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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Facing up to travel guilt

Mike Morin

I felt guilty sitting in sunny Las Vegas the day the snow fell here two weeks ago. Then, I got over it.

If it makes you feel any better, skies were blue, but temperatures were only in the 50s for our stay until about five minutes before we departed, when the mercury finally climbed into the 70s. We were bummed, as Nevada and Arizona don’t offer weather refunds.

My neighbor Don dutifully cleaned our snowy driveway in my absence. The least I could have done would be to buy him a T-shirt that says, “I shoveled my neighbor’s snow and all I got was this stinkin’ T-shirt.” Turns out, half of New Hampshire was in the Southwest recently. I ran into several Granite Staters in Vegas, then in Sedona, Ariz.

Former New Hampshire residents and friends Clark and Anne Dumont took us out to dinner and then showed us around Red Rock Canyon, just west of the strip. I felt a twinge guilty that they bought dinner. I got over it quickly since it was my birthday.

I love blowing guilt away like a desert tumbleweed somewhere south of Flagstaff.

For once, we left Vegas with their money and proceeded to spend some of it in Sedona, home of the most breathtaking and colorful mountain sights I’ve ever seen. So, imagine our surprise when we joined a random couple at a community breakfast table at our hotel, only to find out they live in New Hampshire.

Tom and Diane were visiting from Pelham, and once again, more New Hampshire people popped up like cacti in the Mohave Desert.

The Granite State convention wasn’t done yet. Barbie and I had two delicious Mexican meals at a restaurant called the Elote Cafe. Who’s in the kitchen? A young cook originally from Nashua. And in our not-quite-from-New Hampshire category was our server Jasmine, who was a Vermont native.

All that was missing was a “This car climbed Mount Washington” bumper sticker and some guilt, which seemed to be in short supply once again. As much as we all love New Hampshire, we also love warm sunny days and red rocks. It is possible to love both New Hampshire and Arizona.

In fact, parts of northern Arizona reminded us of New Hampshire’s North Country, with sweeping vistas of gravity-defying fir trees clinging to sides of craggy mountains.

About my only misstep was reserving a convertible rental car for our trek around the desert. My unfounded optimism based on our warm, dry New Hampshire winter lead me to believe Arizona’s average 65-degree days might give way to 80 degrees. Perfect for top-down driving.

It wasn’t. The dashboard indicator read 34 degrees as we cruised into Flagstaff. Hardly convertible weather.

I did, however, enjoy hugging mountain hairpin turns at 7,000 feet along Arizona Route 89-A in our spunky 2012 Chevy Camaro.

Last year, I left money in Vegas. This year, I left my New Hampshire guilt behind in Sedona.

Hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5-10 a.m. on “New Hampshire in the Morning” on 95.7 WZID. Contact him at Heymikey@aol.com. His column runs the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month.