Friday, April 16, 2010

TBG Travel Diary: The 7-Day (Desert) Theory - Part II

Penitentiaries is packed with promise makers
Never realize the precious time the b**** n***** is wastin'

-- Makaveli, "Hail Mary"

Part I

11:10 AM - We're in Phoenix with almost two hours to go until first pitch of the A's v. Diamondbacks game just up the road. We still have to (1) walk down to baggage claim; (2) pick up our rental car and (3) drive to the stadium. The "TBG Travel Diary Deities" must have heard when I confidently proclaimed to Mrs. Bootleg, "We've got plenty of time."

11:25 AM - I stupidly use my bad hand to reach for one of our suitcases on the carousel. On the short list of "great shame for men", I'd like to nominate having to wait for your bag to come back around after failing to retrieve it on the first try. Half the people in the terminal saw my initial fumble and have told their travelling companions who might've missed it to keep an eye out for attempt #2.

11:26 AM - "Do you want ME to get the bags?", asks a well-meaning (and unnecessarily LOUD) Mrs. Bootleg.

11:27 AM - With the pressure from a packed airport looking on, I execute a successful one-arm dead lift of Mrs. Bootleg's 50-lb. suitcase. The degree of difficulty for this feat of strength hopefully obscured my Olympic weightlifter-esque grunt and/or the surprisingly high bounce of Mrs. Bootleg's bag after I dropped it on the ground, six inches from the carousel.

11:35 AM - We've retrieved all our bags and we're off to procure the rental car. This means a meandering shuttle bus ride to the car rental agency. This is one of the few remaining opportunities to play "overprotective parent" to my six-year-old son. Since the shuttles aren't equipped with seat belts, I place my seat belt-wide arms across Jalen's body and envelope him within a scrawny mocha cocoon.

11:50 AM - During the obligatory, forgettable banter with the clerk at the rental car place, he (good-naturedly) needles us about staying in Scottsdale. "Around here, we call it 'Snots-dale'", he scoffs. I covered the
derision towards Scottsdale in last year's desert travel diary, so I'll only add that there are three purchases in which it's socially acceptable to overpay a little: (1) wedding photographer, (2) child's birthday party and (3) vacation lodging. Anyone who justifies their cheapskate ways with "I'm never going to be in my room, so I don't care where I stay" is less than one step removed from sleeping eight to a room during a seedy weekend in Vegas.

12:10 PM - It takes a little longer than it should for That Bootleg Family to hit the road. Mrs. Bootleg can't seem to get Jalen's booster seat secured into the car's back seat. This is an annual vacation tradition, as the wife straps it in and then tests it out by putting all of her 101 lbs.* into seeing how far it moves forward when she violently attempts to pull it out. If it budges an inch, she takes it out and straps it in again.

*--That counts as one of your Mother's Day gifts, Mrs. Bootleg.

12:15 PM - We're just pulling out on to the road when my cell phone buzzes. It's my boss. The internet deservedly gets all the "greatest invention of my generation" love, but caller ID is unquestionably the most underrated technological creation. Sure, I would've let my boss' call roll to voice mail even if I didn't know who it was. But, knowing it was him meant I didn't have to check my voice mail until after the game. Does YOUR cell phone plan give you piece of mind? Mine does.

12:20 PM - Less than five miles outside the airport and things have gotten awfully ghetto. Hourly motels, liquor stores, track suits and khakis abound. If the sun were down, Clark Griswold might be doing unmentionable things
to his momma. I should be giving this a LOT more thought, but I'm going to put Phoenix in second place, right behind San Diego, in the category of "most unexpectedly sketchy wrong side of the tracks that never gets mentioned amongst obvious locales like Detroit, Oakland and New Orleans".

12:30 PM - Property values have just started to move forward, but we've...stopped moving. This is a damn fine facsimile of Los Angeles traffic at its most ungodly moments. I can see traffic lights cycling through entire green-yellow-red routines as the cars immediately in front of me remain stationary. Gridlock...on a city street in Phoenix, Arizona?! We're heading to a meaningless spring training game on a Thursday afternoon between the mostly anonymous Oakland A's and the Arizona Dia...oh.

12:40 PM - For those who don't know, the D'Backs play their regular season home games in Phoenix while their spring training home is in Tucson -- roughly 90 minutes away. Friends of mine in the Phoenix area have told me that no one drives all the way out to Tucson. The locals just wait for the D'Backs to play road games closer to home before taking in a game. I explain this to Mrs. Bootleg and she takes it in stride. Jalen, less so.

12:50 PM - We can see the parking lot of Phoenix Municipal Stadium off to the right, but we've been sitting at the same stoplight for two or three changes. Jalen is currently decomposing into a bowl of brown whine. His "Are we there, yet?" grades grates a 99 out of 100. And, kudos to the boy for managing to stay just out of range of the back of my hand. The only way to end this misery is to channel my inner Tijuana taxicab driver -- I steer sharply to the right, against the pedestrian "WALK" light, nearly clipping an elderly white couple crossing the street. If they're reading this, can we agree to consider that illegal, near-fatal turn my "reparations" and call it even? Cool.

1:00 PM - The parking lot is so packed that we were directed to park in an auxiliary area in the opposite direction of the ballpark. Really beginning to regret my promise to Jalen that we wouldn't miss the first pitch. We'd have to literally sprint across the auxiliary lot, through the main parking lot, traverse cars that were still coming in, cross an overpass, have our tickets scanned and find our seats within the next five minutes. Still, we might be able to pull it off if...

1:05 PM - Nope.

Next: So-so soul food, a near-death experience for two of the three people in our rental car and why you should NEVER call your boss back!

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