We’ve always had our differences, Florida, and in some ways that’s what I’ve enjoyed about our relationship. But after this past presidential election, I have to say I’m a little disappointed. You really showed your true colors.
I always thought blue was the best shade for you. You look great in blue. In fact, the first time I laid eyes on you, so many years ago now, you were dazzling in turquoise. Or was it aquamarine? But when I spotted you on election night earlier this month, clad in so much ruby red, I realized that maybe we were too different. Don’t you recall, Florida, our song was “Love Is Blue”?
Please, don’t take it personally, but I need to start seeing other states.
Allow me to explain, Florida. There are several ways in which people vote, and one is by how they spend their vacation time and discretionary income. I’ll give you an example: In 2009, Maine enacted a law that legalized same sex marriage. Before the law could go into effect, voters shot it down with a referendum. I voted on the measure as well, by changing plans and not vacationing in Maine that summer. Eventually we reconciled, and we now see each other most summers.
That’s why it’s time for my vacation walkabout. I’m going to have a few flings with other places that appreciate the same colors that I do. I’ll throw around some dollars at nice restaurants, check out the attractions, maybe grab a drink or two once this horrible coronavirus craziness has settled down.
Next winter, when all of this has blown over, I thought I’d hang out with Arizona again. I never thought I’d say it, but after the election, it looks as if I have more in common with Arizona than I previously thought. We haven’t spent a lot of time together. I’ve flirted with Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff. I met Scottsdale for the first time earlier this year, and we had a good time. So Florida, let me tell you about my new friend. C’mon, stop looking at me with bitter jealousy. Green isn’t really your color, either.
The beauty of Scottsdale over cities such as Orlando or Miami is that in the winter you always know what kind of weather you’re getting. It’s 70 degrees and sunny during the day and chilly at night. There are none of the wild temperature dips of Orlando and unexpected tropical downpours of Miami. I don’t, however, recommend Arizona in the summer, unless you have a fondness for stepping into a city that feels like a preheating oven.
Here’s another thing that Scottsdale has: Mountains for hiking. Sure it lacks the pastel Art Deco hustle of Miami, but sometimes its just nice to get away from thumping music and humanity. So when I was there, I hiked, beginning at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which is more than 30,500 acres. I didn’t have the proper footwear for 30,000-plus acres, so I focused my efforts on the more modest Gateway Loop Trail, which took about two hours without a whole lot of exertion.
I also recommend a Pinnacle Peak hike. If you’re adept at climbing stairs you can manage this 4-mile hike. Plan to arrive around sunset and you’ll be treated to a sky that looks like a Thomas Moran watercolor.
Since we’re on the subject of Scottsdale, let me point out that it has some pretty fantastic hotels and resorts. I stayed at a midcentury paradise called Valley Ho. Sure, it was one of those places where the tub was located outside of the bathroom (um, awkward), but it also had a great spa. There are more than 50 spas in Scottsdale, so if you don’t like one at the Valley Ho, I would first roll my eyes at you sarcastically, and then tell you to try the one at the Phoenician. The spa at the Phoenician even has its own roof deck pool.
But the real jewel in the crown here is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Wright opened this residence and school in 1937 to escape the punishing cold Wisconsin winters for health reasons. The only way to see the inside of Taliesin is by purchasing a guided tour (mine cost $40), but it was worth it.
Now, enough about Scottsdale. I have another confession to make, Florida, I’ve also been messing around on the side with Georgia. Last year I might have had a brief affair with the gorgeous Savannah, and now that this beauty has doffed its red trappings and slipped into blue I feel compelled to go back for a visit, you know, after this COVID situation has cleared up (fingers and toes crossed).
Can you blame me, Florida? Georgia is your next-door neighbor, so you must understand the appeal. When I was in Savannah, I dabbled in all things supernatural. I took an evening tour through the city, where a somewhat creepy guide led a group of us through Savannah’s macabre history. Touring at night, with the Spanish moss casting shadows in the moonlight, was a thrill. Following that theme, I needed to see Bonaventure Cemetery. I know Bonaventure is the Disneyland of cemeteries, but try to forget about the whole “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” thing, and especially try to forget about Kevin Spacey. The place is gorgeous, incredibly scenic, and should always be on the Savannah must-do list.
And the food, well, Blanche Devereaux would faint at the options. I hit the can’t-miss spots, such as Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, but also new offerings, like the Grey, so named because it was once a 1938 Art Deco Greyhound bus station. It serves up Southern cuisine with innovative twists (hello crab beignets). I’m counting the weeks until I can travel again and see what new treats the city is offering.
Well, Florida, I think this is where we say goodbye. I promise I’ll be back. I have no choice. My in-laws are there. But for winter vacations, there are other fish in the sea, and some states that are now more deserving of my affection, and perhaps my dollars.