Spring training '14

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Apr 17, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 591 BOS IAH 0750 1119 319 21A Ch9^^

    I couldn't check in so went to the desk to see what was
    what. After rummaging around a bit the agent said with some
    surprise that there was another pax with the same last name
    as me on this flight, so they had to do a manual (or perhaps
    visual) checkin. Peculiar. I've had some odd security
    happenings lately; maybe they're worried that some
    suspicious character has stolen my identity or something.
    She noted that "they gave you the exit row seat with nobody
    in front of you," which of course meant that my 320, which
    last I'd checked had 3 seats left up front, with me second
    on the list, had been swapped for with a 319. It's okay, I
    rather like the throne and do not care for breakfast on
    United. As we were about to push back, someone a couple rows
    up got asked to come forward and bring their belongings with
    them. The FA sent to assist him added "and follow me off the
    plane." I believe that it was a rather lame joke; anyhow, no
    ruckus was raised, and I am presuming the guy was seen to a
    more cushy place and a hot but nasty breakfast.

    After sending an envious glance toward the lucky passenger,
    the guy in 21C (we had an empty B seat) stole an envious
    glance or two my way. He wasn't substantially taller than I,
    so I made no offers. Actually, someone would have to be very
    tall, almost Lew Alcindor tall, before I would willingly
    cede the throne.

    A pilot in uniform had 21F; used to be that you'd see a
    lot of employees in first. Now they are rare there but tend
    to occupy the more attractive coach seats, especially the
    unspoken-for Economy Plus spots.

    Our captain announced Channel 9; with this soothing lullaby
    I stretched out and snoozed for almost all of this flight.

    But wait, there's more. As we were about to turn onto the
    takeoff runway, I groggily heard "uh, United 591, we, uh,
    have to go back to the gate," and so we did. It turns out
    the nose gear had sounded funny, and investigation had shown
    that all the gas that cushions it had leaked out. Finding
    that out and remedying it took an hour plus, so we headed
    out again an hour and half late with promises that they'd
    try to make up as much time as possible. Which, owing to
    huge headwinds, was zero - in fact, we lost time and landed
    about the departure time for my connection.

    I went to a kiosk, where I was told I was still booked on
    my original flight, which gave me a glimmer of hope, so I
    raced on to the other gate only to discover, of course, that
    the computer was wrong, and the plane was gone. Luckily, the
    club was nearby, so I gave the agent my tale of woe and
    after a few taps on the computer was told that there was
    one seat left on the next flight, but it was "a good one."

    I had time to check my e-mail and out of curiosity looked at
    the seatmap and upgrade list - it turns out that I was both
    3B and 3F, an anomaly that seems to happen when one is
    handled both manually and automaticallly at the same time.
    My boarding pass said 3B. By the time I got to the plane,
    off near Pappadeaux', zone 2 was being boarded, and I found
    a rather smug young creature sitting in my original place.

    UA1607 IAH PHX 1430 1527 738 3B was 3F
    was 1147 1248 1345 739 3F

    But nobody next to me - until departure time, when the gate
    agent did the running down the aisle thing, and a youngish
    man came up dragging along a small child, who proceeded to
    get put in the empty place with the usual admonitions to be
    good. When I'd had enough drinks I wandered back and asked
    the guy whether he wanted to sit with his son, but he said
    that was okay, he had a whole family with him in Economy Plus,
    but he'd gotten the battlefield upgrade and decided to give
    it to the kid.

    The kid played on some small electronic device for most of
    the flight and was bored for the rest of it but didn't
    fidget too much. I had feared that he would be a bit bao bei,
    but he turned out to be fine.

    Service was pretty good. The guy in 2A communicated to the
    staff by hand gesture only, which I thought odd, and which
    put off the purser, a black guy in his 30s, who appeared to
    take this as a racial issue, which on reflection I think it
    was. Thenceforth, he had other flight attendants serve our
    area, which was no problem for me, as one was rather pretty
    in an eastern European looking way and the other gorgeous
    and statuesque and milk-chocolate-colored and attentive.

    Courvoisier was better than usual.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I'd feared that having missed my lunchtime flight I would
    go hungry, but in fact a meal was served.

