Arizona Adventures

In Tempe I had a room in a Studio 6  as opposed to my usual Motel 6.

The Studio includes a kitchen, which I like to have access to every week or so. I used the kitchen to boil some eggs and cook up a pork chop, but other than that, I didn’t really need it. Most of what I did was chopping and putting more vegetables in jars, which I could do in any motel room. It was nice to have the sink, but often I can make it work in the little bathroom sink. The pork chop, which was quite delicious, is something I couldn’t have done in the regular motel room with a microwave, so maybe that was worth the stay.

Tempe was hot and dry. I stayed there for two nights. In the evening of the second night I was scheduled to teach a class at a new-to-me space in Phoenix. I had never made it into Phoenix in all my past trips. Not for lack of trying, but the situation never worked out before. Finally this year, it all came together and I mad my debut at Village Athletic Club in Phoenix thanks to the gracious hosting of Casey Fernandez, who is a bit of a dog lover and talked to River a lot. She would use a high voice and say. “are you ready for Nia class? huh? are you ready for a Nia class today River? Huh? Is River ready for a Nia class? Huh, River? Are you ready for class?” which is very difficult for River. He doesn’t know how to answer, but he handled it great. He sort of looked at her and then looked away. I thought I’d be clever and ask her to ‘play bodyguard’ and make sure none of the students come up and tried to talk to River while I’m setting up his crate in the room. But her tactic for that was to monopolize him. She spoke to him the whole time I was setting up the crate. Afterward, she explained to the onlookers that she had been chosen to run defense for River. I added, ‘yes I was hoping you’d prevent other people from doing what you just did.” We all laughed.

Class was great. It was my first time teaching Frankie  Say Nia in a room with no mirrors. It’s easier to follow along with the teacher when we’re all facing in the same direction. But then I can’t see the students and I love to see them. So I need to flip around mid-class without missing a beat, and then start reversing all my cues by saying “right” when I’m going left so that it still makes sense to them. It’s tricky; and it’s fun to find the places where I can flip around without being too distracting.

Also I didn’t have a microphone, and I had the music really loud so I found  that I couldn’t use as much dynamic emotion in my voice as I like. And I ended up being sort of monotone loud.
After Nia class in Phoenix


Then next morning I got up early and drove about two and a half hours to teach a class at the Flagstaff Athletic Club. This was my third time in this facility. This is the infamous location where my precious hoodie went missing last year. (If you don’t know the story, it had a happy ending. I called the facility the next day and someone had turned it into lost and found.)

I was surprised how cold it was in the morning when I got out of the car in Flagstaff. I had acclimated to the dry, hot, low desert and now I was at 7000 feet, which made a big difference in the temperature and the feeling of my breaths. I had to pace myself a few times in class as I was feeling winded by the lack of oxygen.
River didn't quite know what to make of the cactus.

There were quite a few students that had taken class from me on prior visits and were excited to learn I was coming back and to take class from me again. I was surprised, because I never got the feeling that I was going over that well, but it just goes to show, you can never really tell how you’re being perceived.

After class, and after a long chat with my producer, Stephanie, I hit the road for Sedona. I was supposed to text my friend, Alba, whose home I was staying in, but I didn’t have cell phone or internet service in Flagstaff or anywhere along the route to Sedona. I set the navigation for the city of Sedona with no address, hoping I could contact her once I got into town. But still I got no service. So I just drove blindly through town, following my trusty sixth sense of direction and after taking some turns that were surprising to my conscious mind, I found myself in her driveway without ever knowing the address, the name of the street or what part of town she was in. I had stayed there once before; a year ago. But my physical memory is kind of uncanny that way. I drove for a while, not knowing where I was. Things didn’t necessary look familiar, but the direction just ‘felt’ right. At last I pulled into a private drive, fully expected to have to turn back but eventually I realized I was there. I had found it.

Alba made me a lovely dinner and we chatted all night until it was time for bed.

The next day another Sedona Nia teacher came over and I taught both of them all the moves to a playlist we put together out of some of my classic rock & roll Nia songs. My hope is to come back in a few months and let them teach my routine to me!

In the meantime I had left River crated in the room where I sleep, while we worked on the routine in the living room. His crate has a plastic bottom liner which I cover with a cushion and then I had some blankets over the top to make him a cozy den. Hours later, I come back and the plastic bottom was outside the crate and all of the blankets were inside and he was on top of them.

So I left him that way, if that’s how he wants it…

After we were done, I took him for a walk to the creek near Alba’s house. I fed him and we played with the tug toy a little bit. There was no one around so I let him explore the water a little bit as I sat back and watched.

When it was time to go, I had him on the leash and got him interested in the toy buy playing keep away for a while until he was really desperate to get it from me and I let him grab it. We took off briskly, and he was going over the dirt trail and over rocks and leaves and wasn’t letting go of the toy. 

Then we heard a small dog yapping and running toward us. We were almost going to clear the path of the little dog, but she emerged from behind some dry grass just as we were passing. River dropped the toy and stood and watched the dog bark furiously at us and show us her teeth. River moved in closer to sniff the dog and as he got closer, got swept up in her frenzy. He kicked up some dirt and did a little hop, like he wanted to engage with her, but she wasn’t having it. This flummoxed him and I could see him looking around for a way out of the situation. I picked up the toy and held it out for him to see, a few feet away, but in his peripheral vision. He caught sight of it and immediately bit it and took off with it, dragging me behind. We ran and ran while the bitch chased us yipping all the way. I could hear her owner calling her name, but that owner’s voice was growing softer and softer as the three of us ran down that trail. River kept a strong hold on that toy, even after the yippy dog backed off and we slowed our pace. At one point we came to a crossroad in the path and he looked up at me before making the choice. Still with the toy in his mouth, we came to the spot where he had pooped. I had scooped in into a bag and left it there to pick up on my way back out of the creek. When i picked it up, he seemed sheepish, but I put it in my pouch and played with his toy without him until he was interested enough in it to bite and carry it all the way back to the house.

When we got there, he was hesitant to go back in the house, and visibly shaken up and still a bit anxious, so I took him to the car and had him sit in the boot while I gave him a massage. He seemed to like that.

Then I had a great homemade dinner with Alba and her husband, Fitz before heading to bed.

In the morning, Alba, Wendy and I got together and jammed some choreography for an amazing song that will hopefully end up in my Community Synergy routine. After that, I showed Alba how to make preserved lemons. Then I packed up the car and took off, leaving Arizona for now. Next stop, Farmington, New Mexico.


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