August 2011


48: The Rest of the West…

Covering the rest of the west is, for me, easy: California is filled with lots of memories, and while I know the Cynical Queer wants me to talk about his hometown, my California memories first center on going to Sea World in San Diego with my parents when I was a kid, probably the only large scale mass attraction I’ve ever really enjoyed seeing. Beyond that I have memories of visiting Los Angeles with my parents – where I was distinctly unimpressed. In fact, it’s safe to say that I have zero interest in returning to LA. It has nothing to offer.

Unlike, I might note, San Francisco, which is a great city and one I could imagine returning to visit again—it’s also one of the few cities where I’ve explicitly been offered drugs on a street corner.

Strangely my only visits to Nevada have all involved Las Vegas, a city that generally speaking I wouldn’t consider visiting. When I was a kid, with my parents, the lasting impression was that of a gigantic statute of Caesar welcoming people to his casino. It left a huge impression and that’s the only thing I associated with Las Vegas for years. I made a return visit to Vegas this past February, which was splendid, but had limited interactions with the casino scene. Gambling just does not interest me.

Utah, despite it’s Mormonism, has a number of fond memories. My parents once took me on a road trip that involved Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and, last but not least, Zion National Park. Actually I’ve omitted the national parks and monuments that weren’t in Utah, but were on that trip. Things I learned about Utah: (1) it’s big and you can drive a long way without encountering other people: and (2) Zion National Park is incredibly beautiful.

The funny thing is, that after seeing all of these dramatic national parks in Utah, the next stop on that trip was the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Not one of us: not my Mom, not my Dad, and certainly not me, were impressed by the Grand Canyon. Everything in Utah was certainly prettier – the only thing going for the Grand Canyon was its size, which while grand, wasn’t worth the time. On the other hand, we were all impressed by Arizona in general – it’s got a surprisingly wide variety of landscapes and the cacti at Saguaro National Park were most impressive.

If you’ve noticed a certain theme to the western half of the United States, it’s that most of my memories involve my parents: New Mexico is no different – and the first time I was in New Mexico was at Four Corners National Monument: talk about an artificial monument – the only point in the US where four states touch – in the middle of nowhere. Beyond that I visited, with my parents, the VLA – Very Large Array – a telescope located in the New Mexican desert, west of Socorro. I have incredible memories of Maria’s, a Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe, as well of a toy museum in Santa Fe. There’s a lot to be said in favor of New Mexico. I ought to go back on vacation.

Just north of New Mexico is Colorado – my home state. Not sure I could possibly say everything that there is to say about Colorado – best place, possibly Mesa Verde National Park – but I’ve only been there once, so perhaps my memory is leading me on.

3 comments to 48: The Rest of the West…

  • Mateo

    I really enjoyed the Grand Canyon, but I really want to see all those parks in Utah you’ve described.

    • I would say that the best is Zion. Natural Bridges and Arches are also excellent… You should take a road trip sometime!

  • No problem with your not saying anything about my hometown… it was nice when you visited but in the past 15 years or so it’s turned into a huge crack den. That said, it’s still “home”.