Rico Austin is my name, living and writing in Arizona is my game. I was born and raised in Southwest Idaho, along the banks of the Snake River and couldn’t wait to find my own way and independence. I have lived in California, Hawaii, South Carolina, the United Kingdom and in Lithuania for a short time; but, Arizona is where I felt comfortable, from the very first saguaro cactus of which my eyes savored, to the last scorpion I witnessed crossing my path this afternoon. My very, first visit was through the entire state of Arizona in 1986, during a Spring Break trip gone heavily awry. This trip on an old, school bus was the basis for the award winning, bestselling novel, “My Bad Tequila.” My favorite line from the book is, “You’ll see the true reflection of me when the tequila bottle is empty,” I shouted out to the wind as I tossed the sad, angry, bottle-shaped mirror to the sea.
“Arizona Is Where I Live,” is not only a statement of which I announce with pride, it is now a Children’s book that is a masterful, learning display of the Sonoran Desert, the mountains, the lakes, the Grand Canyon and of the animals that make Arizona one of the most unique and interesting states in the union.
Arizona has been touted as the state that has everything, except an ocean. Whoa, there pardner! We do have an ocean, the world’s smallest, which is located in Biosphere 2, which is a world-renowned environmental and ecological research site operated by the University of Arizona about 30 miles northwest of Tucson. The Biosphere Ocean houses 676,000 gallons of seawater and has a coral reef. Also, if a couple of early surveyors wouldn’t have been so lazy about 125 years ago, Arizona would border the northeast part of the Sea of Cortez; but, these surveyors figured Arizona was large enough, wanted to get home to their families and decided to cut through the territory leaving a bit extra for our amigos and amigas in Mexico, near the Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) area.
There is more adventure and mystery in Arizona’s many towns and cities than in some countries combined. When tourists and visitors arrive in our great Copper State, most congregate to either the Phoenix / Scottsdale area, Tucson or up north to Flagstaff, which all areas are great, fun, artistic destinations, with plenty of interesting things to keep them entertained.
My advice is, if in Flagstaff, take time to head south about 30 miles to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89, then continue south a bit farther to visit Jerome, the mining town of past, now an artist mecca, that is built on the side of a mountain. Sedona, with it’s red rock mountains and majestic canyons is where Mr. Walt Disney would bring his illustrators to capture with their brushes, the many hues of reds, browns and oranges blended with the many shades of greens, blues and purples.
If, your vacation plans have your arrival into Tucson, then by all means visit Tombstone, “The town too tough to die,” and see firsthand, the OK Corral, made famous by the gunfight of lawmen Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers, (the good guys) versus the (bad guys), outlaw cowboys, the Clanton Brothers, the McLaury Brothers, and Billy Claiborne. Also, former mining towns, Bisbee and Douglas should receive your visited attention just north of the border.
Now, in regards to relaxation and sun soaking in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area, the cowboy town of Cave Creek, just north of Scottsdale by 15 miles is a must visit. It is here in this western town that I had the chance meeting of the legitimate, illegitimate son of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and have written his true story that intertwines with mine, “In the Shadow of ELVIS, Perils of a Ghostwriter.” Some of the restaurants still have hitching posts to tie up the ponies as cowgirls and cowboys go in for a quick bite or to whet their whistle.
Arizona is the Wild West; the wild west, where I dreamed of living when growing up, playing cowboys and Indians with my four younger brothers and numerous cousins. I longed to live in a time and place where if you had a fast gun and a fast horse your chances of survival were greatly increased. I am living the dream; where cowboys, horses, saloons and tequila abound.
When my time on earth is no more, I want to be buried in my boots, six feet under, covered with Arizona soil.
Rico Austin is giving away (1) copy of each of his three books mentioned, based on comments made about Arizona at this blog. Be sure to include your email with your post to be entered to win.
or at any of these links:
(Photos provided by author)