Cactus Flower to Yellow Rose

2

November 22, 2022, Grapevine- A 1:45 a.m. wake-up, for a 3:15 shuttle, leading to a 7:15 flight from Phoenix to Dallas-Fort Worth, is not on my frequent travel schedule. It is also far from the hardest of itineraries, as I imagine any veteran of a Belem to Manaus to Leticia packet boat trip along the Amazon, or a joyride from Punta Arenas to the Ross Peninsula, or even a trek to the summit of one of the great peaks of the Himalaya, Andes or Northern Rockies, would attest.

It is, however, something I have mastered, along with nine other travelers, who joined me in packing a van that made it in perfect time, from the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (where a twenty-minute search of three stops yielded the two travelers sought.) There was scant traffic, once two more passengers boarded the shuttle, in Prescott Valley and Groome’s driver got us to Sky Harbor on time.

Other than a few uptight, suspicious people in an airport coffee shop, and in my row on the plane itself, there were no hiccups between Phoenix and my secondary home. I retrieved my luggage fairly quickly and took my first ride in a Tesla. The car is not quirky; I’ll say that much, and the time may well come when the brand has no more association with Fascism than does a Volkswagen. It rides very smoothly.

Now it’s time to relax, get rid of the rest of the cold that has bothered me-along with 3/4 of the people I know in Arizona- and bask in my little family’s presence.

Seventy-One and Counting, Day 2

2

November 30, 2021- Son was busy, during our after-lunch walk, counting any and all critters he spotted along the nature trail that wends it way along Mill Creek, just east of the apartment complex which was, until this afternoon, my Texas home for a week. There were eight squirrels, a crane and probably five green beetles of one kind or another. Such is the condition of an ecosystem that is in the early stages of a managed recovery.

Lunch. Yunhee made her third classic Korean meal in a row. After mandu gook (dumpling soup), and miyok gook (seaweed soup) came bulgogi (the famous Korean marinated barbecued beef). Every meal taken at home was heavenly.

Farewells. I left my little family behind, after a lowkey, but well-spent week. We did not leave the house much, but did take in a few nature trails-including the aforementioned Mill Creek Trail; the latest James Bond film-replete with an Agent 007 who is not Bond, James Bond-and a JB mini-he; and a couple of restaurants-the surprisingly good Tommy Tamale and the earnest, but not overwhelming, Jake’s Burgers and Beer. About the latter, the perky server, Maria, took good care of us, when she wasn’t hanging out with her friend-but that is a maturity thing, not a matter of character. The fare itself was lackluster.

Aram and I had important conversations about spirituality and preparing oneself for parenthood-before even trying to start a family. He has a clear vision about both matters, which I find re-assuring. I was also able to give him extra moral support, while he finished a college project he found nettlesome at times. I’m ever happy to be with my little family.

Return flight. I wandered into an American Airlines bank of check-in stations that were apparently meant for connecting passengers. The agents looked bored out of their skulls, so they were more than happy to check my bag and direct me to the correct gate. TSA is a bit more exacting at DFW than at Sky Harbor. Shoes and belts still come off, and the efficient site manager has bins underneath each standing point along the conveyor belt. Woe be unto anyone who takes a bin from the used pile, which is unsanitized. The manager reminded me of Queen Latifah’s character on the current “The Equalizer”- as officious as needed, very professional and very sure of self. The confusion over a delay of the flight turned out to be confusion, and not fact. My flight to Phoenix left on time. I had a relatively brief waiting period in the boarding area and the plane was loaded on time. Nice seatmates, from Louisiana and California bantered, mostly with one another. I occupied myself by watching a silent screening of “Kong vs. Godzilla”, which I have seen as a captive audience, once before. The Hollow Earth theory is something of which I had heard before, when I was about twelve. Thankfully, it has been relegated to B-grade SyFy.

Sky Harbor. Once on the ground in Phoenix, it took only fifteen minutes to retrieve my checked bag. I had changed the shuttle time to Prescott, owing to the rumoured flight delay. So, back upstairs it was, to Blue Mesa Tacos. The new cook was being strictly supervised by the manager, but she was doing a fine job on her own-for which I praised her. The quesadilla was perfect.

Around 6:20, the shuttle to Prescott arrived. As there was space available, I made a quick appeal to the driver and explained the switcheroo. He was glad to take me along, and by 8:30, we were all back at Home Base.

All good things come to an end, followed by other good things.