Will you be traveling to Arizona this winter? If so, pick up one or more of these reader-approved Arizona-set books and fully immerse yourself in what it means to be an Arizonan.
Vast numbers of people head their vans and RV’s to Arizona for winter meet-ups and extended stays out of range of the blizzards, rains, and frigid temperatures that blanket the rest of the US and Canada. Quartzsite, alone, goes from about 4000 year-round residents to hosting over one million RVs and Vans over the winter months.
Those gatherings can be energizing and fun – after all, who doesn’t enjoy finding like-minded souls? But suppose you’re an introvert, like me? You’ll need some quiet activity to help you recharge after a big meet-up or a rousing pickleball tournament. At the same time, daylight hours are fewer, and evenings (after that spectacular Arizona sunset) can stretch long in front of you.
What is there to DO besides mindlessly scrolling through more social media?
Well, read a good book, of course! Wrap yourself up in your warmest blanket (because desert nights can get pretty chilly), make your favorite hot toddy, and dive into a well-crafted story.
Winter is the best time to ensure you have a stash of books at hand in your van. After all, ebooks take up no space other than your reader. I’ve also found I can be pretty resourceful in finding room for yet one more paper book, even in my little Promaster. You can mix it up with a few good audiobooks and listen while driving or doing your van chores.
Literary tourism is the best adjunct to actual travel. If you pick the right Arizona book, you’ll feel like you’re expanding your travel – all in your imagination. You’ll explore the history and cultures that make Arizona what it is today. Reading builds empathy and connection – it will help you get to know the real Arizona. Perusing books set in Arizona will also spark ideas for regional day trips to add to your agenda. Your “go-to someday” list will be as long as your “to-be-read” list.
Plus – reading books will get you away from social media, and we could all use less of that.
How is this book list special?
- Every book on the list has been read and vetted by me.
- At the end of the post, I’ll also include a few books from my TBR list, all highly rated by sources I trust.
- Several genres are represented. You’ll find light reads and heavy reads, literary fiction, cozy mysteries, historical fiction, memoirs, nonfiction, and more.
- I include several options from indigenous authors or about Arizona’s Native American cultures.
- Watch for some callouts to local independent bookstores you can add to your sightseeing list.
- Affiliate links to Bookshop.org, Amazon, and Thrift books are included so you can shop your preferred vendor.
- I also point out film and TV adaptations of books/stories when applicable.
I’m kicking my Arizona book list off with historical fiction because it’s my favorite genre for getting deep down into the heart of a state.
These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901, By Nancy E. Turner
This is one riveting story with a strong, kick-ass woman lead. It is historical fiction at its best. The sense of place and time takes you right into Sarah’s life – trying to survive the harsh conditions of pioneer life near 1880s Tucson. If you like this book, Sarah’s adventure continues with Sarah’s Quilt, and The Star Garden.
(I do wish the title was grammatically correct as it gives the impression that the book is written in this stylized manner – it is not.)
From the publisher:These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner
Published by Harper Perennial on April 1, 2008
A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author's own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon—from child to determined young adult to loving mother—she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose.
Rich in authentic everyday details and alive with truly unforgettable characters, These Is My Words brilliantly brings a vanished world to breathtaking life again.
Epitaph, by Mary Doria Russell
The real Tombstone still exists in SE Arizona, about an hour from Tucson. It’s a fun little historic town where you can have a touristy experience of the shootout at the OK Corral. But if you want to REALLY experience a wild west town, read this book. It’s as good on audio as in print and is a perfect Arizona book for a road trip around the state. It also has the best portrayal of a person (Doc Holiday) living with tuberculosis (I’m a pathologist in real life, so these details stand out to me). Even better, pick up the prequel, Doc, and read it while you drive to Arizona (it’s primarily set in Dodge City, Kansas). The historical details in these two books are as good as historical fiction gets.
If, like me, you love a good film version of a book, check out the 1993 Tombstone movie with a young Val Kilmer playing Doc. It’s downloadable with Amazon Prime (remember to do those downloads when you have good internet so you’ll have uninterrupted streaming at your campsite).
From the publisher:Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell
Published by Ecco on February 16, 2016
Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . .
That was America in 1881.
All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt.
Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.
Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved.
