I know I’ve used this title before – probably more than once – but, well, it suits. It’s an update. About my weekend. Hence, etc.
I left work a bit early on Friday (JUSTIFICATION ALERT: Worked through lunch and past five every other day last week. END JUSTIFICATION ALERT), went to the store, and loaded up on cat and dog food. Once home, I started filling the tub, grabbed Cheeto, and stuck him in to soak. Then I cleaned out the litter boxes and dumped a mountain of dry cat food in the container we have for that, and put a full can of cat food in each of the bowls that we have for Oz and Zoe. Because HEAVEN FORBID my little darlings go hungry, even though we’d only be gone for 36-hours, and Marie would be home on Saturday to tend to the zoo.
(Explanatory note: Marie was out of town from Wednesday through Saturday evening, we left on Friday, which left a grand total of, oh, 18 hours of unattended time for the pets to commit mayhem. Which, out of character for them, they didn’t take advantage of.)
Cats tended, I checked on Cheeto and discovered he did his thang in the tub, so I rinsed him off (ew), put him on a towel and gave him about a dozen superworms. Then I put him back in his tank, refilled the tub with clean water, and stuck Lucy in it. I chopped up some greens and filled the lizards’ dish (they’re sharing a tank at the moment – seems to make ’em happier than being in separate tanks, at least for now). I let Porsche (Marie’s pit bull) in so she could eat, and fed Gadget and Gypsy their mixture of dry food, canned food, aspirin, and hip/joint supplements. I took out the garbage in the kitchen and bathroom, and checked on Lucy. I discovered she had done her thang (ew), so I rinsed her off, fed her superworms, and put her back in the tank with Cheeto.
THEN I dug out the suitcase, and packed clothes and toiletries for myself and Calvin. I gathered up a couple of jackets, the camera bag, the tripod, my laptop, and a couple of books. I ferried all of our stuff to the truck in a couple of trips, put all of the dogs back outside, took one last look around the house, grabbed a few CD’s for the road, and headed out.
That whole series of actions took an hour and fifteen minutes. Regularly interrupted by Calvin – he called me three times to ask me why I wasn’t on the road yet. Fucker.
I gassed up and was on the freeway to Flagstaff by about 4:40. The transition from I-10 to I-17 went smoothly enough, but the traffic backed up on the north end of Phoenix because of the ongoing road construction. Still, the slowing only lasted for about fifteen minutes, going north. Once traffic cleared and spread out, I was able to keep a pretty consistent 75-80 MPH (speed limit’s 75 all the way up to Flagstaff). I listened to U2’s “The Joshua Tree” in its entirety – something I haven’t done in a long time because Calvin isn’t a U2 fan. I only like their older stuff, myself. Then I listened to both discs of Led Zeppelin’s Greatest Hits. Then I alternated between the Classic Rock station on XM, the Blue Collar Comedy Channel, and the Yanni “Voices” CD.
It was full dark by about 6:30, and the transition from dusk to dark messed with my eyes. Still, I barreled through the mountains and jockeyed for position on the inclines so as not to get stuck behind a semi. The truck pulled away from traffic even on a 6% grade, which made me love it even more. I talked to Calvin a few times on the cell – he and his co-worker were waiting on dinner until I arrived. Plus, Calvin took a shower and recalled that he didn’t have any toiletries or fresh clothes to wear, so he ended up lounging around in his underwear for an hour or so.
Yes, ladies, you are welcome for that visual image. I felt like I was arranging a clandestine meeting, when I knocked on his hotel room door at 7:00 on the dot, and he answered in his underwear (hiding behind the door).
Calvin got dressed and I freshened up, and we met his co-worker Steve in the lobby of the hotel. We got back in the truck and headed over to Busters for dinner. They had steaks, I had crab cakes, and I availed myself of a Bridgeport IPA, and a shot of Jack, neat. We watched the baseball game, they gabbed about work, and I got extremely full.
We parted ways with Steve back at the hotel lobby (he was on the fifth floor, we were on the fourth). The remainder of the night passed in the fashion that it usually does, when Calvin and I have a hotel room to ourselves.
(“I did it all for the nookie, come on! The nookie, come on! So you can take the cookie…”)
Calvin and Steve headed out at 6:30 the next morning. Unable to sleep in, I sipped the cup of coffee that Calvin thoughtfully brought me before he left, and read for a bit (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Heartlight). I realized that I’d left my laptop’s power cord at home, so there went my plans for a working weekend. I was heartbroken, I assure you. I logged in briefly to get directions to a few places I had in mind, then showered and got dressed for the day.
