Wednesday, June 20, 2007

THE THRILL OF TOURISM, THE AGONY OF ARIZONA: THE CALI POST

The term "vacation" is always tricky with a Wyrick simply because we never technically vacate. We're always there...ready to strike. We can go into action at the drop of a hat. And so you'll see. So when we speak of a, say, "vacation to California," it could be considered more a "trip to California." Unfortunately, no one ever explained this to my lovely wife. Case in point, I began typing this morning at 3:00am because I couldn't sleep. In fact, sleep is sometimes only a luxury.
My brother finished seminary at Fuller Theological in Pasadena just recently and, if you've been keeping score at home, it would be my job (I actually prefer the more fancy "duty") to get my brother safely back to Texas where he'll begin his next chapter in Midland.
Son, that's where oil comes from.
It all starts on my plane ride out there. Besides leaving at the very crack of dawn (seriously, I should've told my lovely wife about my reluctance to "vacation"), I absolutely hate airplanes. It's not airports I despise, it's airplanes. In fact, it's not airplanes, it's air travel. I like airports. I kinda like the security process. Only because I've become a sort of champion of the whole process, but getting my big ass crunched into a large silver missle surrounded by gabbing grandmas and screaming children while I hurl from one restroom to another is not really my idea of fun. And usually I can find some sort of redeeming value in the experience and call it "blogging," but I don't enjoy it. I don't enjoy typing about it. It's an irritation. One that I endure by sometimes doubling up on peanuts and soda or "taking the window seat" so I can at least enjoy the view while I'm up there. However, this trip would bless me with two powertalkers straddling the aisle reminiscing over high school. And talking about their jobs. And their spouses. And their cars. And how much they love downtown Phoenix. And their buddy that got serviced to Iraq. And what makes American a better airline. And how there's still the culture in Albuquerque, but it's all on Central. Even in my sleep, I could hear them. In my dream, the guy was a goat and the lady was a circus clown. I kid you not.
I'm a huge fan of "electronic devices"--you know, the kind that are banned at lift off and landing. I'm just asking that, at the very least, airlines be fair and ban talking for the lift off and landing. In fact, the whole flight would be even better.
Once arriving in Cali, Broham came and picked us up in Burbank and we got a warm welcoming to Cali courtesy of In-N-Out. Yes, the burgers truly are as good as people say they are. And they're cheap--really cheap. We then went to Pasadena where my brother has called home for the last three years or so. Went by the Rose Bowl. Here we are in Old Town. You know, I don't wear the tourist hat very well.
Here's a huge Jackie Robinson sculpture. I'm a huge fan of sculptures, but this seems too big to be just his head. It was well done, but I can't imagine how dumb a sculpture of my head would look at the same size. Of course, why would anyone make a sculpture of my head so huge? Man, I need this coffee to kick in quick. I'm already starting to slow and I'm still four hours from work.

Next on the tourism parade, we did what everyone in Cali does (in the same way that all Texas boys learn how to rope cattle before they learn how to pee standing upright) and that's go to the beach. We headed down to the Santa Monica pier which, to a guy who spends every waking hour looking over the horizon filled with nothingness, this is pretty intriguing. The ocean is much like the Yellow. It's both nothingness really from the perspective of a beach except one's land and the other is water.
The only difference is that people don't celebrate the High Plains by walking around shamelessly in Speedos like the man below--even though, make no mistake, the sun's just as good in Texas. Wearing such an outfit, though, in Texas (especially inland) might find you shipped out. Of course, you never know, it could make you a legend.

My brother, later, sent his photos of the man and I was startled by how close my brother came to this man. I mean, dude was daring serious injury by getting so close to this animal. Todd's a dedicated photographer though--a pro. He loves the work. I wonder what homegrown's carrying in that bag of his. I certainly hope the contents include both sunblock and a comb for those shoulders.

Like I should talk.

