Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The family that walks together eats together

One of the very best things about moving to Phoenix is that I now live in the same city as my cousin Angie (the cousin with the bike garage).  Angie and I were born about 15 years apart.  While she grew up in the northeast where most of our family still lives, I grew up in the southeast so we saw little of one another until the last 6 years.  Angie married a few years before Bob and I.  She has a little girl, who was born shortly after we moved to Arizona, so I've had the benefit of being a part of Camille's life all her life.

A walk down Monte Vista with Angie, Camille and Bob.
So it was a small thrill on Saturday morning for my cousin and her daughter to arrive at our doorstep to walk to brunch at Astor House with Bob and I.  Astor House is about five blocks from our house and since there are sidewalks for the entire route it was an easy walk for a small child.  Walkability was an important factor in choosing a place to live.  We not only wanted the convenience and safety of sidewalks but we desired places we could walk to.  Someone in Flagstaff commented to me once that Ponderosa Trails, our former neighborhood, was a "walkable neighborhood" but I had to disagree.  The neighborhood had the benefit of sidewalks and the urban trail systems, both great amenities, but, aside from the airport, we didn't have anything to walk to.  No retail or services.  No coffee shops, wine bars or restaurants.  No galleries, drug stores or movie theaters.  We could bike to those places but we couldn't walk to them very easily.  As much as I loved our house, with our roomy and comfortable front porch and peaceful backyard that we landscaped ourselves, the fact that I couldn't walk a short distance to  buy a carton of milk or to enjoy a glass of wine with friends really left me feeling a little deprived.  I value spontaneous social engagement, even if it's just a brief chat with a familiar cashier or barista, to be content in the suburb, which is really what Ponderosa Trails is and probably the preference of many who life there.  Not everyone wants commercial businesses shoulder to shoulder with residential development - but I'm not one of those people.

And I don't think my cousin is either.  I still remember her gushing at 14 years old, during a family outing to Boston, that the city was "so diverse!".  Angie probably lives five or six miles from us, also in the city.  Her house is within a few block of a Metro Light Rail station, which borders shopping and entertainment.  She's also within walking distance to banks, medical services, parks, and a really good local bike shop.  She's even close to a YMCA branch where she teaches yoga.  Angie still has her car; she just doesn't want to have to use it if she has other, more enjoyable options.

Follow the arrow to deliciousness.
Arriving at Astor House, the bicycle re-purposed as signage presents a welcoming entry.  Bicyclists are welcome; and we can assume those who get there by foot, people who live right here in the Coronado District, are encouraged to stop by.

Melt in your mouth goodness.
We ordered at the counter, helped ourselves to coffee and pulled two small tables together.  Soon we were all sharing off each other's plate.  And nothing says "share" like a plate of Carne puffed pastries. Aaaaah, yum. Don't mind if I do.   I'm so happy that I don't have to travel far for Astor House, and I'm so glad that my cousin is close by go there with me.