I was out the door by 8:00, and drove up the quiet streets to downtown Flagstaff. I made sure I knew the location of the hospital where Calvin and Steve were working, then drove the short distance from the hospital to Brandy’s Restaurant. I was just going to check on its location, since the three of us wanted to go there for lunch later in the day, but my stomach rumbled and I figured, what the hell. I was seated at a small table with my book and area map, and I planned the rest of my day as I noshed on my poached egg, fried potatoes, bagel, and orange juice. I was stuffed full (which physical state turned out to be a trend for the weekend) for $5.30.
I left the restaurant a little before nine, and took an exploratory route that lead me back to Route 66, the main drag through Flagstaff. I followed the map to Mars Hill, and the Lowell Observatory. I left visiting the observatory for another time when Calvin could join me, and spent several happy minutes taking pictures of the view overlooking the entirety of Flagstaff and the San Francisco Peaks.
An adorable little old couple from South Carolina stopped and asked me for directions to the Grand Canyon. After much gesturing and map-pointing, I got them headed in the right direction (I hope) and felt that I had conducted my good deed for the day.
I drove back down Mars Hill and headed to the nearby Urban Trail System, a leg of which begins in Thorpe Park. Armed with my camera, a water bottle, and my cell phone, I picked a direction and just… walked. Strolled, really. Joggers and speedier walkers passed me with a cheerful, “Good morning!” I paused frequently, to listen to the wind shushing through the pines, the chatter of birds and squirrels, and the blessed LACK of traffic noise. I used to spend a large portion of my free time just wandering through the woods in Maine – walking through the woods in Flagstaff, it was almost like coming home. Except the forests are a lot less dense – more tidy, really – than they are back east. Very little undergrowth, which I attribute to the difference in local vegetation, as well as the wildfire concern that keeps the Forest Service constantly clearing away brush and deadfall.
At one point, as I was strolling along (looking up, as usual) and contemplating taking a picture of a dead pine silhouetted against the blue sky…
…I heard what sounded like a small horse, bounding up behind me. I turned, and was greeted (sloppily) by a beautiful Bull Mastiff. His head came up to my elbow. His mistress was calling, from about a hundred feet back down the trail, “Diesel! Come here! Don’t bother the lady!” Diesel happily ignored her, checked my gender (helloooooo Nurse!), gave me one last slather on my hand, and sat at my side to await his owner. She approached, and rather unnecessarily assured me that the dog was friendly. I thumped his side in a manner that I just can’t do with my Beagle and Mini-Pin, and chatted with the young lady for a while. They continued on their speedier way, with Diesel quickly outpacing his owner, and I continued my leisurely stroll.
I walked for about a half-hour, and found myself in a denser section of the forest. It was absolutely still – I couldn’t even detect wildlife anywhere around me. The trail continued ahead of me, but I didn’t have a trail map and didn’t know how much further it went, or if it looped back around to the park entrance at all. Heeding the slight unease I began to feel in my gut, I decided to turn around and head back the way I came. Certainly, I’ve watched way too many episodes of Criminal Minds to not be concerned about being alone in the woods, even on a fairly popular trail in the middle of the day.
I had just returned to the head of the trail when Calvin called me – it was about 11:00 at this time, and he and Steve were ready for an early lunch. I got back in the truck and headed up to the hospital, and found them waiting for me in the parking lot. Back at Brandy’s, they teased me for being there for a second time that day. I wasn’t hungry yet, so I had a cafe mocha while they ordered their lunch. More talk about work ensued, and I interjected with comments about my day. Forty-five minutes later, I dropped them back off at the hospital and headed back to the hotel.
Hotel naps are the best, aren’t they? I buried myself in six (count them) pillows, with the thick curtains drawn but the window open to let in the cool breeze. I slept hard and sound for several hours – one of those restoratives sleeps that you didn’t know you needed until it was over. I slept until the cell phone rang – Calvin, letting me know he and Steve were done for the day and he was on his way back to the hotel. Steve decided to crash in his room, so Calvin and I got ourselves together and went out to wander around downtown.
