With the tragic collision of the USS John S. McCain and President Donald Trump's visit to Arizona in this week's news, my thoughts turned to my first trip to Phoenix.
After I had finished my children's book signings in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and enjoyed a nice visit with my cousins, my husband and I were leaving to do more book signings in Phoenix when my cousin's wife handed me a picnic basket filled with sandwiches and cookies. She told us on our way to Phoenix there were some beautiful places to stop for a picnic. Then she gave us a map and told us after we left Flagstaff, Arizona, to take the scenic drive though Sedona, Arizona.
Since I am a no-traffic, flatland lover who thinks driving through West Texas and the southwestern routes are great, I quickly asked, "Will we drive on any of those twisty, twisty, curvy, curvy roads?"
My cousins, who think nothing of wheeling back and forth to Taos, New Mexico, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, said, "No, you will be going down into a valley."
Traveling from Albuquerque to Flagstaff was my kind of driving. It was rather desolate, except for a few Indian shops, and I stopped at each one. After we left Flagstaff, we took U.S. Highway 89A to Sedona.
Shortly after we turned onto the two-lane scenic route, large pine trees emerged.
"This must be the lovely scenery my cousins were talking about," I said, enjoying the view.
Before long we came upon a side road that looked as if it led to a roadside park. When we drove in, we found the tall trees had blocked our view from a parking lot filled with cars, booths full of souvenirs and people laden with backpacks. We parked the car and strolled past the booths. I got all excited over the Indian jewelry.
While I bought a turquoise necklace, my husband looked around.
"Come here," he motioned, walking me to a railing not far from the booths.
"Are we in the Grand Canyon?" I gasped, looking out at a vast canyon that appeared not to have a bottom.
"I don't think so."
"Well, where did this come from?"
"I guess it's always been here."
It's beautiful, but how did we get up here without climbing up?" I asked.
"We've been up," he laughed.
"That must have been the lovely scenery they were talking about," I supposed as we drove out of the park.
"Yes," he replied, turning the steering wheel to the right then immediately to the left and back to the right.
"WHOA!" I shouted, grabbing the armrest and planting my feet firmly on the floorboard. "Let's pull over and turn around!"
"I can't. Cars are stacked up behind me and there isn't any place to pull over."
"Oh, my goodness, we're on a horseshoe curve and here comes a hairpin curve! Look at the GPS!" I screamed, "The arrows are stacking up on each other! No, don't look at the GPS! JUST DRVE!"
"Eat a sandwich," he said.
"EAT A SANDWICH!"
"Yes, it'll take your mind off the road."
"There isn't anything that can take my mind off this road!" I yelled, pulling a sandwich from the picnic basket.
"What kind is it?" he asked, wrestling with the steering wheel.
"I don't know. I'll have to eat another one to find out," I mumbled.
"Why do you have your eyes closed?"
"I'm hoping I'll fall asleep."
"Eating a sandwich?" he inquired.
"No, I'm eating dessert now! Don't look at me! Watch the road!"
After more twisting and turning, the road began to feel better, but I was afraid to look.
"Are we out of it?" I asked.
"There are still some curves, but we aren't going downhill and on your side of the road is a pretty creek and lovely homes."
"It's beautiful, but how did they get building materials down here?" I asked. "Look, we are approaching Sedona. Let's stop."
Before leaving town we shopped and stopped at three restaurants.
"You must have been hungry," my husband laughed.
"Just fortifying myself for the climb out of here." I yawned, fastening my seat belt and said, "When do you think we will get back on the highway, I mean out of this scenic route?"
I don't remember his answer, but the following Christmas he handed me a package. When I opened it, I found a calendar. The cover had "Sedona" written at the top and underneath was a picture of a sunset illuminating tall, sandstone peaks.
"Is this to remind me of the 3 pounds I gained?"
"No," he chuckled, "It's to remind you of a new year filled with last year's memories."
As I thumbed through the pages I marveled at the pictures of the sandstone peaks — Cathedral Rock, Thumb Butte — names with such a familiar ring it was almost as if I had heard them in a dream. On the last page, I found the following note.
"I just wanted you to know we didn't have to climb out of Sedona, and although I read the descriptions of these exquisite peaks aloud to you, I thought you would like to see what you missed while you had your eyes closed."
To view the scenic drive on U.S. Highway 89A, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KIVJ77_Ij4.
The Argyle Lions Club meets at noon on the first Tuesday of every month at Coffee Tree Café, 144 Old Town Blvd., and at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month following a board meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room at Argyle Town Hall, 308 Denton St. For more information, email Deborah Cottle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Argyle Chamber of Commerce meets the third Tuesday of every month for breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Lantana Golf Club, 800 Golf Club Drive. The chamber office is in PointBank, 302 U.S. 377. For more information, visit www.argylechamber.org or call 940-464-9990.
The Argyle Senior Center meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Community Room at Argyle Town Hall, 308 Denton St., with exercise beginning at 10 a.m. followed by card games at 11 a.m. The ASC has a monthly luncheon on the third Friday of every month at noon. Those attending are asked to bring a side dish. Anyone age 55 and older is welcome to attend. For more information, call Stella at 940-464-7438 or Karen at 940-464-0506.
Keep Argyle Beautiful meets the second Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room at Argyle Town Hall, 308 Denton St. Keep Argyle Beautiful preserves and enhances the town's natural environment through visit educational and motivational programs and special events. For more information, visit www.keepargylebeautiful.com or email Deborah Cottle at email@example.com.
LYNN SHEFFIELD SIMMONS is the founder and past president of the North Texas Book Festival Inc. She is the author of 10 children's books and two history books on Argyle. Her website is www.argylebooks.com. She can be reached at lynn@Argylebooks.com.