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Hiking Camelback Mtn with Candyce

This is another one of those journals that I won’t be able to post for another month; because I don’t want to spoil any surprises. But I have to write about it now because I’m dealing with it now.

This afternoon Candyce and I hiked Camelback mountain. I’ve wanted to hike with Candyce this spring anyway, but the big reason was to give Candyce a headfake so she would think I was going to propose to her. Her dad proposed to her mom on the mountain back in the day, and it’s a probable place that I would propose to their daughter.

Candyce on Camelback Mountain

Candyce sits amongst granite boulders. You can see downtown Phoenix in the distance.

I’ve had ring for her for over three weeks now, and I am planning on proposing to her when we go out to San Diego together at the end of this month. Today’s trip of the mountain kind of diffuses expectation and creates more suspense so that when I do propose to her, it will be more fun.

We watched the sunset and enjoyed watching the colors of the trees and mountains change as the sun neared the horizon. The citrus trees were blooming in Arcadia at the foot of the mountain, and when the wind blew, the air was filled with the intoxicating aroma of orange blossoms. I swear that is the best smell in the world.

What a sunset! The mountains in the distance still had snow sprinkled on the top.

Once we got down from the mountain, we had dinner at Postino, a hip wine bar in a converted post office in Arcadia. It’s about as cool as you can get, and that means Thursday night it’s packed. The food is good, so it’s always worth the wait. By the time we were finished with our meal, it was cold out, so we decided to grab some coffee across the parking lot at LGO. Before we could make it through the door, we ran into Hipster Billy and his friend who was in town from Indiana.

Billy informed me that he finally wrote a movie review for lifeteen.com. He’s a film student, articulate, and a good Catholic, so he’s the perfect candidate to write for the site. I’ve harassed him for two years, and out of no where Adam the intern asked him once and he said yes. Go figure.

We finished tonight at Kevin Day’s birthday party. It seemed like all of our friends were there, so it was just a good time. It’s one of those parties that you leave feeling really thankful for so many good friends.

Now I’m here at the house burning off the last bit of caffeine from the cup of coffee I drank two hours ago. I’ve been conditioned to have anxiety on Thursday nights because I’ve traveled on almost every Friday for the past five years. It didn’t matter how much fun I would have on Thursday night, I knew that I had to go home and pack my suitcase, print my flight itinerary, and go to sleep early so I could make it through the weekend. But now life is different. Thursday night practically the first night of the weekend. Life is just so much easier when you have weekends.

Tomorrow I get my MTV Cribs refrigerator.

Mini Cactus

A miniature cactus blooms for the spring.

Snowing in Phoenix

It’s been raining in the valley and snowing in the mountains surrounding Phoenix. For the first time in the five years that I’ve lived in Phoenix, there is snow all in the mountains that surround the town. It looks less like Phoenix and more like Aspen.

I’ve learned that during the nicest weather of the year, it’s important to get out and do fun things. So when the miserable heat arrives in the summer, it’s easier to remember why you live in Phoenix. So this morning I spotted in the paper that their was a tour of homes in the historic Coronado neighborhood in downtown Phoenix, I knew Candyce and I had an adventure waiting for us.

The first home on the tour was owned by what seemed to be a very strange and dirty man. By comparison, each of the eight homes left on the tour was tasteful and well-done. Phoenix doesn’t have much history, so it was fun to see homes that were built before 1950.; But what was most fun was meeting enthusiastic homeowners who live a little on the wild side. The snub the safe suburbs of new homes for the wild streets close to downtown.

We had a late lunch at Zoe Cafe, a healthy sandwich shop in the antiques district off of Seventh Avenue. About half way through the sandwiches, I convinced Candyce that we should go to Mass at a church in the mountains in north Phoenix. Ten minutes later, she was asleep in the car while I drove due north towards the white mountains.

I decided to go for the Carefree / Cave Creek area. I imagined Candyce and I would be the only ones on the adventure north, but I was wrong. The closer we got to the snow, the thicker the traffic. What was more bizarre is that all of the cars coming towards us from the mountain had miniature snowmen on the hoods of their cars. I thought it was a joke amongst friends in a caravan of maybe four cars. But as the miles passed, there were hundreds of cars that had snowmen on their hoods. I’d never seen anything like it.

Phoenix Snow

I pulled off the side of the road. Actually, I had to parallel park because there were hundreds of people pulled off as well. I had to parallel park in the middle of the desert! Hundreds of kids were running through through stands of Saguaro cacti hurling snowballs at each other. I’d never seen something quite that bizarre.

