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Core Samples

The time of year when only the exotic will do is once more upon the town. The mountainfolk have yet again weathered storms, dodged slings and arrows, worked oddest-jobs and risen at Eastertide. They’ve calculated and crunched numbers and arrived at personal coefficients of bliss by dividing collective bar tabs by the number of vertical feet in which they had their way.

An annual exodus of sorts is in the works. Maps are being unfolded and plans are being made. The objective, of course, is warmer climes and less clothes and a string of unscheduled days. There will be hiking and wandering and river floating and biking and, quite possibly, a dram or two of a native beverage.

Tents and sleeping bags and pop-up campers will soon be hitting the road. Flights are booked to faraway places with late spring storms only heightening the "jones." Images of beachcombing and rock hounding and snorkeling and fishing populate dreamscapes. Some, in a spirit of vision quest and epiphany, go looking for themselves.

It’s all about recharging the inner power source and doing that Zen thing and maybe even finishing a few of the books began in a now-misplaced earnestness several months back. One is allowed, even encouraged, to reconfigure and redefine who they are. Of course, one can stay put and still locate a better self. True wanderlust is seldom measured in miles.

There will be those, no doubt, who are driven by tradition. They might head straight to Torino’s in San Blas where, after bouncing a bit on the cobblestone street leading away from the Plaza, they would order up a couple of Pacifico Lagers in order to have one for their ownself and one to carefully pour down the nearly-always, tipped-back throat of the resident alligator.

While in the neighborhood, a few might also find their way to the "Plaza de Mariachi" in old Guadalajara where that wonderfully stirring musical art form was born and continues to be nurtured. There was a time when, just down the way at the Gran Mercado San Juan de Dios, the more rapturous element could load up on sacraments used as part of indigenous religious rites.

Guadalajara is just down the road from the once-quaint village of "Tequila," however, it is very possible to arrive somewhat behind schedule. There is something about the hillsides of Los Altos and the never-ending rows of blue agave that sings a siren’s call.

To loop that most exquisite Mexican state of Jalisco, all that is needed is to put the plaza of fiddles, trumpets, bajo-sextos and guitarons in the rear-view mirror and allow gravity to pull you to Barre de Navidad down on its southern coast. Here, on a spit of sand are open-air cantinas and sunsets upon the sea. And the trek up the coast to Puerto Vallarta is nothing less than Big Sur in a tropical jungle.

One doesn’t need to travel that far for a spring break from winter, though. In fact, as has been mentioned, one doesn’t need to go anywhere in order to be somewhere else — but it certainly can aid the process. And having southern Utah and the rest of the Four Corners desert in the near offing obviously makes therapeutic forays into the outback easier on the wallet.

Scattered about the Southwest are combination refueling and healing stops that play upon shamanistic sensibilities of both wandering pilgrims and those just looking for a fix. There is this thing about Shiprock that is difficult to put in words. It shimmers and radiates and emits a vibe that other randomly clumped volcanic throats either haven’t the time or inclination to pursue.

Chaco Canyon behaves in similar fashion. Hunkered down cliffside while absorbing sunsets of the now and tempos of the then, the encounter approximates a shower on the inside. And then there is the night sky with the point of view from our solar system on the inner edge of one of Milky Way’s more trendy spirals. Location, location, location!

Moab, of course, gets slammed once ski resorts shut down for the season. National Parks hold sway with Arches and Canyonlands and Natural Bridges and Monument Valley, among others, becoming destinations of choice. It’s a wonder to wallow in the red rock with your pasty white legs on full display.

Islands also work well this time of year. There’s nothing quite like slippin’ on down to Catalina for one of Avalon’s famed abalone burgers. During the days of the Great White Steamship, you could always count on a riot or two on the trip back to San Pedro where deck chairs and beer cups would fill the air.

Another isle of note would have to be Kauai, where they are currently drying out from rainfall of biblical proportions. It’s something when the wettest spot on earth breaks records in the deluge category. But, reportedly, the sun is back out and the trade winds have returned and the place is once again its old idyllic self.

Although the Colorado River around Parker, Ariz., hasn’t been on the menu for eons, if one were to find oneself on the floating dance floor at Foxie’s in need of some liquid refreshment, in lieu of yet another cold beer, there is always a quick jaunt across the desert to Indio for a date shake. Rumor has it that they also serve fine fare in the local hoosegow.

Then there is Lake Powell, or Lake Foul as river rats are wont to refer to it. You’d think it was Mardi Gras in the French Quarter the way some of the womenfolk thereabouts flaunt their wares from passing boat-decks. Well, there had to be at least one upside to the drowning of Glen Canyon.

And there is no way this wannabe travelogue would even be remotely complete without mention of at least some of the glories of Baja California. San Felipe has long called out to those with hankerings for top-shelf fish tacos and hammock time. The upper reaches of the Sea of Cortez with its never-ending tides that leave pangas and revelers alike high and dry on the beach is magic as all get out. So take heed and get out.


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