Monday, July 30, 2007

Flying the Dangerous Skies...

The last day of our trip wasn't supposed to be eventful...But it was....

As you've seen by the blogs you've religiously read about our trip, we had an awesome, awesome time with tons of crazy stories to share. We thought we were done making stories....

It was the last day. All we had to do was go to the airport and fly home. We had driven 1,400 miles in our rental. We were tired. We were broke. We were just ready to go back to Jersey to see our beautiful cat. ....and then we experienced the Phoenix Sky International Airport.

I've travelled out of Newark Airport on numerous occassions and know the ins and outs of it like the back of my hand. You would think that security would be extremely tight at Newark because of obvious reasons -- because the Devils are set to open their arena there next year, right? But getting through Newark Airport a week prior was a piece of cake when you compared our experience at PHX.

When we arrived at the Continental counter at PHX, we were told that our 10:40 a.m. flight was cancelled and they were moving us onto a U.S. Airways flight. The Continental counter person told us that we'd have to switch flights and shouldn't worry that our ticket said the flight was leaving at 9 a.m. -- even though it was 8:30 at the time. So, I wasn't worried...Apparently PHX security was as well.

After we trucked it over to a different terminal, we attempted to check in and were promptly forced to get on yet another long line to check in. The second line we joined was full of pissed off Jerseyans who were in the same position that we were in. We finally reached the front of the line. I thought it was interesting when I looked at our boarding pass and saw an "SSSSSS" on it.

We got on yet another long security line and were told by the security screeners that we were being randomly chosen for extra screening. Turns out there wasn't anything random at all about it, as everyone who was in the second line with us who were also headed to New Jersey was also selected for extra screening. Talk about random...People in line with us said out loud, "It's not like we're terrorists at all." To me, that's as dumb as saying 10 years ago on a line that you had a bomb. It's the new taboo..

And apparently now, they're targeting Italian terrorists from Jersey. We waited in line for literally 10 minutes and then had to go through a high tech GE machine that puffed air at our faces to supposedly blow micro particles off of us into a collection machine. I'm sure the molecules they blew off me contained alcohol and XBox 360 manual dust.

After the high tech test, we waited as a screener swabbed every single item in our carry on bags. Thank God the Swedish penis enlarger was concealed in a false bottom of my bag. "How did that get in there? Honestly."

I hate airport security. I really do. I had the entire rigamarole they make you go through from taking off your shoes to emptying your pockets to making you take your laptop out of it's case. Our trip through Phoenix Sky International Airport made the experience so much worse.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 7: Phoenix is a Horrendous City

It's a well known fact that on Randy Johnson's first day in Pinstripes that he was greeted on a New York City street by a cameraman who wanted to film him. Randy prompted told the man to get of his face and knocked the guy's camera to the ground. Now that I've been to Phoenix - a town that Randy played in for years and plays in now for the second time in his career - I know why he did that.....It's because he had never seen a camera in his life before...because people who visit Phoenix don't bring cameras because they do not want to capture the horror that is this horrendous City.

We made our way from Sedona down Route 17 on the last full day of our trip and stopped at the Cliff Castle Casino for a little hold em. I played poker for approximately 30 minutes or so against people that were clearly townies that frequented the small Indian casino on a daily basis. I ended up losing $10, but really think I could have won a substantial sum if we had stayed there longer since everyone played every single hand.
Near mid-day we reached Phoenix and it was it's typical over 100 degree summer day. We drove around the City and were surprised by the lack of people in the City during the day. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was because everyone already knew what we knew. That Phoenix sucks. There was NOTHING at all to do there. So after driving around for a little while and getting lost in Phoenix's ghetto - yes, they have a ghetto - we decided to go to Scottsdale to check out the Botanical Garden.

Thank god we made that decision, because it literally made our day a whole lot better. We walked through the Garden and saw over 50 different type of species of Catci. I had originally thought that there was only one type, so I was intrigued by seeing the different types. While we were there we visited Indian huts, saw a range of animals, grounded up some beans and nearly died from heat exhaustion - another common theme on our trip.