    The lunch choices were green salad topped with shrimp and
    ranch dressing or a chicken burrito. I said I didn't care
    but liked the ancho chipotle sauce that comes with the
    burrito. Perhaps I could have had a special order of
    shrimp salad with a couple packets of that sauce, but that
    is retrospect talking. The burrito was actually okay, sort
    of a chicken pot pie in a wheat tortilla. The chicken, which
    actually had small bits of fat and gristle as if to prove
    its animal origin, tasted like food. Some strange tough
    green bits, some of which were peppers and some of which
    weren't - perhaps bits of overage scallion or something,
    perhaps a nod from yesterweek honoring St. Paddy's day?

    The meals came with cream of mushroom soup, barely lukewarm,
    not as good as Campbell's, with similar tough green bits.

    A white chocolate chip orange raisin craisin cookie for
    afters. The kid, who had politely refused lunch, got two
    of these, and the FA offered me the same. I thought she
    was joking, but when I looked up she had one in hand, poised
    to give it to me. I asked for more Courvoisier instead.

    My buddy from olden days Swisher was there to pick me up,
    and the plan was to take him to the promisingly named Hap's
    BBQ not far from the airport. Okay, I'd recently had lunch,
    but why not - we weren't going to be in the neighborhood for
    a while. It's an ordinary fast food looking joint (its motto
    is something like Slow Food Served Fast), but the smells are
    reassuringly good.

    I asked for a half pound of fatty brisket, which came as a
    pile of chopped with enough fat to make it interesting, but
    also dragged through the lube pit, as I call it. The meat
    was tender and tasty in a pot-roasty way, mildly smoked. I
    forced Swisher to down an ounce or two of it; he pronounced
    it good.

    His pulled pork was a little on the lean side, nothing
    special, but juicy and unobjectionable.

    I asked if they sold ribs by the each; answer "of course,"
    so we had one each - very good, lightly brined before
    being given a good smoke. I thought that they were not
    properly trimmed, so there was a big blob of lean loin
    meat atop each. The part you expect in a rib was perfect,
    though - just the right ratio of lean to fat and just the
    right toothiness (none of this falling-off-the-bone
    silliness - I hate getting ribs that are like meat porridge
    with sauce). The loin meat was excusable - it was just a bit
    of free Canadian bacon on top, after all.

    The famous house barbecue sauce would have been better if it
    had been ketchup mixed with liquid smoke.

    No booze, so Swisher had iced tea, and I had a pint of the
    heavily caffeinated Dr. Pepper.

    Our castle a few miles down the road - the Days Inn and
    Suites Tempe on W. Elliot; I had initially thought I'd
    booked the one in downtown Tempe, but luckily this one found
    me in its computer. We got an actually kind of okay suite
    with two regular double beds and one pullout double sofabed
    in the TV room. Slightly dark, remediable by opening a
    curtain, giving us a great view of people using the stairs.
    and they of us. So we didn't use the window much.

    The beds were just a little lumpy but eminently sleepable.
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  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The Days Inn breakfast approaches realness and is slightly
    nicer than most free continentals, offering actual protein
    in the form of pork sausage, somewhat spongy but okay
    tasting, and eggs that were among the creamiest I'd ever
    had. Perhaps they blenderized the powder before cooking,
    not that that's a bad thing. A good variety of breakfast
    breads; fresh whole fruit; waffles via self-service maker;
    Froot Loops and some flake cereal.

    Mariners @ Cubs 3-0

    This is the inaugural season of the new Cubs Park on Rio
    Salado, and I was eager to check it out. Traditionally the
    staffing for Cubs home games has been done by a local
    fraternal/charitable group called the HoHoKams, and up
    until last year the Cubs played at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa,
    but in the offseason they had a new park built also in
    Mesa to replace the aging HoHoKam. Next year renovations
    to HoHoKam will be complete, and the Athletics will move
    there, leaving the rather nice Phoenix Municipal (the main
    improvement to which, I would have thought, would have been
    a better beer selection) to the local university.

    We picked up our friend Carl at his house a couple miles
    down the road and luckily got great parking not far from
    the entrance to the new stadium. Tip: if you approach the
    park from the east, via Rio Salado, you get better parking
    than if you approach it from Dobson.

