Spidey in Arizona

We just returned from a four-day, three-night visit to the Phoenix area, the primary purpose of which was to watch our son with his high school marching band in the Fiesta Bowl Parade. In addition to the roughly 120 seconds or so of watching our son, my wife and I saw some of the area, but were obviously limited by the short time there. We left St. Louis on Thursday afternoon (12/31), arriving into Phoenix around 5:00pm, and we left Sunday afternoon (1/2) getting back into St. Louis around 5:00pm. As I said, short visit.

I have read and heard a lot about how bad US Airways is. The plane interiors (and A319 out and an A320 back) were old and the seats were barely padded. I also don’t understand how, on a flight over 3 hours, the flight attendants don’t bring the cart out a second time to offer drink refills and don’t offer the entire can. All that said, both flights left on time and arrived on time — on a holiday weekend. That works for us. We stayed at Marriott’s Buttes Resort. It’s so close to the airport that you can see the planes take off and land. However, it’s on a hill and doesn’t seem to be in the flight paths. From the pool, you have no idea you are near a highway or the airport. The location makes it very convenient for people not staying at the hotel, but getting out and about. The room were standard, although I do think it’s time to upgrade the 25″ tube TV’s.

Our first night, we met up with our son and the rest of the band at a place called Rawhide, located in the Wild Horse Pass area. It’s a group-event type place that recreates a Western town. The foot was fine (we had a ticket for a group dinner), but there wasn’t much to do after that. It was cold by Phoenix standards, so we didn’t stay long. We left there and went over to the Wild Horse Pass Casino, which couldn’t have been more crowded. We tend to play slots, and were fortunate to find even one machine open. No luck there. We did have luck, however, when we found Roy’s Restaurant over in Chandler for some dessert and a cocktail. They have a Hawaiian Martini — made from vodka, vanilla vodka and coconut rum, infused with pineapple — which is perhaps the best drink I have ever had. It is comparable, if not better than the Stoli Dolis at the Capital Grille.

On Friday, New Year’s Day, we took the nearly two hour drive up to Sedona. On the way, we noticed Mayer, Arizona on our map, about 10 miles off the beaten trail. Of course, we had to go. We took plenty of gratuitous shots. Most notably, I thought it somewhat ironic that the placard showcasing the “Historic Mayer Building” somehow ended up on the side of an outhouse (see picture at below). Sedona itself was a bit touristy in town, which is why you must slow down on your drive in to take in the sites and take a jeep tour. We used Pink Jeep Tours, which I highly recommend. We went out for 2 hours on the Broken Arrow tour and four-wheeled it seeing the landscape. The driver was a bit too much like an encyclopedia, but he knew his stuff.

On the way back, we stopped for a bite and to do some additional gambling at the Cliff Castle Casino. Four hours later we left, after a great dinner and up $100, thanks to a Royal Flush hit by my better half on a poker machine.

Saturday was the parade. Now that I’ve watched a parade, I don’t know that I’m running back anytime soon. We spent Saturday afternoon in Scottsdale, mostly visiting Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Candidly, we were both starving and our guide droned on and on, so we may not have gotten the most positive perspective. I think the best part was learning of the history and how the site came to be before electricity, roads, etc. If you are an architecture aficionado, you’ll probably go regardless of what I say. Saturday evening we went over to downtown Tempe to see A Serious Man. We could see from the four blocks of downtown Tempe how Arizona State gets its reputation as a party school. It was very active, despite being January 2. A Serious Man was a good move, but two requirements before viewing. First – if you aren’t Jewish, go see it with someone who is. I’ve not been to a movie with more inside jokes about the Jewish Community. Second — plan a drink afterwards. This is a dark, dark comedy.

We’re back now into the cold of St. Louis getting ready to go back to work and school. My next trip is likely the week of the 18th overseas. I’ll have more on the blog between now and then.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/lifewithspidey.

