This weekend was such a welcome getaway. I’m just going to document all of it because it makes me a little nostalgic for good times to read these a few months from now. (If you want to skip over, all you need to do is hit “J” if you’re in the tumblr dashboard.)
A couple months back, Joe and I figured out that he could go to a physics conference in Tucson while I tagged along, and while not in Tucson, we could stay with some of his family in the Phoenix area. I asked for time off, and thankfully received it. We left Thursday afternoon and drove all day to get to Phoenix by 11pm (our time). Our first night was spent in the home of his grandfather, where Zack, Joe’s brother, also resides as he just got a pretty sweet job in the area.
I spent Friday kicking around mostly by myself. Joe had to drive to Tucson, which was a longer trip than he had thought originally; Zack also worked. I got up feeling strangely refreshed considering I slept on a loveseat and put on my first shorts and tanktop in at least a month. I decided to take a walk in order to get some photos of the nearby desert (ample saguaro cacti!), but my camera’s lens had something on it that couldn’t be casually blown off or lightly dusted off. So I had to forget that- and that is why there’s a pretty severe lack of photos of my time in Arizona, despite the fact that I spent nearly three days there. I walked to Safeway and got myself my traditional tall soy unsweetened earl grey tea latte, and then walked back to the house.
Zack called and asked if I wanted to go to lunch. He picked me up in his new!car, and we went to The Elephant Bar. While most of our experiences in Phoenix on this trip were new, I’d actually been to one of these in Albuquerque. I like it. Two main things I like about this place: a safari theme (with plenty of giraffe paraphernalia) and chopsticks a-plenty! Upon returning home, I found Joe’s grandpa watching TV. I brought out my laptop just to see what was happening in the world, and then somehow he and I got to chatting about photography. This guy has been a really great photographer in his life. He’s much older now and is very restricted; he’s practically a shut-in. Here’s one of many great photos he’s taken:
Yup… that’s my husband! (Let me know if this doesn’t show up for you- I’m still trying to figure out permissions with Picasa.)
I told him about how some of my customers really like my photograph of Prague that I have posted there. Even upon first glance, he made some really impressed noises and made some critical comments that a lot of inexperienced photographers certainly wouldn’t know about (relating to composition). I got to showing him more and more photos, and he was quite taken aback by this photo of Zack. He said it said more about Zack than most photos do of anyone, and that he really wanted a copy of it. So I ordered him one that’ll be sent there. He may just be acting very kind (he’s usually a bit of a curmudgeon, I hear), but it was really nice to get some perspective on my photography. He’s challenged me to get one as good as the one of Zack, but of Joe, so he can get a print of that and frame it too.
So that was all very enlightening! Then Zack came home, ready to go out and enjoy Friday night. We had plans for Amaro’s, a pizza place and wine bar, but Joe’s ETA kept getting later every time we talked to him. So we went to this place called The Sandbar, in one of the local shopping districts. This place had sand out on the deck, so naturally I had to have a couple margaritas. I already really enjoy hanging out with Zack, but he and I especially enjoy drinking together (okay well I can’t speak for him, but I enjoy it). After a couple drinks I made sure to yell at him about how unfair it is that he is so photogenic, yet he constantly bemoans photography — my photography — when I am very encouraging of his writing. Anyway, Joe showed up and we had mojitos all around. After that, we had great pizza and wine at Amaro’s, where the service was fantastic!
The next morning, Joe had to leave early again for Tucson. Zack and I made plans the day prior to go see the Arizona State University campus. Being quite tipsy before bed the night prior, I completely forgot to charge my phone, and when we got in the car directionless, I almost immediately killed my phone looking for a route to Tempe. Zack doesn’t really know the area yet, so when I went for the top search result on my phone, he just accepted it. Well, it turns out I accidentally got us directions for the ASU West Campus, which is distinctly uninteresting on a Saturday morning. We finally got directions to Tempe and got there around 11am.
The ASU campus feels really modern. We walked down a mall with palm trees stretching several stories over our heads, and the sidewalk seemed to be immaculately clean. I don’t know if this was a result of the campus’s adopt-a-hall program by student organizations, or if the sun beating down in that Phoenix way just made it so we couldn’t see anything but large shapes. We mused over some of the landscaping— there are a lot of fragrant trees (citrus, in particular), and there were a few Japanese zen elements tucked in corners. Upon finding a particularly nice garden, we sat for a while enjoying some really strange flowers. We couldn’t tell if we were looking at petals or brightly colored leaves, in one case.
Lunch was at a nearby trendy restaurant area. Zack and I headed into Mellow Mushroom Pizza, and ordered the Holy Shiitake Pizza: shiitake, portobello, and button mushrooms with truffle oil drizzled on top. Oh my, it was good! So savory! This place also had an excellent beer selection. I had two Rogue beers: an amber ale and an IPA… or was it a double IPA? I don’t remember. I know I had a double IPA later in the weekend. Anyway, I think the conversation was particularly good at this point in the day. We followed lunch up with a couple neat scotches and whiskys at a nearby Irish pub, where the bartender was knowledgeable in a way they all ought to be.
