Feels like hard times in Arizona. The pandemic rages on and wildfires devour swaths of our natural beauty, threatening lives and homes. We hold our collective breath and pray for rain and vaccines. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So I’ll let you in on my secret to get through the dark times.
Slip free from the clawing grasp of responsibility. Treat yourself to a bout of hooky. Let go of work and pressure and obligations for an hour or a day and grab hold of some fun. Take a hike. Go for a bike ride. Track down a burger or Sonoran hot dog. Climb a tree. Splash in a creek. Take a book out on the patio and leave your phone inside. Whatever works for you. We all need to sneer at adulthood now and again.
Fortunately, we live in a place that seemingly was designed with hooky in mind. There are so many escapes, big and small, so many places to hide out, at least until you’re able to breathe normal again. My favorite hooky spot is Dead Horse Ranch State Park, with water and shade and miles of trails. I’m there most days for an hour or two and that quiet time provides me with balance and perspective.
Trust me on this. I’ve managed to combine my fondness for hooky and passion for Arizona and turn them into a long running career.
I first discovered the power of hooky during my brief stint as a college freshman at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. At some point I realized I could walk to class each morning or I could hitchhike to the Grand Canyon, or the peaks, or Oak Creek Canyon. See, I was already preparing to become an Arizona travel writer.
Flagstaff always holds a special place in my heart, and I consider it the Summer Capital of Arizona. It just doesn’t feel like summer without a visit to Flag. If you’re itching to go, here’s my story on lesser-known trails where you can play a little hooky of your own and maintain some social distance.
And let me plug one more story because this was a magical place I discovered back in the winter. Casa Grande created a NeonSign Park right in the heart of town and it’s an absolute gem. Read the article here.
More than a dozen old signs are clustered together in a small park with benches and paths. They flicker to life at dusk, a private sunset juicy with light and color. I spent two hours there, happy as could be, bathed in that velvet glow as darkness fell around me.
Seeing this park made me wish every Arizona town would do something similar. It would be a chance to create simple and beautiful attractions across the state while preserving pieces of our heritage. Little neon parks all over. Tucson and Casa Grande are already out in front. We just need more places to join in.
Arizona would become known as the Neon Garden State. How cool would that be? Lot of fun outings for residents and the kind of thing outside visitors want to see. I’ve written enough about Route 66 over the years to know how much people adore neon.
Hey, if you need travel ideas or reading material, don’t forget all my books and eBooks of Arizona travel, history, and humorous short stories are available on my Amazon page. But if you can shop at your local store, that’s a big win-win.
“Neon is the nightlight of angels, drunkards, and dreamers.”