Friday, February 19, 2010
My lovely vacation...
I took a vacation with my girlfriend this past week. Her and I went to beautiful Scottsdale Arizona for a few days to warm up. It was a terrific trip and her and I had a really nice time. The weather was beautiful. The people were friendly. It was very inexpensive. It was the best adult vacation I have ever had. In light of all of these positive things, I have a couple observations.
1. Just because my girlfriend and I have been seeing each other for more than nine months does NOT mean that any time we go away together for more than an afternoon that we are getting married. I certainly don't mean any disrespect to her in saying this because I do think she is the greatest and I care for her very deeply. For now though, I think we will continue to date until she decides to dump me (which is usually right after I write a blog). It isn't that we don't respect the institution of marriage, but really that both of us think the other is "the bomb" and know the other of us isn't going anywhere so we aren't in a mad dash to sign a piece of paper that won't change how we feel. Who knows? Maybe someday (if we can go more than a few weeks without breaking up) maybe we will get married. Then again, maybe not. We just don't see any need to rush into things, okay? So, if Kate and I both wake up one of these mornings, smash ourselves in the head with a hammer a few dozen times, take 2 or 3 hand fulls of "Stupid" pills and decide that we need to get engaged or married, you will be the first to know. Until then, you need not bother asking. We haven't done it.
2. It is REALLY cheap to travel to the Phoenix area. I mean REALLY cheap. For my girl and I to go for four days, it cost about $310 per person. That includes round trip airfare and the hotel. When we checked into to hotel, they told us that they had overbooked, so they would give us a villa to stay in if that was alright. It was certainly "alright." It allowed us to grocery shop and prepare our own food, so our dining bill was chopped in half or less. It was sweet. The rental car was about another $370 for the four days. I thought this was a little high, but keeping in mind I bought the extra insurance so we had zero liability, it was pretty reasonable. Her and I put over 800 miles on our rental car. So, I think less than $.50 per mile was cheap to drive around in an almost new car. When we bought groceries, we shopped at "Fry's." When we were checking out, our grocery bill was about $46. With our Fry's discount card (the checkout lady hooked us up) we saved $16. So, to clarify, we spent about $30 on about half a cart of groceries. Back in Minnesota, we would have paid at least $65-75 dollars for the same food. All in all it was a very economical trip. Putting this in perspective, her and I spent less than $1000 between us on the whole trip. Before we went we tried to book a weekend at a northern Minnesota ski resort and it was $250 per person per day to stay there and have lift tickets. So, what would you pick? Sunny and 75 degrees for 4 days? Or, would you pick drive for 5 hours to have 10 degrees for 2 days?
3. If I ever complain about the economy here, remind me of how bad things are in Phoenix. Seriously. I saw signs for ghost towns as an attraction, but I saw the real ghost town and that was northern Scottsdale. Don't get me wrong, it isn't trashy, dirty, or run down. It was very nice. But, we drove for what seemed to be miles and miles through abandoned new housing developments. These developments had new homes built, but were all locked up and the streets were not paved yet. How long have they been sitting empty? Who knows? I know we saw scrub brush and tumbleweeds laying in the street, so my guess would be a couple years at least. As we drove around, I saw countless businesses closed. I remember at least 2 new strip malls with finished buildings, but no tenants and dirt parking lots. It was quiet. Please don't misunderstand me, though. I did think Scottsdale was charming, clean, and nice. I am not trying to run the area down by saying it is like a ghost town. I am just trying to illustrate how it seems much of the local economy there is moving at a snail's pace. It is sad because it is such a beautiful place.
4. The landscape in Arizona is very diverse. I had heard this before but until I saw it with my own eyes, I didn't really grasp the scale of it all. In the Phoenix area, most of the growth is Wile E. Coyote cactus. There are a few other small things that grow like prickly pears and a bush that looks like ironwood, but that is about it. If you drive north about 30 miles, just like flipping a switch, the landscape almost completely changes. The Wile E's are completely gone and have been replaced by a different cactus species that is thinner and looks almost frail. Here there are tumbleweeds and some other brushy growth. If you continue north, down one hill and up the next and then all of the sudden, it looks like a prairie plateau. Not much on this level other than a yellowish grass. There were a couple small trees, but that was about it. As you continue north, all of the sudden it is snow covered and trees that look like cedar or some sort of pine or spruce. The terrain is mountain rocks. Just like that. I am doing a poor job of describing it, but it is amazing that the landscaped completely changes inside a couple hour drive. It is beautiful. It's pretty cool.
5. Some day I want to drive the mother road. I have been enchanted by Route 66 for years and got to drive a stretch of it last winter near Barstow California. This year I got to drive a little more of it in Arizona. It was really cool. We traveled though Williams and Flagstaff areas. It was really cool. I had an old style malt at Twister's in Williams. I had a cheeseburger at the Downtown Diner in Flagstaff. Both places had great service, great food, and a intimate, timeless dining experience. I loved it. It is a laid back atmosphere that I think much of our rush-rush culture has forgotten about. I sat at Twister's and ate my malt without distractions from the modern world. It was a good thing. I hope to get to visit both places again in a few years when I plan to drive all of Route 66 in one of my old cars. I can hardly wait.
6. I like my job, but I don't think I will ever enjoy work as much as I like vacation. I missed sleeping in my own bed and I missed my daughter and my girlfriend's dog, but I didn't miss going to work. I didn't miss the cold weather of Minnesota although it has been fairly mild since we returned. I suppose if I was on vacation all the time that I might grow weary of that and start to lose appreciation for it. I think I could risk it. I think I could make it quite a while without working and still be content. I need to scare up a rich uncle or a distant relative that is the founder of Microsoft. Or, maybe some kin that owns a bunch of oil wells? Anyway, I could try not working for a while and see if it is something I can stand. I am willing to take that chance for science. Well, I am willing to take that chance for any reason I can think of. It doesn't even have to be a good reason.
So, if you are thinking of traveling somewhere please don't consider Phoenix. There is no sense in you going down there and waking up the locals to the treasure they have. It is nice, cheap and clean right now. No sense in messing it up, right?