I wish I had more to detail the last full day of our wonderful Arizona trip, but Day 7 - the Botanical Garden not included - sucked snake balls....ya know, if snakes have balls.

Tune in tomorrow for the story on how the Italian Stallion was nearly detained and sent to Guanantamo to serve as the base of a naked terrorist pyramid.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Day 6: Standing on the Corner with Some Indian Rock Art

After having a world wind 5 days in Arizona, the last two were by far the least exciting. We woke up early on Day 6 - to my chagrine, a common trend during the trip - had breakfast and visited Canyon de Chelly. After seeing the Grand Canyon and the Red Rocks, Canyon de Chelly wasn't very impressive by comparison. The coolest part of Canyon de Chelly was we had the opportunity to speak with a local Indian artist who was selling do I put this....rock art.

From the beginning of our vacation, my wife had looked for authentic Indian art to bring back to New Jersey. Everytime we looked through shops, she would check where it was made for and immediately put it down when it said it was made in Mexico or Taiwan, etc. etc.

So, we were excited when we had to chance to speak with an authentic Indian artist who painted flat rocks while we watched. He offered us a deal to buy one piece for $60 and get another one for free. I knew my wife wanted one, so I used my the bartering skills that I had picked up from some intense Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gaming and told him, we'd buy one for $40. He eagerly accepted and we now have a nice 1 of a kind painted rock in our New Jersey living room.

After visiting Canyon de Chelly, we travelled south and drove on Interstate Route 40. A large majority of this Interstate goes along the old Route 66, which was once known as the mother road. It's interesting, but all it really is is an old dirt road. Might be interesting to those who deal with asphalt - you know who you are Smelmooo - but I was less than enthralled with this part of the trip.
During this part of the trip, we stopped at the Petrified Forest and saw petrified trees - actually logs laying on their sides - that had turned into rocks. As I said in an earlier blog, it wasn't nearly as impressive as I thought it was going to be. My wife and I were really disappointed with it.

Another stop that I wasn't all too impressed with was when we stopped on the Corner of Winslow, AZ, made famous by the Eagles old song Take it Easy. It's a corner. That's it...

That night we stopped again in Sedona and had quite an awesome dinner and the friggin hottest -to the taste- fajitas I have ever had. I love hot food and put Tabasco sauce on everything I eat...But I was sweating eating these fajitas. God, they were hot.

That's all for now. Tune in soon for the last day of our trip....otherwise known as Day 7: The Reason Why Randy Johnson is such an asshole; because Phoenix (where the Diamondbacks play) sucks snake snakes have balls?

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's a Happy Day

Today is my wife and mine 2 year wedding anniversary. Seems like yesterday that we met...and it seems like tomorrow that we got married...uh, what...where am I? honey, please put down the chloroform and take that knife away from my throat.

Don't Threaten Me With a Good Time

We now interrupt the recap of our Arizona Road Trip to bring to you a review of the best show on TV today. For those of you who don't get the reference I give in the headline, I'm talking about VH1's Rock of Love.

Rock of Love is a Bachelor/Flavor of Love knockoff that has Poison lead singer Bret Michaels as the Bachelor looking for the perfect bimbo that he can cheat on while he's touring the world with his hair band. The difference between the Bachelor and Rock of Love is simply the fact that instead of roses, Brett Michaels gives women who move to the next round Backstage Passes. Another big difference between Rock of Love and The Bachelor is the fact that when Bret decides to keep a girl around for another week, instead of telling her how much he liked her because she was smart or pretty, etc. etc., he instead tells her how horny the girl makes him or how "wonderful her breasts are."
In this past week's episode, they attached a blood monitoring device to Bret's member to measure the blood flow while each girl talked dirty phone sex to him. It was both disgusting and "I can't look away from a 200 car train crash" at the same time.