First we stopped at Altitudes and had a beer, and I got the hummus plate with veggies and pita triangles, since I’d skipped lunch. We lounged there for a good hour, then we left, parked the truck on one of the infamous one-way streets, and walked over to Monsoons. We spent $7 on a platter of dumplings, and a plate of lettuce wraps. We sat and watched the world go by and conversed.
Then we wrapped up there and walked down to Rendezvous, a little bar in the Hotel Monte Vista. I had a FANTASTIC 12-year-old Scotch (Glenmorangie) and occupied myself taking mood-lit pictures as we chatted with the bartender about the supposed-hauntings that take place in the hotel. I got permission from the hotel manager to wander around and take a few pictures of the establishment, but no ghosts we revealed, either in person or in the photos. Calvin’s determined to stay there one day and see a ghost.
Edited at 3:30 to add: Woops! I forgot that we went to Collin’s Pub, too. Watched some football, had a couple of beers, and got their sampler platter to split. THEN…
We got back to the hotel at a little after eight, and I vaguely remember watching a little TV before we both crashed.
Calvin and Steve were up and out again at 6:30 on Sunday morning, and I slept in until 8:00. I spent a leisurely half-hour sipping coffee and reading, before getting myself together and packing up the room. Calvin had mistakenly left the truck keys in his pants pocket when he left in the morning, so I was stuck until he came back to the hotel at around 10:00 to help me pack up the truck, and check out of the hotel. I followed him back up to the hospital, and we picked up Steve for a late breakfast. Brandy’s turned out to be too full to be seated in a timely manner, so we went to Granny’s Closet. Each table has its own television, so we hollered at the football game while we ate.
After breakfast I dropped the guys back off at the hospital so they could finish up their day. I gassed up the truck and started my way “back down the hill” at 11:40 in the morning. I made excellent time, as traffic was pretty light at that time of day. I listened to more Led Zeppelin, and Faith No More. I even turned the music off for a while for some peace and quiet.
About thirty miles north of Phoenix, I hit a dead stand-still in traffic. I looked at the clock – it was 1:17. Jersey barricades appeared on both sides of the two-lane south-bound. Traffic inched along at an idle – and even then I had to ride the brakes. We’d stop, inch forward, and stop again. I got very familiar with the bumper stickers on the van (from Canada!) in front of me. Inch… stop. Inch… stop. I turned on the comedy channel. Inch… stop. I turned on “Yanni – Live at the Acropolis”. Inch… stop. Ten minutes went by. Then twenty. Then thirty. Then forty. I called Calvin and warned him to take advantage of that last rest stop before coming into town – he was going to need it.
Fifty minutes passed, then an hour. Inch… stop. Finally, at 2:32, traffic started to move again. Waaaaaay down the line from where I originally hit traffic, the lanes narrowed so that the flow of traffic coming down from Flagstaff was bottlenecked to a single lane. It stayed that way for about a mile, then the whole freeway opened up again. I finally pulled into the driveway at about 3:20.
I called Calvin to let him know I made it home, and unpacked the suitcase. I relaxed on the bed with a beer and watched two episodes of Supernatural and half an episode of Medium before Calvin finally rolled in. We both got ourselves together, and hollered up to Marie that we were going to Sandstone for some dinner. She met us there about twenty minutes later, and we sat and gabbed and munched and had a beer. Back home, we watched the Formula One race we’d recorded, then hit the sack.
Which brings us to today. Marie discovered, while departing for work, that there was a leak somewhere around the area of the sprinkler box in the front yard, which flooded that part of the yard and the driveway. So I turned off the water main for that part of the house. Calvin rigged a temporary fix when he came home a few minutes ago – to pack an overnight bag for yet another trip down to Tucson. He’ll be back tomorrow night – he’s going to court on Wednesday to fight a speeding ticket. Then he’ll probably have to go back down to Tucson again.
I’m hanging out in the bedroom, editing pictures and getting caught up on the work that I didn’t get done this weekend, while working on my usual stuff for AcronymCo. If I get everything done that I plan to get done, that will take me well into this evening, at which point I’ll go to bed, and get up tomorrow morning to do it all over again. This is the last week that Jen will be at work before she goes on maternity leave until next March, so covering her stuff means that my job will be a bit busier until she gets back. BUT! I have 230 days until my Sabbatical. I can handle the busy-ness with that goal on the horizon.
It IS nice to have jobs to complain about, though. Calvin and I are both fortunate.
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