Launching the offspring
(Note: I am writing this late August 22; however, the Internet at this motel isn’t working well, so it may not get posted until later …)
It seems strange, but nearly 19 years have passed, and now it’s time for Gerald to start college. I keep wondering where the time went, especially now that Gerald has a new cousin (now 5 months old), and it seems such a short time ago that Gerald was that small.
But I guess it wasn’t so short a time – it just seems that way. (Time flies when you’re having fun?)
Because he has a strong interest in architecture, he has chosen to attend Arizona State University. So Pat and I are with him in Tempe, and it has been HOT. When we arrived at our hotel this afternoon, it was 108 degrees in the shade, and later when we went to grab a few groceries, it had gone up to 110.
At least this motel has some nice amenities, even if the WiFi isn’t working … we got a suite, for less than most ordinary rooms go for, and we have not one, but two air-conditioning units – the evaporative cooler that is wonderfully energy-efficient in the desert (at the expense of using precious water), plus a refrigerated-air unit of the sort that is common in non-desert situations. There’s also a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator with an ice maker, a living room with plenty of room to operate multiple laptops at once, and other nifty extras in the suite. Also, there’s a swimming pool and spa in an extremely private, quiet courtyard.
We had a reasonably pleasant drive to get here … lots of scenery, starting with the spectacular red rocks of the desert from west of Albuquerque to the eastern edge of Arizona. Then we hung a left at Holbrook (after a carnivore’s delight of a lunch at Bob’s Big Pig Barbecue), and headed through the mountains and over the Mogollon Rim. The road is narrow, and twisty in many places; I noticed that a lot of the “adopt-a-highway” stretches were “in loving memory” of somebody-or-other, and the signs were festooned with flowers, ribbons, and other mementos. But the views were spectacular, and then we descended from mountain coolness to the desert floor of the Valley of the Sun – where we still had great scenery, but in just a very short time, Ponderosa pines were replaced by saguaro cacti.
As we arrived at our motel, we were operating under the assumption that Gerald might not have a dorm room – ASU had overbooked, and it was expected that it might be a couple of weeks before he had a permanent location. So we were working on plans to connect with a friend who lives in Scottsdale for him to sleep on the couch until a dorm became available. She was unavailable this evening, but Gerald arranged to meet her tomorrow morning to set up his temporary lodging.
We also made contact with an old buddy of mine – she was a fellow graduate student at UNM, and now she is an associate professor of English at ASU. Back when she was a grad student, she was Gerald’s favorite babysitter (although she preferred the term “governess”). We hope to get together with her and her husband for a late lunch or afternoon drinks tomorrow.
Then we visited a small but friendly supermarket a block from the motel to get snacks and refreshing beverages with which to stock that oh-so-generously-sized fridge. Once that mission was accomplished, we set out to do some sightseeing and seek out supper. We drove around the ASU campus a bit, and Gerald pointed out some of the major buildings that he had seen a month ago on his campus orientation tour, such as some spectacular high-rise dorms that, at first glance, are nearly indistinguishable from some luxury high-rise condos just a few blocks away. We also took a look at Tempe Town Lake, where Gerald is likely to do most of his sailing for the time being, especially since he’s taking on a really heavy course load that won’t allow him much time to travel to more distant lakes.
Our first-choice destination for supper was a place we’d seen listed in a Tempe tourist guide, a brew pub in a historic building that seemed to be exactly what we wanted. Unfortunately, it also seemed to be exactly what a few hundred other people wanted – there was a line of people extending out the door and for a half-block along the street. So we decided to go elsewhere, to a pizza place away from campus, where we picked up slices and calzones to go.
After supper, Gerald went to the lobby to get a better WiFi signal, either from the motel’s system (which apparently isn’t really all that strong and can’t punch through to this wonderfully quiet, isolated suite at the back of the complex) or from the municipal system, which has a transmitter across the street. He has just returned with good news – he just got an email confirming that he will have a room in a dorm, and details will be coming in a subsequent email to be sent “by the first of July.” It’s not his first choice, but rather, it’s in one of those glittering high-rise towers. He does have a few other details to take care of, such as making sure the folks at ASU have received his proof of immunizations (which has been faxed twice from his Albuquerque doctor’s office) and proving that he is a U.S. citizen (of which Arizona requires a much higher standard of proof than the federal government does).
Meanwhile, we have more adventures ahead, such as finding out exactly what Gerald’s dorm room is like, what sort of person his roommate is, and other mysteries.