with understanding. The route I took was also the fastest route, so it was an easy choice for me. I did appreciate their counsel and thought carefully about each thing they told me. I have not seen Hell and High Water, but yes the landscape here is like so many westerns. I wonder if its because this area is sort of close to Hollywood, that it gets used often in movies.

    1. Yes, I have made some excellent friendships via blogs, and Marlene is truly one of the best. She is no-nonsense and open about her personal challenges and joys, and she shares a lot of her self-evaluation and is ready to give me her impression of me. We just clicked. It’s good to find a friend that is so easy to be close with, and good to keep a friend for a long time. 🙂

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