The Jewish Guilt I felt shopping in Santa Fe - April 20

A few years ago, my mother & I took a Hawaiian cruise together.  We were just getting back onto good terms. She’d been saying she wants to travel, has no one to travel with and had always wanted to go to Hawaii.  Doing what I do, I went online and found a last minute cruise for us, on sale (which made her happy) & we went. Twelve days starting in San Diego & ending in Honolulu.  That’s a long time to share a room with your Jewish mother. Trust me!!


We are on this trip, walking around the little tourist street on Maui and I walked into one of the shops and saw a t-shirt I liked.  It was a tourist, t-shirt shop & not the $5 kind. It was a $28 t-shirt. I’d been snorkeling and this was when I had a terrible recession job.  I’m traveling with the poorest millionaire you’ll ever meet & she’s telling me how we can’t afford the souvenir t-shirt.

It’s not that the shirt wasn’t affordable.  It was how dare I want to spend $28 on a t-shirt.  A t-shirt should only cost $10. I don’t remember the store, the shirt, any of the details but I’ll never forget the disapproving look on my mother’s face or the way she shook her head with sadness, shock & disappointment.  At some point, my mother set prices for things in her head and because of the $0.99 Cents Store, she genuinely believes things don’t cost money. Everything only needs to cost $0.99.  That look she had in the store that day was this look she gave me anytime I’d see something, not extravagant but not on sale.  It’s an expression on her face that is burned into my memories because it never changed. In my opinion, that is a terrible way to live.  Not being frugal but only thinking that you deserve something if it is cheap or if it is on sale or if it only worth $0.99. My mother is a 77 year old Scrooge.  Tiny Tin would’ve died she had to pay full price for his health care. I don’t think a person should live like that. You need caviar & champagne every day but it’s okay to enjoy life.  I don’t think my mother enjoys life.

Anyways, I write this story because I live souvenir shopping. I go through phases when it comes to shopping in general but I’m stopping in cute shops & galleries in the towns I’m visiting and letting myself get the souvenirs.  This is a one-time moment. I’m driving across the United States to see & experience the country. There’s going to be a few new t-shirts and some other fun treats by the time it’s over. Yesterday, I shopped around downtown Santa Fe & paid tourist prices for the things I bought.  And I still feel like I have to justify the costs - to myself because of my mother’s residual voice (and guilt) in my head.

 Yes, the tourist in my got art from a vending machine. 

Yes, the tourist in my got art from a vending machine. 

Setting up shop - April 18

Yesterday I spent most of the day wandering around galleries & tourist shops in Arroyo Seco & Taos proper. One of the things I’m doing on this trip is scoping out artists & vendors for the retail part of Pop Culture Travel that I’m setting up when I get back to Detroit.  

I adored being part of Cohoots & the coworking community but it’s time to change things up.  By opening a little storefront, I am adding retail to the business - practical travel gear, guide books, gifts, etc.  Plus, this limits the business to business hours. I don’t want to be 24/7 & compared to the internet all the time. Setting up shop gives me a place to go to work everyday & creating my version of a professional environment.  

Anyways, Taos & Santa Fe are known as an area that’s full of artists, so I was looking around for quirky things that would work in Detroit and a found a few.  The part I can do while I’m traveling is find products to sell. I’ve started reaching out commercial real estate agents that were recommended by childhood friends.  I’m lucky because I have a good friend who does commercial real estate in AZ & can help me make smart decisions. It takes away some of the guesswork.

 Arroyo Seco

Arroyo Seco

Mexico & the other stuff will come later.  I have a solid business project that I want to do in Oaxaca.  It was what I was going to be doing this winter before my passport was stolen & plans changed. Once I’m home, it’s time to just be home & focus on just being home for a while. That’s not saying I’m not going to travel but I don’t want to be starting a business long distance during my first year in Detroit.  So I’m literally setting up a little travel store.

I also didn’t do a major drive yesterday.  I walked around a lot. Arroyo Seco is only 15 minutes away.  It was a nice change of pace after the long distances of Utah.  

After three nights in Taos, I’m head to Santa Fe today to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum & stay in the only Native American owned hotel in the area & then going down to Truth or Consequences, to see what’s there.   I read that there are wineries & chili farms in the Soccoro area, which is on the way but staying in Truth or Consequences sounded more fun. Truth or Consequences used to be called Hot Springs, NM, which sounds like cool.  

A Few Words about Zion - April 18

(300 words in 30 days, take 2, day 2)

According to the dictionary, Zion is either the hill that Jerusalem was built on or can also be considered another name for Africa among Rastafarians.  President Taft originally named the park Mukuntuweap National Monument.  That doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily, so the park was renamed Zion because Mormons, in their beliefs, gave it that name.  

