Scottsdale Arizona is the unfriendliest place for vandwellers I’ve ever experienced. It’s an elite suburb of Phoenix, a perfect grid of faux Santa Fe mansions, each one dropped onto a massive lot, with stucco fences, manicured palm trees, perfect cacti. Miles of sidewalk, but no one walks here. No parking either: even if I drove a Range Rover I’d stick out, just by virtue of parking on the street.

I’ve stopped here for the night because in the morning I’ll tour Taliesin West, another project of Frank Lloyd Wright’s that just happens to be on my route. In one of his financial low points FLW decided to establish a desert compound where apprentices could pay to come work with him. It jump-started the most generative and inventive period of work in his life, in which he designed the Guggenheim and Fallingwater. When he established Taliesin West in the late 30’s there was nothing here but desert; Scottsdale has grown right up to it’s border, but Taliesin still has a sizable piece of desert property where today’s students go out and build the shelters they design.

It also has about a kilometer of driveway before you get to the main gate, with signs along the way saying that you can’t park there… but I park there anyway because it still seems more hospitable than anywhere in town.  As I pull in I see two big stags in my headlights, and when I turn the car off there’s something extra peaceful about being at the edge… almost in the wild but somehow sill feeling the cars and warm concrete of Phoenix.

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