    We found the friendly HoHoKams working here as though
    nothing had happened. I didn't get a chance to ask what was
    going to happen next year, whether they are going to stay
    here or return to HoHoKam Stadium, or both. I made a quick
    inquiry to see if my friend George was working this game but
    after a round of people who didn't know who he was much less
    if he was working, I tried no more, turning my attention to
    beer first and what I could see of the game next.

    There is an array of Goose Island products, inconveniently
    sold at different places, so here (as many places) one has
    to do a bit of scouting to find out what is to eat and drink
    where. I started off with a fairly decent Honker's Ale, hard
    to find, because the dominant Goose Island product in such
    warm climates is 312, a nastyish wheat beer. I had to trek
    out to behind the left field lawn to find it. When that was
    gone, halfway through the game, I had an IPA, buyable closer
    to home.

    Otherwise this is a Busch house, and it is astonishing how
    many of the palate-dead there are who persist in trying to
    seek out Miller and Coors things. Folks, there's not much
    difference, and your choices are being informed by the
    Super Bowl ads.

    Down the right field line is an area with food trucks - an
    attempt to capitalize on the latest new thing. The two
    places getting any kind of business were the Iowa Hawkeye
    guy and his pork tenderloin sandwich (formerly seen at
    Scottsdale Stadium I think), where the line was about 20
    long, and the Green Chile Cafe, whose line was half that.

    So I got tacos de carne asada for lunch, ordering mine as
    hot as they could do, and Carl said make it two. I assess
    the heat level as medium minus, and that combined with the
    precooked nature of the meat downrated the food quite a
    bit. I'd give it a gentleman's C, okay, C+. It came topped
    with lots of cilantro and a bit of decent guacamole.

    Speaking of home, I'd been in charge of hotels, with Swisher
    taking care of the tickets, so in deference to my eyesight,
    he got seats as close to the plate as available; this meant
    that even though he chose seats on the third base side, we
    were in the sun longer than he was comfortable with (I tan,
    he burns), so every couple innings he would find a shady
    spot to park for an inning and cool off. This time we were
    well in front of any shelter, so our seats were in the sun
    most of the game, and we wondered why such a new stadium
    should have been built with such scanty overhang.

    Oh yes, the game. Some stellar plays in the field, and on
    the whole pretty good pitching. The visiting Mariners
    blanked the home team by 3, new acquisition Robinson Cano
    going 2 for 3 with a walk (I don't like him, but my friend
    who works for the Mariners is high on him) and my old fave
    Dustin Ackley went 3 for 4.

    We picked up Carl's wife Ellen and all visited the Royal
    Thai Grill, one of the great unsung restaurants in the
    valley. Chuckie the proprietor greeted us with the news
    that the door was busted again, so Carl the handy person
    took a look at it and seems to have got it fixed.

    We started with larb neua, fairly spicy, which came with
    raw cabbage on the side to cut the strong flavors. It was
    pretty good. This and the next dish came and went well with
    sticky rice.

    The pork jerky (cured with coriander, dried a bit, and then
    deep fried) was very spicy and not a favorite at the table.
    The others took a token strip of it and left the rest for
    me, which I was fine with, and I polished it off after
    dousing it with hot fishy sauce.

    Catfish with basil as usual was delicious and came with
    regular rice.

    Chuckie suggested we get tofu with vegetables, as he thought
    we were eating too much meat and fat. The rest of them ate
    all the vegetables. I, the meatarian, got the tofu, which I
    normally enjoy modestly but today was extra welcome as it
    helped me rest my taste buds.

    With a Singha a person, we spent maybe $12 or 13 each.

    Back at the hotel, Swisher decided we needed more beer, so
    off he went for six-packs. Presently he came back with a
    twelve of Dos Equis for him and a twelve of ... Stella ...
    for me. Luckily Stella, bad Belgian that it is, tastes more
    like bad beer than Belgian beer.
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  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Indians @ Rockies 14-3

    Swisher hadn't seen the new Talking Stick at Salt River,
    home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. This week the Rockies
    had it to themselves, while the D'backs were off in Japan
    falling into premature regular season last place courtesy
    of the Dodgers.

    We parked in the faraway parking, being too proud to use
    the handicap area and too cheap to use the VIP lot. We had
    plenty of time to hobble across the VIP lot and make it
    in to our place before the festivities. To be fair, the
    park offers free cart shuttles to the elderly and infirm.
    To be unfair, the drivers ignored us and instead offered
    places to the young, cute, and female, preferably it seems
    all three.