When we finally ended up back at Grandpa Peterson’s, we were slated to have t-bone steaks. The truth is, Zack and Joe are both off animal protein, as much as they can help it, and honestly, I’m not eating a lot of it myself these days. Grandpa doesn’t know this, and he had called for steaks that evening. So when it came time to have steaks- really effing huge ones- I got what I could down. I felt kind of sick afterward, though. It was too much. It made enjoying the next part of the night a little more difficult.
Nonetheless… we went to the movies at an iPic. Have you heard of these? You reserve your seat ahead of time on the internet, picking out where you’d like to sit. In which of each of these amazing la-z-boy leather chairs would you like to view your movie from? Yes. So Zack reserved our seats that morning, and when we got there, we stopped in at the bar first. Part of the major appeal of the place to me is that you can drink alcohol while watching the movie! In public! And we didn’t even opt for the premium seats. In those seats at the top of the theater, the seats recline, you are given a pillow and blanket, and waiters continue to serve you alcohol and food all through the movie. Glorious! Now that is how you watch a movie!
Sunday, we got started rather late. There’s a restaurant in the Phoenix area that costs around or over $100/meal, and that’s for five courses. Well, we didn’t go there, but Zack knew of a bistro run by the same chef, and he’d been to the other place. This place was wonderful. We had great service, I had a great wine, and the french fries are to die for! Now I think I still prefer the Block 15 beer-battered french fries as standalones, but the fries here are more than respectable— downright awesome — and come with amazing sauces. Of course, the sign of a great chef is his ability to make beautiful sauces. Each bunch of french fries comes with truffle oil ketchup, a garlic aioli, and “sauce vert”, which was just this green stuff. I adored the ketchup and the aioli! So much so that when we were about to leave, I got an order to go. After all, we were leaving town altogether to go to Las Cruces- a 7 hour drive. We said our farewells to Zack, knowing that we will be seeing him again quite soon, for Joe’s birthday weekend in Taos.
We rushed onward to Las Cruces! I got to drive and listen to lots of loud music. Joe generally drives long distances more than I do, so I almost feel like it’s a treat when he “lets” me drive. Not that he ever stops me; I just relinquish power early on in a trip and he never gives it back up. Anyway, when we got to Cruces around 8pm, we were supposed to go to Mandy’s, but she was held up at work. So we went instead to my old Starbucks. Oh. My. It is so huge! I never had a sense for how nice of a store it was! None of my contemporaries were on shift that night though so it was kind of anticlimactic. We headed on to High Desert Brewing Co., one of my favorite sentimental spots to hang out in Las Cruces. It’s a proper college town, southwestern brewery, and I’ve spent many birthdays and special nights there.
I was so happy to see my favorite Las Cruces people there! My bff Mandy, my sister Katie, and my longtime friend Lauren all showed up- those are the people in the photos with me above. I was really tired from the drive and had no idea I looked that way until I uploaded the pictures the next day. Oh well. We drank five pitchers between nine people, and had so many laughs! It has been an emotional burden for me not to go out with my friends in the evenings and just hang out over a pint. I got a lot of that done this weekend. I really can’t express how wonderful it is to be with my best friends and laugh loudly again.
Afterward, we went to Jacob’s place, where we sat out on the back porch and had a few more drinks. There was also a hookah, which I am somehow bad at, and Jacob taught me how to play three chords on a guitar. I think I could actually be good at it if I had been sober- but I definitely wasn’t! Again, laughs continued, and I enjoyed seeing everyone so much, etc. etc. etc.
The next day, I went and got a haircut. This is a big deal for me! I have needed one since before Prague, and I never got to tell my favorite hairdresser I was even moving away from Las Cruces! She’s now five months pregnant and happy to boast that she has someone coming from out of town just to get a haircut from her. Let’s just say I left her a pretty big tip. Lunch was with Mandy, Katie, Lauren, and Nikki at Zeffiro Pizzeria. Even after all my travels, this place is still my favorite pizza. Joe and I hold all other places to the standard of Zeffiro. Well, it was amazing again. As it ought to be!
I drove back to Los Alamos afterward. It was a long drive by myself, as Joe is in Las Cruces doing some work at NMSU. I had to be up here so I could be at work at 4:30am the next morning- ugh! I ate junk food on the drive and found myself wallowing at having to go back into exile. Of course, this was me being tired and unhealthy. I don’t think of my time here as exile anymore, but goddamn do I miss my friends! Today was better after a three hour nap with my cat in a cold room under warm sunlight.