Next we went to Mass at Our Lady of Joy in Carefree. It was so cold outside, another thing we don’t get here in Phoenix very often. People stumbled into the church all bundled up with heavy coats and scarves. Mass itself was gentle and calming. St. Tim’s is usually packed and pretty loud, so the contrast was cool.

The must stunning scene of the evening was when we walked out the door and saw the snow-covered mountains in the distance framed by the Spanish archway at the entrance of the church. The sun was setting, so the snow had a sherbet glow. I was standing in the middle of a postcard. There’s few moments in life where you can occupy the same space as that much natural beauty.

For dinner, we went to a charming Mexican restaurant called El Encanto. The courtyard patio wrapped around a small pond with swans and ducks. With a couple fireplaces, a Mexican guitarist and a dancer, it was like we were in Mexico. We went from Aspen to Mexico in ten minutes. We ate chili rellenos and savored the warmth.

The snow had melted off of my Honda Element by the time we made it back to Candyce’s house. I was hoping to have just a little to show off to my friends, but that’s okay. Today has been a wonderful day, a day I never expected to experience in the deserts of Arizona.

Snowing in Gold Canyon, near Phoenix

143 Days of Drought Broken

I’ve been sleeping outside on the patio because it’s Lent and it’s my little sacrifice, but I also enjoy it. The weather is nice, and in Phoenix, you really have to savor spring because the summer is long.; I woke up around three in the morning to earthshaking thunder. It’s one thing to wake up to an buzzing alarm clock, but it’s quite different to wake up to a thunder clap. But I wasn’t scared–I was so happy I could barely fall back asleep. The 143-day drought is over!

It’s about ten in the morning, and it is still raining. I am sitting at Candyce’s coffee shop and everyone is scurrying in with their umbrellas. People in Arizona don’t get to use their umbrellas except maybe five times a year, so popping off the rain outside the door is a treat for us.

Everyone here is so excited. I mean, people are smiling because it has rained as much as it has, and every time we look out the window, we see more rain coming down. The parking lots are filled with puddles. Finally the dust won’t clog the sky. Rejoice citizens of Phoenix!

I usually get here to the coffee shop earlier, but it was easy to sleep in when it was cloudy. I think it’s Feng Shui that says you should sleep with your bed positioned so your wake up with your face to the east. I’m sure this means something spiritually, but practically, it’s hard to sleep in with the sun shining in your face. I mean, it’s painful to sleep in an extra fifteen minutes with the world’s biggest flash light in your face.

But this morning there was no sun because there was only clouds–nature’s snooze button. I slept until nine, and then I laid there for another half hour just listening to the rain. I could almost hear my lawn laughing with relief.

In the more northern parts of the valley it actually snowed. So all of those tall desert saguaros are dusted with white. I imagine the nature photographers are scrambling to get up there and snap some photos before it all melts. A snow-covered cactus is guaranteed to make at least one month in a nature calendar.

I am just so excited today. I guess this is how the people of Boston felt when the Red Sox finally won.

:::

On another note, I just saw in the paper that Toyota is really going to manufacture the retro-styled FJ–a vintage Jeep-looking truck. I first saw the FJ a few years ago in magazines, but most cars that cool never make it to the showrooms. I’m happy to see more stylish cars being made. Right now we have the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Magnum, the Ford Mustang, the Scion xB, the Nissan 350, the Honda Element, the Hummer H3, and the Mini Cooper. These cars make driving the streets more interesting. Who wants to be stuck in traffic behind a Toyota Camry?

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Random Tour of a Random House

I stayed at work late tonight because Candyce was having a girls night out. It’s a Friday, and most people are ready to get out on the weekend. But Adam and I were making some major progress on the site, and it was more exciting to stay at work that to go home. But by 7:30, I realized I’d been working eleven hours, and I was beginning to make a lot of mistakes. That’s always my sign that it’s time to quit.

I always feel uncool when I leave work late on a Friday, like everyone has started the party without me. Right as I was thinking that, I looked to the right to catch a glimpse of a modern house that’s been under construction for the past five months. Except this time there was a lighted “Open House” sign out front. I made a U-turn and pulled up to the house.

This place was amazing. The lot that it is built on is off of a the busy Camelback road, but it’s a good lot because you have unobstructed views of Camelback mountain. I pulled into the gated driveway, which ironically was in the “backyard” closest to the the road. Most houses that line Camelback road will have a driveway off the street in the neighborhood, and then use the space between their house and Camelback Road as a backyard. But at this house, the backyard was made into a front yard, with a gated turnaround driveway. In the center of the turnaround was a column with a large bowl of fire at the top. It was dark out, and the flickering fire made all of the luxury cars in the driveway look even more mysterious.