I find this interesting because often times secular Jews are called Zionists. Or rather, Jews outside of Israel who support Israel are called Zionists - because of dictionary definition #1 and yet the United States has its own Zion.  That’s the kind of coincidence I find amusing.

Zion National Park was a little nuts.  I left Hurricane, pretty early in the morning to go to Zion.  Besides many people telling me it was someplace I needed to see, I’d done zero research on the park.  20/20 hindsight, I would have skipped Capitol Reef (Sorry) & spent two nights in Springdale, just outside of Zion, in order to have a full day (without driving) to spend in the canyon.

 The road through Zion

The road through Zion

When I got to the park entrance about 10am, there was a sign that read “Parking Full. Please park in town.”  I don’t remember E V E R seeing this at a national park, ever. Not during free park days at the Grand Canyon. Not in the year I lived in Yosemite.  This was a new experience for me.

I didn’t turn around, park back in Springdale & take the shuttle because I didn’t know the park or have a plan.  Zion was “on the list.” I wanted to satisfy that curiosity. No more, no less.

It took a while but I found a 15 minute parking spot near the visitors center.  Something for the magnet collection was necessary. I didn’t feel tied to 15 minutes.  That the park police would have a timer on the spot and tow me away but I wasn’t going to leave my car there for the 90 minute shuttle either.  When I went into the visitors center & talked to one of the women working, she told me that Zion National Park got 4,500,000 visitors in 2017. That’s intense.  It’s not a big park.

Just sitting in my car, seeing throngs of people in the parking lot of Zion, I had this immediate feeling of wanted to leave.  Every once in a while, I’ll get claustrophobic. Usually it’s in an overly crowded room. I’d never felt a sense of claustrophobia in someplace, basically open air.  It was strange. Most likely because I wasn’t prepared. I’d been traveling through mostly quiet scenic highways, small towns & national parks in Utah so to see this crowd was a shock to my system.   



I got my magnet (and a t-shirt) and got in the car to head through the park.  It was a gorgeous drive and for a national park, surprisingly busy. There was more than one point that I would have stopped to take a photo but the curb was either 1. Too busy or 2.  A little too shallow for my comfort. My compact car probably wouldn’t have fallen off a cliff but it was the first time on this drive where the thought, “A boy would probably park there.”   

A guy in the gift shop told me that I should hang out in Zion. He & his family had been visiting since 1972.  Bryce Canyon you can see in a few hours. With all due respect, I’m sure there is more to Zion than what I saw driving through but Bryce was spectacular.  There’s just as much to see there. I’m glad I did the drive through Zion and spend time close to sunset overlooking Bryce Canyon. 


 Looking out over Bryce Canyon 

Looking out over Bryce Canyon 

Stopping & Restarting in Taos,NM - April 17

It’s been a few days without writing and I realize, I don’t know how much I care about creating a writing habit.  I’m much more interested in photography & painting. 

I am someone who keeps their word, which was 300 words/day for 30 days, so I’m starting the 30 days fresh again.  If I’d missed one day, not a big deal. Two days, not fabulous but three days means it’s time to reset the clock.

Today, I stopped. I didn't go anywhere or do anything except get take out.
I have a sore throat.  It’s from going out into the cold wind, over & over again, from being inside my warm car because I wanted to get out and take pictures.  I’m also bloated & crampy, so it was a good day to stop.

I stopped in Taos, New Mexico.
New Mexico is beautiful.  Taos & Santa Fe are high desert.  It’s Georgia O’Keeffe & George R. R. Martin land, among others.  Lots of artists flock here. It’s mentioned in “Rent,” for g-d’s sake.  

I made my Utah loop & really didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time in Utah.  As a nice Jewish girl, Mormons kind freak me out. Judaism is thousands or generations old.   Any religion that’s younger than the country, needs to take a beat before trying to convince me that something new is gospel.  I don’t know very many Mormons. The ones I do know tend to be lapsed Mormons, so I don’t have a lot of direct relationships with members of that faith but the no alcohol, caffeine or makeup all seems a bit extreme.  At some point, In AZ, Utah’s national parks ended up on my bucket list but Utah itself isn’t so appealing. I wanted to see the sights and go. Would I go back? Sure. It’s beautiful country for a few days or a week.  I wouldn’t want to live there.

The only thing I did today was figure out a plan for traveling through New Mexico.  This is a place where I feel the opposite. I don’t want to rush through the country.  It’s a place to soak in.

Three nights here in Taos.  One night an hour away in Santa Fe, because I found the only Native American run Inn in the area.  Afterwards, I’m going to Truth or Consequences to drive through wine country & go to hot springs, then up to Roswell before crossing into Texas.  After that, I’ll figure out Texas. - Staci