Lakers and Hopping in Phoenix

After some time in and around San Diego, I had Phoenix on my mind. This particular morning I was waking up in Alpine, a small town just east of San Diego itself, staying with a girl from couchsurfing. I made a sign that said "PHX", and we got to walking.

We first stopped at a corner store where she got me a bomber of Alpine beer from the local brewery, then to a nice little breakfast spot where she got me a big breakfast burrito. So big actually that I ended up leaving with the leftovers from both our meals. It was an interesting little spot, a fireplace burning in the corner, moose heads on the wall and seats filled with smiling relaxed locals.

We walked down the street and she pointed me in the direction of the freeway, we parted ways there. I waited on an onramp for a bit, but quickly made my way to the main flow of traffic. A big truck stopped about fifty yards in front of me, I ran to it, but when I got close I saw the driver waiving at me to signal that he hadn't stopped for me.

I waited a bit more until a pickup truck with a trailer pulled over, he asked if I had any pot on me, I told him no and he let me in. He was headed all the way to Phoenix and we'd be passing a checkpoint with dogs, that being the reason for the pot question.

His trailer was used to haul water fountains around the region, he was their delivery guy. We drove through the clouds flowing through the mountainous terrain on route to Arizona, eventually passing through it where it opened up to clear blue skies and eventual desert. I enjoyed the passing cactus as we talked about various things. After a stop at Burger King he pointed out a nuclear power plant in the distance. He told me a story of an engineer who worked there that disappeared, the plant scrambled to change security codes, but they eventually found him dead in apparent suicidal fashion.

He dropped me off at the familiar exit 131, Larry's exit, I'd been dropped off there a number of times. I got to walking, Larry scooped me up along the way and we headed back to his place. His friend Bill was in town staying there too, a friendly character with some traits of a pirate - a larger man with a raspy voice, peppering in grunts with his speech, he was from the baja peninsula in Mexico. He talked to himself quite a bit, I found it pretty entertaining.

We had a beer and caught up for a bit, Lagunitas IPA. Bill had just brought some fish and shrimp back from the coast, we intended to grill it all up that night, but too much time slipped by, so we ended up going out to a place called Islands to eat. Once back at the house I talked to Larry for a bit, mostly about Trip Hopping, then passed out in an empty room.

The next few days were fairly relaxing, I spent a fair amount of time in front of the computer with Trip Hopping related tasks. One of the nights Trish came over, we got around to grilling up food from the coast and taking care of a couple rum bottles. There was no hot water at Larry's, but a trip to the gym was good for a shower, some basketball and relaxing in a hot tub.

Friday came around and Larry had a couple tickets to the Lakers game, they were in town playing the suns. We went to the game, pounding a couple funky tasting beers in the garage beforehand, Larry couldn't even finish his and I couldn't blame him, they tasted an awful lot like splenda or some off chemical. The seats were pretty good, I cheered along with the many other Lakers fans in attendance, Larry did the same for the suns.

At halftime we made a bet, loser would have to have their picture taken with the winning teams jersey. The Lakers won of course, a late technical foul from Phoenix's coach sealed the deal. Outside the stadium, Larry grudgingly asked a passing Lakers fan to borrow his Kobe jersey and we had someone take the picture, ah yes.

We went to the Aloha fest in Tempe the next day with his kids, along with various friends we met up with along the way. There was a while bunch of people there, music and performances and food stands all over. We stopped by a friends house after, then hopped on the light rail back to Larry's brother's place for BBQ and a movie.

Another few days of bouncing around after that, computer, food and movies. I went to the bank to cash a check from Blockbuster, four years ago I'd worked for them for about a month, and for whatever reason my friends had got a check in the mail from them for about $20. The bank wanted me to open an account to cash it, and surprisingly they were able to set up a special account for me - I'd previously been denied of doing such things, blacklisted for defaulting or some such.

My week or so in Phoenix had been good, getting things done, seeing the Lakers play and oddly getting back into the bank account scene. The next day was Saint Patricks day and I'd be embarking on a new journey up to Oregon, it would prove to be an unforgettable trip.