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  • Writer's pictureThomas Doggett

Mistakes, gigs, and Arizona pt 1.

I made a mistake in my previous post. I only have three shows this weekend...not four. So first, allow me to clarify what I'm doing this weekend:

Friday night w/ English @ Centennial Park in Waukee @ 6:30 pm, Free show

Saturday night w/ Scot Sutherland & Russ Tomlinson @ The Continental @ 9pm

Sunday evening w/ Scot Sutherland & Russ Tomlinson @ Louie's Wine Dive @ 5pm

I got this month and next month happens sometimes. But hey, I get to talk to you some more. I can tell you about my trip out to Arizona.

I love traveling and I really love to travel by train. I've wanted to take a trip out west by train with my son since he was three years old. Why, you ask? I don't seemed fun. We've traveled a lot together. Along with his mother, we value traveling and we believe that it has a civic benefit. Traveling allows you to see other cultures, other environments, other ways of life. Plus, traveling can be a pain in the ass...and you learn that it's ok because that's the point. When you take yourself out of your comfort zone, you experience challenges that will...challenge you. This in turn teaches you to appreciate the simple things in life: a smile, a hot meal, brushing your teeth. I don't believe that traveling should be hard just to be hard, it's just that when you surrender your expectations and participate in the moment, you begin to have fun.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief cuts through Iowa at the southeastern corner of the state. We boarded the train at the Ft. Madison, Iowa Amtrak Station. It sits right on the Mississippi River. The station was surrounded with sandbags due to the recent flooding. The train was about an hour late but that was ok because it meant that we got to catch our breath from the three hour car ride.

The sun began to set as we headed west. After stopping in Kansas City, I finished Season 3 of Stranger Things. That's when I fell asleep. Sleeping on a train in coach is a mixed bag. You have more leg room than you know what to do with and the motion of the train rocks you to sleep but the frequent stops, frequent announcements from the conductor, and 100 excited Boy Scouts may disrupt your beauty rest. It doesn't matter: I'm on a train with my son embarking on a trip I've wanted to do for 13 years.

The view from the train is always picturesque. Waking up on the western side of Kansas, crossing into Colorado, and then heading south into New Mexico. Don't allow anyone to tell you that the United States all looks the same because every state has it's own character. New Mexico is beautiful. It was my first time there. We stepped off the train in Albuquerque which lead to a discussion that took us to the internet to research: Why should Bugs Bunny have taken a turn in Albuquerque? I'll let you find the answer on your own.

When you dine on the Dining Car, you're seated with other travelers to accommodate seating for everyone. We had dinner with two women traveling to California. They were aunt and niece and they had so many beautiful stories to share with us. First, they both loved New Mexico...I mean, loved it. The aunt told the story of stopping in New Mexico for a layover 30 years ago. Her and her husband loved it so much that they bought a house the next day! 30 years later, they still love it. But that was only part of her story. She was a Professor of Spanish and she traveled the world. She lived in Spain for over a year and was surprised that more family didn't visit her. She traveled throughout Europe, Central and South America. Her niece told stories of traveling to Mexico as a young girl. It was important to her mother that the children know their Mexican heritage. She had us laughing when she talked about her father and how he loved rock and roll but her mother despised it. She talked about her cousins that had massive record collections that included the Monkees and the Beatles. As we enjoyed our dessert, we agreed that everyone has a story to share and they should all be heard.

That evening, we arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was excited to see my sister-in-law, niece and nephew. We stayed in a cabin at a KOA just south of the Grand Canyon. The next morning, we headed to the Grand Canyon. I first set foot in the Canyon 27 years ago. I was in top shape and along with my biological father, we attempted to bond while hiking to the bottom and back out...on the same day. It's not advised...but we made it back to the hotel that night...separately. Needless to say, our bro' time together didn't cause us to bond. It's ok. There were no plans this trip to descend to the bottom and that was fine by me. I'll explore the Canyon again some other time.

When my son was younger, he claimed he was afraid of heights. I never challenged him on this fear because when I was young, I was not afraid of heights but irrational fear or irrational courage does not make you immune to gravity. It was Kermit the Frog that said "It's not the falling that hurts; it's the stopping." As we walked around the park, my son started to get excited. When he saw the Canyon, he got more excited. When he saw areas of the rim to explore, he said with enthusiasm: "I want to go out there!" And he was off. This was how we bonded:

I have so much more from this trip to share. I will in future blogs but for now, I must go practice my saxophone for this weekend. Go share your story.


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