It's simply a fabulous show that mixes a rocker, 20 or so bimbo girls - a large majority of them with really, really fake boobs -- current or former strippers and copious amounts of alcohol. It's a mix that makes for a killer show. The show has been on for 2 weeks thus far and it's tremendous about of debauchery has made it simply my favorite show on TV today. I can't even put into words how ridiculous are the comments that come out of these girls' mouths and Bret's mouth. I can't even capture it in this blog.
So intead, I implore you - no, I beg you - to watch this show. ...

I'm back tomorrow with the story of Day 6 of our trip when we stood on the corner of Winslow, AZ without Bret Michaels and his 20 bimbo babes....

Friday, July 20, 2007

Day 5: Contaminated NJ Gravel Piles or the Painted Desert?

We started out our drive from Cameron to Monument Valley early the next morning and a few things occurred to us during our trip on the way there.

1) A large majority of the roads in Arizona are single lane with very few solid yellow lines separating each lane. While you're driving, there's a good chance that any type of car will pass you at anytime no matter if there's a decent line of sight or not. There's no speed limit for large sections of road, so if you're not going at least 85, you're guaranteed to get passed by another car or truck.

2) During this section of the trip, I would be driving (and not able to write) and I would tell my wife "Write that down" (for the blog). The first time I said this to her she immediately said "No" and it pretty much became a religious quote on our trip. You had to be there. There's a good chance that my loyal readers are missing out on "That's Gold Jerry!" thoughts because my wife refused to be my secretary on the trip.

3) The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest are not as impressive as you might think. When I was young, we learned about both locations. Of course, I didn't retained any of either lesson, but I remember that I always wanted to go there. So I was excited when we got the chance. Needless to say, my excitement didn't last very long.
I'll get to the Pertified Forest in a future blog, but we definitely were not impressed like we thought we would be with the Painted Desert. Depending on the time of day that you pass through the desert, you are likely to have either a great experience or sucky one. We passed through part of the Painted Desert on our Day 4 trek near sunset and it was decent. I neglected to mention in the last blog that this trek took place after the 6 mile Grand Canyon hike when we decided to drive 25 miles to eat at the nearest McDonalds in TUBA CITY. My wife loves that city.
On Day 5 when we passed through a large part of the Painted Desert we just thought it was blah. It looked to me like they were just big gravel piles that could be confused by some people as gravel piles that you see while driving up the NJ Turnpike.

After a long trip of seeing nothing but nothing, we reached Monument Valley. We stopped for a Oscar Meyer Processed Bologna and Provolone sandwich - Only the best for me and my wife - and then made our way to a horse stable on the grounds that we heard about from my wife's parents.

When we arrived, we were greeted - in a mumbling fashion - by a Navajo indian boy who took care of the horses at the stables. We stood there for 10 minutes before the kid told us that the horses had to finish eating before we took them out with a guide. When my wife asked him what he did all day at the stable, his response was "I just fucking sit here and watch them eat."

After the horses were done fucking eating, other people who owned the stable showed up and we got the opportunity to go on a horse ride throughout the park with an authentic Navajo Indian tour guide; who was wearing an Emmitt Smith Arizona Cardinals Jersey. The tour was definitely exciting as we got to ride beginner horses who pretty much followed all of our commands. We got to trot and gallop on the horses and it was an excellent experience. When we got off the horses though, it was a different experience altogether. I'll leave it at that....

Overall, the horse ride through Monument Valley was definitely a Top 3 Experience on our trip and I'm happy that we were able to experience it.

Tune in tomorrow (or whenever I get the chance to write the next blog...get off my back already loyal readers) for the chance to experience what's it's like to actually stand on the corner of Winslow, Arizona.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 4 - Hello God? It's Me Tony

Day 4 started out bright and early - approximately at 5 a.m. in the morning. We wanted to get an early start out this day because it was the day of our big hike into the depths of the Grand Canyon. Little did I know, it would nearly be my last day on this earth.

All over the Park there were signs warning people not to hike to the bottom of the Canyon (near the Colorado River) and back to the top during the same day because of extreme exhaustion. While we didn't hike down and back on the same day, let's just say they sure got the extreme exhaustion part right.

