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Road Trip

Brief getaway to Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona

Brief getaway to Oak Creek Canyon, north of Sedona

— After spending several months hanging around the Valley waiting for things to return to normal during the global pandemic, Kathryn and I finally decided to get away for a couple days to a higher elevation and cooler weather. With two other couples from our church, we rented a vacation cabin for two nights in the Oak Creek Canyon area. Although the mailing address of the cabin was Sedona, the reality is we were almost a half-hour north of town.
I’m way behind on my posts, so here’s a brief status update from Montpellier

I’m way behind on my posts, so here’s a brief status update from Montpellier

— I was doing so well at publishing a blog post at least once a day, and then when we got back from Lourdes it kind of fizzled out. Well, have no fear, we’re doing well here in Montpellier. Yesterday I finally posted about our road trip to Sommières, which happened last Thursday. Last Friday we went on our highly anticipated hike up Pic St. Loup, along with a little bit of beach time before returning the rental car.
Another road trip from Montpellier, this one to Sommières

Another road trip from Montpellier, this one to Sommières

— Since we’d reserved a rental car for four days, I felt a certain obligation to make the most use of it. Thursday morning, after lingering a little too long over breakfast, we got in the car to visit Uzès, an ancient walled village that dates back to pre-medieval times, about a 90-minute drive from Montpellier. However, after all the driving I’d done Tuesday and Wednesday, I wasn’t on the autoroute for more than a few minutes when I started formulating for an escape plan.
Last-minute road trip to Lourdes for Mass with Cardinal Burke

Last-minute road trip to Lourdes for Mass with Cardinal Burke

— One advantage of not over-planning a vacation is that you leave yourself open to opportunities that arise. This week, we changed our planned daytrip to Lourdes on Saturday to an overnight trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. At Sunday Mass here in Montpellier, we learned that an American cardinal, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, would be celebrating a Pontifical High Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes on Wednesday morning at 10 am.
We’re back in Montpellier after a whirlwind side trip to Lourdes

We’re back in Montpellier after a whirlwind side trip to Lourdes

— Kathryn and I just got back to Montpellier after a whirlwind 30-hour side trip to Lourdes. This is just a quick update because the last two days have been somewhat exhausting. I’m really happy we didn’t do this as a day trip as we’d originally planned. Four hours driving a rental car I’m not familiar with, on roads I’m not familiar with, took more out of me than I expected. Now I can’t imagine doing eight hours without getting some sleep in between.
We eventually made it to Lourdes

We eventually made it to Lourdes

— It took us a longer than planned to get our rental car in Montpellier, and then the drive took longer than planned, but eventually we arrived in Lourdes well before sunset. The hotel is not bad, and the manager was amenable to letting us leave two hours late tomorrow. We arrived in Lourdes quite hungry because of all our delays, but as we headed out to dinner, we realized we were about to miss the best light of the day, so we turned around and headed to the shrine.
A chill evening at Banger Brewing on Fremont Street in Las Vegas

A chill evening at Banger Brewing on Fremont Street in Las Vegas

— Most of our weekend road trips to Las Vegas end with us heading back to Phoenix after lunch on Sunday. On our last trip, however, we had some business we needed to attend to Monday morning. After our huge lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen early Sunday afternoon, we weren’t in any mood for a big dinner. We decided instead to take a Lyft from our hotel to Fremont Street and try Banger Brewing, a brewpub that had gotten some decent reviews online.
A beer keg urinal in the men’s room of Virgil’s Real BBQ, Las Vegas

A beer keg urinal in the men’s room of Virgil’s Real BBQ, Las Vegas

— It doesn’t happen often, but on rare occasions beer can open up opportunities that may have otherwise passed us by. For example, if I hadn’t had a second pint of beer at Virgil’s Real BBQ on the Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, I wouldn’t have had to make a visit to the men’s room, and I would’ve missed one of the most interesting urinals I’ve seen anywhere. Kudos to whoever thought up a urinal designed to resemble a beer keg!
Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

— Our Monday morning bureaucratic adventure in Las Vegas is complete. It took just over an hour, which wasn’t too bad. We’re mostly packed and ready to check out of the hotel and begin the drive back to Phoenix. If we’re lucky, we’ll get home before rush hour starts. In an earlier post, I mentioned having been on the new I-11 on the way to Vegas Friday afternoon. After scanning some local news this weekend, I discovered the stretch of freeway had just opened Thursday.
Prada Marfa is not a Prada and not in Marfa

Prada Marfa is not a Prada and not in Marfa

— One of the objects most photographed by visitors to Marfa, Texas, is Prada Marfa. Intriguingly, Prada Marfa is not a Prada store, nor is it anywhere near Marfa. Erected in 2005, Prada Marfa is a modern art installation along U.S. Route 90 a few miles northwest of Valentine, Texas, making it about 40 miles away from Marfa. It was apparently built of some biodegradable adobe-like substance that would slowly return to the earth, thus providing a critique on the nature of contemporary materialism.
Yes, I was at the ZeroHedge symposium in Marfa, Texas

