I’m planning to attend the Worldcon in Los Angeles next week, and on the way to the west coast my family and I have made a stopover in Phoenix. This is my second trip to the area: I was here a bit over two years ago at Westercon 57; I had a great time, met some tremendous fans and fellow pros, and came away wanting to bring my family out for a visit.
The site of Westercon was the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, a suburb west and a bit south of downtown. The Wigwam was the corporate retreat for Goodyear, but over the years has become a private resort – eating and swimming and family activities. It has the advantage of being a rather genteel, protected environment (like a Disney resort, except without the cartoon characters). August is, of course, right in the middle of Roast the Foolish Out Of Towners Season – excuse me, off-season – and that made our rooms quite affordable. We arranged for three nights at the Wigwam, following which we’d drive up to the Grand Canyon, see the sights, stay a night and return on Tuesday so that we could fly out to L.A. on Wednesday.
Thus prepared, we set off on our excursion on Friday the 18th, leaving T.F. Green Airport in Providence at 6:30 AM. It was remarkably crowded at 5:00 AM when we got into the queue(s) – one for ticketing, one for baggage scratch-n-sniff, one for security screening. We pushed more things into checked baggage than usual, due to the most recent terrorism scare, but it meant we traveled lighter overall.
Our first flight to Cleveland was on the next thing up from a puddle jumper but was without event (though we did take off in a thick fog). The second flight, Cleveland to Phoenix, was a bit of a nightmare: a woman traveling with two small boys basically bedded down and slept through much of their rampaging, which drove the flight attendants crazy. (We were two rows away. Tough ride for the folks just behind the little miscreants, particularly when boy #1 transformed into the Toxic Avenger. Mom had to be woken up to swap out the diaper after everyone in range complained.)
I assume that airlines have enough things to worry about without having to deal with this, but I wonder if they can do anything against such a passenger. Needless to say, we were glad when we got to Sky Harbor Airport, but not as glad as the heroic flight attendants who had to fight the monsters back into their seatbelts for the landing.
Here’s a news flash. Phoenix is hot. Not Fenway Park Bleachers in August hot. Not Fourth of July Picnic hot. Really unbelievably “who the hell opened the brick oven?” hot. I was braced for it, but my wife and daughter were pretty well stunned at first contact. Having been in transit for almost twelve hours – from the wakeup call at the airport hotel at 4 AM until we pulled out in our rental car – didn’t help much. But A/C and a good meal helped a great deal, and soon enough we’d reached our destination.
The Wigwam is located in Litchfield Park, which is a ways west of Phoenix proper. I hadn’t driven out there in ‘04; I didn’t have a car, but rather came from the airport in a shuttle. To the eye unaccustomed to the sight of large rectangular areas with nothing in them, it’s a bit strange to see tracts set up for development right near big box stores, restaurants and groupings of new homes; our overwhelming impression was of being in the middle of a SimCity game. “Oh, look,” my wife said. “That’s a ‘C’, and that one’s going to be an ‘R’.” Commercial zones, residential zones, but nothing in them yet. An imaginitive lot, we gamer types.
We were assigned a casita: a large suite with a king bed for us and a pullout couch for A. We wound up spending the afternoon and a good part of the evening at poolside; on Friday and Saturday nights they put up a screen and show a movie after dark, so A. (a devoted swimmer) got several pool hours and got to watch the new Herbie movie, the one with Lindsey Lohan and Michael Keaton. Having seen the original one almost forty years ago (gulp!) in the North Reading (MA) Drive-In Theater, the new one was a much more entertaining experience for A. than it was for me.
When the movie was over we retired to our casita, absolutely wiped out from the travel, but glad to be on vacation at last.
Day 2 next: an online podcast with the Wingin’ It folks, tasty Mexican food, and another poolside movie.