Thursday, October 24, 2013

the Thursday afternoon #MINI post: #travelinyourownbackyard #travelswithmydad

Remember the #MINI post is inspired by the #MINI--short, fast and fun to drive. (And let's not forget easy on the eye.) Today's #MINI combines two of my favorite features, #travelinyourownbackyard and #travelswithmydad.

I have a theory (which is mine.) My theory (which is mine) says that that you can not escape problems by running away. All solutions come from within. This theory (which is mine) has a corollary: when you are searching for places to go, look in your backyard, because you have surely overlooked something right under your nose. This was certainly the case in 1999 when my father and I were attending a week long medical conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The lectures finished early in the afternoon, giving the attendees plenty of time to have some fun--as long as that fun didn't involve driving very far. My father wasn't actually attending the conference--although he did go to several lectures out of interest--and spent the morning researching our afternoon adventures. When class was dismissed, he was was waiting in front of school with the rental car, packs at the ready. There was even a snack for the car ride.

And off we would go. Dad would use car ride to go over the research he had done on the #hikeoftheday, and I would listen and nibble on Fig Newtons. Realizing I wouldn't be in the mood for making notes, he had prepared his own and left them next to the water bottles--which he had filled with water and plenty of ice. (What can I say: he was a great dad.) When we arrived at the trail head, we wasted no time because daylight was-a-wastin'. There was never any real worries--for me--as my father had already studied the trail map and calculated the best route for the remaining hours of light and the current meteorological conditions. And we enjoyed some great hikes, highlighted by the discovery of a shooting range for automatic weapons in the middle of the desert, dozens of rattlesnakes and scorpions, and the fact that no one--except us--hikes in Arizona without carrying a firearm. (We never learned why: I suspect there isn't any real answer.) And we say a lot of cacti--some as tall as silos. I would be remiss in omitting that we stumbled into a cluster of primitive dwellings guarded by rough-looking people carrying AK-47s, and I only barely talked my father out of cutting right through the middle of the compound. 'But that's where the trail goes.' We took the long way round and got back to the car in the pitch black, but without bullet holes.

When I got to talking with some of the local docs at the conference the next morning, I was surprised to learn that most had never hiked any of these trails; some had never even heard of them--and not one was more than 30 minutes away. One of our favorites, Camelback Mountain, was literally right inside the city of Phoenix. There is something about people that makes them poo-poo the things that they have, and build up the things that they don't. I will never understand it, because there are wonderful places everywhere you go, even #inyourownbackyard.