Saturday, October 17, 2015

Two hour vacation six years in the making

I suppose I should state the obvious before I get into this story: I don't travel very much.

The reason is pretty simple: It's expensive. By the time the cost of transportation to wherever I would be going is factored in, hotel or cost to stay somewhere, food, whatever entertainment costs are involved, and secondary costs like a Cinnabon at the airport, it is beyond my means. Plus, I have to do work ahead and catch up when I come back so that adds an additional challenge. I'm not sad about it. It's just how it is. So, when I go anywhere it becomes kind of a big deal.

Anthony asked me if I'd drive him to Phoenix today (240 mile round trip). He had to take a test as part of the process he is going through for a job he applied for in March. Even though he took another job in July, he still has interest in this one so he's continuing through their (what seems to be) never ending process.

I haven't taken the poomobile (the car) on a road trip since I bought it in July. When he asked me I thought it would be fun to go. The total time commitment would be for a couple of hours in Phoenix waiting while he did his thing and the four hour round trip in the car so it was easily doable on a Saturday afternoon.

I loaded approximately sixty songs onto my iPhone for some music to listen to. I was amazed at how neato the technology in the car is. It plays the music via Bluetooth through the stereo system. And, the iPhone has navigation so it kept interrupting the music to tell me when to turn to get there. I still printed out a map so I wouldn't get lost as a backup. That's the old person in me... I don't use navigation technology ever (I had never even tested out the app until today), so I didn't know if it was reliable or accurate and I didn't want to make Anthony late. To my amazement, it worked flawlessly.

We left at 11 a.m. It was smooth sailing with pretty light traffic. I had the cruise control on most of the way and lived a little dangerously, setting it about 3 mph above the speed limit. Plenty of cars passed me anyway, I guess the old guy doesn't live dangerously enough compared to many of the other drivers on the freeway.

The place we had to go to was near Sky Harbor Airport. After dropping him off, I located a strip mall with a Target store about two miles north and burned off some waiting time wandering around the store. I did end up buying some new underwear and a package of Oreo candy apple cookies. If anyone asks, I can say I am wearing imported underwear... even if it's imported from a Target at 44th and Oak in Phoenix, Arizona.

Anthony finished his testing early, I picked him up, and we headed back to Tucson. We did stop for dinner in Marana (a northwest suburb of Tucson) at Cracker Barrel off of I-10 at Cortaro. He had never eaten at Cracker Barrel before so it was uncharted territory for him. We were both starving so we ended up devouring huge dinners.

$38 (including tip) at Cracker Barrel, $12.42 in gas expense (the car gets nearly 40 mpg!), and $22 for underwear and cookies. Already I was at an expense level just shy of $73. That didn't include $4 for lunch at Taco Bell while I waited for Anthony and $6 for drinks at Circle K when we left Tucson in the morning. The total cost of the vacation: $83.

The last out of town trip I took was in November 2009. After today's big splurge, I'll have to save up for another one in six years. Vacations are sooooo expensive.

Driving the poomobile west
on I-10 toward Phoenix

A mostly cloudy day
and a pointy rock were
the sights to see
on the drive up

Here's Anthony's little head
in front of the building that
he took his test in

Dress clothes and a Red Bull.
He's ready for his test.

Target at 44th and Oak in Phoenix
where I purchased new underwear
and some Oreo cookies.
Exotic fancy shopping while
on a two hour vacation.

I ate lunch at this fancy
Mexican restaurant.
Chicken soft tacos and
a Diet Pepsi.
Exotic eating
while on vacation.

The neon sign for
Arizona Pavilions in Marana

Cracker Barrel in Marana, Arizona
where we had exotic vacation dinner

Anthony says "Ooooo"
while looking
at the Cracker Barrel menu.

Cracker Barrel has weird old stuff
on the walls, like this photo
of some random guy
(he's probably famous for
something but I have no clue)

Nothing satisfies after a high
calorie meal than a delicious
pack of Chesterfields

More weird stuff on the wall:
An overdressed baby
and a mini wheelbarrow

I had chicken fried chicken with
mashed potatoes and gravy, corn,
hash brown casserole, and
My stomach usually can't handle
this large of a meal without
making me sick but I figured
what the hell, I'm on vacation.

Anthony's chicken and fried ocra

End of vacation dessert:
Coca-Cola cake and ice cream.
I'm looking forward to my
next vacation in 2021.