The Year of Friends: Southwest Edition (37 of 90)

It’s Sunday. Day Four of my Western Road Trip.

I won’t lie. I’m a bit worn out right now. I’ve already logged 350 driving miles (not counting the 60 mile trip to the airport) and four hours of flight time. I’m ready to relax, something that won’t happen until tomorrow at the earliest.

This is a gauntlet, but one well worth the running.

The best part: seeing my parents after they’ve spent several months on the road. I can’t keep up with them, really. They have skirted all over the Southwest and West. But I caught them for a few days in Phoenix. And boy, what a nice place.


There’s not much to do, but there’s not too much we wanted to do. There’s a nice fitness joint, some walking trails and a great living area (complete with a balcony to enjoy the 70+ degree weather).

I wasn’t feeling too hot, a by-product of my not smoking (Day 32 thanks for asking). Still, I can feel myself getting healthier and I had the chance to eat some of mom’s home-made cooking. So: success.

I managed to find a little cafe around the corner from the condos, nestled in an office park at the base of Highway 10 (which seems to be the only highway in these parts): The Bagel Nosh.


My parents also had a nice surprise for me. An old family friend, one who lived next door to us in Carmel, Indiana (way back when I was 4 years old), lives out in the area with her husband and two children. My mother, bless her, keeps up with everyone. And Andrea is no exception.

It’s a long story, but the short version is this: her grandparents became good friends with my parents.

The night before I left, they all stopped down for dinner.


What a great, grand time we had. Lots of laughing. Of course the kids and I spend most of the night reading, playing with little figurines (I have no idea what they were called – but they had magnets and stuck to the corners of the walls) and laughing.

Saturday was a bit busier. After a quick run, I headed off to see Sativa, a friend from my Berkeley days who is just absolutely the bees-knees. We hadn’t seen each other in seven or eight years. But the timing worked out for waffles at her apartment with her beautiful little girl and her very kind man.


Honestly, it was everything I could do not to take pictures of the waffles. They were awesome (and the blueberries and strawberries…definitely a WIN).

At noon, I headed to Goodyear, a little suburb outside of Phoenix, to meet up with my second cousin Bill Baker (who I’ve never met). His mother, Ann, was a keeper of records for the clan so I wanted to see what she amassed.

It was a treasure trove of information – records I could never have hoped to find on my own. More than that, though, Bill and I chatted for nearly four hours (and his little twin girls hovered around us the entire time. I’m a little bit in love with my little cousins) while his wife tooled around their gorgeous house.


The pictures don’t do these two cuties justice. They are smart, funny and very engaging. This is in no way influenced by the fact that they spent the entire time rubbing my head (they dig the bald), holding my hand, sitting on my lap and otherwise doting on me in the way that children do.


I left Goodyear around 4, determined to put Arizona in my rearview mirror.


I arrived in Redlands, California, just west of Palm Springs and the Joshua Tree around 7 pm. My friend Kris (our families have been friends for more than 25 years) lives here with her son Bennett (whom I will meet for the first time today). I have a bit of work today (there is always work) and then we’ll spend a few days catching up, covering topics that will most certainly never appear on this blog.

But that’s neither here nor there. And there will certainly be more dispatches later.


Well, whatever it is, it shall surely be grammatically correct :)


Next time I will. By the way, how hawt is it that you deleted your first comment and corrected a comma error. Your man is one lucky waffle-making dude.


Well Hell's bells, I wouldn't have cared if you took pictures of the waffles. Shoot away. Next time I'll insist.


Well Hells bells, I wouldn't have cared if you took pictures of the waffles. Shoot away. Next time, I'll insist.


It's been a lot of running, but definitely the good kind. I did, in fact, stop the car a few times just to look. The big Southwestern sky does my heart good. I miss this region. We must talk soon about me coming to Berlin. I need to get my ticket before too long.


Beautiful hills. Beautiful kids! I'm the trip is treating you well. Pull off for a few minutes and stare at some of those lovely blue-sky clouds, and breathe and feel the ground not moving under you. Be safe!