We hiked that day on The Bright Angel Trail, which is the most popular trail on the South Rim of the Canyon. During the hike, we saw freaks and geeks in high heels and jeans (not together) and various other types of apparel that didn't seem appropriate for hikers. The hike down was breathtaking - because of the awesome views and the fact that we had to take small sips of breath in between holding our noses from the mass amount of stinky mule poo on the trail.

On the way down, I took 20 or so photos, drank 3 bottles of water and felt good. My legs and feet hurt a little so the wife and I decided to valiantly bypass the 1.5 mile resthouse to make our way for the 3 mile house. Wasn't our plan at the start of the trip, but what the hell. When were we ever going to be at the Grand Canyon again? Plus, it was early in the day and we figured that we'd be able to make it down and back without much effort and stress.

Along the way, we saw a woman who had been bucked off her mule and had to be airlifted out of the Canyon at 3 mile house. It was definitely upsetting. Hopefully that woman is okay.

After the 1 1/2 hour or so walk, we reached the 3 mile house. At the time, I felt it was quite an accomplishment to make it to that point. I'm used to walking a couple miles once or twice a week at or near sealevel on the flat sidewalk, so it was quite a different aerobic experience for me and the wife.

It sure makes a big difference though when the temp. is 95 degrees in the shade and you're at 6,000 feet or so. We rested at the 3 mile house for a half hour, ate some trail mix, filled up our water bottles and began our long trek up the canyon trail....As you could expect it was a lot more difficult going up the steep trail than it was coming down it. MUCH, MUCH more difficult. much so that I had visions of suicide.

So far, I've told everyone that the best highlight from our trip was the hike down into the Grand Canyon. The scenic views were one of a kind. The weather was beautiful. It was Shangra-la crossed with the 1996 World Series.

I tell those same people that the worst part of the trip and maybe the worst part of my life ever - including the Yankees collapse in the 2004 ALCS - was the trek up from the 3 mile house. I cannot express in 1 million words how horrible it was.

As I said before, on the way down, I had three bottles of water. On the way up, I drank or poured on myself 8-9 bottles of water. We stopped literally every 5 minutes to rest. We stopped anywhere there was shade. We might have stopped 20 times. I don't know. My wife, who is in much better shape than the formerly beer swilling Paperboy, dealt with it much better than I did. At one point, I remember telling her that I would rather throw myself off the Grand Canyon than climb one more step. I was serious. Jesus, it was horrible.

After 2+ hours of climbing 3 miles up on a 45 degree incline in 100 degree heat, we mercilessly reached the top. I nearly collapsed. You can see from the picture that while I'm smiling, I'm really not in a happy mood. I'm smiling because I was happy that the whole experience was over. And because of the fact that I started the 6 mile round-trip trek with a beer belly and emerged at the end with a flat washboard stomach...

It was probably one of my Top 1o accomplishments of all time and I'm wicked proud that the wife and I did it. But I'll never forget how horrible the trek up the Bright Angel Trail was...

Tune in tomorrow for the story of the Painted Desert and our trip to John Wayne's old stomping ground...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 3: Did We Lose the Blame Canada War?

We woke up early the next day and drove 2+ hours from Sedona to Cameron for our next stop on the trip. On the way, we went through the Oak Creek Canyon, which was definitely scenic and beautiful. We got to Cameron thinking that the rim to the Grand Canyon was just a few miles away, but once we got there, we found out that we still had 3o plus miles to drive. On the trek from Cameron to the South Rim, we passed the Little Gorge of the Colorado River - the guy gets no respect from anyone since the Grand Canyon is just a few short miles away. We also passed a number of Navajo Indian stands and old movie sets from the Hills Have Eyes 1 and 2 - insert tough in cheek here.
Once we got to the Grand Canyon, our plan was to go on a hike into the Canyono. But after we arrived at East entrance near the South Rim around noon that day, we found out that they didn't advise that anyone hike inside the canyon between the hours of 10:30 and 4 p.m. We found out the next day exactly why they advised that. So instead of hiking into the canyon, we took a leisurely stroll around the Rim Trail of the Canyon. Most of the trail was paved and fairly flat, so it wasn't a big deal.
As it was the first time in my life that we had seen the Grand Caynon up close it definitely was an awe inspiring experience. It's on the Rim trail that we got the two best pictures from our trip. Both the picture found at the top and bottom of the blog were taken on a camera timer that my wife set up. Unfortunately the timer was only 10 seconds long, so my wife had to set the camera and literally run over to set herself up in the shot. I was neurotically worried that she would set up the camera and lose her footing and fling herself into the canyon (secretly because of her embarassment that her husband writes this crappy blog)...Thankfully, without incident, she safely made it into both shots.

