Spring Break in Arizona
From March 11 to 16, the Whiskey family was on vacation in southern Arizona. During the 1980s and '90s, I visited Phoenix and Tucson several times with Mom and Dad to check out the baseball spring training camps and enjoy the warm and sunny weather. When K and I were dating, she came out a couple of times to spend a week with us. But we had only taken the kids out there once (2002). This would be our second time. A couple things have changed since the last time we visited... the Phoenix metro area continues to expand in textbook "urban sprawl" fashion, and the Rangers and Royals had established training camps in the northwestern 'burb of Surprise, relocating from Florida to Arizona.
Our trip wasn't just about baseball (we attended just two games), and it certainly wasn't about trains, although Matthew and I did get out for a day of rail photography. It was mainly about spending time together as a family, relaxing, and having a fun in a bright and sunny environment. The kids got plenty of time at the hotel pool, and K and I enjoyed complimentary drinks at the nightly poolside "happy hour", courtesy of our hotel.
The weather cooperated beautifully.
One very noticeable thing about the Phoenix area is how artificial everything looks. Here you are, smack in the middle of the Sonoran desert, and everywhere you look there are palm trees and lush, green golf courses. It takes a phenomenal amount of water to keep everything that green. To experience the true desert, you have to get out of the city. That's not to say that all the greenery isn't nice to look at...
View of a golf course from our 5th floor balcony The balcony also featured a nice poolside view. The kids went swimming once or twice a day during our visit.
Palm trees at our hotel
One of our planned activities was a round of miniature golf at Golfland in Mesa, a place we've been going for over 20 years (I believe it was originally called Golf & Stuff). Their courses feature some of the most elaborate castles and other golf "obstacles" I've seen anywhere. Whiskey narrowly escaped with a victory: W-53, K-54, L-76, M-82. I also joined the kids in a round of laser tag, which proved to be a lot more fun than the round of golf!
L prepares to putt at Golfland
Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of my trip report. Part 2 will cover the baseball games we attended, and Part 3 will cover the day that M and I spent watching trains. Meanwhile, here are a couple more photos...
Mailboxes imitate life in the desert near Kelvin, AZ
Gavin Rail Services switch engine near El Mirage, AZ
In other news...
Just before we left on our trip, KHYI ("the Range") dj Dave Avery passed away, quite unexpectedly. He had been working the morning slot (6 to 10 am) since January, and I had still been getting used to listening to his show. I wouldn't say he was my favorite on-air personality, but I did admire his enthusiasm for Texas music, and appreciated his appeals to listeners to go out and see more live performances.
It has been approximately one year since Bruce Kidder left the airwaves, and to say that KHYI has struggled in filling the morning slot would be an understatement! Let's take a look at how Bruce's replacements have fared...
1) Natalie and Nadine - crashed and burned like the Hindenburg!
2) Dallas Wayne - banished to late-night obscurity
3) Dave Avery - deceased
I'm sure potential replacements are just tripping over themselves to be next. Dallas Wayne is currently filling in; I haven't heard whether the arrangement will be permanent or if they're looking for someone new.
And that's not all...
WBAP is reporting this morning that longtime Dallas Cowboys mascot "Crazy Ray" has passed away from congestive heart failure. I remember seeing Crazy Ray when I was about 5 or 6 years old, galloping around the Texas Stadium turf on a broomstick horse. Ray had fallen on hard times during the past few years, afflicted by various medical conditions as well as financial trouble. But anyone who remembers Ray's performances during the Cowboys "glory days" will remember him fondly. I know I will.
I'll try to get Parts 2 and 3 of the Arizona trip posted during the next few days. Time is short... K and I will be leaving on another trip in just a few weeks to celebrate our anniversary.
np: Jimmie Dale Gilmore - "Dallas" on KHYI 95.3 FM "the Range"