Tours, tours, tours

For a northeasterner, it’s easy to forget how big it is in the west.  That little roadtrip from Tucson-Flagstaff-Palm Springs-Phoenix and back to Tucson totaled 1,340 miles.  Of course, it seemed like about half of those miles were just spent criss-crossing the Phoenix metro area.  Still, it’s a lot of road to cover in a short time.  I was glad to get back to home base for a while.

The point of the trip was entirely business, but Brett and I had a little downtime here and there to explore local things.  In a previous blog I mentioned the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and earlier I alluded to going to some movies.  While in the Phoenix area our outing of choice was a tour of the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, which is impressively huge and worth seeing especially if you are a sports fan.


Like all mammoth building projects, the stadium tour is loaded with superlatives:  “supercolumns” to hold up  the roof, $300+ million to construct, seating for a gazillion people, $80,000 a year for a private box (with 3 year commitment), world’s second largest something-or-other, blah blah blah.  That kind of talk tends to make kids and disinterested spouses tune out quickly.  I was interested, but there’s only so much you can absorb before you start to mumble, “Wow …  big … when’s lunch?”

univ-of-phoenix-grass.jpg My major takeaway was that people are absolutely insane when it comes to professional sports, because they’ll pay almost anything to be able to sit in the stands and get a worse view than they would at home on the TV.  I am not one to watch sports, so maybe I’m a little jaded here, but really: $50,000 for a open box that seats eight?  Snacks not included.

There were other things about the tour that galvanized everyone, like the fact that the entire football field is kept outside so that real grass can grow. Come game day, the field rolls into the building, and then is rolled right back out into the natural sun and air (with plenty of pumped-in water to compensate for the desert climate).

They change the grass type four times a year to accommodate the seasons.  It was 113 degrees outside when we toured the stadium, so you can imagine that you need a warm-weather grass species to survive that.  Inside it was a balmy 85 degrees.  I would hate to have their air conditioning bill.

tickets.jpgOnce I was home again, I collected all the admission tickets I’ve purchased since I arrived in Tucson earlier this month.   Apparently being TBM is a little more expensive than being married, at least in some ways.  Without E&E to occupy me, I have large amounts of free time, and I’ve been taking advantage of that by going to see movies I can’t see with Emma, and other things that seem interesting.  All in all, I have a pile of $45.50 in tickets in the last two weeks, and it will be more if I go see The Secret In Their Eyes tonight. Well, it’s a rare opportunity for me to do that sort of thing.

The next few weeks will be particularly interesting. “Big E” is coming to Tucson for three weeks, thus vanquishing TBM.  We have not had such a long period alone together since early 2000, when “Little E” popped in for an extended visit.  We almost don’t know what to do with all that time.  It feels like a trial run for being Empty Nesters someday.

Of course I miss Emma already.  Except for a few weeklong business trips (and a two-week trip to Europe when she was an infant) we have hardly been separated since she was born.  The three years we spent living in the Airstream on the road really brought us together, to the point that Eleanor and I have quite a bit more separation anxiety than she does.  But thanks to the miracle of video chat (on the computer) I see her almost daily, so this is not quite as wrenching a separation as it might first appear.  And she’s in the good hands of her extended family in Vermont, with people teaching her pottery, sailing, fishing, photography, swimming, math, and in the gaps between all of that, how to be a barefoot kid in the summertime.

So Eleanor and I will try out being Empty Nesters for a while, and my only real concern is that we don’t have too much fun. We sort of want to miss Emma a little bit every day, and we don’t want to discover all the fun summertime things in the southwest without her to share in the experience.  It will be a fine line to walk for a few weeks.