After eating on the pier, my brother and I decided to take in some of the entertainment including the arcade in which I drove a taxi and Todd rode a donkey. We found out later that the weight limit for the rides was 70 pounds. I'm going public now confessing that, "Yes, we broke the taxi and the donkey."

Also along the pier was Zoltar (or a Zoltar since apparently these things grow on trees in Nevada). You might remember Zoltar from the movie Big. He grants some kid a wish and he becomes Tom Hanks. Kind of a bizarre storyline, but whatever. I told my lovely wife I wasn't going to spend any money on this stupid machine, but then she goes to my brother who enabled her dream of blowing money on Zoltar and his wisdom. Thanks, bro.
The stupid machine spits out a freaking raffle ticket! In her raffle ticket (for a raffle that doesn't exist), it explains that a "dark haired person who is trying to harm you will disappear from your life and you will be extremely happy." Thanks, Zoltar. I love how it says underneath the forture "Play Again!" like once wasn't enough to realize that you've been had.Has that ever worked? Has anyone blown more than one dollar on Zoltar? I wonder if someone's looked at their raffle ticket and said, "Zoltar, once again, you amaze me. Tell me more!" Well, I'm no sucka. I just rather taunt him with money through the glass.

This is the "I like to read and take long walks along the pier" photo. My lovely wife is totally feeling my steez here. Especially with my panties hanging out the back end.

And you really have to get in the water. I ended up getting hosed. Really, that's not pee. Really.

And, it's worth remarking that kids are no longer making sand castles. They're making sand lowriders. This is uncut right here.

Someone said to me the other day that, "Sounds like you were too busy. Did you get a shakeface in while you were out there?" Of course we did. But, when you're crunched for time, you don't always get to find a safe place to bust off a shake. My brother and I had to do it at PF Chang's. No longer will PF Chang's be recognized as a fine dining establishment.

Especially after Todd's righteous shake. This dude is a man amongst mere boys in the world of shakefaces. I'm surprised we didn't get kicked out of that place after he dropped this one on 'em.
Beautiful.
Let's go back to our boy in the Speedo. Unless you know him, there's really only two reactions that you can offer up to a man in Speedo that shouldn't be in a Speedo. And, if you look closely in the pictures below, you'll see examples of both. Firstly, if a man is in front of you in a Speedo (and even more true if dude is bending over to snag a stray nickel from the ground), the less obvious and more respectful reaction is to simply gaze up into the sky. Just avoid the dude altogether. Best to have a good idea of what path you're going to take before looking up so you don't have to look back down to check your path for obstructions. Find your path around the Speedo, quickly examine it for dangers (including the Speedo), turn your chin upward and walk the line (literally). I'm guessing this man didn't plot his path before looking upward and is going to come dangerously close to a collision with Speedo.
The less-appropriate action (but, unfortunately more common in this world of intolerance) is the just stop in front of the Speedo and stare. The woman in the blue below is showing how this is best executed. Just turn your head toward the Speedo and stare at it. Even salute it if you feel compelled like it was a flag.

My brother and I actually prefer the least obvious approach and that is to fire off photos while the man's not looking and then post them online later. Hey, it's not like we put his face on here. And I'm sure no one would recognize this man if they knew him.
That next morning, I would be joined by my brother in finally meeting the man, the legend, Dr. Ralph Watkins. We'd talk hip hop, the industry, KRS One, PE, digital business, and so on. Dude was super nice and it was definitely worth the time. In fact, I wish I could've spent all day there at Starbucks talking to him. He was certainly doing some schooling that morning. Rare that I get to meet such intriguing people. Sent him off a big box of music as thanks for his time.
Paid a visit to Amoeba Records down in Hollywood. And when I say "paid," I mean with an arm and a leg. C'mon, it's not often you get to shop from such an assortment of vinyl. I had to do it. I had no choice. My lovely wife knew the damage to expect and forgave me in advance. Forgave isn't really the word. She permitted the expense. Good thing. Because they're going to shut off our cable in a month.