    The guy who took a seat next to me asked if I was a
    Cleveland fan (we were 5 rows behind the Indians' dugout),
    and I said, well, I'm certainly not a Rockies fan, which,
    after an initial awkward moment, he took pretty well and
    engaged me in a several-inning conversation about the
    Rockies' prospects for this season, a subject about which
    I know nothing (except that it's a lousy team) and cared
    about as much.

    This stadium offers Four Peaks products in among the regular
    junk. Kilt Lifter is the strongest and the tastiest.

    There's a Pima Indian fry bread stall, so I got one with
    powdered sugar. It was tough and resilient and cooked in
    rather old oil. A disappointment.

    The Red Men ruined the day of the homies by an astounding
    14-3. I understand that the favor was returned next day
    by 14-6.

    After this we decided to give China Magic another try: this
    is the unassuming noodle house that CNN called one of the
    best Chinese restaurants in the country. We had a decent
    though flawed meal here a couple years ago with TW1, and I
    was getting a hankering for chewy noodles and spicy Asian
    food, for reasons beyond me. Swisher was a good sport.

    It was only about 15 minutes from the stadium, a straight
    shot down 101, so we got there during the pre-dinner lull,
    with us being only about the third or fourth party there.
    By the time we left, most of the tables were taken.

    It's hard to eat here with just two people, as you want
    to get at least two different kinds of noodles plus other
    stuff. We just got the basics.

    You order one of four kinds of pasta - thin, regular, wide,
    or shaved - in one of several preparations, very simple
    but very versatile. Thin and regular are familiar to all,
    the counterparts to say vermicelli and spaghetti; wide are
    like chow fun or pappardelle; and shaved are curiosities
    knife cut from a chunk of dough. For me, the thinner the
    better; the problem is that as with Italian pasta, the
    thinner the harder to get just right.

    Thin noodles with ground meat sauce - a dish that can go
    two ways, one with hoisin, quite sweet, delicious in its
    way (this is what you often get under the name Peking
    noodles), the other with la dou ban, extremely savory.
    Thankfully, this was of the latter sort; it was pretty
    good but unthankfully very unspicy, and with the mass of
    chewy starch (almost properly cooked, not quite) the hot
    oil on the table could hardly do the job, and when we
    left, half the bottle was gone. Oh, the meat was pork or
    a mixture of pork and beef; it had been fried pretty hard
    and so acted as a textural contrast as much as a flavoring
    or an ingredient.

    Beef noodles (medium) with XO sauce and vegetables came as
    a standard southern stir-fry complete with overtenderized
    meat; the noodles were chewier and more satisfying than the
    rather limp thin ones, which as I mentioned are very hard
    to get right. I should have gotten the ribbon noodles, which
    are cut rather than pulled but stand up well to a saucy dish
    with chunks of ingredients. The XO sauce was not much in
    evidence, offering just a touch of heat, not enough, and a
    touch of fishy umami, not enough for me, just right for
    Swisher, who doesn't eat fish.

    Iced tea - the place doesn't have an alcohol license, and we
    had beer at home anyhow. The lack of license is reflected in
    the low prices: our meal was under $10 each.
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Tex @ KC 4-8

    We packed up in the morning and drove up 17 to the Hilton
    Garden Inn Phoenix North Happy Valley, arriving around 11.
    I threw myself on the mercy of desk clerk Keisha, who very
    accommodatingly found us a room that was already ready for
    occupancy. It was a pleasant though smallish room; the view
    might have been nice at one time, but now it was a good
    panorama of the mountains with lots of warehouse and office
    space between them and us. As elites we got free water,
    cocktail at the bar, and breakfast. We used just the last,
    as we had places to go and things to do.

    Surprise ballpark was half an hour - actually, with the
    traffic, closer to an hour - away. It is the regular field
    of both of these teams, and I guess they must alternate
    homeness when playing each other. Swisher hadn't been here
    either and had no excuse as this is by no means a new venue.
    In fact, we went to four games together, all in parks new
    to him. Sort of cool, I guess.

    Notable things about the venue: it's in the middle of
    nowhere, so it offers free parking; it's a small park with
    no bad seats or blind spots but still doesn't fill up well;
    it offers Shiner Bock. I think that counts for two balls
    and two strikes.

