The guy that picks us up is named Jeff, or was it James? I’m not totally sure. Jeff or James is 29 years old, has lived in Payson since he was 5 and has a couple of kids. He works for the water company and smokes a strawberry vape while we careen down the highway to the closest town with a big grocery store. That town is Payson.
Jeff or James doesn’t say or do anything creepy, and for this, Jeff or James gets a medal. I feel sad that the bar is so low, but I can’t change facts. Thank you so much Jeff or James for the entirely mundane ride.
Carrot and I check into a Super 8 and immediately everything feels very challenging. We have to do laundry but there’s no laundry services or laundry mats close by. There’s an RV park across the street, they have laundry there! Except we have no quarters. We can get quarters from the Super 8 front desk! Except we have no detergent. We can buy overpriced detergent from the gas station! Except I forgot my card.
Eventually, we figure it out. Another thing we figure out, through a stroke of luck, is that there is a Mexican place, Alfonso’s, that will deliver to our motel room. Alfonso’s has a vegetarian burrito for 5$. I figure it can’t be that big for so little money and so I order two, shaky from hunger. I add sides of salsa and guacamole and bags of spicy pickled carrots. Carrot gets super nachos. Our food arrives and the burritos ARE big, like little baby arms full of black beans and sautéed peppers. I am happy and then I am very very full and then I am asleep.
The next morning, we have errands. We have to get our resupplies from the post office a mile and a half away. We need food and I need coffee. It turns out Carrot needs donuts and I also need Diet Coke. We need fuel canisters and KT Tape. I need hand sanitizer. We need to backflush our Sawyer Squeezes. I need a new case for my phone. It feels near impossible to imagine doing so many things, but somehow we’re out the door and a mild day unfolds before us, sunshiney and serene.
Payson is a perfect town. Everyone is chatty, smiling. No one stares at our backpacks or our tattoos, it’s working class in a way that feels so much more comfortable than the crystal shops and the tourists in Sedona. There’s plenty here: plenty of vegan options, plenty of grocery stores, plenty of motel rooms. I am having a great time doing this and that in Payson. I am so happy to be here!
Just before the post office, we pass Alfonso’s. It is…a burned out shell? Maybe an old location, we figure. There must be a new one now. We google, and don’t find much. Was my burrito a…ghost?
The woman at the post office says that her and her co-workers have been excited for weeks to learn what a Muffy and a Carrot look like, they’ve been making guesses ever since our boxes arrived. In line we learned that that WAS the location of Alfonso’s. It burned down last night at four AM. Everyone at the post office is devastated, it was the best place in town. They move on to discussing how white people just don’t make good Mexican food, and who can argue with that? White people are kind of sub par at a lot of things. (Don’t @ me).
I am very happy. I have food for the next section! We get our supplies easily! We’re done much earlier than I expected, and so I do something extremely decadent for my weary feet: I get a gosh darn pedicure. I sit in the electronic massage chair, I wince in pain when the nail tech touches my feet, and I work on this here blog for hours and hours.
If that’s not luxury, I really don’t know what is.
📍The Mogollon Rim trail is on Yavapai, Western Apache, Hopi and Hohokum land. I am a grateful guest.