All of LA was a buzz with the news of Paris Hilton. I have to say, I got into it when they're were trying to get her out of the house and that reporter almost got run over. LA's a funny town because they got crazy copter cams out there and if anything happens, you'll get a full account from about 700 feet up.

Todd graduated. Being a Wyrick, you gotta wait a long time before your name is called. We're waiting in suspended anticipation for three hours before Todd's named is called and for some stupid reason, the dude reading names called him "David Todd Wyrick"--reversing his first and middle name--leaving the entire family in confusion and I think my mother got pretty heated about it.
Afterwards, we went to Roscoe's for fried chicken and waffles. I opted out of the fried chicken and waffles and, instead went for the "Big Mama's Plate" which was basically just biscuits, sausage, cheese and eggs smothered in gravy. I drenched the eggs in Tabasco and killed it. Good stuff. This place was pretty popular with the stars apparently. On the wall were such stars like Mike Tyson, James Brown, Eddie Murphy and Ludacris. Also on the wall was Eddie Griffin.

Sunday would pack day after we would get all the family on the plane. The truck was in our possession and Todd's community were all ready to chip in and help get that thing loaded. The first load went relatively smoothly. I mean, there's always challenges, but I didn't crack my shin open, my back felt pretty good and I was well hydrated. Todd, being a personable guy, was having difficulty getting out of there because so many people were coming by to say their farewell. Patient as I was trying to be, I could tell that the hardest thing to pack was going to be Todd himself. It would be close to 9:30pm before we would actually hit the road. The truck was hanging pretty low as evidence of the mudflaps basically dragging on the road. So we pulled into a parking lot just in the neighborhood and I took off the bottom of the mudflaps. Now we were ready to go. The truck felt really heavy, but nonetheless, we had to get going. It was already late and we had set a goal of making it to the Cali/'Zona border and then crashing for the night.

Once we entered the highway, our problems were fairly obvious. The truck because rocking and swaying wildly once we crept over 35 miles per hour. That's a problem. In fact, for those wondering, that's a weight distribution problem. We were too top heavy. We immediately exit.

We pull into a parking lot in a business district and talk about our plans. I suggest that we only work on the back five feet of the truck. Knowing this is when usually stuff is just crammed loosely into the truck and without strategy, I was fairly certain that by repacking the back five feet, we could probably solve the rocking and be on our merrily way. We open up the back and begin reworking the cargo--just me, my brother and my father--under the dim lighting of a Pasadena office supply parking lot. And is there no wind in Cali? Geez, it was starting to get really warm--even with the sun down. Now 10:15, we close the hatch with everything fitting in the back except Travis the jade plant that weighed close to 75 pounds. Given his size and the fact that he was among the living cargo, we brought him into the front seat with us where we'd let him ride. He was so big that he basically took up the space in between and about a third of the two seats up front. But we needed him up there for his own health.

We exit the parking lot and make our way back to the highway. Todd's telling me that it feels better already and it looks like we had taken care of the situation. We hit the highway and, around 50 miles per hour, same thing--the truck begins rocking away. This time, it feels as if we exceed 60 miles per hour, we could be in serious danger of tilting this truck. And we knew we could drive 1,100 miles home to Texas at 50 miles per hour. So we needed a plan.

The only plan we could come up with was to unload the whole truck that took three hours to pack in the first place and separate heavy items from light items and repack it with heavy stuff on the bottom, light stuff on top. This time, we were doing it in the roomy, spacious and better-lit parking lot of the Arcadia Mall. As we're placing heavy stuff on the ground to the left of the truck and the light stuff on the right, it becomes clear and obvious what our problem is. There is no light stuff. Everything was heavy. It was less a weight distribution as much as simply a weight issue. Of course, we weren't at a point where we could just start trashing stuff or leaving stuff in the parking lot. It was all going to have to make the truck. We began slowly and more strategically loading the truck again.

