Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Welcome to Arizona: Where it is 143 degrees everyday

(But at least it is a dry heat)

My mother came to pay us a visit (really to spoil our children), so we thought that while she was here we would take a drive over to the Phoenix area and see my wife's side of the family for the fourth of July.
In order to make this trip, we had to rent a mini-van. One with air conditioning.

I had planned to leave around 2 pm on Friday afternoon. I wanted to get in as much driving time that I could during the daylight hours. It is a funny thing how my personal expectations are regularly dashed to the ground and shattered into pieces.

When my mother arrived a few days before our trip, we decided to do something that my wife and I had sworn we would never, ever do: get a portable DVD player for the car. We never had anything as cool as a DVD player when I was a kid on long trips. I had to suffer with starring out the window or engaging the family with conversation. Occasionally I would see how long I could keep my hand on my brother's side of the back seat before he noticed it and cried to my parents that I was on his side of the car. Besides, why should we get our boys in the habit of thinking they are going to watch a DVD everytime they get into the car? I mean, a DVD in the car is so anti-Reformed Christian and worldly. We could be spending the entire trip going over catechisms and Bible drills with the children rather than letting them watch Blue's Clues. We are such terrible, unengaged parents.

After much discussion about the pros and cons of DVD players, we decided we would secure one. Much of the decision fell to the fact my mom was willing to buy it. So, we headed off to Wal-mart to find one. Guess where they sell portable DVD players at Wal-mart? You would think the electronics section, right? Partially correct. The ones we needed for a car are found in the automotive department right across the aisle from the oil filters. That seems a tad reasonable. They are meant to go into the car. I figured if they were in intimate apparel, I would be scratching my head.

My mother wanted to get a dual screen player so the boys could both have there own. We picked up a cheapy model. It was not high-end, but at least it served its purpose. Once we got it home and unpacked it, to our dismay, it did not have the remote or the instructions. It must had been a return. My wife spends some time calling around to the Wal-marts in town, but this was the only one available that was not way over 200 dollars.

She then calls Target. "Kristin" the electronics girl says they have one similar to what we just got, but she can't hold it for us because it is against store policy, but it should be here for me the next day. After work, I hop by Target, stroll back to the electronics department and explain to "Danny" what "Kristin" had told my wife the night before. "Danny" looks high and low for this DVD player "Kristin" affirmed to us would "still be here the next day," but to no avail. I go home empty handed.

My mother, undeterred, wanted to immediately go back to Wal-mart and purchase a player way over 200 dollars. We go back, but when she gets to electronics, the one she wants is also gone. I reckon other families must think along the same lines as us when planning their weekend get-a-ways. Finally, we take a ride to Radio Shack and they have what we want. By this point, we are nearing 2 hours past the time I wanted to start - and we hadn't packed the mini-van yet.

After our DVD snipe hunt, with mini-van loaded and DVD player strapped to the seats, we head off to Phoenix around 5:45 pm. It was going to be a long, 6 hour trip across the desert.

Arizona Factoid: Phoenix was originally known as "Pumpkinville" because of the large quantity of pumpkins grown there. After a big fire, some rich guy said something about the area rising out the ashes like a Phoenix and the name stuck. I like the original name. I think it would be cool if one of America's major cities was called "Pumpkinville."

Even more grueling is the heat. As we were traveling through the Palm Springs area of California, it was 105 degrees at 9 pm! It was like that all the way to the out skirts of Phoenix where it cooled down from a stifling 105 to a balmy 98 at 12 midnight. I was not liking the feel of this. We pulled into our destination around 1:30 am.

Some friends allowed us to stay in their home while they were out camping near the Grand Canyon. It was a lovely house up in the new Anthem area north of Phoenix. They even had a media room with a digital projector and surround sound. Thomas the Tank engine had never looked better.

Sunday, we hooked up with my in-laws and made a 2 hour trip up to Sedona. This is a lovely place, known primarily for its red rock cliffs and giant mesas. It is also over ran with UFO cults and new age mystics. In fact, they were having a psychic convention while we were there.

Because Sedona is a tourist attraction of sorts, there are lots of shops, art galleries and road side flea market style places selling Native American art, crafts, and pottery imported straight from the Philippines (I kid you not). Knowing that lets the air out of the local charm, doesn't it?

Cactus Factoid: The Saguaro cactus, the one providing the popular image most folks have in mind when they think about cactus, takes 70 years before it flowers. That means the ones with arms are over 70 years old. The ones with more arms can be near 200 years old or more.

Later in the afternoon, we experienced a desert rain storm complete with thunder and lightning. The rain was excellent and a refresher from the 100 plus degree heat. My oldest son, however, is not fond at all of thunderstorms. It may because of a previous traumatic experience with thunderstorms.

I have to confess I was a tad disappointed that we didn't see any UFOs skimming around the mesas and buzzing up and down the canyons. I guess they don't fly those things in rain storms.

Tuesday was spent at the in-laws house enjoying a cook out. They have a large back yard of dirt, sand, pebbles and shurbs. Right in the middle of the back yard there is a play set with a plastic slide and some swings. My children, who are now experiencing childhood for the first time, quickly learned how the swing set surfaces can become blistering hot baking in the Arizona sun. My oldest boy came in with the back of his legs beet red and with a straight face told me the slide was hot and wanted me to cool it off. He had a hard lesson on the limits of a father's ability to control weather.

The heat didn't seem to deter him and his brother. They were thrilled to just be playing in a big backyard. We slathered them both with sunblocker and let them play. Of course they wanted daddy to come out and push them in the swings or dig a hole in the sand. Children don't seem to understand that it is undignified for a father to dig in the dirt; but I indulged their request none the less.

Overall, it was a good trip. Many folks are not necessarily fond of the desert, but it does have its own unique beauty - A beauty that is best enjoyed in an air conditioned vehicle.


Blogger Frank Martens said...

"we headed off to Wal-mart"
Ahhh, the perils of going to wal-mart!

"made a 2 hour trip up to Sedona"
Wha?! I thought it was 3 from Phoenix?

"A beauty that is best enjoyed in an air conditioned vehicle."
Word to that friend, word to that.

Summertime in AZ is not my favorite, but I deal with it to enjoy the remaining 8 mos of the year

12:31 PM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Searaptor said...

I hope that you had an enjoyable trip. What is this about lightning. I guess I have grown up and lived my entire life in the midwest. you hear about a tornado coming and you go out on your porch to watch the lightning and hope to catch a glimpse of the tornado.

Well, it is good to be back and reading your blog. Thanks for the great reads.

11:56 PM, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Joanna Martens said...

as an arizona native for 8 years, I feel I need to chime in.
Arizona sucked, thus I am in California.

4:01 PM, July 07, 2006  

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