22 March 2013
I’m not sure if Phoenix is happening in the way that groovy cats would like it to be. That will be determined by tonight and tomorrow’s exploration.
I do know that I am in Phoenix with The Hippo. (She may be advocating for a sobriquet change to Falcon, so prepare yourself gentle souls.)
The Hippo/Falcon is out attending to her board* duties while I sit in the hotel room clicking away at the computer keys to chronicle our travel carryings on. The sounds of Fiona Apple play through the tinny speakers of my computer. I purchased her latest offering, but opted not to bring it on this road trip. Perhaps soon.
Travel – We have bits of a continental breakfast in our hotel. I pour a mix of caf and decaf into a styrofoam (we’re still really using styrofoam?) cup, anticipating we will patronize a coffee shop soon. We leave Flagstaff around 10:00 am. The electronic female-sounding robot who lives in The Hippo/Falcon’s mobile device guides us onto the interstate. I quickly realize the lack of adequate caffeine will not bode well for the drive through the windy, cactus-filled desert roads. We stop at a coffee shop that exists nearly everywhere in these United States. I order a large coffee. We hit the road again.
We listen to Ke$ha’s album Warrior. I bought it on a whim, but I enjoy it with only a small amount of shame.
“We’re gonna die young!” That hasn’t happened, but I understand the sentiment.
The Hippo/Falcon, with the help of the robot lady stuck in the phone, guides us to a barbecue joint she (The Hippo/Falcon) visited a long time ago. We learn it was on Bar Rescue, which is similar to Restaurant Rescue and Restaurant Makeover and Kitchen Makeover and those other shows except it is on Spike TV and deals specifically with ice cream stands. I’m only kidding. It deals with bars. You know, like the ones you can’t get on your phone in this remote part of the USA.
We immediately identify ourselves as tourists when we walk in to the place and are instantly befuddled at how to react when NO ONE GREETS US AT THE DOOR. We see no sign giving us the usual binary (Please Seat Yourself:Please Wait To Be Seated). What do we do? Should we mosey on up to the bar, utilize the spittoon and order a cold sarsaparilla? I lead us to a table and we sit. A man finally speaks across the room. “Hey. How y’all doing?” The Hippo/Falcon and I both yell back that we are doing fine and inquire as to the same regarding this fine bastion of manners.
The man is talking to someone on his cell phone.
We hide our shame by looking at the menus, admiring the “cow hide” seat covers and muttering about something I don’t remember.
A server, perhaps THE server, comes up to our table. Besides an ability to pick up and drop off items at our table while never slowing below four miles per hour (16 kg) she has the special skill of looking like Kate Middleton if Kate Middleton lived in the Arizona desert and waited tables at Kid Chilleen’s Bad Ass Barbecue & Steakhouse (or whatever they renamed it following the Bar Rescue). The Hippo/Falcon does try to order sarsaparilla in a bottle, but apparently this is one item Bar Rescue deemed no longer acceptable. So we order barbecue chicken and Southwestern brisket.
Our barbecue is exactly what it should be. The slaw and baked beans kick my ass (in a good way).
Full of slow-cooked meat and fast memories, The Hippo/Falcon and I drive onward to Phoenix.
I don’t know how she tolerates me some days. I cannot stop marveling aloud at the sheer awesomeness of the desert. The yellows and sun-burnt oranges. The miles of cactus. The sheer feeling of dry beauty and immediate danger. The place takes your breath and moisture away at the same time.
I remark the I-17 into Phoenix is one of the most beautiful interstates I have seen. It is true. It is wide and spacious and marked by palm trees and images of salamanders shaped into the rocks on the side of the road.
Phoenix is happening to me. Let’s see if I can happen to it.
*I mistakenly referred to a conference as our trip impetus in a previous post. We are really here for a board meeting.