As you see, my father pulled the Civic behind the fan to provide more direct light into the back. This pack was easily the hardest I've ever been a part of. It was just brutal. I think Todd and I both were at the point of breakdown when the following photo was taken--shortly after the truck was fully loaded.
That was until my father tried to start the car and it wouldn't turn over. Yeah, dead battery. Now 2:15am. We jumped the car and got things on the road. Now, the rocking only occurred at speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour and only when we hit imperfections in the road. It felt safe enough. And "safe enough" worked at this hour in the morning. Our plan was to make it to the Cali/'Zona border originally, then it was to make it to Palm Springs and, now, it was just make it about twenty miles down the road so we could avoid the heavy traffic in the morning. We crashed at Redlands. If you look at a map of LA, it looks like we traveled about a third of an inch.

I woke up in the morning at the Good Nite Inn. I walked down to the continental breakfast which was really just cereal and coffee. I had the coffee. On my way back to the room, I saw drops of blood on the ground.


And, near the top of the staircase, the drops of blood increased. They were everywhere. I decided to follow the trail of blood to its origin.


I went back down the staircase and began the short hike to the origin which was a broken window right next door to my father's room. Now, as evidence of the police tape, it appears that someone got to the scene of the crime before I did, but don't get it twisted, they can beat me to the crime scene, buy they won't beat me to a conviction.

Ah, the places you'll settle for in the middle of the night after repacking a moving truck one and a third times after the 10 o'clock news.
That next day, we began our trek across the badlands of Arizona. I'm not sure why in the hell anyone would retire here. In fact, I'm not sure why anyone would even visit this state. It's a horrible horrible place. And it's hot. But the speed limit's 80 miles per hour so there's some redeeming value to Arizona. Of course, we wouldn't be going that fast because, like Paul Wall, we drive slow. Here's what Arizona looks like.

Travis the jade plant was hanging in there, however, he was struck with dehydration. We kept him cool by giving him some water and singing him "Me and Julio Down by the Graveyard." Todd also busted out a serious wild card off his iPod--Don Ho singing "Lady in Red." It might have been the worst thing I've ever heard. Of course, it might have also been the best.



You know, the desert does horrible things to the mind. I mean, when it gets really hot, you can actually hear your brain sizzling in your head. It's like it's being sauteed in your brain fluid. Delerium sets in. Hallucinations are common. Next thing you know, you're cooling off in a truck stop with a plush white tiger on your head. It happens to the best of us.

There was some relief from the Arizona heat in Tucson as we approached a line of storms. Man, what are chances? We stopped off at Cracker Barrell and shoved home enough food to feed fifty it seemed. It's really the only way to do Cracker Barrell. My lovely wife was monitoring the satellite at home because she's a badass and can read radars with the best of them. Meanwhile, Todd and I located the end of a rainbow. There was no leprechaun, but there was gas station with a man named Ron who gave pops a free cup of coffee. Turned out the coffee was really just hot brown water. Peep the full bellies.

Clearly, the following stretch of the trip would mark the weirder link. I mean, there's a long haul of highway between Tucson and Las Cruces that I'm convinced is the most accurate simulation of hell on earth. It started outside of Tuscon around Texas Canyon where the road conditions, the moisture on the road the canyon crosswind was so menacing that, on several occassions, we were almost tossed off the road by our tilting vehicle. We knew we needed to find a place to bed down fast because it simply wasn't going to get any better after the sun went down. We stopped in one town (the name of which really doesn't matter) and couldn't find a comfy bed on the main drag so opted to go further down the road.

Before continuing, we stopped at the Circle K to grab seeds and soda. It seemed I happened along a young girl who hasn't seen a human in a while. She was very clingy--gazing longly with a stupid grin. I was left alone in the store after my dad exited while she was ringing up my goods. She looked at me and said creepily, "I like your frame." I'm still unsure of whether she was talking about my glasses' frames or my physical frame. Nonetheless, I thanked her because I figured, whether she likes my glasses or shoulders, she likes something she sees.

