Why Wickenburg, Arizona? Of all the places to set DESERT RICE, why?
Years ago, my mother-in-law moved to Wickenburg, Arizona to get away from the harsh Utah winters. Up until then, I hadn't even heard of Wickenburg. I didn't even know it existed, but with her living there and my family visiting her often, I fell in love with the little town. Which, looking back now, is kind of a funny thing to say. I used to DREAD going to visit my mother-in-law, (but not for the typical reasons you may be thinking). It hated it because Wickenburg was horribly boring. Snoresville. There's very little to do there. Once you've visited the place once or twice, you've pretty much seen and done it all. Truth.
So how the heck did I fall in love with a place I dreaded visiting? Easy. It simply grew on me over time. That's the only way I can explain it. The laid back nature of the place, the western feel, the cute main street shops, the people, the HORSES (I love horses, and Wickenburg a big time horse town. Is there horses in DESERT RICE? Heck ya)—all of it found a place into my heart.
Wickenburg also forced me to take it easy. There are no big shopping malls nearby, or major tourist attractions. Heck, they have a movie theater on Main Street that has only one screen. That's it, folks. So finding entertainment is a little tricky and forces you to become more creative in your thinking.
Once I started writing DESERT RICE and I had my two kid characters in a car on the run from their past, heading west, I was like AH-HA! Wickenburg! That's where they're going! It's a total cowboy western town—something completely opposite of my two runaways.
I couldn't think of a better setting. It just worked, being a low-key kind of town, with character and quaintness to it. Now, the Wickenburg I portray in the book is from years past before it started growing and developing to where it is today, but even today it is still has a lot of that laid-back appeal.
If you ever find yourself in Wickenburg and you're like, "What am I supposed to do in a place like this," here are a few suggestions for you:
1 Visit the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, a showcase for Western and Southwestern art. There is some amazing art work to be seen. (I really enjoyed the museum quite bit.
2. Walk the downtown area in search of rattlesnakes, gila monsters, tarantulas and road runners. There are also 6 large sculptures that have a historic narrative to them. Don’t miss all the new sculptures in the downtown. (There are several sculptures throughout town, and to go on a hunt for them is fun. Especially for the little kids—mine loved looking out for them).
3. Tour the historic Vulture Mine and learn about the rich gold strike as well as Vulture City Ghost Town. (This is my FAVORITE thing to do. If you're big into photography, this is a great place to go. The photo opportunities are great. But be careful. There are several places where you could potentially get hurt—watch yourself).
4. Check out the lush riparian area called the Hassayampa River Preserve, where water rises above ground, and hiking trails take you around the preserve area. (I like this on too. It's not a huge place, but walking around on the preserve and also taking a moment in the information area was something I enjoyed).
5. Grab a bag of popcorn and a Coke, lean back and enjoy a popular movie in the historic Saguaro Theatre. (This is the one screen theater I was talking about).
6. Stop by Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream on a hot day for some homemade ice cream. (This is a MUST do. Love this place—so delicious).
7. Feel the genuine Western hospitality of this 148-year-old community, by taking the Historical Walking Tour through downtown. (Yep, done that. Read all the plaques. This place has a lot of history, for sure).
(Information and links supplied by http://www.ci.wickenburg.az.us/index.aspx)
One thing I've learned by visiting Wickenburg, Arizona is to open my mind to small town possibilities. They might not have all the huge attractions of big cities, but they have their own style and appeal just the same—you just have to look for it. It's there.
Thanks for stopping in Angela!
What I thought of this book... Desert RIce grabbed a hold of me from the first page to the last page i was hooked . Angela's characters were awesome. You can totally feel the connection with Jacob and his sister. You can't help but fall in love with them as aparent and as ahuman being its hard not to feel for them. Was a beautifully written book !