My was still not feeling great the next morning, and once again Dean and I had breakfast at Calico’s next door, this time scrambled eggs with corned beef hash and home fries.
We were in relaxed mode, and didn’t kick out of town until or so, and headed out Route 66 for Oatman, an old one horse town that usually has a herd of burros that come down the street every day looking for carrot handouts.
On the way we stopped at a roadside gift shop looking at jewelry and gifts…I had my eye on a turquoise ring, but it was a little bit large so I opted to wait. The woman running the shop had been there 30 years and was originally from Rhode Island.
At Oatman we searched again for jewelry, looked at t-shirts and leather belts, and Dean bought a very good quality straw cowboy hat with a Montana peak (low in front, high in back). I was also searching for coffee. After we found that they had been waiting for over an hour for the burros, and none had arrived yet, I bought my coffee, and missed my chance to go into the old hotel that Clark Gable hid out with his girlfriend at, due to no food or drink being allowed inside. It’s funny, because that was my first assumption with stores, but up until that point in Arizona it had never been a problem…but because the hotel was also a restaurant, I guess that would be understandable.
We later got some tacos and corona’s at the local eatery, and the girls got ice creams as we headed back to our car, and back the way we came on Route 66, (I guess I truly did get my kicks!) past the gift shop without stopping, and back to Kingman, where we took another route that would meander back to Payson and home. We got to see some great back country, with cattle and horses loose here and there. At about nightfall we came into Prescott, an old mining town, with history dating back to 1580, and an old main street that had buildings from the late 1800’s. We stopped into a bar called ““ that was there since 1877 with the original bar and tin ceiling, and I slammed my way through the double doors as we made our way to our seats. We got a kick out of the place, strewn with memorabilia, and I ordered a local home brew red ale and a whiskey that was the same kind Jesse James drank (apparently). Both were very good. I ordered a rib eye, that was completely underwhelming, and My and Charla’s Ceasar salad had completely the wrong dressing. Dean’s fried catfish was pretty good, but the food left a lot to be desired and we left grumbly. We did, however, avail ourselves of the bathrooms and check out the rest of the rooms architecture, memorabilia, and multitude of old photos.
We continued down the street to walk through an old hotel, and see into many nice looking shops, all unfortunately closed, which seemed ill planned for tourist season on a Saturday night at .
We walked around the large town square and stopped in front of the town hall which had statues, and a time line that was impressed into the pavement.
We were soon heading out of town, back to Payson, stomachs grumbling, for the two-plus hour return trip.
Friday morning we got a slow start as Mylisa wasn’t feeling well. Dean and I got breakfast next door at Calico’s, and then My and he went to the local Health Food Store for some yogurt and other health items. We got a late start for Las Vegas at around .
We saw many terrain changes as we headed west, until we finally reached the Hoover Dam. We had to run through a checkpoint that was manned by at least 5 state troopers, a few miles before it. It is undergoing major construction to create a new road that will bypass driving over the dam…a concern since 9-11. It was quite a site to see even though the water level was low. We approached from on high down a winding road, and left it the same way. We stopped at a few scenic overlooks for viewing purposes.
Before long we could see a sprawling megalopolis in the valley below us…SinCity. We struggled over directions, but soon found Las Vegas Boulevard….”The Strip” and drove up past the opulescent casinos and theme restaurants to almost the top of the strip at Treasure Island. There we parked in their garage (most are free) and walked into the casino to avail ourselves of the restrooms, and Starbucks coffee. As we rounded the next corner into the casino proper, I had to visit the 25 cent slot machines. I think I dropped $2 and walked away with a ticket for $2.25. It wasn’t long before that was gone, however.
We continued through the casino outside past the bridge over a small water area with pirate ships for the show we wanted to see in the evening (if we, and especially Mylisa could make it that long). It was now , and we headed down the street, taking pictures, and wandering in and out of a few casinos. We went into the Bellagio, which had an amazing blown glass flower ceiling in the lobby, and a room filled with flowers and oriental items to include a huge statue of a warrior and a pagoda about 25 feet tall. It was for the year of the Dragon.