Hardland, by Ashley E. Sweeny
I have to call out Bisbee Books & Music for this recommendation. Bisbee is an old mining town in the far SE corner of Arizona. Now it’s an adorably cute artsy town and a perfect destination for a few days of R&R. It’s up at a higher elevation, so even on a hot Arizona day, it will be dependably cooler in Bisbee. When I stopped by, the store’s manager recommended this new novel, and it’s a winner. This is a woman’s western, full stop. This author has two additional woman-focused westerns, one set in Alaska during the Klondike gold rush (Eliza Waite) and the other about the infamous Donner Party (Answer Creek). Hardline is slightly edgier (as in explicit content) than the historical fiction options above but very realistic.
This novel isn’t getting the attention it deserves from readers, despite winning loads of awards. Let’s give this author some reader love!
From the publisher:Hardland by Ashley Sweeney
Published by She Writes Press on September 13, 2022
Arizona Territory, 1899. Ruby Fortune faces an untenable choice: murder her abusive husband or continue to live with bruises that never heal. One bullet is all it takes. Once known as "Girl Wonder" on the Wild West circuit, Ruby is now a single mother of four boys in her hometown of Jericho, an end-of-the-world mining town north of Tucson. Here, Ruby opens a roadside inn to make ends meet. Drifters, grifters, con men, and prostitutes plow through the hotel's doors, and their escapades pepper the local newspaper like buckshot. An affair with an African American miner puts Ruby's life and livelihood at risk, but she can't let him go. Not until a trio of disparate characters--her dead husband's sister, a vindictive shopkeeper, and the local mine owner she once swindled--threaten to ruin her does Ruby face the consequences of her choices; but as usual, she does what she needs to in order to provide for herself and her sons.
Set against the breathtaking beauty of Arizona's Sonoran Desert and bursting with Wild West imagery, history, suspense, and adventure, Hardland serves up a tough, fast-talking, shoot-from-the-hip heroine who goes to every length to survive and carve out a life for herself and her sons in one of the harshest places in the American West.
Mysteries are perfect for road trips. Often they come in a series, so you can binge your way through the series as you explore. Cozies are perfect audio-listens while driving because you don’t get lost if you drift away for a second or two. Arizona-set mystery books are plentiful, so dig in and find one that sparks your curiosity.
Desert Heat, by J.A. Vance
J.A. Vance is an Arizona book legacy. Her Joanna Brady Series now has 19 books. You can read through the entire repertoire while you’re overwintering. Because the series started in 1993, it is readily available from libraries (I use the Libby App linked to my local library) and used bookstores.
From the publisher:Desert Heat (Joanna Brady, #1) by J.A. Jance
Published by Avon on February 1, 1993
Life is good for Joanna Brady in the small desert community of Bisbee. She has Jenny, her adored nine-year-old daughter, and solid, honest, and loving husband, Andy, a local lawman who's running for Sheriff of Cochise County. But her good life explodes when a bullet destroys Andy Brady's future and leaves him dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun.
The police brass claim that Andy was dirty -- up to his neck in drugs and smuggling -- and that the shooting was a suicide attempt. Joanna knows a cover-up when she hears one...and murder when she sees it. But her determined efforts to track down an assassin and clear her husband's name are placing herself and her Jenny in serious jeopardy. Because, in the desert, the truth can be far more lethal than a rattler's bite.
Desert Jade, by C.J. Shane
Here is another Arizona mystery series set around Tucson, and it brings the Sonoran Desert to life. This series is built around Iraq War veteran Letty Valdez. There are now four books in the series (I’ve only read the first, but I’m queuing up the rest), plus she has another highly-rated series set in Bisbee (I LOVE Bisbee), centered on the Arizona art world. CJ Shane is also an artist. I’ll for sure be reading this series the next time I head to Bisbee.
From the publisher:Desert Jade (Letty Valdez Mysteries #1) by C.J. Shane
Published by Rope's End Publishing on November 18, 2017
Tucson private investigator and Iraq War vet Letty Valdez joins forces with an unlikely ally, Chinese police Detective Inspector Zhou LiangWei, who has been sent to Arizona on the advice of Interpol to track the activities of Hong Kong triad gangsters.
In this fast-paced suspense thriller, these two work together to stop the murderous triad criminals, and at the same time, find and rescue three abducted young women.
