Great American Southwest Road Trip Pt 2 - Towns: Bookstores, Buildings and coffee shops

there are two ways i judge a town.
it's simple. 1) their bookstores and 2) their coffeeshops.
if they are lacking in these areas, they lose cred instantly.
if they prove themselves in these areas, my heart swells with love for them and i suddenly want to move there.

anyway, thus begins my second road trip post regarding the TOWNS we visited.

first, what could be better than to start off with the real live ghost town where we spent our first night?!
well, actually not "live" at all.

this place is called Sego and it is out in the southern utah wilderness, way out beyond the old railroad tracks that run alongside highway 70. we arrived after dark down an interminable dirt road, freaked ourselves out, and slept in the vastness haunting sorrow of that ruined place of miner's woes.

there was very little left out there.
just a busted up rusty old jalopy and a tangle of sloping fallen floorboards.
a wrinkled old can and bullet casings.

we drove back out that dusty land and on to...
of course i love moab first for its situation in the red rock landscape.
but i also love it for the charming town it is; i love it for the amazing coffeeshops like Eklekticafe.
 which has exactly the type of foliage and vibe i want around me all the time. great organic coffee with refills abounding (SUCH a plus on road trips) scrambled tofu with seaweed, and begonias and sunflowers to brighten the morning.

but (next day) please don't forget Wake and Bake with amazing (cheap!) breakfast tacos and locally roasted coffee.
again, with refills.
i'm just telling you in case you go to moab: please go here. it is tucked away in the corner of the plaza and it has outdoor seating and lots of cilantro and big cappacino mugs and friendly people.

moab has great bookstores too.
because edward abbey is still the star around here.

another perk of cool southwestern towns: trading posts and western stores.
we got a navajo-style saddle blanket that we plan to use as a rug.

the next star of the show.
one of my favorite places on earth, understandably so when you see murals like this on the curvy town walls:
adobe buildings everywhere make you feel safe and cozy in the village square.
like you want to stay awhile, maybe forever.
and the colors! southwest towns know how to do color!
why are so many buildings in the rest of the US bleak and gray?!

this chapel of San Francisco Assissi is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the southwest. i am not Catholic but i felt a quiet spirit of prayer and love inside from all the years (centuries) of sweet humbling devotion. Taos is a very old city.

 back downtown in the plaza, our little connoisseurs found the actual true "best toystore in the world!" complete with a vibrantly painted play structure out back and all kinds of creative gadgets and wonders.
 while darin and i looked at more grown-up treasures and i stuffed my brain with southwestern flair decorating ideas. 
 but best of all was this cozy bookstore, in the middle of a sudden downpour:
 where em and i finally got to pet a cat! (we missed our own terribly) this is toby, and he has a sister named mabel who we didn't get a chance to meet. he had my dream life, chilling upstairs on a comfy chair in a bookstore stuffed with travel books and spiritual books and native american lore. bowl of food close at hand, right under the window for checking out the storm.

Next rad southwest town (can you believe i am only picking the best ones. and still, this post goes on and on...)
another place of wildly colorful doors and signs.
 and amazing thrift stores! i almost forgot to mention that i was lucky to be with a big group of thrift store junkies. we all went nuts looking through every thrift or junk shop we came across. i have a big ol' pile of vintage stuff for my shop....eventually when i get to it!
 i didn't get a photo of the cool vintage shops. darin found movie costumes galore. and i couldn't resist of few beauties for myself. but meanwhile...there was this bookstore....
 with a major focus on writers from the southwest. like one of my own faves, leslie marmon silko, who has a new book out. which i could not afford. :( but i wrote down ideas in my little notebook for future inspiration.
 another of the greatest things about tucson is the beautiful historic hotel Congress.
we got a room. two single beds for the four of us. they try to maintain "original ambience" with no televisions (thank god) and old fashioned iron frame beds with chenille fringe bedspreads. there are cowboy paintings on the walls. it was our one single night of luxury. (well, we did get a cheap motel two nights later, but that was kinda gross. whereas this was fabulous)
 this next was the only polaroid i took on the whole trip. what's wrong with me?! i have grown so accustomed to being sparing with my last pack of film that i forget to use them even at the proper moments! anyway, here we are on the rad art deco painted stairs in the lobby of the congress.
 double the fun. the congress has a bar, the Tap Room, which has been open since 1919! with $3 drink specials. it was our night out on the town. and we had a liittttle too much fun; em and i even sang karaoke.

next morning at the Cup Cafe. our only real hangovers of the trip. but damn that cowboy coffee was good.
i will save tucscon's treasure, the De Grazia studio, for another post. this is turning into a monster.

the last town i'll show you is the breathtaking Sedona Arizona.
but certainly not for its tourist-riddled downtown in which we got accosted by a pushy resort owner trying to sell us some ride in a golf cart and saying we "probably voted for obama" when we refused.

nope, we loved it, rather, for its vortex hiding spots and impossibly scenic setting.

and also, for incredible roadside stands like Son Silver West:

 someday, we vow to buy a real Navajo rug.

okay dear hearts. that is probably enough southwestern goodness for today.
sorry to go on and on...all this is still glowing in me, even though i'm back to work this afternoon.
in my heart will be a quiet adobe hut with blue and yellow walls outside a little town with a great coffeeshop and inspiring bookstore!


bellisimama said…
oh. i died of happiness looking at these pictures. i love the colors. and the moccasins. i'm so getting those same boots you have.
Teenysparkles said…
Thanks so much for sharing! These are things and places I may probably never see in real life(being on the other side of the world) and I feel so lucky you've taken the time to document your journey!
Joseph Beatty said…
youre doing a swell job heb. keep it up. wanna give me a haircut tonite? i miss rambling
Heather said…
You found all the great places in the SW! I went to college in Santa Fe and was broke so most of my spring breaks were trips in the college van to Moab etc. Such great places!

I'm so glad you found Moby Dickens! One of my fave bookstores anywhere.

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