The Arizona Chronicles, Day 1–A Journey Begins

The stories you are about to read are true. . .ish.  The events have been embellished where I find humorous.

It’s amazing how a simple event can trigger an adventure.  For instance, it was a wretched day in Omaha.  A horrible cold snap had engulfed the Midwest.  It was Monday morning and the wind chill had made the temperature -25.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t curl up in my nice, warm bed and hit the snooze alarm.

Grumpily, I made my way out to my car.  I stuck the key into the ignition, turned it, and. . .COUGH!!  GURGLE!!  BLURP!! 

Dead battery.

As I prepared to call a tow truck, a voice called out from the darkness.

“Do you need some help?”

I turned around to see a middle aged man, powerfully built, with a mane of red hair, and a Fu Manchu moustache.

“A little,” I admitted.

“I can change this thing in 5 or 10 minutes,” said the stranger.

He had me pop the hood on my car and pulled a set of tools out of his nearby truck.  I’ll be dipped if he didn’t remove my battery in a matter of moments.  We rushed down to the local Wal-Mart to buy a new battery.  That mystical luck that seems to follow me stayed true once more as I got the last battery.  Rushing back to my car, the stranger finished putting in the new battery and my car roared to life after a little coaxing.

As I thanked the stranger, he introduced himself to me as Tall Square.

“Tall Square?  Why do they call you that?”

“I will tell you,” replied Tall Square.  “Because.”

“Because?”

“Because,” he said and nodded solemnly.

I rolled my eyes and invited this peculiar man in for a drink.  He told me that he was the assistant to an explorer known only as Arizona Mat and that he was preparing to meet him in Phoenix for a new exploration.  I told Tall Square that I wrote a blog and asked if Arizona Mat would object to a chronicler.  Tall Square replied that Arizona Mat could use the publicity, so I bought a ticket to Arizona and had Tall Square sack out on my couch that evening.

The next day we headed to the airport to catch a flight on Frontier Airlines.

Yes, I know that I didn’t have too many good things to say about this airline due to their love of fees and not giving any perks unless you purchase directly through them, but they had the best deal and sometimes you’ve got to bite the bullet.  In the short time since I had last flown with them, they had added a new fee.  If you want a seat assigned randomly, it’s free.  But if you want to pick where you sit, it’ll cost you $8.  Yet another reason to try to avoid this airline in the future.

As we finished our security check, a call came over the PA system, asking Tall Square to return to the front counter.  I looked at my companion curiously.  He gave me a shrug and said it probably had something to do with the toy lock he used to keep his suitcase shut.  He went away to the counter and I worked on my laptop.  Nearly thirty minutes had passed until my companion returned.  Tall Square looked a little roughed up.  His right eye was discolored, clothes torn, and he spat out a tooth as he sat down.

“What happened?” I asked.

He muttered something about a badly timed bald joke and proceeded to speak no more.  We boarded the plane for the first leg of our flight to Denver, CO and it was a smooth flight and we got to Denver about 20 minutes early.  I do enjoy flying, but I hate the layovers and we had a nearly three hour layover for this trip.  I do admit there are worse things than being stuck in the Denver airport for three hours.  It is a highly regarded airport with a number of shops and restaurants to keep one occupied.

Tall Square had been sitting a couple rows ahead of me, but when I exited the plane he was nowhere in sight.  As I found the connecting gate for our next flight, I received a text from Tall Square who said he was heading to baggage claim.  Immediately I called my befuddled travel mate and told him to come back here as the airline would move our luggage to the plane for us.  I then got a 20 minute chair massage at A Massage to loosen my cramped shoulders and spent some time doing some research online.

At 4:30, we boarded the plane for our final leg of the flight.  The sun was setting as the plane took off and I realized that I hadn’t flown at night since my escapades to Tokyo, Japan nearly a year and a half ago.  There is something indescribable about seeing a huge metropolis lit up at night that adds a certain enjoyment to flying.   90 minutes later, we landed in Phoenix. 

Tall Square texted Arizona Mat to let him know we had arrived.  He received a text back that said, “Who are you?”  Tall Square replied it was him and that he had brought a writer along who would chronicle his adventures for free.  I was about to vociferously protest working pro bono when Tall Square received a terse, impatient text from Arizona Mat that said, “Well, hurry up.”

Soon afterward, I met Arizona Mat.  He was a stoic man, solidly built, with short, red hair, and about average height.  He thanked me for the free publicity.  Before I could argue about my lack of fee, Arizona Mat offered to buy my dinner, which I grudgingly accepted.  He took Tall Square and myself to Café Rio. 

This Mexican restaurant proudly boasts that it makes everything from scratch and it is the truth as they prepare the food in front of you.  I had a carne beef burrito wrapped in a wheat tortilla while Tall Square and Arizona Mat settled for pork and steak nachos respectively.  It was a tasty meal and I definitely would recommend a visit to it.  Be sure to ask for to go boxes as they don’t skimp on the portions at this place.

Arizona Mat offered to house me for the duration of my visit so I decided to take my fee in trade.  After getting me situated,  he began shooting at me with a Nerf dart gun to “test my reflexes” as he said.  I took 4 darts as I was too tired after my long day to be worth anything.

Arizona Mat clicked his tongue at me and said he hoped I’d do better in the Icy Plunge, whatever that may be.  For now, I’m just ready to hit the hay.

 Join me again tomorrow as I begin documenting the (mis)adventures of this impatient explorer and his unlucky sidekick.

Advertisements