Yes, I was at the ZeroHedge symposium in Marfa, Texas

— I figure it’s about time to admit where I was three weekends ago. Long story short, I drove to Marfa, Texas for a gathering of ZeroHedge readers. I’ve been reading ZeroHedge regularly for over five years. Honestly, I still have trouble describing the site, but maybe the following example will help: Every month, when new employment numbers come out, I can turn on almost any television news network or read almost any financial website and have sunshine blown up my ass about how the unemployment rate has fallen for the umpteenth month in a row.
Alone in a strange place, wondering if I’m crazy

Alone in a strange place, wondering if I’m crazy

— Thursday morning last week, I woke up alone in a two-star hotel by the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. The hotel was at least superficially aspiring to a third star, but a fresh carpet, a thin coat of paint, and a waffle iron can only hide so much. Its two-star standing was further betrayed by the fact that the previous night’s manager couldn’t tell me the closest cold beer was in a lounge a few hundred yards away.
Brief update from wherever I am

Brief update from wherever I am

— As a brief update to my friends and family, so far this undisclosed event I’m attending has exceeded my expectations. I’ve heard from four speakers today who expressed some rather non-conventional ideas, and I’ve learned a ton. Then, by chance, I ended up sharing drinks with two of the speakers and their spouses at a local watering hole, and even got some pertinent business advice. It was a great first day here, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Rise and shine, a gorgeous Friday morning

Rise and shine, a gorgeous Friday morning

— It’s a gorgeous Friday morning where I am. I slept rather well. It’s at least 30 degrees cooler — by the way, that’s degrees Fahrenheit for those of you who aren’t ‘Murican — than when I set up camp yesterday afternoon. Much like Tom Brady’s balls, scientific laws explain why my air mattress felt somewhat deflated when I woke up today. Out of courtesy to nearby sleeping campers, I’m going to wait a while before breaking out the air pump, which is quite loud.
Leaving the comfort zone for a mystery road trip

Leaving the comfort zone for a mystery road trip

— For the next several days, I’m stepping way, way out of my comfort zone. I’ve left on a solo road trip that I’m being deliberately vague about. Back in January, a frequent commenter on a blog I’ve been reading for over five years suggested a get-together for the community. I’ve seen such suggestions before, but they usually involve finding an out-of-the-way bar an having a few drinks. It may sound great, but I’m not going to Delaware or wherever just for an evening.
Yet another weekend road trip to Las Vegas

Yet another weekend road trip to Las Vegas

— We’re about to set out on yet another weekend road trip to Las Vegas. This time we’ve booked The Orleans, a sister property of Gold Coast, which is where we stayed last time. The rates for this weekend were about the same at each place. However, The Orleans has a nicer pool area, which starts to matter as the temperatures climb this time of year. Also, it’s been quite some time since we last stayed at The Orleans, and they’ve reportedly updated their dining options since our last visit.
Smith System driving course: Is it worth your time? Trust me, it is.

Smith System driving course: Is it worth your time? Trust me, it is.

— If you ever get an opportunity to take a Smith System driving course, take it. When I started my current job almost four years ago, my employer required me to take a full-day Smith System driving class, even though my job seldom sees me more than a few feet from the computer, much less behind the wheel of a car. My vocal skepticism regarding the value of the course was noted by my supervisor, but he convinced me to keep an open mind.
St. Joan of Arc, Domrémy-la-Pucelle

St. Joan of Arc, Domrémy-la-Pucelle

— On the way to Luxembourg yesterday, we got off the autoroute for a while, enjoyed a spirited drive through bucolic French countryside, and visited the birthplace of St. Joan of Arc in Domrémy-la-Pucelle. Owing in part to the inclement weather and bad traffic we encountered earlier along the route, we arrived fifteen minutes too late to visit her childhood home. However, we could walk up to the gate and take pictures, and the church next door — Église St.
Dazzo’s in Wikieup, Chicago hot dogs halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas

Dazzo’s in Wikieup, Chicago hot dogs halfway from Phoenix to Las Vegas

— Roughly halfway between Phoenix and Las Vegas is a place — I hesitate to call it a town — called Wikieup. It’s a perfect spot to stop for a bathroom break and a bite to eat. On previous trips, we’ve often stopped at the Wikieup Trading Post. They make a pretty mean patty melt. The problem is that it became played out for us, stopping the same place every time. That, and the fact their bathrooms are beyond disgusting.
Las Vegas road trip status update

Las Vegas road trip status update

— The status of this weekend’s road trip to Las Vegas is now unambiguous. Kathryn’s doctor this morning ordered her to spend the weekend in Las Vegas. Sweet! I’ll submit a health insurance claim when we get home. In the meantime, a rumor has begun swirling that Britney Spears is celebrating her recent engagement with a party tonight at Chateau, a nightclub in the Paris Las Vegas resort. You may not know this, but Kathryn is a huge Britney Spears fan.
Arizona road trip: Tonto Natural Bridge, Strawberry, Jerome

Arizona road trip: Tonto Natural Bridge, Strawberry, Jerome

— I had a chance Sunday to get out of town for several hours and enjoy some parts of Arizona I hadn’t ever seen before. The weather was warm and the sky was clear. It was a perfect day for an Arizona road trip. The morning started out great. My travel companion arrived at my place around 9 am with breakfast burritos from Filiberto’s, which I’d never had before. They are basically scrambled eggs, breakfast meat, potatoes and cheese, wrapped in flour tortillas.