    Another great day for baseball, and this time we got a
    little shade due partially to the design of the park and
    partially due to a few clouds that came and went.

    The Rangers (whom I don't care for) took their medicine
    from the Royals; Alcides Escobar was the hitting star,
    going 3 for 3 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI. It was a quick
    though sluggerly game, and after the 8 1/2 necessary, the
    teams agreed to play a bottom of the ninth to let some other
    nonregulars get their licks. Few patrons stayed to watch,
    and nothing happened anyway. We did and stuck around a bit
    afterward, as we were early. Then off to do a little
    shopping, then back up to Glendale or Peoria or something
    to JanAZ's for dinner.

    JanAZ looks good; her son is getting married this year,
    which means that time has flown shockingly. In deference to
    Swisher, who has little interest in the minutiae of the
    frequent flyer world, we talked about real subjects for a
    change. Dave, sad to say, was called away to some faraway
    land and couldn't join us. He's still the road warrior, and
    JanAZ reaps the reward as a million-miler spouse - she gets
    1K without having to fly. I used to run into her all over
    the world, mostly Asia. Now I see her only on her home turf.
    Life has changed so much. There are bunches of people I used
    to see in exotic climes. Now not so much, though I am still
    putting on them miles, mostly for pointful but pointless
    purposes and leisure.

    Hey, I'm a 2 million miler, does that mean I get to give my
    status to two spice? No? Poop.

    TransWorldOne flew in from Vegas to join us - we've been
    seeing spring training games together for over a decade
    now, but this year he could only fit one into his busy
    schedule. Of course as soon as he arrived the conversation
    veered off to the things we know and love the best, and
    Swisher quieted down all of a sudden. He flies one round
    trip a year, basically, with his cat, in first, on Alaska,
    and that's all folks. His life is perhaps normal compared
    to ours.

    Steak night, nice 16-oz 1 1/4" strips, grilled just right;
    smashed taters; broccoli; Norton Reserva Malbec 10, which
    was somewhat better than acceptable and went quite well.

    It had been a long day for everyone, so we called it quits
    fairly early. The trip back was easy with the lack of
    traffic, and soon the question arose: drink coupons at the
    bar or just collapse in bed? The latter won.
  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Garden Inn breakfast was better than most. The continental
    was generous, with a greater variety of mostly sweet things
    than usual, and of pretty good quality. The full includes
    a plate of eggs any style, breakfast meat, and home fries
    with peppers and onions - I guess you get to pick and
    choose, but I got a pretty standard eggs sunny with bacon:
    pigs is pigs, so you can guess I have no objection to that.

    I'm not regularly an egg person, but at least they're not
    sweet and not cereal. I like to trim the white off an egg
    and shove the yolk into my mouth whole, letting it explode
    inside; this is fun with up to large eggs, but extra larges
    pose a problem. These were extra large bordering on jumbo,
    and one of them caused me to drool yellow a bit.

    The waitress was genial and treated us well, though she
    did spill something on another guest, who took it okay.

    One quibble: the grapefruit juice was cocktail, so I input
    more sugar than I normally would and less fruit substance.

    Not having much to do back at the room, and not knowing
    how long our journey would take, we checked out an hour
    early and went on our merry way.

    MIL @ CIN 9-1

    I'd picked the Brewers because TW1 is from Wisconsin.

    The game was at Goodyear Stadium, right next to the Goodyear
    Airport and boneyard. Much farther than Surprise, but it
    takes less time to get here, owing to the preponderance of
    full-speed freeway travel. We allowed a ton of extra time,
    neither of us having been there; it was a piece of cake, and
    we were quite early so got to do a walkaround the park and
    a detailed investigation of the catering options before the
    game. We found Sam 24-oz bombers for $10, in three flavors,
    Cold Snap, Summer, and the lager at one place and Dos Equis
    on draft, $8.25 for 20 oz, at another.

    Still early, we chatted at random with one of the ushers;
    Swisher had bought a souvenir minibat to murder fish with,
    and the conversation revolved around salmon catching, a
    subject that I have scant interest in except regarding
    the consumption thereof, so he got his revenge for the
    previous evening. Toddled down to our own row, where we
    found a quite attractive usherette of maybe forty-something
    summers, so we had a conversation with her as well before
    finding our seats, which were way in front and well in the
    sun. I stayed down there to drink beer - I'd gotten me a
    double Sam lager - and watch ball; he spent most of his
    time up under shelter.