Mystery + suspense + a touch of romance = a page-turner set in the Sonoran Desert!
Double Wide, by Leo Banks
Leo Banks also brings the Sonoran Desert to life in his noir mysteries. Double Wide, and its sequel Champagne Cowboys, feature a washed-up baseball player turned crime solver. I only wish there were more than two in the series.
Banks is also noted for his nonfiction Arizona books. You can check them out here.
From the publisher:Double Wide by Leo W. Banks
on November 1, 2017
This is madcap crime novel that incorporates drug smuggling, homicide, baseball, Shakespeare, and wayward body parts into its tumbling plot. There are also keen and comical observations on life, a roadrunner pace, and a hardy but humane protagonist.>
The Blessing Way, by Tony Hillerman
You are probably familiar with Tony Hillerman and the Leaphorn and Chee mystery series. If you’ve read his works, reread them while exploring the SW. He wrote 18 books in the series, and then his daughter Anne Hillerman took over for another eight volumes (the 8th, The Way of the Bear, comes out in April 2023).
There is a new TV adaptation of Hillerman’s works, Dark Winds. This series is notable for getting 100% approval ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. The entire writing staff is Native American, and, WOW, that is evident when you watch it. This is as good as TV gets, IMO. You can download all six episodes and tuck in for some serious binging. I’m super excited about the new season to be released in 2023.
From the publisher:The Blessing Way (Leaphorn & Chee, #1) by Tony Hillerman
Published by HarperTorch on March 7, 1990
Alternate cover edition can be found here.
Homicide is always an abomination, but there is something exceptionally disturbing about the victim discovered in a high lonely place, a corpse with a mouth full of sand, abandoned at a crime scene seemingly devoid of tracks or useful clues. Though it goes against his better judgment, Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn cannot help but suspect the hand of a supernatural killer. There is palpable evil in the air, and Leaphorn's pursuit of a Wolf-Witch is leading him where even the bravest men fear, on a chilling trail that winds perilously between mysticism and murder.
Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls
Jeanette Walls’s memoir The Glass Castle is widely recognized as one of the best of the genre. She writes another compelling story with her novel/biography of her grandmother.
From the publisher:Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Published by Scribner on October 6, 2009
Jeannette Walls's memoir The Glass Castle was "nothing short of spectacular" (Entertainment Weekly). Now, in Half Broke Horses, she brings us the story of her grandmother, told in a first-person voice that is authentic, irresistible, and triumphant.
"Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did." So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls's no nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town -- riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car ("I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn't leave big piles of manure all over the place") and fly a plane. And, with her husband Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette's memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds -- against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn't fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa or Beryl Markham's West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix audiences everywhere.
Chicken Every Sunday, by Rosemary Taylor
Get in your way-back machine for this autobiographical novel written in 1943. I look at this Arizona-based book as a bit of an anthropology/sociology experience giving me a taste of early 20th-century life in Tucson, AZ. Supposedly this was the most popular book soldiers read during WWII. The descriptions of early Tucson and the workings of a small boarding house were a great peek at a long-gone era – the good and the bad. I cringed at some of the language and the overt biases that wouldn’t fly today (and shouldn’t). However, there is nothing more historically accurate than reading these older books.
From the publisher:Chicken Every Sunday by Rosemary Taylor
on January 12, 2023
A lively account of folksy people at a boarding-house in the early twentieth century frontier town of Tuscon, Arizona.>
Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder
Nomadland isn’t just set in Arizona but has significant sections set at Quartzsite gatherings and other Arizona locations. I think it’s a compelling book to read while traveling in the state. It’s also not strictly a biography, but it is biographical, so I include it here.
Many people think this book is going to be all about the van-life, and it is about a subset of van life. More than that, it’s about housing instability and poverty and how some women (and men) have found a way to live independently with minimal income.
The movie diverges quite a bit from the book while keeping the general essence. The movie explores one woman’s grief more than it pushes the documentary discussion of poverty and housing insecurity. At least, in my opinion. You can stream or download the movie in your van/RV for a cozy night.
From the publisher:Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder
Published by W. W. Norton Company on April 19, 2021
An alternate cover edition can be found here.
The inspiration for Chloé Zhao's 2020 Golden Lion award-winning film starring Frances McDormand.