At some point we split up after I was doing a bit more slot machines at Paris Paris, where I finally got my free scotch, and played $7 for about 45 minutes. The inside was very interesting with a painted ceiling to look like the sky, and buildings that were like those in France that reached to the top. My and I went on through town, past the shops, into Harrah’s and saw a theme band playing disco, dressed much like Motor Booty Affair in Maine.
We continued looking for CSI hats for Jill, and communicated on the phone with Charla, to check prices and locations of the “original” CSI shop. They wound up being right there and got the hats for us, so we continued on to Madame Toussauds, which we decided not to do at $24 each. So we plowed through the shops at the Venetian and waited for Charla and Dean to catch up with us so we could peruse dining options.
We started out by checking the menu on an Asian restaurant right there in the Venetian on the second floor called TAO. They had a very interesting, and only moderately expensive menu. We continued down through the casino, checking prices, and opted to cross the street back to Treasure Island where we were parked and wanted to see the nighttime pirate ship show.
We checked the restaurants there on the first level, ending with Kahunavillage, which was touted as a “fun” restaurant, but as we were looking at the menu a booming voice came over their loudspeaker, trying to entice everyone into shouting and chiming in. We all found that to be way too annoying to be enjoyable, so we returned to the first restaurant we had checked out there…a Mexican-style eatery called “Isla” which won the 2006 Epicurian Magazine award for best Mexican restaurant.
I started with a martini drink that consisted of Absolut Citron, and cucumber (liquer?) with a few floating cucumber bits and a chili pepper. A very nice drink…the cucumber had more flavor than I thought and it was lightly sweet without being overpowering. The waitress brought out chips and dips on a multi-tiered holder, three dips on the top were fresh with cilantro, chipotle salsa, and a fresh green salsa. All very good. I ordered the Prawns Maya which had a spicy sauce, maybe peanut? With a dark paste underneath, perhaps pumpkin seed sauce, and a fried cheese pancake in the center, surrounded by five or six medium-large grilled prawns. The taste was exquisite. Dean had 3 tacos, and Charla a fish tostada, and My the chicken mole with fried bananas. All the meals were delicious.
After dinner Dean decided to go back to the garage and check on the dog, while we did some last minute slots, and then went to check on the show. The outside exit was roped off, and when we asked the doorman, he asked us if we were with the hotel, as the show had already started. My explained how we were from out of town and only there for another hour, and he whined “you guys drive a hard bargain” and gave My a ticket, and let the three of us out onto the bridge which was cordoned off into sections, and the show had already begun. They hustled us into the VIP section, and I quickly whipped out the video camera.
The all girl pirates were on our closest side, singing and dancing about not being shot at and taken over by the men pirates who were on our other side. A feud soon ensued, with the men taking first shots from their canons, and we watched water spray up and explosions going off on the girls boat. The girls fired back and knocked over the mens cukoos nest, and when the men shot back the girls boat was hit with a multitude of hot fire explosions that would’ve threatened to singe my hair (if I had any, that is). Anyway, more singing and dancing continued, the guys swam over to the girls boat and did a little ‘all wet’ dance, etc. etc….but it was very fun to watch.
We did a little shopping in the Treasure Island themed store after the show after catching up with Dean in the casino having missed the entire show, and headed to the car and out of town, taking in one last glimpse of the strip’s light show.
We stopped our car at the Hoover Dam again on the way back to Kingman to see it under the lights.
The next day started fairly early, and began with a shower and a quick breakfast of coffee and turkey sausage, and I had my leftover biscuit. We packed up for our next trip, and loaded our clothes into one suitcase that Dean tied to the roof rack. A little behind the 8 ball, we finally started off at around 9:15 for the Grand Canyon.
We made a stop at mile marker 299 as we were headed higher into the mountains to walk the dog on a little road through the woods. There was a bit of snow on the road so we tried to walk on the side by the trees where it was pine needles and pine cones and rocks. Oh yeah, and Elk poop. We started looking at rocks for pretty rocks and then after Dean’s mention looking for fossils. That piqued my interest, so I started looking at every rock I could find. We found a few interesting looking rocks, and…..what do you know, I found a fossil of a shell in a grey rock! And later on the way back another, teenie one.
