Thursday, March 12, 2009

Going to Phoenix

A great vacation consists of good air, good fun, good eats, and good friends. I had all of the above last week when EdGizmo and I went to Phoenix.

Good Air

The first indication that we weren't in Michigan any more was when our plane landed in Phoenix and I spied the palm trees that lined the runway. The second indication was the almost-hot puff of air that blew over us as we left the plane - the kind of hot you'd never feel in Michigan on the second day of March.

What really told me we weren't in Michigan anymore was the aroma. Once we got our rental car (some foreign jobby-sorry, Dad) and were driving down the road, I opened the windows and inhaled. It smelled like spring, yet no spring I'd ever experienced. I could detect some sort of blooms, but it wasn't the overpowering perfume of flowers. There was a gentle sweetness that was citrusy, but subtler than any fruit. I found out later it was orange blossoms. I think I'll forever associate that scent with Phoenix.

My body loved the Phoenix air. My skin is usually oily enough to supply an OPEC nation, but the arid climate turned it into something somewhat approaching normal. It felt fabulous, and I wondered if that's how most people's skin feels all the time. If so, I'm jealous! I quickly got used to needing only one paper towel to dry my hands (as opposed to the two or three I usually used) and my thick head of hair dried in record time.

And the warmth! The ninety-degree temps we had the first day would have been oppressive back home, but felt only a little on the warm side in Phoenix. The eighties we had over the next couple days felt more like perfect room-temperature weather. This feeling was enhanced by the fact that there wasn't so much as a hint of a breeze the whole time we were there. It wasn't until Thursday, when highs were in the seventies that we had to put our jeans back on in place of the shorts we'd been wearing previously.

Good Fun

As if just living and breathing the air in Phoenix weren't enough, I got to see a baseball game! Spring training was in full swing in Arizona, and we saw the Cubs play the Indians at Cleveland's brand new facility, Goodyear Park. It was a great game, which the Indians won, 5 - 4. Indians legend Bob Feller was there, and I shook his hand and got his autograph. We sat in the shade, ate hot dogs and ice cream, and took in the game. What could be better?

We also toured the Desert Botanical Garden, which featured a glass exhibit by Dale Chihuly. It was sometimes hard to tell where the plants ended and the glass began. The same could be said of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. The buildings blended in with the landscape so well that I could hardly tell anything was there until we were practically on top of it.

Good Eats

Of course, anytime we go to another city that has a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, we have to go there. So we did, and it was delicious, as usual. There were a couple things they did differently there than other Ruth's Chris restaurants we've been to. When the hostess seated us, she replaced the white cloth napkins that were on the table with black ones. "So you don't get light-colored lint on your dark pants," she explained. Later, when our steaks came to us on their 500-degree plates, the servers asked us to raise our napkins in front of us so we wouldn't get splattered by the sizzling butter. I don't know if that's just a Phoenix thing, but regardless, it was a good idea.

Another great eatery we tried on a friend's recommendation was the Heart Attack Grill. They have precisely four entrees on their menu: a Single Bypass (a half-pound burger), a Double Bypass (with two half-pound patties), a Triple Bypass (with three half-pound patties) and a Quadruple Bypass (yes, two full pounds of hamburger). Their one side item is Flatliner Fries, cooked in lard, of course. No diet beverages are allowed in the establishment, and even the water comes in the bottled variety. Everything is served by waitresses in scanty nurses' costumes and the men who cook the burgers are dolled up in lab coats.

Good Friends

Far and away the highlight of our trip was getting to meet fellow Grammar Police officer Ruthie Cohen. She was warm, kind, generous, funny, and just a pleasure to be around. She played host for us, accompanying us to the Desert Botanical Garden, to dinner one night (Rock Bottom Brewery), and to lunch another day (Paradise Bakery). We felt so comfortable with her that we felt like we've known her for ages. Of course, I'm sure our acquaintance through the Grammar Police helped that, but she is one reason we definitely would like to go back to Phoenix.

I certainly hope to one day very soon.