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We were on the road to Carefree and then we turned left.

I saw Carefree on the map we got at the hotel and then decided to go there to take a picture of the sign at the city limits. Then I could say that I found carefree after looking for so long.

But we turned left and went hiking in Cave Creek Regional Park. It was lovely. Every desert plant on earth seemed to be blooming there. The air was perfect like Arizona air can be. Just clear and dry, a little breeze, not hot yet, that would come later in the afternoon when the sun would seem like a poker pulled out of a Christmas fire, ruining what was sublime a few hours before.

I imagined Carefree as a dusty town on a little stream that gushed in the spring and went dry in the summer. There’d be some houses in Carefree, not too many, and a place to buy gas and Diet Coke. Maybe there’d be a couple of smallish trailers permanently parked and maybe they’d have flowers growing out of old tires made into planters. One of the trailers would have a hundred wind chimes hanging from a clothesline, dogs would be barking and someone would be selling fresh oranges from the back of a truck.

But I could tell from how nice the road was, how clean and tidy the signs, that Carefree was a made up thing, not a real one. It had things that would make people feel carefree like new houses, a lot of great shopping and fabulous views from every window, every moment, every angle ripe for photos. No rust.

I love rust. I have a thing for rust. I thought if there was ever a place that would have plentiful rust, it would be Carefree but I was wrong about that. There’s no rust in Carefree. I know that without even going there.

I will just have to keep looking.