We continued up the road, and stopped in Flagstaff at a Sushi Bar. I, once again, opted for the combination platter…sushi combination, with tuna, albacore, salmon, whitefish, red snapper and egg cake, with a little dessert egg over rice dish. I started with miso soup, and a Saporro beer, and tasted one of Dean’s Cactus (which was jalapeno, spiced tuna, and tobiko) and a piece of the Rainbow Roll, which had eel and avocado, as well as some of My’s seaweed salad. The food was melt-in-your-mouth-to-die-for good. The couple next to me even offered up one of their muscles which was baked with a brown sauce and some kind of egg topping.
After lunch we hobbled over to the Safeway to search out some shaving cream for me and some Starbucks capuccino.
The trek continued on towards the big hole in the ground, and we eventually had to take a break at a gift shop in Valle.
We continued on to the Grand Canyon, with stops at the Tovar Hotel and the Kolb Studio.
We stopped to see the burros that trek into the canyon on the way out, and ended our day by tracking on Route 66 to Seligman, and the RoadKill Cafe.
The day began with a wake-up call at that was apparently made for the wrong room. We tried to return to our slumber which much difficulty, and finally broke out of bed at after Dean had his shower. I packed up my golf gear, and dean and I left for breakfast at McDonalds.
McDonalds Golf Course:
It was a short drive to the golf course that was tucked away at the end of a residential street. We parked in the lot where I put on my golf shoes, gathered up what I’d need to play and we trudged off the to clubhouse for a course named (funnily enough) Ken McDonald’s! We entered the pro shop, and asked about who we were meeting for my , and were approached from behind by Wayne (59), who would be my cart-mate. He was soon followed by Art (76) and Jerry (64 I think), and Dean left me to my new friends. We paid for our tee times and carts, and set off to load the carts and head for the nearby putting green. Nice tightly mowed hard greens, that seemed like they could be lightning fast down hill, but were as yet a little wet. I felt cool in my shorts and polo shirt, as all the locals were in long pants and jackets.
We had about 4 groups in front of us, and finally teed off around . The fairways were fairly generous, and the terrain fairly flat, but it was enjoyable to see the different trees with the occasional palm, and the yellow-brown dormant rough, which was fairly nappy and short, and not much of a hazard. There was water to contend with on 8 of the holes, and a few fairway traps. I was throwing drives and approaches right and left for a bit, with the odd good shot, and didn’t get warmed up until about the 6th hole. It was chilly for the first few holes mostly when driving our electric golf carts and making a breeze. I was plenty warm by hole 5.
I ended the front nine with a disappointing 55, but perhaps not too bad as I hadn’t played since August! 20 putts didn’t help either, with 4 "3 putts" adding to the score. We saw quite a variety of birds along the way to include an egret, male grackle (blue-black) and female grackle (black and brown), coots, mallards, Canadian geese, cormorant.
We rounded our way over the water culvert back past the clubhouse to the 10th hole, and continued on the back nine where I fared a bit better with a 50, and a closest-to-the-pin of about 15 feet on the 165 yard par 3 14th hole with my 9 wood. I also won that honor on 17, where we all missed the green on the 175 yard par 3 over water. I was lucky to run out of the first bunker on the right with my 7 wood, and into a second bunker which saved me from running down over the back into the drink behind. My pitching wedge out of the sand I thought I hit to hard and close to the ball, but it flew high, right at the pin and stopped immediately with a generous amount of backspin.
I pushed my drive right on the par 4 18th that had water all along the right side. I dropped down before the water and scooted my 5 wood up the rough line, where it bounced towards the water again, but finally came to rest about half way down the embankment. A 7 wood right on line to the pin, but short left me a chip and an ugly 3 putt. We had had a great time, and I ended up with $3 from my two par 3 victories! I ended up with a 105 with 40 putts, and said my goodbyes, as Dean picked me up in the lounge.
We went back to the hotel where they were able to save the room for me to grab a quick shower before we packed our suitcases (this time tied to the roof racks) and headed off across town for our afternoon repast at about .
Lunch at Wildflower:
We stopped in a mall that contained the restaurant Wildflower Bread Company. I ordered a fresh tomato, basil, pesto and feta sandwich which came with a bread salad that was marinated in gazpacho. Iced Tea washed it all down, and I finished with a double-tall cappuccino that was dusted with shaved chocolate, mmmm!
Next we went across the mall to Trader Joe’s to get some beer, water, and a few other snacks for the road.
