Quiet Day – Day 23

Day 23 – April 23, 2003 – Wednesday

Quiet Day

A quiet day.  I didn’t do a lot, and I didn’t meet many people.  The morning was spent at the hotel – resting my eye and writing.  The work by Dr. Miller and the medication are definitely working as the eye feels much better.


I headed for downtown Tucson a little before noon.  I found Café Poca Cosa, a highly-regarded Mexican restaurant.  Yvonne was my waitress, and she recommended the Chef’s Special – an assortment of three entrees.  All were very good, though much fancier Mexican food than I am used to.  The hot sauce was great – probably the best I’ve ever had, and the quantity of food served was most impressive.  The place was packed.  I met Heather standing in line waiting for a table.  She said the best thing about Tucson is the downtown area.


After lunch, I followed Heather’s advice and walked around downtown.  I saw a beautiful church, a great old theatre that is being restored, and some nice murals.  Downtown Tucson is very clean, but I passed a lot of empty storefronts.  Since several people told me downtown Tucson was cool, I’m sure it is, but I didn’t stumble upon the cool part.


I did meet some heavily-tattooed dudes who were skateboarding.  Two punk rock bands passing through on the way to a gig in San Diego.  I’d not normally strike up a conversation with young guys with tattoos and rings in various body parts, and they’d probably not normally talk with a gray-haired guy wearing Rockport Walkers and love beads, but the three I spoke with were very nice.


From downtown, I headed to Miracle Mile.  This is an area that is home to all of the old motels built in the 40’s and 50’s.  A significant number still exist, and I took photos of the great old signs.  While the sign was poor, I loved seeing the No-Tel Motel.  The Sahara appears to be undergoing a complete restoration.  I applauded that, needless to say.  I ran across a couple of rough-looking guys as I found myself in a dead-end alley when I pulled off to take two photos.

I saw an extremely interesting woman near the Pueblo Hotel and Apartments.  She was all draped in layers of clothes (on an always hot Tucson day), wearing sunglasses, and a scarf wrapped over her hair and most of her face.  Her shoes were silver and gold slippers and didn’t look to be a street person’s shoes.  She wore bold-striped socks.  She was carrying a shopping bag, but again, it didn’t appear to be a street person’s bag.  She had on earphones – not sure if she was listening to something or simply using them to cover her ears.  I’d love to know the story there, but I didn’t feel comfortable approaching her.  She might have been a well-dressed street person, but she could just as easily have been an eccentric movie star.  I’m bettin’ on movie star.

I don’t feel nearly as comfortable in Tucson as I have felt in the small towns.  There are a lot of street people, and the drivers are the worst I have encountered.  I get honked at repeatedly for driving the speed limit.  Very annoying.


The highlight of the day was the miles and miles of old airplanes at the Davis Monithan Airfield.  Grady Harrell, our daughter’s father-in-law, told me not to miss it.  It’s unbelievable – airplanes for as far as you can see.  Great, old airplanes of all types.  It is the world’s largest airplane graveyard.  It’s always good to see that there’s a place for old stuff.


I didn’t chase the sun today.  I know the sunset would have been outstanding from Mount Lemmon, the big ski area outside Tucson, but I still have a lot of writing to do.


Tucson is a really nice place.  I’ve been here several times before, so I’ve seen most of the sights.  I’m sorry I didn’t get out to see them again so I could photograph them to share.  I have loved visiting Old Tucson, the site of many of the great old western movies.  Sadly, much of it was destroyed by fire, and while it has been rebuilt, I understand it’s just not the same.  It’s bad enough when great old buildings and other stuff gets destroyed by neglect or “progress,” but to lose these treasures by fire, flood, hurricane, and the like is especially sad.


After the huge lunch, I wasn’t at all hungry at dinner time.  But I had to see Little Anthony’s Diner, so I went for a late pie about 10 pm.  The HamburgerMobile had caught my eye.  The whole place has been really well done by local entrepreneur Tony Terry.  I had Mud Pie, but the highlight at Little Anthony’s was the people who work there.  Brooklyn, the hostess, was very nice, and when she heard about the trip, she called out to one of the waiters, and the next thing I knew, there were four young people seated with me — Brooklyn, Kyle, Greg, and Dawn.  We just talked, and laughed, and told stories for an hour or so. They are all proud of where they work and who they work for.   I didn’t meet Tony Terry, but I like him.  He’s a very sharp entrepreneur.  He does things with creativity, and he obviously attracts great people.