    Just before or after the first pitch, we got a phone call.
    Through some misunderstanding TW1 had gone to Surprise,
    where the surprise was on him, and he was heading down as
    quickly as possible, poor fellow.

    The game started with a bang, the Brewers having a 5-run
    either second or third inning. TW1 showed up around the
    fourth, after all of the scoring had happened (except maybe
    for one or two that were futile or redundant).

    I'd noticed a Mexican stand near the first-base-side
    entrance that smelled decent and found another outlet of
    the same down in the depths of left field. As left field
    was way less crowded than the entrance, I went down there
    for an order of taquitos. Paid my eight bucks and left
    a tip at the cashier's and went aside to wait for my food.
    The cook told me that he didn't like the way the predone
    ones looked, so he was going to make a new batch. This
    isn't such a big deal - instead of taking the already
    cooked ones and refreshing them in the fryer, he took some
    frozen ones and did the same thing but twice as long. I
    appreciated this, though I'd have sort of enjoyed premade
    ones as well (greasy fried food is still fried food, and
    fried food is good). These came, an order of three, each
    the size of a large cigar, with salsa, a big ice-cream
    scoop of guacamole, and another big scoop of sour cream.
    Sour cream? Yeah, I had my pills with me. A handful of
    cilantro on top. A lot of food, a bunch of Calories.

    The taquitos were actually decent, pretty tasty pot roast
    meat inside, crisp and not too greasy shells, the sour
    cream thick and fresh (contradiction?), and the guac, though
    still with a few ice crystals in the middle, reasonably
    spicy, reasonably tart, and very rich.

    Had we been speaking of doubles? If not, the Brewers hit
    7 of them this game, with two by Logan Shafer and two by
    Lyle Overbay; there was also a home run from Jonathan
    Lucroy, who had 3 RBI.

    The Reds also had doubles by Jay Bruce and someone else. I
    don't know how many times I've been to a game that had 10
    extra-base hits.

    The final was 9-1, again in favor of the visitors.
  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    After the game we piled into Swisher's car and drove out to
    TW1's, way out in the boonies where you have to park when
    you arrive way late. Transferred my bags and bade Swisher
    safe travels as he drove back westward.

    It was an hour back through appalling traffic, and as we
    inched along we suggested various reasons, including this
    being the result of all the west side ballgames letting out
    at once. Presently the reason became clear - we merged left
    and saw an upside-down (luckily mostly intact) silver
    compact being cleared from one of the center lanes. Yuck.

    There had been no stadium booze good enough for TW1, so he
    showed me to the Last Drop at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise
    Valley, where he's friends with Travis the bartender. I
    looked at the draft list - it was happy hour, and local
    micros were on special - and chose the Sonoran Smooth Rebel
    double IPA. TW1 ordered what appeared on the bill as "Trust
    Cocktail" - you trust the bartender and get what you get.
    Of course, you describe what you want to drink and maybe
    suggest a favored ingredient to give him some basis to work
    from. The IPA was not really so double, in fact its modest
    bitterness was almost undone by a syrupy sweetness. Still
    not a bad glass, but I resolved to put Travis in charge of
    my second. Which I did, suggesting orange flower water, gin,
    and almond: not unsurprisingly he came up with a maitailike
    thing but not red and not sweet. It was pretty good. TW1
    kept testing Travis. Most of the results were good as well.

    There's this happy hour special where if you order 3 snacks
    (normally 8-15 each) you get the lot for $15. We did that
    plus two pork belly tacos with pickled onions and cilantro
    crema at $3 each. The tacos were excellent, as TW1 said they
    would be. Our snacks:

    truffled ricotta croquettes with romesco sauce - I read this
    as "risotto" so ordered them happily. They turned out to be
    made out of this dry ricotta salata, and I scrambled for the
    lactase pills. The coating was impeccable, the filling not
    too fake truffley, which made me do a dissection that
    revealed some shreds of truffle peel that must have helped
    out the truffle oil, the result actually being rather good;

    duck empanadas with "mole sauce" and pickled onions I found
    pretty average, with duck that could have been guinea pig
    meat for all I could tell, the mole a bland chocolate peanut
    goo that was less than average;

    Berkshire chorizo empanadas and chipotle ketchup were
    totally ordinary but good pigs in blankets with a spicy
    ketchup that, sadly, wasn't housemade but a commercial brand
    with powdered peppers stirred in.