Drive through Mesa to Apache Trail:
We headed north out of town through Mesa, which contained a lot of low lying homes along the highway, with the occasional strip joint and repair shop, as well as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, A&W restaurants and the like. We soon, however, left the main strip for the “Apache Trail” which wound up into the mountains through beautiful terrain with severe cliff drop offs all the way. We stopped in a small village (if you can call it that) called Tortilla Flats which was an old building with a saloon and gift shop, and ‘motel.’
We continued on up the mountain as the sun set, and had to continue on in the dark. We stopped in Rye to try and get dinner, but the restaurant closed at 8. Right next door was a bicycle junkyard that was a half acre fenced in lot just littered with bicycles, motorcycles and the odd car.
So we continued to Payson, which is about the size of Rockland, and stopped at the Mexican restaurant La Rancho.I got a combination platter which was quite hefty with two burritos (one bean, one shredded beef), a taco, an enchilada rice and beans, and a dessert. We had salted margaritas on the rocks which were huge and mui delicioso! When we were done we were overly stuffed, and still had to take food home with us!
After the restaurant we got gas (duh) and headed on to the house. The rest of the evening was cleaning up and getting on to bed, after meeting Kitah, the sister of Jill’s cat in Belfast.
enjoy...more to come...
:: David 2/27/2007 09:44:00 PM [+] ::
Last night we departed Midcoast Internet Solutions at around 5:30, where Mylisa picked me up with the “white whale,” (Ford Explorer, V8, 4-door). We opted to eat on the road…so a phone call was placed around Brunswick to Ricetta’s in Falmouth, a fine brick-oven pizza place that my mother introduced me to years ago at their South Portland location. I ordered up a small Supremo, replacing green peppers with mushrooms (I would’ve gotten the large for the left-overs, but they couldn’t travel onto the plane!)
We hit Falmouth around 7, and picked up our pizza (I was distressed to ascertain that they couldn’t retrieve my rewards information, even though I had purchased at that location previously and had used it…I didn’t have my card, however).We jogged across the main drag to the Shaw’s supermarket to pick up some drinks (I found a sixer of Smithwicks!) and chips (yummy Cape Cod Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper), then headed to the Gulf station so the whale could get it’s fill of unleaded.
Back on the highway we rocked the ipod to the Blow Monkeys and Bela Fleck while inhaling taco-like rolled slices of pie!
Just over an hour later we were crossing the bridge into New Hampshire, and before long the exit (don’t forget another toll) towards Manchester and the Airport. We missed the exit given by the Yahoo Map directions, but saw the hotel from the highway, so took the next available exit and doubled back. Of course the hotel was not readily apparent from the road we were on, nor was the actual street name which appeared to change while we were on it. We finally saw the “Quality Inn” through a parking lot entrance, and had to double back once again.
We picked up our door key, and made reservations for the airport shuttle the next morning. Our room was quite a ways down the hall, so after checking out the room, which was plain and quite small, but adequate I suppose, we moved the car to a closer entrance to the room to unload our luggage. We thought about taking advantage of the pool and/or the sauna, but instead spent most of the night consolidating our packing and cleaning up. I caught a couple episodes of Family Guy and Futurama, then on to a Law & Order whodunit.
Went to bed on the late side…slept through most of the night, but did get roused a few times in the morning by impolite departers. Mylisa set out for the lobby to peruse the morning brunchables, only to find a few scones and muffins, that were actually palatable. I pressed forth after a while in search of a hot cup of joe, only to find a push-button coffee vender that spat out a slightly bitter ‘dunkin’ donuts-esque’ blend. An hour and a rotted gut later, we rolled our pregnant suitcases down the hall to the lobby to check out and wait on our shuttle to the Airport. Fifteen minutes later we were greeted by our valet, an aged, weepy eyed, hairy eared goblin with a Long Island accent. He could half-lift my forty pound valise into the rear cargo space, as I one handed the other half. We packed up the remainder of our gear and hopped into the back seat…the only travelers on this jaunt, to a fifteen minute dissertation on the worst vacation of our driver’s life, his recent trip to Vegas with his wife, where it was 40 degrees with painfully cold winds, and them staying in the old part of town at the Casino Royale (where there are no indoor moving walkways!)
