Date: Wed, 25 Sep
1996 19:34:28 -0400
Last week, I was in the great state of Arizona. Here's What Happened To Me Way Out West.
I scurried off the the Raleigh Durham airport for an 8 AM flight. I was delighted to find that the airport is easy to find, easy to navigate through, and has ample parking. I'm startled by some of the new questions the attendents ask as they check you in. At first I think it's because of Clinton's planned arrival 2 hours after I leave, but then I realize it's just general security.
"Did you pack you
The plane leaves on time, it's a beautiful, clear, morning with lots of things to see from the air. About 45 minutes out, we encounter clouds. I don't get to see the Mississppi river. Things get downright bumpy on the way into Dallas. I'm happy to be back on the ground.
I meet two of my friends from Virginia who are going to the same conference. I haven't seen them in over two years so we spend some time catching up. I deliver the shirt. Now Linda has a package someone asked her to carry on the plane. We don't tell anyone. After a short wait, we're back in the air headed for Phoenix.
Date: Wed, 25 Sep
1996 19:47:06 -0400
A few minutes outside of Dallas, the clouds clear and I get to watch the scenery change to desert. It's startling to my green-accumstomed eyes. As we get closer to Phoenix, I start to see irrigated fields, perfect geometric shapes some the emerald green of mature crops, others the pale green of new growth, others bare reddish soil. They look as if they were painted those colors.
We arrive at the Phoenix airport - a fully loaded 757 - to one small baggage carousel for the American AIrlines flights. I have never seen so many bags crammed into such a small space. Linda (of the T-shirt) has reserved a Budget rental car. She gets in line while Helen & I guard the luggage. The line does not move. As I eavesdrop on the conversation at the service counter, I realize that the computer system is down and all of Budget's rentals are being done manually. It takes us two hours to get the car.
I am put in charge of navigating to the hotel. I discover that I'm the only one of the three who can read a map. By this point, I am famished and completly time-disoriented. I had breakfast at 6 AM EDT and nothing else except for a bag of pretzels. I check into the hotel, snag a room service meal, and sack out for a nap. Across the street, a tex-mex band winds up for a 7-midnight concert. They will play again on Sunday. I'm not happy, but the AC nearly drowns them out. My body is still on EDT.
Date: Wed, 25 Sep
1996 20:03:33 -0400
Before I crash, I call JMW. We make plans for Tuesday night. He promises real Mexican food and a tour of the area.
On Sunday, Linda, Helen & I drive to Tuscon. We see lots of cactus, an ostrich farm, more cactus, and some beautiful rock formations. We enjoy the 75 mph speed limit.
Our first stop is the Sonora Desert Museum, a nature preserve of desert plants and animals. I bypass most of the snake displays particularly after I see some sort of boa constrictor swallowing a mouse. One of of the docents is showing another <small> snake to a group of visitors. They are oohing & ahing over how the snake's skin feels. I sidle over & actually touch the thing. It's scaly, but soft. Helen takes my picture with the snake. (I must get that film).
We go into Cat Country and I see 2 gorgeous mountain lions, a tigerillo, and a sad looking ocelot. They're all beautiful. So are the deer. The prairie dogs are adorable. I get dived bombed by hummingbirds in their aviary. We are entranced by the javelinas - small, hairy, odiferous, wild pigs. I have just finished reading the sign "What's that smell" that tells about the javelinas musk glands when Helen gets downwind from the things. She comments on the smell & I tell her what the sign said. She hasn't seen the sign & thinks I was already a javelina expert. This leads to a series of javelina jokes. The Museum is a beautiful place. It's worth a visit if you're in AZ.
We also take a trip through the Solina Canyon. I'm getting my fill of desert scenery. As we head back to Phoenix, I get to see a real roadrunner bolt across the road. Those things can move! We get back too late for dinner. The real conference starts the next day. I'm in bed by 9 PM but my body still thinks it's midnight (it is in Durham).
Date: Thu, 26 Sep
1996 14:45:11 -0400
The conference starts for real on Monday AM. We have a truly impressive continental breakfast. The invocation is given by a Lakota woman who has circled the room with smoking branches of cedar & sage. She teaches us a prayer sung to the four directions and a birthing song of celebration - she tells us it's the song sung to the buffalo in "Dances With Wolves."
Our opening speaker is Sister Mary Christelle Macaluso, The Fun Nun who tells us it's okay to have fun and enjoy life, something this group is well-versed in. She inducts us into the Society of Fun Nuns by having us put our index fingers on the nose of the people on either side of us and march from side to side singing "Singin' In The Rain." We look incredibly foolish but it's fun.
My Monday sessions are interesting. At dinner we have a mystery theater presentation where we try to solve The Muder at the High Noon Saloon." It's a blast. The town drunk is named Glenn Fiddy, the first victim is an out-of-towner named Mr. Fredericks. He's come to town from a small place in California, called Hollywood, to peddle ladies unmentionables. I guess the wrong murderer.
Date: Thu, 26 Sep
1996 14:56:19 -0400
Tuesday dawns. It's our half day. The morning speaker tells us about check fraud, something he's well-versed in. He spent 5 years in prison for it, then agreed to assist the FBI in investigating new frauds. He is fascinating.
Tuesday night, JMW & I have dinner. He gives me an unexpected tour of downtown - there are lots of pretty Art Deco buildings. We eat at a real mexican restaurant the food is delicious and satisfyingly spicy. I never do figure out what's in the rice - it tastes like a live coal might feel. JMW is pleasant company. We catch up on the list, learn about Bayla Numbers, we talk about wordlers we have known & those we would like to meet.
After dinner we drive to the top of South Mountain, look at scenery, and watch the sun go down. The mountains really do turn lavender & purple as the sun goes down, and they are quite majestic. The view is breath-taking the broad, flat valley spreads out from the base of South Mountain. You can see cultivated fields, housing developments, and the lights of civilization. John points out the different mountain ranges to me - we discuss how & why the Superstition Mountains got their name. It's a pleasant end to the day - I almost forget that I ate so musch at dinner that I feel like a hippo with a fluid problem.
Date: Thu, 26 Sep
1996 15:15:26 -0400
The other convetioneers and I are starting to tire. I'm still on Eastern Time. Wednesday & Thursday morning pass uneventfully. It's time to go home.
I arrive at the Sky Harbor Airport to learn that bad weather in Dallas has delayed all the flights leaving & arriving there. My flight takes off over an hour late. I get to the gate for my connecting flight home as the last passengers are loading.
The scenery has been pretty again. I'm suprised at how developed the countryside is east of Arkansas. There seems to be an endless stretch of lights from houses & cities.
It's after 1 AM before I get home. I'm happy to see my cats & they seem happy to see me. I'm too tired to unpack; it can wait until tomorrow. An enjoyable trip has come to an end. And that's what happened to me way out west.