The road to Show Low

Mountain driving.

The town of Show Low, some 180 miles north east of my home in Scottsdale, AZ, is named after a card game where the holder of the lowest hand would win the town. Whether true or not, it’s a great Wild West story.

To get there you take two rural highways – the 87 to Payson then the 260 to Show Low. Elevation rises as high as 7,000 feet and along the way you will see hardly any cars but plenty of bald eagles and, if you are lucky, elk. The landscape in its higher reaches is reminiscent of that around Yosemite with red rocks in lieu of granite.

As I usually do, I drive the Main Street of any small American town I may be staying in and, as usual, regardless of the location, come away disappointed. Both Payson and Show Low are best thought of as White Trash Country. Banality and ugliness abound. Advertising hoardings scream. Most are little more than long strip shopping centers, crossed by a few residential streets, the sole focus being on the lowest cost structures to squeeze the last penny in operating margin. And, of course, the inevitable nationwide fast food places, always the same names, always the same junk food.

This is one thing sorely missing from the American psyche with its perennial grasping for profit. There is no pride of place, no care for one’s surroundings. Ugly fronts, unpaved lots, potholes and detritus, these are the order of the day. While you get the occasional jewel like Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Carmel or La Jolla, plus some New England towns, these are the exceptions to the rule.

But enough carping for this journey very much surpasses the destination.

Some snaps from the trip:

Even for the culturally forsaken there is always worship.

Opening in April. While ambient temperatures are in the mid-50s at this time of year, the ground remains frozen.

Horse country.

Mountain driving.

This rider attracted his own police escort.

All snapped on the Panny GX7 with the kit zoom.