A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arizona - Business and Pleasure

August 16, 2012

The drive from Phoenix to Tucson isn't terribly long, but it is scenic. I stopped at a rest area to get my camera out.   While there, I noted the way they had constructed concrete walk paths in the area of the rest stop that highlighted local vegetation for visitors. I was tempted to wander and walk a bit, but worried a bit about doing so while traveling alone, and was rather anxious to get checked into my hotel in Tucson.

I thought there might be some places I would want to get pictures of along the way.  This was true, but there was rarely a good place to stop. I made it a point to just really enjoy the drive instead. I noted groves of trees, but struggled to identify them.  A sign gave me a clue at the edge of one grove "Pecan Wood for Sale."  Aha! How cool! I didn't even know pecans grew in Arizona. There were irrigated fields of lush green growth that looked a lot like potatoes, but that didn't make sense to me. As it turns out, Arizona does produce a fair amount of potatoes, but these fields were more likely cotton. Once again, I did not know that this was one of their crops. As a matter of fact, it's one of their top three crops (1. Lettuce 2. Cotton 3. Hay)?! I guess I always thought Arizona to be too arid for agriculture. Boy was I wrong!
I was concerned about getting checked into my hotel because there had been quite an issue with getting it booked. I used Priceline, as I have many times before. I was thrilled to land a Sheraton for such a reasonable price and counted myself lucky.  Then I started reading reviews (at the prompting of my Dad).  Then I spoke with someone who had actually stayed there. All accounts were saying this was a very bad choice for me to be travelling alone and that I would not be pleased with the condition of the hotel.  I was faced with an expensive decision.  I could either wait and see how bad it really was, or book another hotel and eat the cost of the first.  Since I named my own price, neither Priceline nor Sheraton was willing to work with me about the condition of the hotel, claiming it had earned its star rating and it was my loss.  I chose to err on the side of safety and comfort, booking a room at the Doubletree Reid Park.  I am SO glad.  It was absolutely outstanding.  The accommodations were great, the place was beautiful and the staff was over the top great.  Even though the ordeal cost me a small fortune, I think I chose wisely.  More importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson.  Just book something decent and pay the price.  As long as I book with the hotel directly, I have some recourse if it does not meet my expectations (not the case with Priceline).

I arrived, checked in, settled my things into my room and gave my Dad a call.  We had talked about potentially having dinner together, and I had arrived in town a little sooner than I had originally expected.  He indicated that he had just started preparing dinner and I should just come on over then.  I was taken back a little and a touch nervous.  It had been 12 years or more since we last saw one another, so I don't think that was out of line. I was still dressed from the day in the office, but I just headed out to begin our visit.

When I arrived, he was waiting for me outside the gate of his apartment complex with another fellow. The other man held a camera and captured our first moments seeing one another (that was pretty cool). I learned that the man with the camera was my Dad's nutty neighbor Rebel.

We went inside and I finally got the chance to meet the lady in my Dad's life, Miss Barbara.  She was so excited to see me, she hugged me right away.  It was like we'd known each other for years. I sat next to her on the couch and after a few minutes of conversation it hit me, she's blind!  She stood and walked so well to greet me that it didn't dawn on me until she was sharing with me about learning to cook again and about all the ways my Dad has been helping her. Boy did I feel silly!  She's a marvelous lady, with a lot of love in her heart for my Dad (and me, even though we'd never met before that evening).

I had sent a package ahead of my visit so that they could sample some of the canned goodies that I have been putting up. I asked if it had arrived yet. We walked to his post box and there it was. It was fun to open it and go through the contents with Dad and Barbara. We had a great meal together and visited for several hours. I finally decided to call it a day sometime after 10. It had been a very long day, beginning with time in the office, a long drive and then culminating in a big visit.

I had plans for some relaxation and sightseeing for my time in Tucson, beginning the next day, so a good night's rest was important!

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