I’ve never really been a “fan” of tourist attractions, but I can cook up good fun with very few ingredients, and in the absence of other obvious attractions in an area, have probably visited as many as the next person.
Today I took a little day-trip along the Apache Trail, with a plan to stop at Point A: a ghost town/not-real ghost town, and “Point B”: a similarly themed “village” recommended for a meal at the end of the day.
Increasingly, little trips like this feel a bit odd. I think because they represent a car-trip inside of an apparent car trip. I’m aware that although I look like someone on a perpetual car trip, this is no longer what I’m doing. My life on the road is, for the most part, distinctly without destinations.
Road-side attractions are perfectly wonderful places to stop, but I had a hard time sinking into the experiences today; mostly defaulting to skimming. I sensed urgency around me. I suspect this arises when many people working very hard to relax join together in the collective consumption of an experience meant to provide that relief. But I must admit to feeling a bit like I was watching television, except that I was in it, drinking a $3 cup of coffee and being hustled to buy a t-shirt to prove it.
I’m not dissing road-side attractions at all . I’m sure many do receive that reprieve they need from a busy life in the city. I saw many smiling faces today. And curated attractions can be surprisingly satisfying when they are quirky, undervisited and somehow attached to someone’s unique passions.
For example, I found the personal reptile collection at Point A: the ghost town/not-real ghost town, very interesting. It was a personal collection, and the woman with the life-long penchant for venomous snakes was onsite to add her own interesting spirit to the experience. I wasn’t being entertained so much as I was being asked to appreciate a creature I was innately anxious about. I was curious and curiousity takes you places. I like those invitations.
I’d never seen a rattlesnake up close, and for a first-time encounter, I admit to being a bit relieved there was glass between us so I could admire their beauty while I put my healthy aversion on pause. Especially as I am conscious of sharing their living space as the weather warms. They aren’t active in winter, but are beginning to make an appearance now.
So, today I learned I am sharing this neighbourhood with five species in the Soronoran: Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Black Tailed, Tiger and Mohave; here are two I met personally today.
When we reached Point B, it was too busy for either of our likings. There was a long line for the restaurant and parking was hard to find. Even though this was our final destination, we decided to bypass it; opting for an unscripted drive back through the canyon, where we ate lunch out of the back of the van and took a nap, just because we could.
And then we stopped to look at flowers. We stopped to smell the flowers.
I took a deep breath; inhaling peace. I was not being asked to consume them, I was being asked to commune with them.
This is what I need. This is what I can sink into. Now I can see what has changed. Why I wasn’t so attracted to the attractions.
I just don’t need “Point A” or “Point B” anymore. I ‘ve discovered the spaces in between, and they have become the point.