Having achieved our vertical hiking quota in 2017, we walked a grand total of 30 yards down the Camelback trail, more than the Bengals achieved in all of its rushing attempts last week, and, feeling we had represented our city in a far superior manner than an AFC Champion football team, turned about to taken in our cactusy surroundings.
Josh and I are nothing if not generous and gracious sporting folk, and so when we encountered a man in a Phillies shirt at the trailhead, we bade him a magnanimous “Go Phils.” (He offered no indication that he’d even heard us other than a confused scowl, which, in PhillyFan, means, “Ah, yes, go Phils! How kind of you to say so, and I greatly appreciate the extra effort of welcome that you, two strangers, have offered unto me here in this land foreign to both our people.”)
Fewer people crowded the trail itself. Far off in the horizon, I saw a white dome on the brown landscape. “Is that where the Cardinals play?” I said, because I am not so academic as to judge all distances and forms of geography by disappointing sports teams.
“Yes,” he said, “that is Glendale.” Unlike his wife, Josh The Pilot, as a pilot and a competent human being, has an excellent sense of where things are from high locations, as opposed to me, who prefers to navigate via such waypoints as “the convenience store next to that one hair salon where I saw the White Claw stuck in a pot of marigolds.”
So if the white dome was Glendale, that meant Goodyear was not far away. We’d already made two swings past the Angels’ spring training complex in search of caffeine refuge, so I figured it was nearby, in the sense that Ohioans have that all Western state locations are grouped close together for the sake of convenience– the Grand Canyon is maybe 20 minutes down the road from Vegas, Vegas is a mere Lime scooter trip away from Yellowstone, and Yellowstone is so close to the Denver airport that it’s probably easier to just drive.
But in this case, I wasn’t far off. Glendale and Goodyear are about 12 miles apart, and although I couldn’t see the Reds’ training camp, I knew it was there. This invited a sense of home, and, against all things logical, hope.
I thought about the cheerful new friend we’d made at the trailhead. There was a person who had already enjoyed the fruits of the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2008, which was followed by another NL championship in 2009. From the perspective of Reds fans, this is last Tuesday. People not on the cusp of Golden Buckeye card can remember the glory, and a playoff drought of a mere decade or two is quite the embarrassment of riches. Good for them.
I love a good desert; it is never a wasteland to me, but a humidity-free glory of defiance. There’s no rain? It makes cacti, and ones with flowers at that. The ground is sand? Have a roadrunner that eliminates gross bugs for the humans. And though the sky does not bring rain, the blue is far-flung and impossible to reproduce.
But these things sustain the human need for natural beauty. The execution of basic civilization means that gas prices are astronomical in Phoenix because it’s all trucked in. It is a precious commodity. It costs.
A person can sit with, sit in the desert for a good amount of time and receive an excellent education in bravado. But to enjoy the peak measures of human advancement, of excellence, significance work and cost come into play. It’s not a place for those who merely hope to get by or deliver the minimum.
Or align payroll to resources.