    I should have ordered 5 more pork belly tacos instead of all
    these frou-frou things. I'd have gotten at least 2 more, but
    TW1 had a plane to catch but had lost track of time chatting
    with Travis and his wife Cheyenne who showed up at some
    point during the proceedings. I had to remind him to get his
    butt out of there and on the road.

    The original plan was for him to run in and check a bag,
    then drive me to my motel, then drop off the car at the
    rental car facility, then return to the airport, a plan
    that would have been fine but for the last cocktail or two,
    so I proposed to call the hotel shuttle and leave him to
    his own devices, which is what happened. He must have made
    his flight, as I didn't hear otherwise later.

    I called the Econo Lodge PHX Airport for a shuttle and was
    told that I should wait for a van labeled Sky Harbor Airport
    Parking. Apparently they subcontract.
  8. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

    Likes Received:
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    There was a pretty sizable crowd when the van showed up; it
    just sat there for a while, enraging some of the customers.
    Turns out the van has a spot where it's supposed to be, and
    that spot was occupied for a while, so the driver really
    couldn't do anything.

    The vehicle soon filled up; several people couldn't fit on.
    The driver promised them that another van would soon be by
    to accommodate them. To give him credit, he did call his
    dispatcher and describe the situation.

    Of course, the parkers had priority, and so I was last off
    the bus. I could have walked to the hotel from the airport,
    twice, in this amount of time, oh, well.

    Efficient checkin by a young fellow who is clearly cut out
    for better things. My room was halfway down on the right.
    It was fairly big, the bed fairly comfy. The toilet and
    shower room smelled a bit mildewy, though.

    I'd planned on eating at the Knock-Kneed Crab a couple
    blocks away but had had enough food, plus it was dark
    (not that bad of a neighborhood, but I might fall into a
    pothole or something), so just went to the Circle K on the
    next corner for salty snacks and a couple beers.

    [Aside: I'd told TW1 of this plan but had forgotten the name
    of the joint and referred to it as "something like the One-
    Clawed Lobster." TW1 said, "you mean the Knock-Kneed Crab?"
    "Yes, that's it." He just laughed evilly. I didn't take that
    as a good sign.]

    Word to the wise: Jamaican-style jerk Slim Jims have nothing
    in common with Jamaica; Beck's Sapphire has nothing in
    common with Beck's.

    I tried to set the alarm, but the radio didn't work. Told
    the guy at the front desk, who said that there was no reason
    to equip the rooms with good clock radios, because the
    guests would just steal them; that's how classy this place
    is. So they buy truckloads of cheap pro forma appliances and
    don't care if they work or not or if they walk or not.

    The bed was comfy, and for me beer is a good sleep aid.

    More importantly, the wake-up call I ordered as consolation
    actually happened and actually woke me up.

    UA1206 PHX IAH 0500 0925 738 3B

    The desk guy hadn't let me reserve onto the 0400 shuttle,
    so I had to take the 0300, with an 0200 wakeup call. It
    seems that the 0400 would have worked okay, as security
    took mere seconds, even despite this gem from the TSA
    person working the belt, who made me take my computer and
    liquids out - "You're PreCheck, but your bags aren't."

    A yummy breakfast sandwich, to wit, a both soggy and tough
    English muffin that tasted like moldy fruit housing an
    egg puck topped with chopped and formed cured pork product
    (but not too salty) topped with melted pasteurized process
    cheese food. Given my lactose issues, it is a tribute to the
    quality of the bread that I scraped the cheese off it - and
    ate the cheese.

    On the side your standard fruit cup and a tub of some sort
    of yogurt.

    UA 435 IAH BOS 1020 1459 320 7C Ch9^^

    I was buried down in the double digits on the upgrade list
    despite my lifetime plat and annual 1K status. No big
    worries, I just slept through the flight anyway, but this
    time for a change lunch actually smelled good. Oh, well.

    Again, Channel 9 was advertised and delivered.

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