One thing that we noted as we were making our way through the Rim Trail was the tremendous amount of foreigners that we heard speaking different languages on the trail. A large majority of them were Canadians speaking French. I felt for a second like we had lost the "Blame Canada" War made famous by South Park's Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
Tune in for tomorrow's harrowing story about our 3-mile journey into Mordor....How did Frodo ever do it??

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 2: Are the Red Rocks for Real?

Prior to July 4th, my only knowledge of the Red Rocks came from the fact that Dave Matthews put out a Live Album at the Red Rocks a few years ago. I knew that and also that we would be visiting a place where the rocks were colored red...the name kinda gave it away.

When we arrived at the Red Rocks, I must say that I was taken aback by the view of the rocks from road into Sedona as well as the awesome view from our hotel balcony. I had no idea how truly awesome they were until we went on a tour of the Red Rock State Park.
On the second day in Sedona, we took a 2 hour Pink Jeep tour - apparently one of the most popular tours in Sedona - around the Park and I was taken completely aback by the beauty of the Red Rocks. For most of the trip, I didn't even believe that they were real. It's just really hard to put into words and I'll never do the feeling I had justice, so I'll leave it at that.

After the jeep tour, we hiked through Oak Creek Park -- about 15 miles from Red Rock State Park and had a decent time. It was an okay hike, but it was cut short because of the impending rain. Turns out though that it never actually rained except for a few drops. The wind though was howling like hell. We've never heard such a strong wind before. For me and the wife, it was yet another example of nature that you don't experience in New Jersey.

After hiking, we decided to enjoy the main street of Sedona. I'm not sure what the deal was, but there was NO ONE at all in Sedona on the Wednesday and Thursday that we were there. We had nice dinners both nights and the restaurants were completely empty and the streets made it feel like a ghost town.
...but our view of the Red Rocks during Wednesday and Thursday made our first stop on our 2007 Arizona Road Trip totally worth it. Stay tuned tomorrow for the stories about our first day at the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 1: Dry Heat is a Wet Dream

Vacation for the wife and I started dark and early on July 4th. ... 2:45 a.m. to be exact ... which isn't a horrible hour if you're slinging records as a nighttime disc jockey, but it's pretty horrible when you lay in bed until 11 p.m. or so and eventually drift off into a half sleep/half awake stupor. Then the alarm rings at such an ungodly hour and you feel like you want to merc someone.

I'm a pretty psychotic, nervous traveller, so the wife and I got to the airport around 4:30 for our 6:45 flight. After parking in P7 at Newark Airport, we proceeded to hop onto a bus to the Terminal and found ourselves on the set for Speed 3 - sans Sandra Bullock. You wouldn't think there wouldn't be too many people at the airport at 4:30 a.m., but there was and everyone was on our bus. And our bus driver refused to stop opening the door to more and more people. Soon, the bus was packed to the brim. I only partially remember it because I was still in a comatose state.

As we travelled to the airport, my wife noticed a strange smell on board. Some might say it smelled like the tires were about to catch on fire. Others might say we were in dire need of Keanu.

To put it simply, I'm not sure the brakes on our bus worked at all, because as we approached intersections, the bus driver laid on the horn like there was no tomorrow. To quote Kramer: "The bus was OUT OF CONTROL!"