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads.
Nomadland tells a revelatory tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one which foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, it celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive, but have not given up hope.
Indigenous Author and/or Theme
No Arizona book list is complete without including the Native American perspective. The more I road trip across the US and Canada, the more I appreciate the diversity of landscapes. It’s also made me more and more curious about the first peoples of this land. I’m just beginning to understand the diversity of histories and cultures of the indigenous cultures that preexisted North America’s European settlement. Likewise, I’m learning how settler encroachment into Native territories was perceived. It’s now a mission of mine to read more about Native American tribes/nations. I found this collection of books particularly helpful in learning about Arizona’s Native peoples. Of course, because Native territories did not restrict themselves to imposed state boundaries, many of these works will apply broadly across the SW states.
Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story, by Oliver La Forge
Written in 1929 and receiving a Pulitzer Prize in 1930, this is a classic. The author was not Diné (Navajo) but an anthropologist and conversant in the Diné language. Some bits did make me cringe and reflected the period in which it was written. Still, worth reading.
From the publisher:Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story by Oliver La Farge
Published by Mariner Books on June 5, 2004
Capturing the essence of the Southwest in 1915, Oliver La Farge's Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel is an enduring American classic. At a ceremonial dance, the young, earnest silversmith Laughing Boy falls in love with Slim Girl, a beautiful but elusive "American"-educated Navajo. As they experience all of the joys and uncertainties of first love, the couple must face a changing way of life and its tragic consequences.>
Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache, by Keith Basso
Wow! This book opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about the world around me. For the first time, I understood how language, location, and place were uniquely tied into Apache culture. These concepts for Apaches are so intertwined that moving them from their ancestral territories had uniquely devastating and reverberating effects. I can’t explain it well as this author, but I encourage you to read this book as you explore Apache lands.
From the publisher:Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache by Keith H. Basso
Published by University of New Mexico Press on August 1, 1996
This remarkable book introduces us to four unforgettable Apache people, each of whom offers a different take on the significance of places in their culture. Apache conceptions of wisdom, manners and morals, and of their own history are inextricably intertwined with place, and by allowing us to overhear his conversations with Apaches on these subjects Basso expands our awareness of what place can mean to people.
Most of us use the term "sense of place" often and rather carelessly when we think of nature or home or literature. Our senses of place, however, come not only from our individual experiences but also from our cultures. "Wisdom Sits in Places," the first sustained study of places and place-names by an anthropologist, explores place, places, and what they mean to a particular group of people, the Western Apache in Arizona. For more than thirty years, Keith Basso has been doing fieldwork among the Western Apache, and now he shares with us what he has learned of Apache place-names--where they come from and what they mean to Apaches."This is indeed a brilliant exposition of landscape and language in the world of the Western Apache. But it is more than that. Keith Basso gives us to understand something about the sacred and indivisible nature of words and place. And this is a universal equation, a balance in the universe. Place may be the first of all concepts; it may be the oldest of all words."--N. Scott Momaday"In "Wisdom Sits in Places" Keith Basso lifts a veil on the most elemental poetry of human experience, which is the naming of the world. In so doing he invests his scholarship with that rarest of scholarly qualities: a sense of spiritual exploration. Through his clear eyes we glimpse the spirit of a remarkable people and their land, and when we look away, we see our own world afresh."--William deBuys"A very exciting book--authoritative, fully informed, extremely thoughtful, and also engagingly written and a joy to read. Guiding us vividly among the landscapes and related story-tellings of the Western Apache, Basso explores in a highly readable way the role of language in the complex but compelling theme of a people's attachment to place. An important book by an eminent scholar."--Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.
The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History, by Paul Andrew Hutton
I consider this a must-read Arizona book for anyone exploring the state. I learned so much about the complicated history of this region that added to every aspect of my exploration.
