The Landing

I imagine Neil Armstrong’s bio-suit was firing off all sorts of “oh shit, I’m gonna die” signals as his body tried to cope with the stress of having one eye out the window of the “LEM” (Lunar Exploration Module) and the other on a fuel tank that said, “Idiot: you should have gassed up at that old floating Gemini carcass in Earth orbit.”

Yesterday’s trip from Tucson across a landscape that constantly reminded Kyle of some “Star Wars” (Sand Dunes) or Narnia (Mountains made of giant boulders) began of course with my boy ordering the “All American” breakfast in-room at the hotel of baked Pringles and 4 sides of assorted chocolate candies. He had so much sugar in him for the trip, only a breakfast of peyote & eggs would have provided the same buzz for Dad. Sadly, the “Blue Willow” was all out of peyote, so I settled for turkey sausage with dual cackleberries, scrambled.

Unsurprisingly, my boy wasn’t hungry when we sat for breakfast, nor was he very energetic as we cruised slowly through the U of A campus. For most of that he was reclined, only poking his head up on occasion to satisfy the old man. That sugar comedown is a bitch. After scoring a $9.95 “Arizona Baseball” tee, we (and when I write “we” I mean “me”) were off to see a few of the old apartment complexes I lived over 30 years ago. They were all still there… Casa Royale, Casa Espana, and of course, Casa Del Oro which had been re-named to “Arizona Commons.” Renamed or not, the ghosts are still there.

I’ve got to say, while Priceline can occasionally zing you (hotel in Arroyo Grande, CA when “Pismo Beach Area” was selected is an example), it’s been great so far, and our sweet metallic blue 2009 Nissan Altima with under 5,000 miles for $27 a day is Exhibit A. At the counter, I specifically asked for an iPod friendly car and that’s what we got! Anyway, as we cruised along Interstate 8 munching organic fruit, trail mix and beef jerky, the dulcet tones of Jim Dale poured out of the tweeters and woofers reading us “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

OK, so skipping gas in Yuma at under ½ tank wasn’t too bad, but breezing by El Centro like a dementor on a mission was in hindsight, stupid. As we approached yet another set of mountains, the gas light came on and indicated 60 miles left in the tank. By the time it was in the 30’s I was engineering siphoning plans. Someone would stop AND have a hose, right? “Ocotillo – 8 Miles” was some solace, but was there gas there? The mountains were looming and my stomach was churning. We were in a desolate area so close to Mexico, there are way more Border Patrol employees than inhabitants. Oh! “Trust your car to the man who wears the star! – Texaco!” I was never so happy to hand cash to a young Mexican man working for a giant multinational corporation.

From there it was an easy couple hours (and 2 Border Patrol stops) to our hotel on Mission Bay Boulevard and directly into the beverage. After a nice dip, we headed to a “Gringos,” a Mexican joint in Pacific Beach. About 30 seconds from the restaurant I realized I forgot my wallet… and I didn’t care.