Special Note: I wrote this blog story on my last full day in Arizona. I had said goodbye to my new friends the day before, and the great memories were swirling through my mind. I re-post now because it is the very best Cliff Notes version of my trip to the desert.
This is my last full day in the greater Phoenix, AZ area. I have to say that my sisters have been beyond wonderful. I am feeling so many emotions today. I regret not putting the effort into making this trip sooner than this weekend(2012). I am happy they allowed me to stay an extra couple of days. I am well fed, and pampered. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be the baby brother! Fredo and Esteban could not even dream of this treatment.
I also made some new friends while I was here. I laughed, blushed, and misused the English language more in one weekend than I have in a long while. They made all the driving from Maricopa into “The City” (apologies to Mr. Pat and San Francisco) worth the while.
So, it is to these new friends who I adore ever so much that I offer up a great big North Coast Thank You… Planet Tapperass style!
I say thank you with a List of the Ten Best Things about driving 1050 miles from my comfort zone into the desert.
I must start with the wretched Honorable Mention:
Tapperass packed everything… including the weather!
Cold air, torrential downpours, poor visibility on the highway, and fog. How I fit the main components of a typical Humboldt County winter storm into my bags is a trade secret. I was quietly praying that I would be comfortable in this type of climate. However, I never thought I would feel THIS much at home. I felt bad seeing people getting all bundled up and looking at me- with my short sleeves and shorts like I was ready to hit the beach- thinking I was insane. My friend from Michigan packed all sandals, save for one pair of shoes (and not the kind of shoes you want to wear in a winter storm). Again, I was hoping for comfort, but this was ridiculous!
OK… here’s the list!
1. Family/New Friends
My sisters were so excited when they heard I wanted to come out for a visit. They have been incredible. The dog bonded with me (I hear she does that with EVERYBODY), and I had a guest room that makes a four star hotel weep. I should have never waited this long to do this. I woke up to French Toast one morning, and Sunday lunch consisted of ribs, ham, scallop potatoes, and brussel sprouts prepared in such a way anyone might eat them. This might become the Fat Vacation, Part 2!
I also met some incredible new friends. I was a last minute addition, but I soon proved to be good company (I think). We had so much fun. I even learned that we from Calif-o-r-n-ia also have a-c-c-e-nts. I loved the quick witted banter of Amy, Violet and Donnie. I met a very cool young man who has a great collection of old bank/gift cards. You never fully appreciate the great (and low) levels of art work that go into these cards. I gave him my gift card from Old Town Coffee and Chocolates for his collection. A little coffee shop in Eureka, CA. A city he may only ever visit unintentionally if he gets lost on his way to somewhere civilized.
I wish we had more time!
2. The Concierge/Snack Basket
This hotel party was oh so awesome. There was the guy in the hot tub trying to ply us all with cans of beer. However, I liked that the snack food and sodas were complimentary. I was the self-designated Snack Boy. I would head down to the lobby and bring back Dorritos, Kit Kats, Twix, etc. It was a buffet of high fructose corn syrup, and food preservatives.
At one point, somebody from our party was in need of some new clothes. Not wanting to head to the store herself, somebody thought the hotel concierge could be sent on that errand. We assumed he would have a scooter (we must have been in the European District of Phoenix), and he would have to strap on his little helmet and hit the freeway up to Walmart. (think bugs in his teeth). Later that night we were watching infomercials; the one about the Magic Bullet. Anyway like any normal educated adults, it became a sex toy joke. Did we need send the Concierge out on his scooter again?
“Oh, by the way Concierge… you can’t find THIS item at Walmart”
Donnie nearly fell over laughing
3. “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”
Sitting at the bar in the hotel lobby sipping on El Julios (very decent drink), we turned the conversation to people we were glad were no longer friends, or at least not there. Somebody brought up was given the nickname Beetlejuice. Violet started with the whole “Beetlejuice…” three times chant, and I had to stop her because I feared this person might fall in from the sky.
El Julio was an exceptional host that night in the hotel bar.
4. Hurricane Vimy
Named by the Donnie Weather Service, this fast traveling force of nature was reported as far north as Henderson Center in Eureka, CA last night (Monday).