I got out of my car and I could see into the house through the massive 30 foot tall glass wall that opens up to views of the mountain. From the driveway to the house is a downward-sloping covering that you only see at hip hotels and modern homes.
It’s the kind of house that is absolutely so cool that you have to pause compose yourself before you step inside. It’s like, who just hops into a Ferrari like it was nothing?

I stepped inside and introduced myself to the owner/realtor/designer. He was only 30 years old, which is amazing in itself. Most open houses are set up to help potential owners feel comfortable and welcome in what could be their new home. But this place felt more like a night club. Music was playing in the speakers. They had an open bar. Everyone in the room was dressed like it was a night club.

The house is listed at $3.6 million, and as I toured the house, I could see why they could expect that much money. It was like being on the set of a music video. Huge walls of art, clever lighting, expansive rooms, everything! It was like a modern resort. He converted what would’ve been the front yard into a backyard paradise with a pool and edgy landscaping. It looked like Palm Springs in the 1950’s and 60’s. There was a lot of attention to detail. Even the drainage grates in the showers were custom manufactured to look cool.

It was fun to have a conversation with someone who knew a lot about modern architecture in Phoenix. Since I haven’t really been a “local” in Phoenix since I’ve moved here, it was refreshing to have a conversation about my new found local interests.

I hurried over to Candyce’s house to watch the Suns game. Unfortunately, Steve Nash couldn’t plays because of his sprained ankle, and San Antonio beat us pretty good. I hate it when injured teams play each other. I know that’s part of the game–injuries–but it’s more exciting when two talented and healthy teams battle it out on the court.

This morning I interviewed the Andy Fickman, the director of “She’s the Man,” a new teeny-bop movie with Amanda Bynes. It’s one of those movies where a girl pretends to be a boy in order to beat the system. It’s a difficult movie to review for lifeteen.com, because we live in a sexually ambiguous society. Ten years ago, it would’ve been a fun and funny movie, but it was hard to watch that movie and have my perverted mind not wonder if the movie was going to end up in some kinky dilemma. Because of this, I didn’t know if I wanted to do the interview. But I figured it’d be a good chance to see what decisions the director made and why.

I had an exclusive interview, which is rare. In these press tours for movies, you usually have to sit at a table with other media outlets, and you get to ask a couple questions at most. But this morning it was just the director and myself sitting in fancy chairs on the second floor of the Ritz. I felt like I was the host on “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

The interview went well. I still don’t know what to do with it, but we’ll see. By the way, I am typing this on a Friday night because Candyce has to work in the morning so I had to make sure she went to sleep early. And my TV is unplugged in the middle of the kitchen because I’m retiling my living room. So writing a journal is all I can think to do before I go to bed.

I am a Suns Fan

One of the perks of not traveling as much is I get to be a sports fan again. Midway through the season last year, I became a Suns fan because of Steve Nash. Actuallyl, he made me an NBA fan again, which I never thought would happen.

He was such a stellar player, and he’s so much smaller than everyone else on the court. His speed, agility, and accuracy are mind-blowing. Then at the end of the season he was chosen as the NBA MVP. I was so proud! I was given an autographed photo of Steve Nash, and I have it framed on my fireplace mantel.

The thing I love about Steve Nash is that he’s a team player. There is so much ego in the NBA, and he has none of that. Players aren’t afraid to give him the ball because they know they will get it back. He is the leader of what is truly a team: men working together to be better than they would be by themselves. None of that ball hog nonsense like Kobe. It’s a thrill to watch because you can tell the players enjoy the game more when they work together.

Part of being a fan is heartache. Last night Steve Nash sprained his ankle when we played against the Hornets. I was so bothered. The rest of my night sucked knowing that he was hurtin’ and that he might not make tomorrow for the Spurs game. It just sucks. I’ve been praying for him like he was a close friend going through a divorce or something. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that, but it’s true.

Every hour or so last night and then this morning I would search news.google.com for anything pertaining to Steve Nash. I felt like there should be some sort of phone call pyramid so fans can get the news, like they use in little league baseball when a game in canceled. One mom calls two moms, those moms call four more… The most information I got was around noon today when an article quoted him saying something like, “It’s not horrible. I’m going to see how I feel.” I was happy that it wasn’t horrible, but I wanted to know more.

I’ve watched more ESPN in the past six months than I have my whole life. I go on ESPN.com all the time. After a game, I’ll watch clips online that highlight how good our team is. Every morning I pick the paper off the driveway, and once I’m at work, I’ll find the sports section and read anything and everything with the word “Suns” in it.

Getting into sports again has been a conscious decision to help me relax more. I realize this my projects will end up taking me my whole life, so I have to find new things to think about. I have to find entertainment beyond home improvement and reading personal finance books.