All of us with kids will remember those days when our kids kept us so busy we didn’t seem to have the time to keep up a regular schedule. We’ve experienced this again in the last couple of days while Jason has been here to spend some time with us. It’s been a busy few days, but we’ve seen and done many of the things that we enjoy here in the area as well as a few special treats. He arrived Wednesday in the early afternoon and we immediately whisked him back to the resort to attend our softball wind up party. As we walked to the pool we warned Jason not to believe anything that anybody said about us at the party. Other than Jim trying to convince him that Sylvia and I usually have a daily Happy Hour from 10AM to 10PM we survived the party with our reputations unscathed and Sylvia didn’t get thrown into the pool. Jason fit right in, and once we convinced everyone that he wasn’t taking time off for spring break from High School they even consented to letting him drink a beer. For those of you who know Jason, his baby face has been an issue for him since he reached his 20’s, but now that he’s in his 30’s he seems to have embraced his youthful good looks. Must be nice. Over the course of the weekend he was asked at least 3 times if he was on school break, and carded for being of legal age at one restaurant. The waiter apologized profusely for thinking he was under 21, but Jason is used to it. And now that he’s 31 (almost 32), it’s easier to take than when he was 21 and people thought he was 15.
On Thursday morning we took Jason on a short hike to Silly Mountain. As the temperatures were approaching 80 by mid-morning we didn’t want to go too far as Jason wasn’t quite acclimatized to Arizona yet. It didn’t take long before he was starting to sweat under the full sun. That didn’t stop him from climbing to the top of every peak he could find and to every unique (to him) cactus and getting me to take pictures of his exploits. The brittle bush on the hill are very vibrant right now, and the yellow flowers are spectacular.
Last December I got a notice on Facebook that Eric Clapton was going to be launching his 50th anniversary tour in Phoenix while we were here. As Jason is a guitar player (he presently owns three very nice electric guitars and recently bought a Fender acoustic) who appreciates rock and blues music, I contacted him immediately and asked him if he wanted to attend the concert with us. He didn’t hesitate to say Yes, and I was on the phone the first day the tickets were available to try and secure our tickets. That was quite a process, as it wasn’t that easy to purchase tickets to an American event through Ticketmaster Canada. As the 800 numbers that Ticketmaster uses are specific to the country you are calling from I couldn’t convince the ticket agent (probably in India or the Philippines) that Phoenix wasn’t in Canada. After a few hours of frustration I managed to convince someone in the Toronto office to transfer me directly to an American outlet and they managed to provide me with 3 tickets.
Here’s the 3 of us in our seats ready for the concert. We went downtown early in the afternoon, as we were heading to an area that we hadn’t spent much time in over our few winters down here. Both the basketball arena and the baseball stadium are in this area along with lots of parking and restaurant options. The temperatures were bouncing between 97 and 99 as we drove into the city, and one of the display boards on a bank along the highway showed an even 100F on it’s display. We thought we’d be uncomfortably warm in our few hours walking around before the concert, but it wasn’t bad at all. Every once in a while we walked through an area where the sun was reflecting off of a glass wall of a high-rise tower, and it was pretty warm but as long as we stayed out of the direct or reflected sunlight it was not bad at all. We decided to stop off at a restaurant called the Tilted Kilt during happy hour to get a cool drink. We didn’t know anything about this chain, but if you took the girls from Hooters and put a very short Tartan skirt on them you’d have an idea how things looked. The hostess directed us to an inside seat before Sylvia asked if we could sit outside. She looked at us kind of like she was thinking we were crazy but took us outside to the patio which was quite empty. We weren’t in the direct sun, and it was a good place to see the sights in the area so we were quite happy. It was also much quieter than inside where the college basketball games were on all the big screen TV’s. Jason was thrilled to sit in the heat as it was snowing in Calgary just over 24 hours earlier.
The concert itself was great, and Clapton played 22 songs both old and new from his extensive repertoire. He’s 67 years old now and says he’s going to stop touring when he reaches 70 so we’re glad we could see him now. He’s still a great guitarist, but he did play some of his classic numbers at a slower pace, and left a few of the solo sections to his band mates. He did rip it up good on some sections that surprised us though. We enjoyed the whole show, and left knowing we’ve heard one of the best.
After getting back to the park at close to midnight we had Jason drop us off at the entrance on the highway, and we walked to our trailer. We figured that the rumble of the pickup wouldn’t make us popular with the majority of the park who go to bed before 10 every night. It’s sure a quiet, lonely place at that time of night. In the morning we packed Jason into the truck and took off up the Apache Trail to drive to Tortilla Flat. The town itself isn’t much more than a bar and a tourist trap souvenir store, but the drive to and past the town is twisty and windy and the scenery is spectacular.
That night after dinner we took Jason down to the pickeball courts to introduce him to the game. He’s heard us talk about it for over a year now, and was quite curious on what the game was, and why we like it so much. We had a blast teaching him the game, and after he figured out that we really weren’t that old and decrepit, we played several games with some of the other folks hanging around and looking for a partner.
Today we drove down to Queen Creek to take Jason to the Olive Mill. This is a full service restaurant/store/coffee shop/liquor store/entertainment venue that we’ve been to a few times in the past to pick up olive oil, vinegars and tapenade spreads. Today we decided to have lunch there and listen to the jazz duo and really enjoyed both the food and the entertainment. After lunch we drove into Phoenix to show Jason more of the sights. In our travels through Papago Park Jason’s eye was caught by the rock formations in the park and wondered how long it would take him to climb to the top. (again, it must be nice to be young)
His intention was to climb to the peak in the center of this shot, and if you look close you can see him in the shadow of the hillside. It turned out that it was impossible to reach this point from the path he took, so he settled for the lower peak on the left. I think he was too tired to perform the ‘Rocky’ pose once he reached the pinnacle though.
We continued to drive him around the area for the rest of the afternoon, and fed him a great meal at Tia Rosa’s in Mesa before dropping him off at the airport. It was 86F/30C when we drove away from the airport. As I write this it’s 18F or –8C in Calgary. It’s no wonder that he didn’t really want to go home.
We had a great time with him, and while it was a short visit it sure was packed with activity. We’ll have to do it again soon!