Post #1

Welcome to Life with Spidey. Every blog has to have a first post and this is mine.

In this post, I’m going to answer three questions pertinent to most blogs and the bloggers who write them:

  1. Why am I writing the blog?
  2. What is the significance of the blog name?
  3. What am I going to write about?

(Let me apologize in this first post for the constant numbering of things in twos, threes and fours in my writing. I’m an ex-management consultant, and those of you in that fraternity know that everything comes in lists of two, three or four — or in a 2×2 matrix.)

I’m writing this blog for two reasons. First, I’m writing simply because I like to write and blogs provide a great outlet. I mean — who would start a blog in the first place, if they didn’t like to write. I’ve written for newspapers in college and grad school and even had a summer internship at a weekly newspaper in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I had a radio show in college and thought I might go into print or broadcast journalism. However, when I learned at a lunch with Hedrick Smith that I’d probably have to write obituaries on the late shift in some place like Jackson, Mississippi or Helena, Montana or do the weather and sports on a station in a place like Fort Smith, Arkansas, I decided that journalism wasn’t for me. That didn’t diminish my love of writing. Second, I’m writing for the challenge of coming up with relevant content on a regular basis — whether that’s once a week, twice a week, etc. I am amazed at the information I get from blogs that I read, tweets that I follow or podcasts to which I listen. I can only hope to replicate the freshness of this information for readers.

I wish I could write that Life with Spidey reflects living my life according to the motto “with great power comes great responsibility.” Unfortunately, I’m probably not that deep. The significance of Life with Spidey can be explained in two (yes, two!) parts. The first part is my interest in Spiderman. I am a Spiderman collector. I read comic books in and after college until the volume of comics purchased each week exceed the time available to read. I quit comic books cold turkey. I had to. That was about 1992. Spiderman was always my favorite. Spiderman is different. He’s not from another planet, like Superman. He’s not a mutant by birth, like Wolverine. He didn’t choose to be a superhero, like Batman. Peter Parker (the poor boy) was bitten by a radioactive spider. His life story through high school and into the working world and marriage is not dissimilar from many of our lives — except that he swings around in a red and blue suit over Manhattan. By 1998, now with a wife, two kids and a mortgage, I wanted to start collecting comic books again. Knowing how I can obsess, my wife suggested that, rather than buy the comic books, I choose one superhero and start to collect stuff. So — I chose Spiderman. Now, I have a room in my house filled with Spiderman stuff. More on that, perhaps, in a future post.

The second part of the explanation of the title relates to a blog I wrote internally at my company for most of 2008. It was a blog that I used to connect with a team of over 100 folks spread across the country. That summer, my wife, kids and I traveled to Japan for two weeks to visit my younger sister and her family, who lived there for a year. I decided to post daily and share what we saw in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. You can read this at http://ourjapantrip.wordpress.com. As a lark, I brought along with me a small Spiderman and put him in nearly every photo that I posted in the blog. Yes — this convention has been used before (with gnomes, for example), but it works for me. When I decided to write again, I thought, as a theme, I would bring back the photos of Spiderman (Spidey to those that know him) to accompany the posts. That’s him there on the right.

If you give this blog a chance and either subscribe or visit often, I think you’ll read mostly about what I see while traveling, both for business and pleasure. Because I’ve benefited from others’ blogs, I want to share my experiences on tours, in airplanes, in hotels and with local cultures. I’ll pass on relevant information I find regarding travel, but I’ll try not to be too overbearing. Inevitably, some posts about other experiences will pop in – from coaching kids sports, watching my favorite sports teams, to events in and around St. Louis.

Spidey, of course, will be prominent throughout.

This weekend, we’re traveling to Phoenix to watch our son march with his high school band in the Fiesta Bowl parade. I’ll try to post from there or when I return about the flight down on US Airways in the days following Delta 253 and my experience with Pink Jeep “Broken Arrow” Tour in Sedona.