Well, we made it to Arizona and back with no airport hassles whatsoever. Nice! In fact, both the Seattle and Phoenix airports seemed nearly vacant at times. There were no lines for the luggage checks, and aside from absurdly cramped planes, the flights were a breeze. (The face-readers at Sea-Tac must not have found anything interesting.) Behold, the benefits of avoiding holiday travel! I do have to say, however, that it’s depressing to see how the flight attendants on Alaska Air have been turned into salespeople hawking credit cards. They made a long, boring pitch about it on the intercom, then came down the aisle and pestered anyone who made eye contact. Luckily we were watching a DVD at the time so they passed right by, but we heard them pushing these credit cards heavily with others. So the airlines aren’t happy with raising prices, gouging us with taxes, shrinking the seats to cram in more people, and charging us for their shitty in-flight meals — they now have to sell us credit cards, too? Christ, what a racket!
Anyway, going back home to Winslow and seeing the latest changes is always an odd experience. When I was growing up, it was a dusty little town with little to offer in the way of entertainment or shopping. Eventually we got a McDonald’s, which was a HUGE deal back then. A few years later they built a Wal-Mart by the freeway, and suddenly Winslow was considered a “real” town. Even a K-Mart came in, less than a mile from Wal-Mart, but it closed only a few years later. The movie theater closed shortly after I moved away in 1991, so people were having to drive 60 miles to Flagstaff to see new movies, but now it’s open again — along with all sorts of other things. Winslow is practically booming. The Wal-Mart is now a Wal-Mart Supercenter (how super!), many new houses are being built (McMansions, naturally), and some of the roads have been expanded and improved, leading to the addition of several new stop lights when previously there were only two in the entire town. Winslow even has cable internet, though it took far longer than necessary to get it.
On the downside, there are fast food joints everywhere now. This little town has become a microcosm of trashy restaurant chains: McDonald’s, Taco Bell (now combined with Long John Silver’s), KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Dominoes, Denny’s, and a couple of eateries located inside ginormous truck stops. There are still a few non-chain restaurants around, like Bojo’s (a sports bar/grill), the fabulous and historic La Posada Hotel (easily the finest dining within 100 miles), a coffee shop which serves Seattle’s Best Coffee (though their espresso machine was broken…whoops), and a few family-owned joints serving pizza, Mexican, and Chinese. The biggest surprise is Winslow’s tiny little airport, which has a fantastic restaurant serving authentic homemade Mexican food. So it’s not impossible to find some decent dining there, but it’s getting to be pretty slim pickins. We ended up eating out a lot during our visit, and since returning to Seattle we’re feeling the need for some serious artery scrubbing. I do have to admit that McDonald’s has pretty good coffee, though…
One of the highlights of this trip was visiting with my friend Dominique. We met in sixth grade and instantly bonded as mutual weirdos, and she was one of my closest pals throughout junior high and high school. We were total dorks back then, and she still brings out the dorkness in me whenever we get together. It doesn’t take much, of course. 🙂 Critter and I had lunch with her at Denny’s, and since she still lives in Winslow, she got me all caught up on the sordid details about folks we used to hang out with years ago. I also ran into some folks at Bojo’s: my friend Nicole’s parents, a guy I was childhood buddies with, and an old gal I remember from high school as a substitute teacher. She knew everything about everybody’s business (including my family’s) — it was quite entertaining to listen to her talk about stuff happening around town. You can’t keep anything quiet in a small town! We also got to hang out with my family, of course, which is always fun and…er, enlightening. Next year, however, we may need to find other sleeping arrangements — my old bed tends to sag in the middle, which makes for nights of unrestful sleep. I like getting cozy with my man at night, but it’s not the best way to sleep when you’re both constantly rolling back towards each other!
We also made time to get out and see some cool things in the area, such as Sunset Crater, Wupatki National Monument (along with other nearby ruins), the Tonto Natural Bridge, and Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company. Photos of all these are coming soon… I had all the time in the world to see this stuff when I was living there, but somehow they didn’t seem interesting until I grew up and could appreciate them more. It’s kinda fun being a tourist in your own home state. 🙂