After unloading in front of the Southwest Airways terminal, we tipped our man and headed in to the ticket counter, where we plodded through the touch-screen ez-pass login screens to check in our luggage and get our boarding passes. We then escalated up the stairs in search of a real breakfast, finally settling on a breakfast sandwich and apple juice from Dunkin Donuts.
As we headed for our boarding gate, we realized that we were ‘open boarding’ passengers, which basically means “first come, first served” and ultimately we had to sit across the aisle from one another. My neighbor, who was a tad seat-size-challenged introduced himself as ‘Tom’ and told me he was a bit nervous, as this was only his second time flying. I chimed in that he should pre-occupy himself with some reading material, and he was already prepared with his NASCAR magazine, and crossword puzzles.I also reminded him that statistically flying was safer than driving, and he harrumphed his agreement.After we started our acceleration down the tarmac, Mylisa reached for my hand across the aisle, and I glanced to my right to see Tom’s wife grab his. I offered up my free hand if it would make him feel more relaxed, but alas, he declined.
The first leg of our journey was a brisk 55 minute up-and-down, with barely a chance for beverage service, when once again we were forced to queue for another cattle call out to the Philadelphia terminal. Once inside we had the opportunity to mail some letters, hit the lavatory, and get our exercise on the moving walkway towards the food court…which was basically just an “Au Bon Pain,” but a good choice for a semi-healthy lunch.
The second leg: Phoenix Bound:
I tried to find an outlet at gate E9 to charge up the laptop that was seriously depleted by typing on the plane. Of course the only one available was under handicapped seats, two terminals away, and after a brief charge, we got our call to queue. Cold air was was flooding down the terminal walkway next to us as it was a commuter plane so there was nothing to block the end. Still frigid in Philly!
Our second flight was a bit longer, of course, five hours and a few minutes. We received beverage service on the unusually vacant plane (only 22 passengers on the 707) and I was by this time all too happy to chip in for a Dewars on the rocks, and a Heineken for a bit later on. The snack box was fairly scary with some weird honey crackers (like honey grahams) and nasty bread sticks with cheese food, yay! It finished with a bag of dried fruit. Oh well, that’s why we ate lunch in the airport!
We could see a bit of the terrain for a while past takeoff, but it was soon covered by the cloud layer. Occassional glimpses could be seen in the ensuing hours, but it wasn’t until about Texas area that I again noticed the landscape, this time littered with circular patches that I later found out to be a way of farming that was raised in the middle to allow irrigation from the center. After that the snow started to creep back in through what might have been Colorado, Southern Utah, and New Mexico, by which time it was getting dark, and the landscape more mountainous. It was entertaining to watch lights come on in nearby houses and towns one by one, until we could make out communities bunched in little yellow lights in the snow-covered spaces between the trees.
Phoenix airport, call Aaron, meet Charla and Dean:
We landed right on time, hit the terminal, a quick call to Aaron to let him know of our safe arrival, and a bathroom break. Then down stairs to find Charla waiting for us on one of the nearby seating areas. Dean was right along, and we said our hellos and headed off to the baggage claim, which was, of course, at the other end of the long hallway. Interestingly, Mylisa spotted her bag “immediately” and mine was just two behind. Charla said “let’s go,” and I said we just needed to wait for my golf bag, when bam, there it was too! I’ve never gotten through so quickly! So we headed off for the Elevator to rise to level 5 and load into the waiting X-Terra containing a wiggly Labrador/Border mix named Tilly. We packed her in tightly in the back with our goods, and headed off for a meal!
Drive to dinner at Claim Jumpers (barbecue short ribs, Claim Jumper Red Ale):
We got a brief chance to peruse the local terrain and housing styles on our way to a popular vacationer destination called “Claim Jumpers.” It had a bit of a “Bugaboo Creek” theme, with animal heads on the walls, and chandelier made from antlers. I started with a Claim Jumper Red Ale, and ordered the Barbecued Short Ribs over garlic mashed potatoes, and a biscuit and sautéed veggies (zucchini, squash, and carrots). The food was very good, and it was a very lot. Mylisa got a complimentary piece of ice cream cake with a hard chocolate crust.
We were beat and headed off to the hotel, for a brief talk, clean-up with a shower for me, and hit the hay.