From the publisher:The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History by Paul Andrew Hutton
Published by Crown on May 3, 2016
In the tradition of Empire of the Summer Moon, a stunningly vivid historical account of the manhunt for Geronimo and the 25-year Apache struggle for their homeland They called him Mickey Free. His kidnapping started the longest war in American history, and both sides--the Apaches and the white invaders—blamed him for it. A mixed-blood warrior who moved uneasily between the worlds of the Apaches and the American soldiers, he was never trusted by either but desperately needed by both. He was the only man Geronimo ever feared. He played a pivotal role in this long war for the desert Southwest from its beginning in 1861 until its end in 1890 with his pursuit of the renegade scout, Apache Kid. In this sprawling, monumental work, Paul Hutton unfolds over two decades of the last war for the West through the eyes of the men and women who lived it. This is Mickey Free's story, but also the story of his contemporaries: the great Apache leaders Mangas Coloradas, Cochise, and Victorio; the soldiers Kit Carson, O. O. Howard, George Crook, and Nelson Miles; the scouts and frontiersmen Al Sieber, Tom Horn, Tom Jeffords, and Texas John Slaughter; the great White Mountain scout Alchesay and the Apache female warrior Lozen; the fierce Apache warrior Geronimo; and the Apache Kid. These lives shaped the violent history of the deserts and mountains of the Southwestern borderlands--a bleak and unforgiving world where a people would make a final, bloody stand against an American war machine bent on their destruction.>
The Chiricahua Apache, 1846 1876: From War To Reservation, by DC Cole
Unfortunately, this is an extraordinary book, but not very easy to find. But if you do find it, grab it and read it. The author is my High School US History teacher. He was a Chiricahua Apache (and a retired Army Ranger) and the most fantastic teacher I have ever experienced. After he taught high school, he returned, got his Ph.D., and became a college teacher. I wanted to reach out to him a few years ago to tell him how his teaching made a lasting impression on my life – but I was a couple of months too late as he had just passed away. Mr. Cole’s obituary discussed this book, and I sought it out and read it.
More than anything, this book taught me how Chiricahua culture relied on systems inherently incompatible with white settlement. Cole had an insider’s perspective and access to interviews and oral history that most historians do not. This makes this book especially relevant.
It’s published by The University of New Mexico Press and may be available at regional libraries. It’s worth looking into if you are looking for a place to get out of the Arizona heat; stop by a library and look for this book.
From the publisher:The Chiricahua Apache, 1846 1876: From War To Reservation by D.C. Cole
Published by University of New Mexico Press on October 1, 1988
Don’t Miss These Independent Arizona Bookstores
Consider adding indy bookstores to the places you explore when out on an adventure. Independent booksellers enjoy recommending books to their customers, so strike up a conversation. Ask them to recommend Arizona books and authors. Also – most small bookstores have comfy seats and decent wifi so consider this as another option to the standard coffee shop-for-wifi stop (and buy a book instead).
I found two exceptional Arizona booksellers I want to tell you about.
Tucson is home to Antigone Books, found in a trendy little neighborhood with lots of other fun shops and restaurants. In addition to books (many Arizona-themed, they have a vast collection of journals, notebooks, and other little doodads, too. Even better, there is a parking lot big enough for a van.
Bisbee Books & Music
Another indy bookstore not to miss is down in Bisbee. Bisbee Books & Music is worth a stop. They also have vinyl records if you’re a fan. I found a vast collection of local authors and picked up two books by authors that ended up on my list. This was the perfect stop for browsing Arizona-themed books.
What’s on my Arizona book TBR list?
I’ll only write about books I’ve read and enjoyed. But there are many more books I WANT to read (never enough time). Here is my short TBR list of Arizona-set books. Once I read them, I’ll promote them to the sections above (if I like them, that is). If you’ve read one of these books or have another suggested Arizona book, please let us know in the comments.
- Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling (Middle-grade fiction)
- Blood and Thunder, by Hampton Sides (nonfiction, Kit Carson and western expansion)
- The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman, by Margot Mifflin (pioneer woman captured by the Yavapai)
- Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver (Contemporary fiction)
- Almanac of the Dead, by Leslie Marmon Silko (Historical fiction, member of the Laguna Pueblo, more New Mexico, but I’m including it here too)
- Filaree, by Marguerite Noble (Historical fiction, pioneer woman story)
- I am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People, by Stephen Hirst (nonfiction)
- Devil’s Kitchen, by Clark Lohr (Mystery)
- Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail, by Kathryn Ferguson, Norma A. Price, and Ted Parks (nonfiction)
And that’s a wrap for Arizona books. If you’re looking for more things to do in Arizona, you may enjoy this post on some of my adventures there.