The kids asked me what the lesson of the day was, and I told them I hadn’t decided yet.  I guess my primary thought today is quit the honking!  Everyone would be better off if they weren’t in such a hurry.

A lot to see in Tucson Arizona but I did not see it. Day 22.

A lot to see in Tucson Arizona but I did not see it

Day 22 – April 22, 2003 – Tuesday

There is a lot to see in Tucson but I did not see it.  My apologies to Tucson.

Tucson Arizona: Jose was one of the people we met at Simoniz Car Wash. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Tucson Arizona: Vehicle care such as oil changes are vital on a 50-state road trip. Jiffy Lube is great. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.Today was car day and me day.  I took care of the car first – wash, shampoo, wax, and windshield repair.  Then an oil change.  A lot to see in Tucson but I did not see it.  I could not see!

I met wonderful people at each stop and ended up telling Round America stories.

There was lots of laughter, so I think people enjoyed themselves.  Many of the folks I met suggested places to go and things to see.  A lot to see in Tucson but I did not see it.

At the Simoniz Car Wash, Anthony, Arturo, and Reuben got the car cleanup started, and Jose did the detailing.  Jacques repaired a chip in the windshield.  Inside, I met Debbie the cashier; Yolanda (originally from Paxico, Kansas) and her boys Cole, Drake, and Blaze; Joyce; and others.

Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.
Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.
Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Tucson Arizona: 

At Jiffy Lube, an especially friendly group of happy workers included Leo, Francisco, Javier, Joe, and Granpappy Jack.

Tucson Arizona: 

Tucson Arizona: Pearle Vision Center provided medical,care for removal of a dirt clod from the eyelid. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Once the car was squared away, it was time for me.  First stop was the Pearle Vision Center.  There was a lot to see but I did not see it.

Tucson Arizona: Dr. Steve Miller diagnosed me with “dirt clods in the eyelids.”  He was kind enough to remove them and provide medication.  No wonder my eye kept hurting so badly.  The cornea was not scratched, but the upper part of my eyeball was badly scratched, and there was dirt or sand embedded inside the upper and lower eyelid causing the irritation to continue.  I could feel some relief right away, but it will take several days to heal.

Liana and Kathleen were great fun at Pearle.  Kathleen said I made her day telling them the stories of Fast Freddy and the Floating Neutrinos.  I told her that she made mine by feeling that way and telling me.

Tucson Arizona: Bill Windsor found Just for Feet store one of the Places We Go for more comfortable shoes. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Next stop was Just for Feet.  The trip began with a brand new, bright white pair of Nikes.  Seriously, they quickly looked to be a year old and had become a really ugly combination of colors.  Judging by the shoes and my left eye, I stopped to realize that there is a lot of wear and tear going on.

Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

I’d taken 2,033 photographs, so that means glasses on and off at least 2,000 times and the car door opened at least half that many.  I’d put 6,417 miles on the car so far, and I’d gone in and out of 19 motels in just three weeks.

Tucson Arizona: New sand-colored shoes were purchased at Just for Feet. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Back to the shoes, I wanted a dirt color pair in hopes they will look better over the long haul.  I also needed something as comfortable as humanly possible.  I tried on really cool-looking shoes by Timberland, New Balance, and others, but they either rode up on my heel or felt like I was going to topple over due to an oddly shaped sole.

I finally settled on the ugliest, but these babies were comfortable.  I became the proud owner of Rockport Walking Shoes Model MWT13 (made in China).  Sand is the official color – perfect!

Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.
Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.







At Just for Feet, Jeff helped me, but then Jason, Eric, Ricky, and Frankie joined in.  Analisa took my money.  Brian wouldn’t let me take his photo, but he was the answer when I asked the guys where to find the most unique sight in Tucson.  Brian can put his hand flat on the floor without bending over.  Amazing but true; I saw him do it.

Tucson Arizona: Weinerschnitzel is a great place for a hot dog. Great-looking fast food restaurant. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.
Weinerschnitzel is a great place for a hot dog in Tucson Arizona. Great-looking fast food restaurant. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Since today is a day of rest and a break from the norm, I broke the rule about fast food chain restaurants.  I enjoyed two delicious hot dogs at Weinerschnitzel.  It was nostalgic for me.  We haven’t lived in a place that had a Weinerschnitzel since college.  At Texas Tech in Lubbock in 1971, it was called Der Weinerschnitzel.  Nasty Johnny, Arne Ray, Cottar, Franklin Shanklin, Bozzie Jane, and I and all the other students called it “the Der.”  We’d go, especially late at night, for a Der Dog and Chili Cheese Fries.  I think the chain blew it by dropping the Der from their name, but the dogs were great.

Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

At “The Der,” I met a really nice couple, Mario and Stephanie, and their dog Rocky.  Mario said my little car is his dream car, so after scarfing down the dogs, I went outside where he was seated and gave him the key.  He wouldn’t drive it at first, but he finally did.


Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

Mario invited Barbara and me over for home-cooked Mexican food the next time we are in town.  I’ve got their number, and we will most definitely take them up on the kind invitation.  It took a lot of shots to get a decent one of Rocky.  The only thing harder than photographing animals is flags…the darned things just won’t hold still.  It may take me five or six shots to get a decent flag photo.

Tucson Arizona: 
Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 22. 2003-04-22.

This marked the beginning of Week 4.  34,453 on the odometer.  It had been quite a ride so far.  I looked forward to healing so I could get back at it, but the decision was made to extend the stay in Tucson by a day so my left eye could rest…and so I could get caught up on the writing and website work.



As a result, I spent the rest of the day in the room.  I organized the huge piles of brochures and things to be shipped back to Atlanta, and I processed photos, wrote, and slept.  I perfected sister Marty’s technique for processing batches of photos with PhotoShop.  It works great and is saving at least an hour a night.  Thanks, Murt the Gurt!

As I reflected on the first three weeks, I was really happy.  The trip had gone very well.  Not without the occasional unexpected event — Officer Passarelli, eye injury, and gas panic on the bad end … with Harry and the Natives, tee pee village, Floating Neutrinos, Fast Freddy, and many others on the good end.  We’d been able to see most of the sights we wanted to see; only a few disappointments in that regard.

I’d really missed Boz the last week, and I was anxious for her to return to the trip in two days in San Diego.

We kept adding book title ideas.  Check out the list, and email and let us know the title you feel would be best.

All systems were working well, though there had been too many too long days.  I planned to sit down again with the itinerary and see if there were more days that need to be split in two.

I had not read a newspaper or watched the news (other than brief war reports) for 22 days.  Not hearing all the bad news was good.

There was a lot to see in Tucson but I did not see it.

I was surprised that only seven antacids had been consumned, ad five of those were on one day when Bozzie and I both got sick after drinking a Coke of all things.  Contrary to popular expectations, we were not gaining any weight.  I was not eating nearly as much as when I am home; I often felt like only one meal a day.

Eight states so far, though the trip would soon be 20% behind us.  I’d lost track of how many people we’d met so far and how many times “the car” had been lost.  That would take some work to calculate, but it’s probably well over 200 people – at least 10 a day on average and probably lost 30 times.  8 states.  2 countries.  576 towns.  I’ve bought 320 gallons of gas so far.  6,417 miles.  2,033 photographs.  1,500 U-turns.  1 flat tire (bought for someone else).  1 speeding ticket.  A million laughs.

I’d have to look back at each day to answer this best, but the most fun for me so far was Day 18 – seeing Big Bend, meeting the Floating Neutrinos, getting my beads, viewing 50 spectacular sunsets, eating a bowl of chili in Terlingua, and losing the sight in my left eye.  Savannah on Day 2 was a close second.  My favorite stories so far are Freddy’s Fast Lube & Snow Cone Stand and the trip to the river on Day 16 and the Floating Neutrinos on Day 18.  Barbara and I will update our initial round of nominations for Best and Worst as we leisurely see San Diego and Los Angeles.

There was a lot to see in Tucson but I did not see it

Thanks again to those of you following the trip as Online Travelers.  Please email.

As I wrote this, I tried to play back the tape from the last two days, and the brand new Radio Shack Micro-45 Recorder was not working.  Looks like I had to add Number of Tape Recorders to the Trip Scorecard.  I’ll have to get a new one – number 4.

The lesson for the day is that you can have more fun just doing what you gotta do every day in real life if you just take a minute or two to talk to folks.

Tucson Arizona: Flag man of car parts on sightseeing trip. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Not much sightseeing on a medical day. Day 22. 2003-04-22.
Flag man of car parts on sightseeing trip to Tucson Arizona – Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Not much sightseeing on a medical day. Day 22. 2003-04-22.