Really, really, REALLY tall mountains. The kind of mountains that have scenic vistas placed at the top of them so people in cars can pull off and enjoy the view. The kind of mountains that a 16’ box truck towing a trailer with a car on top of it tends to find just a teensy bit challenging.
We came down out of Albuquerque and essentially hit the valley floor until we reached a spot just outside of Flagstaff in Arizona.
(As a side note, we did make it to the welcome center but I was suffering from some serious elevation shifts and felt pretty crappy for many miles past that. Plus the most exciting thing we saw was the sign warning us that poisonous creatures were afoot, like scorpions and rattle snakes.)
I started looking at the clock because it was approaching 2:00 and I was pretty sure the front office of our new complex closed at 5:00. We were supposed to be there to sign the lease, get keys, etc and I did not want to miss it because like hell I was staying in another hotel that night! It seemed like a good idea to call and just let them know we were running a little behind schedule. The person I spoke with said not to worry at all because they didn’t even close until 6:00 and we’d have no trouble making it on time.
That was comforting to hear and I suddenly wished we had stopped on that corner in Winslow, Arizona. We watched the pine trees whizz by the truck and as we came down the mountain out of Flagstaff, I pointed at I-17 north and said “How glad are we that we aren’t on that side huh?”
Of course as everyone knows, it’s as soon as you say it out loud that you jinx yourself. We get to the bottom and suddenly spot where our road goes. Right up and over the next mountain range. And that thing ain’t short by any means. We look at each other and take a deep breath as Matt gets into the ‘slower vehicles move right’ lane. We started out okay, going about 55 or so but with every half mile we lost about 5 mph.
I finally suggested he flick on his hazards when an 85 year old on a Vespa scooter passed us like we were standing still.
It was about 99 degrees but we had to turn off the AC and open the windows just for the extra power. The truck finally capped off at about 25mph and that was only because Matt would “gun” it here and there to at least get us a teeny bit further.
All the while he kept a firm eye on that slowly climbing temperature gauge and mumbled repeatedly something about the benefits of having a diesel engine as opposed to the bleeping bleep bleep gas engine this stupid bleeping truck had. Or something close to that anyway. He might have used a few more bleeps than that come to think of it.
After what felt like an hour…oh wait, it actually was about an hour…it looked as if we were going to turn the corner and finally start heading back downhill again. We held our breath, this time for real, because we both knew that if we saw another ridge to climb around that turn we were going to have to abandon the truck on the side of the road and hitchhike all the way to Phoenix. And we weren't both going to fit on a scooter.
With the turbo power of the 20mph engine speed, heading up to about 26 when Matt jammed the gas, I was totally pinned to the back of the seat when we rounded that corner. Oh yeah, that thing had some real super power baby!
We both exhaled the words ‘Oh thank God!’ as soon as we rounded to see the slope start to point downward. The super bad ass truck regained her appropriate temperature in record time and so did we. The temperature outside seemed to be climbing much quicker than we anticipated and on went the AC. For the next bunch of miles I just kept my eye on the time because that mountain had eaten up quite a bit of ours and we were later than I hoped to get into town.
I had my camera in hand, ready to take pictures of the ‘Phoenix City Limits’ sign and as soon as we came around a bend at the Black Canyon exit I saw my first signs of civilization and immediately started cheering yea! I decided to see what was on the radio; maybe I’d locate a good station or two before we even got into town.
That’s when I discovered 93.3 KDKB. And it suddenly hit me, we had left the land of W’s and entered the land of K’s. The station was kind of the Boston version of Mike FM, but with rock & classic rock, because we heard some stuff that even I had never heard before (and AAF used to play some seriously off the wall tunes!). Within a half hour they played the Foo Fighters. I knew all would be well in my world. Of course it was their first single (‘Rope’) off the new album, not the new release (‘Walk’) but hey, at least if was from the new album.
Plus the station was just distracting enough that I didn’t notice we pulled up in front of the new apartment complex at 5:30. We drove a block or two down and parked in the Safeway lot then in 110 degree weather, walked back to the leasing office.
Welcome to Phoenix!
Now I don’t want to say mean stuff about anyone directly but as far as ease of move in goes this has probably been one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. Totally not at all what was expected considering the level of service back & forth in email before we even left Massachusetts.
But we got here and the agent handling our file was off that day. Her fill in person was pretend friendly (which makes me want to shake a person, I’d rather you were just a straight up biotch so I wouldn’t feel the fakeness oozing out of you). It took over an hour to get us our keys because they “couldn’t find them”. Then we were handed a key to the model apartment for the night because our carpets hadn’t been shampooed yet. Then we were told they had been but they could still be a little wet or look strange because its Berber which takes a long time to bounce back (read: we were forced to sit & wait "for keys" while they raced over to the apartment to quick shampoo because they totally forgot).
Finally after about an hour and a half we were thanking everyone and leaving when we suddenly asked each other if either of us had gotten the gate pass card. Nope.
Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.
Finally someone was leaving for the night and opened the door. Yeah we never got the pass card for the gate and considering it’s almost 7:30 now I think we’ll need that by the time we get back here with the truck. Oh, haha, how silly of us! Sure come on in.
Five minutes later we have all correct stuff, get back to the truck about 10 minutes after that, get through the gate, park the truck, drop the car and head over to our apartment with the air mattress, food & luggage in the backseat. We were so ready to just crash so we could get up the next morning to get on with the unpacking cavalcade.
We approach our front door to discover the front light is burned out. Mental note is taken to alert the management of that safety issue and with arms full of stuff we test the knob to find the apartment is unlocked. We unload the entire car, trunk and all, and are thankful that we’d disassembled the plastic shelves then tossed them in the trunk because on the wet carpet they were the perfect base for the computer and stuff.
By then it was after 8:00 and we were tired and starving. There was a quickie fast food place in our future so we went to lock up the front door.
Neither key fits. Not that they were just tight or anything. They don’t even go into the lock. Now I’m effing furious because I just spent 5 days on the road to move to this city and after having to wait for an hour for those keys (read: shampooing the carpet) you’d think someone might have tested them before handing them off and closing the front office until 10:00 the next morning.
We load everything back into the car, ready to go to a hotel and I suddenly realize the door does lock from the inside. We take our stuff, hit Jack in the Box and come back to once again unload the car into the apartment. We sit down and eat. We pump up the air mattress. We proceed to crash out, ready to unpack the truck the next day and deal with the held hostage in our own apartment, key situation then.
We have no idea they’re predicting close to record high temperatures for the 2nd…