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Notes from the Benazir Bhutto Farewell Tour

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 6, 2008


I came home to rain after 10 days in the desert. Although I desperately needed to get away, coming home to stormy weather was as refreshing as my self imposed time out.

Distance provides perspective. The greater the distance the greater the perspective, right? In theory this also applies to time, both past and future. A little perspective is always a good thing. In my line of work perspective must change with new information, and new information must always be sought. Like time, change happens.

To mark the New Year I decided the hinter lands of Eastern Arizona would be a good place for a time out and a shot of perspective. With me on this perspective pilgrimage were Keith, who did most of the driving, and Jean Beth, a human resource expert needing a break from the Minnesota snow. I was glad for the company.

First stop Las Vegas. I had been given a writing assignment for another publication, a short trip to the Liberace Museum was the only work that needed to be done over a ten day period, how cool is that?

We left Encinitas midday on the 26th, not trying to avoid traffic in the land of traffic, we slowly made our way through the Riverside County commute and the photo chemical sunset of San Bernardino County. Arriving in Sin City around dinner time exhausted, we called it an early night.

I awoke early on December 27th to news of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Knowing the world had just become a more dangerous place we headed for breakfast at Caesar's palace to officially kick off the Benazir Bhutto Farewell Tour (BBFT) with mimosas and French pastries. Then it was off to invoke the ghost of Liberace while visiting his cultural closet and his collection of bling.

Later that night we bundled up and walked the strip looking for a bite to eat. To be honest I'm not a fan of Las Vegas. In fact I find it tacky, tawdry and just a bit disturbing. Overwhelmed by the crowds, the noise, and the smell of cigarette smoke we hastened back to our timeshare after sushi and lychee nut martinis.

Day two of BBFT found us at the Hoover dam for yet another reality check. Watching people crawl like cockroaches over the gigantic cement slab my mood took a turn for the worse. Considering Southern California depends on water from the Colorado river and energy from the its dam for economic stability, I needed to see Lake Mead.

Talk about perspective. Looking at the dam all I saw was looming disaster.

Day 3 found us in Sedona via Seligman and Flagstaff, where we stopped at Macy's for Breakfast and some of the best coffee on the planet. In Sedona we hiked out to a vortex in the red rock for a little green therapy. Red earth, green trees, and brilliant blue skies were the perfect remedy to the soul killing gray of Hoover Dam. At dinner that night we toasted Benazir Bhutto with Prickly pear martinis.

Day 4 took us through Jerome, Arizona, which is a zombie town rather than a ghost town, Prescott valley a future ghost town en route to Arcosanti, the pioneer futuristic community and urban laboratory designed by the visionary Paolo Soleri. Arcosanti was included in the itinerary because I plan to utilize Soleri as a muse for future columns.

Day 5 on the BBFT, January 31st, was spent on Arizona's most scenic highway driving through the Tonto National Forest, Salt Canyon, and the Sonoran Desert. We toasted Benazir and the New Year North of Tuscon in Oro Valley at midnight with pizza and Effen Dark martinis.

Day 6 once again took us into the gloomy territory of bad science failed experiments, and squandered potential that is Biosphere 2 appropriately located in Oracle. Talk about depressing. I left the Biosphere feeling completely validated and rather sad. Only to be reclaimed to high spirits with news of Barak Obama trouncing Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses.

Day 7 was dedicated to lunch and shopping in Tombstone under stormy skies. Day 8, the same this time in Tuscon. Driving through Phoenix on day nine our nature break came to an abrupt end. From Peoria all the way to Leucadia we were ever present to the mass of humanity rushing madly about in between strip malls and fashion outlets.

Perspective begets deeper understanding and in my case fodder for columns in 2008. Recharged and reinvigorated I am ready to rumble in the spirit of Benazir, sustainability, and ecological wisdom. So basically even as things continue to change some things will continue as usual.

Got water?

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