Like the old tease, “Don’t think about a pink elephant,” it’s hard to not think about water in Holbrook, Ariz., a place that doesn’t have much. It sits along the Little Colorado River, which mostly isn’t what you’d normally think of as a “river” – that is, a thing with water. Holbrook averages a bit more than 8 inches (20 cm) of rain a year.
Nora and I, on a road trip to Phoenix, stopped this afternoon at Stewarts, one of those strangely attractive tourist extravaganzas with large sculptures, ostriches, and petrified wood just east of Holbrook. While Nora was taking pictures of the wacky roadside art, I wandered inside to ask about water.
But before I could raise the question on my mind, Leonard, the clerk, brought it up. “This whole place used to be under the ocean,” he explained. “You can’t drink the water.” I’m not sure he had the geologic history quite right, but his point was that whatever water you could pump up from the ground was too brackish to drink. They have to truck in what water they use on the site.
Just down the road is a little junction called “Goodwater”. It has always looked to me like one of the driest places on earth.