The names and details of this event are protected for fear of incrimination. The only information I am allowed to release is a single quote from the morning after. It is an anonymous quote…
“What happened here?”
5. The Narcissism Booth at the Cheesecake Factory
If you love you some you, and I mean love you some YOU, then the Cheesecake Factory on East Camelback Road in Phoenix has a booth for you. Now for my long time readers, I did not snap a pic because I did not want to scare my new friends by confessing that I have a (now seldom used) blog. But when you sit in this round booth, there are mirrors behind the back of the bench that are just at the right height to catch glimpses of your pretty face (or ugly grill like me). I can just imagine some poor woman on a date with a guy who can’t stop admiring himself in the booth.
The next time I am in town, I will ask for that booth when I go there for lunch. Wait, I am a vampire!
6. Mason Storm* teaches KARATE at Grimaldis.
Grimaldis is a must stop for pizza lovers in this area. We were all settled at our table waiting for pizza when a large group was winding their way through the joint. Among this rather vertically challenged group was the seemingly towering Mason Storm, AKA Steven Seagal. I hear he resides in this state. Some of the locals are not too fond of him. Mason was carrying what looked like a sword on his back, though later somebody said it was a cane. Anyway, he and his crew were shown to a private room. Star gawkers kept getting up to fake like they had to go to the bathroom just to catch a glimpse of Storm in his room.
Meanwhile I kept going about his KARATE (the way Seagal says it is with a funny accent), and that we should go in the room to get a lesson. I started to wonder if we would be treated to one of those public celebrity melt downs, and hear plates and silverware crashing against the walls. He and his peeps left before we did, and his departure was EPIC! He and his crew numbered close to ten, and their SUV pulled up by the joint where we could observe through the window. Violet got the best laughs when she referred his SUV as the “Clown Car”, because they were all piling in.
*I offer Exhibit A: This is the video where Seagal says KARATE really funny, and as a bonus, why I call him Mason Storm instead of Steven Seagal.
7. Introducing Ray to my new friends.
I got to meet Jim. He is a cool guy, and he dates Amy. He is a geek (he admits it), and he is also very funny and witty as well. For some reason, he forgot my name. He started to refer to me as Ray. So instead of changing names, I simply adopted Ray as my other personality. I had to go to the desert to get diagnosed with multiple personality issues? It was nice that my new friends were courteous enough to include Ray in our plans. Ray was on his best behavior. Though Ray was found to be guilty of packing the weather from Humboldt County in our bags.
The memorable Ray moment was when somebody accidently opened the door on Donnie in the bathroom at Violet’s house. Donnie shouted out, “Ray was that you?”
To which I responded, “No it was not, but Ray wold have liked to have.”
8. The newest addition to my vocabulary: Shart- verb
Example: Amy borrowed a pair of yoga pants from Donnie to wear, but she was laughing so hard she was afraid she might shart in Donnie’s pants.
If you need any further explaining, you should just go on to the next blog.
Now I am glad I met Jim. He is a good guy, and he treats Amy well. I kept telling Amy how cool I thought he was. Amy was wondering if there might be a bromance happening. I came to the conclusion that Bromances are the realm of Metrosexual men (my opinion). A geek and a sports dweeb are not prone to bromances.
So, bromance aside, I hope to see my friend Jim again next time I am out in his region of the world.
10. How many places can we send Tapperass (and Ray) in the greater Phoenix area?
Welcome to the Amazing Race: Phoenix!
On more than one occasion this weekend I was en route to meet up with everybody, when I would get a text from Donnie with new directions. Only to get another text a few minutes later with new coordinates. At one point I responded with a text saying, “OK. I will wait for my next set of directions” Despite changing plans, and other unforseen events, we had a great time. I just wished they would have sent me on more geocaching adventures. Ray loves to ride in the car!
So there you have it. I only wish we had more time to spend here. I will be very heavy hearted leaving the desert tomorrow. I know I will be seeing the rest of my family and a few friends, and I look forward to that. However, between seeing my sisters and meeting my friends, I am a bit melancholy about leaving this wonderful place. A side of me that does not come out much was on full display here (AND I am NOT talking about Ray!)
So thanks again to my incredible sisters, and my Uber -Fabulous new friends for making the desert quite hospitable. Of course Ray helped out by bringing our weather with us!