At one point a guy standing next to us on the bus said out loud: "This is like some Speed shit up in here." Somehow, we managed to make it to our terminal. The flight went fine and we got to Phoenix at 9 a.m. in the morning when it was already 98 degrees on its way to a historic day high of 116 degrees.

We left Phoenix - which we discovered later in our trip sucked balls -- promptly and made our way for our first stop in Sedona. On the way, we saw nothing except open fields and cacti. It's pretty amazing when you see nothing on our trip. You could say that both my wife and I were shell shocked by the emptyness of it all. On the way to Sedona, we visited Tuzigoot National Monument and Montezuma's Castle - both of which were interesting because of our love for history and for the exciting opportunity to get the plague from the local squirrels.

When we finally arrived in Sedona our breath was completely taken away by the sight of the Red Rocks. We checked into our hotel and were greeted by an amazing view from our 5th floor hotel room. We had a lazy afternoon at the hotel enjoying the views and then ate at a local favorite - The Cowboy Club - where I enjoyed a buffalo filet mignon for the first time and a $120 bill.
I'll leave you with a photo of the view from our hotel room. These are four real pictures that I took and my wife stitched together. Yes, all of the red rocks in Sedona look like they are fake. Stay tuned for tomorrow's Day 2 blog on Rocky Roads and The Fake Peaks of Sedona. The wife has assured me that she may pop in for a guest blog or two, so stay tuned for that as well. ...

I'm Back Baby! I'm Back!

I'm back and our vacation was awesome! It was definitely one of our best and most active vacations ever. There was no laying on the beach drinking fruity drinks...that's for sure. From taking a jeep tour through the Red Rocks to hiking 3 miles into and back from the Grand Canyon to riding a horse through Monument Valley like John Wayne, it was an awe-inspiring experience.

My plan is to post a daily blog about each day of the vacation and put pictures to go along with the stories....if I can get the damn photo software to work on my computer.

Will be back later today after I get through my 200+ work emails with stories of Day 1: From Speed 3 at Newark Liberty Airport to the Mountains of Sedona.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm Back....for a Minute

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I know there's those of you out there that can't get through the day without reading my witty blogs, so I figured that I would give you one last blog before I hit the road for the Grand Canyon. My wife are headed out to Arizona early tomorrow morning, -- before even the butt crack of dawn -- and we're really looking forward to it. We're landing in Phoenix and then road tripping it from Phoenix to Sedona for 2 days. Then from Sedona to Grand Canyon for 2 days. Then to Monument Valley for 1 day and back to Sedona and Phoenix for another day each.

It's supposed to be between 100-107 degrees when we're out there and since we'll be hiking most of the trip and doing a ton of driving, I figure that there's a 50/50 chance that this will be the last blog that you ever read. I figure that either I'll end up in the script of The Hills Have Eyes 3 or keel over from heat exhaustion.. Who Knows?

I haven't blogged lately because I've been struggling to get 3 weeks of work done in 3 days. Here's a short version of Entertain Me for those of you who look to my movie/game/TV recommendations like Elaine Benes looked to Vincent; the insane kid who offered recommendations on what movies to watch.

So here goes:
  • Breach: Might be one of the best movies I've seen in awhile.
  • The Guardian: The last thing I expected when I got this from Netflix was a good movie. I was very pleasantly surprised.
  • Death of a President: Disturbing as all hell.
  • Sicko: Excellent movie, but depressing as hell.
  • Season 4 of Rescue Me: Excellent so far.
  • Man Vs. Wild: Bear Grylls is a sick bastard. And I hate him because there's a 90/10 that if my wife ever meets him in person that she'll leave me.
  • John From Cincinnati: I can't figure out if I'm on the verge of never watching the show again or if I'm on the verge of it becoming my favorite show on TV.
  • Season 4 of Entourage: Decent so far, but not as great as Seasons 1-3.
  • Dirt (XBox 360): Phenomenal rally sport racing game that is only single player. Which is weird for a racing game.

I'll be back from the trip on July 11th and will definitely post a long blog on our trip...unless I end up in the Hills Have Eyes 3. ....