I woke up in the middle of nowhere, but at least it was flat land--looking a little more like the our native land. I went down and got more bad continental breakfast offerings then headed back up to put on deoderant was offered a choice between "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "Golden Girls." I enjoyed both. Shortly after, we were back on the road.

Made it through El Paso and finally back into Texas. You could smell home from here. It smelled like the ass-end of a cow and mesquite trees. Yeah, we were close. Todd kept telling me of a customs stop somewhere along this highway and was unsure if he was correct in his assessment. Until we rounded a mountain and there it was, our friendly neighborhood customs station. While waiting to pass through (which we really just passed through--some tough custom agents), we saw a man on a bike with saddlebags on the front and rear in the middle of absolute nowhere racing big rigs. Incredible.


It only got weirder from there when we happened along a place named Chuy's in some small town about forty miles down the road. Now, along with being a reputable Mexican restaurant (not the Chuy's your thinking of where the President's daughter got busted drinking underage), it also claims to be home to the John Madden Haul of Fame. Yes, they spell it that way. You might ask, why, in Middle of Nowhere, Texas would there be a John Madden Haul of Fame? Well, we'll get to that. But first, take gander at the great Conway Twitty's tennis shorts in this glossy he signed for Chuy's. Gangsta! Gangsta!


Of course, what's Texas without Chuck.


And this dude who apparently was quite a tennis star. I would contend he was a better head of hair than a tennis player, but they gave him the cover for something. Does anyone know if this magazine is still in publication?


And my brother, who is a serious Cubs fan, was going to research if this man was actuall a Cub or a man dressed in a Cubs uniform standing on a large plot of land with a six-foot fence. If anyone knows who this cat is, please drop it in the comments section. I'm suspect myself.


On the back of the menu is the John Madden story. I found it very interesting that it starts with the line, "By the glory of GOD..." with God capitalized for emphasis. Apparently Madden's visit was an act of God.


And, it's only appropriate that I also include the mural on the wall that depicts Jesus himself on the hilltop blessing Chuys as, to the far left, John Madden's bus pulls up. This is great stuff folks.


And, as proof, here's one of the many pictures of John Madden visiting the restaurant. And, for John, there's only one way to rock the shirt and that's with one side out and the other tucked in. That's because Madden's a straight up crip. He's even got the lawman fooled.

Well, we'd make it safely back into Texas, but not with one last daring tip of the truck as I headed downhill on a turn on top of a rough road with a dangerous crosswind. It gave me a rock that I wouldn't soon forget. I honestly thought that it was going to be the end. My father, who was following shortly behind thought so too, calling to joke afterwards, "Anyone need a clean pair of briches up there?" That'd be the final straw for me--completely red-eyed and white-knuckled. I turned it over to Todd for the final haul. Remember that Bill Carlyle, Sr. supports our troops. Don't ever forget it. And don't you ever question that either. The dude's so hardcore about it, he's going to put it on the side of every truck he owns.
After I finally made it back into the Yellow at 11:30 that Tuesday night (some 1,400 miles later), my allergies adjusted back to my natural surroundings and I dumped about two pounds of snot onto my grandmother's dining room table. It always takes that adjustment to get right.

That's it, folks. More travels of j3 to come down as I make my way to Boston for Sox and Horrioles. Remember this: pack light, pick your accomodations wisely, Bill Carlyle, Sr. supports our troops and if you a gangsta like my brother and I, don't miss your exit.

4 comments:

toadlift said...

The thing that strikes me the most is the way the speedo guy's lady is dressed. I mean, the behemoth is almost naked, and his girl is dressed like it's the middle of winter.

j3 said...

HAHAHAH.

score one for clint.

sarahsmile3 said...

That crime scene stuff was spooky!

sarahsmile3 said...

Oh, and I would have only given Zoltar money if it was like how it was in BIG. Remember, he dropped the quarter and cranked the handle on the wheel so that it would drop in the guys mouth? Awww yeah. What's with the dollar BS? Stupid Zoltar.