A short trip for shoes, blooming cactus and a Mexican dinner
I have learned that one’s footwear has an important effect on one’s general health, including the psyche. Before beginning this journey, I became aware of a brand of shoes, engineered in Switzerland and manufactured in Germany and Italy, that promised me the best experience in this realm, to-date. I therefore planned a trip to the nearest retail store that carries the brand, in Scottsdale, a 35-minute mostly-freeway road trip north of Chandler, the Phoenix suburb where my daughter lives.
Look to the bottom of this Google Earth screenshot to locate Chandler. You can spot Scottsdale to the north, connected by a straight vertical line which is state highway 101. The political jurisdictions between Chandler and Scottsdale are, going north, Tempe, Mesa, and Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community. The names of some of the freeway offramps give us some flavor of area’s history:
Scottsdale Road. Named in 1894 after Winfield Scott, a retired U.S. Army chaplain.
Hayden Road. Arizona became the 48th state on February 14, 1912. Five days later Carl Hayden became the state’s first U.S. Representative.
Pima Road. The Pima or Akimel O’odham, “River People”, are a group of Native Americans living in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona.
Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959) was an American architect, designer, writer, and educator. He designed more than 1,000 structures over a creative period of 70 years. “Taliesin West” was architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school in the desert. It is located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Thunderbird Road. In American Indian mythology, Thunderbird is a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. By its work the earth was watered and vegetation grew. Lightning flashes from its beak and the beating of its wings represents the rolling of thunder.
Pima–Maricopa Indian Community
Via de Ventura. Road of Luck, Spanish.
Talking Stick Way. The talking stick is used by many tribes. It may be passed around a group, as multiple people speak in turn, or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.
Chaparral Road. Chaparral is a shrubland plant system that occurs in central Arizona. The name comes from the Spanish word for place of the scrub oak, chaparro.
Indian School Road.
Rio Salado Parkway. Salty River, Spanish.
Superstition Freeway. The Superstition Mountains is a range of mountains located to the east of the Phoenix metropolitan area. They are anchored by Superstition Mountain.
Guadalupe Road. Our Lady of Guadalupe holds a special place in the religious life of Mexico and is one of the most popular religious devotions. Her image has played an important role as a national symbol of Mexico.
The drive north from Chandler was the usual freeway experience, although with a distinct Arizona flavor via the symbols and art etched in the concrete walls, overpasses and other structures.
Just as I crossed the border into the Scottsdale jurisdiction, the vastness of the desert and surrounding mountains was revealed. I sensed the eons of earth in the distant, craggy and oddly shaped mountains and ridges.
Greater Phoenix is at the bottom of the picture.
On view everywhere was blooming saguaro cactus.
I bought my shoes in Scottsdale then headed back to Chandler. As I foretold, Andrea and I were invited to a grand Mexican dinner by Christine and Mike, Quinn’s grandparents on her father’s side. I had had a number of pleasant conversations with Christine over the years at family gatherings, especially at the wedding of Quinn’s parents, but I hadn’t had a conversation with Mike. We discovered we had a lot in common:
- He was born in Brooklyn; I lived in Brooklyn not far from where he had lived.
- He was in the US Navy; I was in the US Navy.
- His rating was electronics technician; mine was also.
- After the Navy he lived and worked in and around Silicon Valley; me too, for a lot of my life.
The pinnacle of the day was the food. Christine had bought and prepared the ‘flat iron steak’ strips at a Mexican market (not in Mexico, you must understand) and marinated them for three days. Mike cut them into strips and grilled them. These became the main ingredient for the meal in which we made our own tacos and tostadas. There also was deep-fried fish to make fish tacos. Avocado, salsa, various sliced vegetables and condiments—all hard to remember at this sitting, all delicious. I made three corn tortilla tacos (wheat tortillas were available too).
After completely filling available space in mi estomigo, I was faced with the pleasant task of further expanding it with the dessert: Empanadas, soft fruit-filled turnovers. Ice cream and other accompaniments were offered, as well.
Thanks again, Christine and Mike.
Note: Present also were Quinn and her parents.