The Grand Adventure

When we decided to come/go to Arizona, our plans were nebulous. When I say "Great Adventure", I mean just that.

We first visited the American West in 2000 for a family reunion at the Grand Tetons outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We were both doing computer consulting at the time, so there was little problem arranging a 6-week vacation thru the west — Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah — a rare opportunity.

We followed this by two more short Western trips, several brutal New England winters ... and one mutual decision to move.

At this point, our younger son, Alex, was serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Our older son, Erik, had lived in Forida and Arizona and currently, in-town Boston.

8/15/06: Tues am
Since selling the house, we've been staying at the TownePlace Suites in Tewksbury, MA, giving us a chance to tie up loose ends and pay our last emotional visits as Massachusetts residents to friends, neighbors and family. Last night son Erik drove up from Boston and we gave him our leftover household supplies. This morning packed the final items and cleared the room.

It's time to go.

Our route will take us along the northern part of the US — #495 to #90 to #84. Then all the way across New York and Pennsylvania before picking up #71. Then #71 to #70 to #41 to #40 and we are there. I have the first 200-mile shift from Tewksbury to Beacon, NY.

8/16/06: Wed am
Today we swapped off 200-mile driving stints with stops to stretch and made 750 miles. Four DVD radio episodes of Basil Rathbone in the Sherlock Holmes Radio Hour Shows regaled us. Make a note to find out about the show sponsor — Petri Wines of California, a family-owned winery during early 40's/WWII. How about a nice glass of Petri Port or Petri Muscatel, intoned the spokesman Harry Bartell. "Petri took time to bring you good wine."

We pulled into a roadside rest stop at 2 a.m., planning to sleep in the car and start early in the morning. But accommodations did not go as planned. Because the car was packed with belongings, we could not recline the seats and slept in a semi-sitting position.

8/17/06: Wed am
We are on our way again — but stiffly and painfully. We'll drive to Columbus, stop for breakfast and freshen up. We learned our lesson. Tonight is a hotel!! Oh, joy!

Son Alex called from Afghanistan about 12:04 am eastern time!! Sounds good. We lost the call on the cel phone, but not until after we both had a chance to talk. He has a couple more months without the internet or IM, but hopes to get mail by end of month.

Tonight is the Fairfield Inn with dinner next door at the Cracker Barrel. Just left one of those in Tewksbury? Are we still in Massachusetts?!

8/18/06: Thurs am
This morning was an early 6:30 a.m. wakeup call with quick breakfast at the Fairfield Inn. I took the first shift after your dad performed a daily procedure: cleaning the windshields, checking tire pressure and visually inspecting the car.

Missouri and across Oklahoma were mine; Oklahoma to Texas border was your dad's. Temps hovered at 102 degrees in Missouri — where we passed signs for Sampson Road in Marshfield, MO. Small world!

Texas — land is getting noticeably flatter with fewer trees and we're passing through Indian Reservations. Overnight is in an over-priced Holiday Inn in Amarillo, badly in need of renovation. The corner room overlooks the indoor pool through dirty windows. Not a place for a repeat visit. We arrived about 8:30 p.m. having driven from the Texas border. The couple of towns we stopped at in this first part of Texas had such questionable-looking hotels/motels, that we felt safer in the car and just kept driving.

Texas rest stops are a different case, however. The Texas Guest Center about 98 miles in on Rt. 40 has marble walls between the loos, high wood ceilings and breathe-taking modern design. The bathrooms are also designated as tornado shelters. Outside, there are great views and shelters for picnics. A keeper.

8/19/06: Fri am
Driving today from Amarillo, TX, to Gallup, NM. We made such good time that we plan to take it easier for the next 3 days. We'll stay in Gallup and Prescott before going down to Tucson. Drove past Big Sky Indian Casino and then very poor housing on the reservation.

Apparently my notes stop at this point. Guess we started having fun, though I don't remember much about Gallup, NM.

8/20/06: Sat am
Prescott, AZ, is a different matter. We stayed at the Hassayampa Inn on Main St. — one of our favorites. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is charming. Dined at Murphy's, the cowboy steak place down the block, walked around the town square watching the latest square-dancing in progress and poked in the antique stores. This town is on our list as a potential place to live. Would you believe, we traveled this far without any real concept of where in Arizona we'll live. Such fun.

8/21/06: Sun am
After a leisurely breakfast in the Hassayampa dining room, we started the 90 mile drive down to Phoenix, with another 90 miles down to Tucson. I had booked us into a luxurious week at the Westward Look Resort — which wound up being two weeks while we looked for an apartment. Rooms are large western-style mini-suites with sitting/dining areas and a balcony overlooking cactus and desert wildlife. Outside our door was a jacuzzi, which seemed to be our own.

8/22/06: Mon am
Westward Look was to be our headquarters while we hunted for the first apartment. With my computer set up, I started work in Boston again via hotel wi-fi. In case I failed to mention, my company had continued my job — long distance — on a trial basis. The vacation was over.

TownPlace Suites in Tewskbury, MA

Rathbone & Bruce in Sherlock Holmes

Hassayampa Inn, Prescott, AZ

Yavapai Courthouse yard, Prescott, AZ

Lobby of Westward Look in Tucson, AZ