What if Columbus had sailed the other way in 1492, and landed in San Diego? These are the kinds of thoughts that entertain me late at night.

We might have occupied the country from west to east, instead of the other way. The Shot Heard ‘Round the World could have been fired in Oceanside. Christmas songs would maybe feature someone “dreaming of” a holiday on a sunny beach, “…just like the ones I used to know.” New York would be San Francisco. Our nation’s capital could have been…Prescott?

This isn’t so stupid. Fine, it’s a little stupid, but let’s have some fun.

For those of you who think Phoenix is the center of the universe, it would be good to remember that it didn’t start out as even the center of Arizona. Prescott, up about a mile high in Yavapai County, was the Arizona Territorial Capital from 1867 to 1889, except for ten years when Tucson snuck in and took over. Phoenix became the capital in 1889, and has been all uppity ever since.

Not to be outdone by Paradise Valley, the town that wants us all to drive at the speed of a child’s tricycle so we don’t endanger all its beautiful people. It’s not like I’ve ever been caught speeding there by a camera and paid a big fine. Twice. Or that I’m bitter. They really are beautiful people.

Back to Prescott.

It has a gorgeous old courthouse that’s still in use, and the most lovely town square in Arizona. We brought Yin and Yang there one pretty morning. They’re toddlers, which is a word meaning “terrorists in small bodies.” Their mission is to be adorably innocent and fun while constantly destroying their immediate surroundings.

They chased birds and climbed steps and charmed some old women who were having a leisurely Sunday chat. This was before Yin decided to pull used gum out of a trash can.

Prescott also has historic Whiskey Row, where in the past I might have watched some great local country bands while I had a longneck beer or seven. It has winding roads up into the ponderosa pine forest, Watson Lake, a world-renowned aeronautical university and its own airport.

The town gets warm in the summer, but not blistering hot. It’s cold in the winter, with a little snow, but there’s no need to shovel the white stuff most years.

With all that, there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been a place our Founding Fathers decided to center a new federal government, if things had happened just a little different long ago.

I probably should find something new to think about late at night, but for now I’ll keep wondering what it would be like to go “over the desert and through the dry wash” to Grandmother’s house.