Pleased to meetcha, Phoenix!

On Friday, my trip started out way too early and my lovely bride took me to the airport at 3:45 am. We originally planned on stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts on our way, just as they opened for some fresh, hot donuts, but unfortunately, I dithered at home, which made us a few minutes late. So we went straight to the airport where Ellen dropped me off. Breakfast at the airport consisted of heart healthy English muffin with turkey sausage, egg white as a sandwich. Flavor free as well as heart healthy. I guess.

I changed planes in the Denver airport, which is always a cool waypoint. For those that aren’t familiar, Denver airport has a very interesting aircraft museum in the terminals. My favorite airplane hangs in terminal B, an Alexander Eaglerock. This aircraft played a cameo role in the Ernest K. Gann book, “The Aviator” as one of the search aircraft that overflew he stranded aviator and his passenger because it had poor visibility due to the odd shaped lower wing. To me, this aircraft typifies the biplane era, and I always thought it had a cool look.

On the Denver to Phoenix leg of the flight, I was engaged in conversation by several of my fellow travelers. Turns out many of my fellow seat mates were on a trip, from Iowa, to purchase or pick up a car. I had the sudden realization that I have become a stereotype. And that stereotype is of the “Iowan who comes to Arizona to get a rust free car.” But since Land Cruisers are so cool (along with bow ties and fezzes) I decided I was superior to my fellow Iowans in desperate search of low mileage cream puffs.

I was picked up at the airport by my friend and colleague, Janiece Marquez, who is the owner of Stable Outcomes, a company that devotes itself to waging peace in conflict areas through providing sustainable infrastructure, political and military solutions. I met Janiece in Afghanistan in 2011, when she was attached to a Special Forces team in Eastern Afghanistan. She’s a small woman, but one of the most impressive individuals I’ve ever met. Besides owning Stable Outcomes, she has been a professional-level Salsa dancer and speaks fluent Pashto and Spanish. She’s also incredibly fit, and one of the first things she did was to take me to a CrossFit gym, where she proceeded to destroy me, physically.

We also dropped by some relatives who have the good fortune to live in Phoenix. They have a really cool house in a good neighborhood, and I really enjoyed seeing them again, and getting to see their house for the first time.

After that, we drove to the shop where the Land Cruiser was dropped off, hoping it would be ready, but got there after they closed. Since we were there, I looked the car over, and it’s pretty much in the condition I’d hoped. Rust free, with just enough “ugly” to justify the low price. The transfer case was missing, which means the mechanic didn’t have time to get to it, so I’ll need to wait for Monday to find out what’s going on with it. That means more time to enjoy the pleasures of Phoenix. Unfortunately, the spare tire was missing as well, which means I need to find a junkyard and get another one, before we do any serious driving.

As expected, the underside of the car was solid and rust free. I really need to clean it up and shoot some paint on it before driving it up to Iowa to swim in salt and other rust inducing lovely things.

I’d planned on removing the running boards as well as the plastic body accents, which is a good thing, since they are both a bit ugly and falling off. I have no clue what Toyota was thinking when they put them on. A series 80 Land Cruiser is a work vehicle, and no amount of dressing it up changes that fact.

It has one ding and scrape on the passenger side, which will seem some body work and filler prior to painting it blue.

The interior was a bit worse than I initially thought; I will need to reupholster the two front seats and the interior carpet will need steam cleaning before I can decide whether to reuse it.

After checking out the car, we did some work. The cool thing about my work, is that I can do it anywhere. So since the internet worked best by the pool, we carpe’d that diem. The weather was amazing, frankly.

We eventually gave up on work, then hit the hot tub and watched the Iowa State Men’s Basketball team beat Kansas. I’m a life long Iowa State fan, and in my younger days used to help coordinate the pre-game ceremonies for both basketball and football games. We then ended the day with an amazing steak barbecue. While I was slightly disappointed in not being able to have the Land Cruiser for this weekend, (the Phoenix area has some truly amazing 4×4 trails) it was really cool to meet up with relatives and to spend the remainder of the time working and and just hanging out with Janiece. Hopefully when the mechanic’s shop opens tomorrow morning, they’ll have some good news.


About hotmilkforbreakfast

I am a researcher, a writer, a former soldier, an academic and a lifelong learner. All text and pictures are copyrighted and are not to be used without express permission of the author.
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3 Responses to Pleased to meetcha, Phoenix!

  1. J. Isenberg (M.A., Ia State.) says:

    Paint it blue? Why not paint it cardinal, with gold accents?

  2. I look forward to the account of the reverse road trip. I think the thing I absolutely love the most about this country is one’s ability to jump into a car and effortlessly drive for thousands of miles on end.

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