We were living in Arizona when we decided to move to Amsterdam. Our flight to Amsterdam left from Boston, so we had to drive clear ‘cross the United States in the space of a few days. This is the story of those few days.
Reasonable people may think that we were nutty for driving from Arizona to Boston in the space of a few days. I have news for reasonable people, it could have been much nuttier. As with a rental car secured and unlimited miles part of the package, I was actually scheming for something a little more certifiably crazy.
The way I figured it, if you are going to drive from Arizona all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, you might as well just start on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and make that bad boy a full-on ocean-to-ocean odyssey. I proceeded to excitedly informed Julia and Holly that we should leave a day early and head to California.
“You know, we could dip our paws in the Pacific, have some fish tacos, maybe even kick a Kardashian or two in the shins on behalf of all humanity. Come on, it’ll be fun!” I said.
Luckily, they never really considered this latest hair-brained scheme of mine and we set off from Arizona bright and early in the morning of the pre-arranged departure date. We had to make one quick stop before we left town though, and that was at the cable company equipment return office, or as they prefer to be called nowadays, the “solutions store”.
We pulled up, parked, and then I went in and chucked our modem to the first warm body I encountered, quickly turning toward the door and the direction of Boston and Amsterdam.
“But sir, don’t you need a receipt?” responded the warm body in a curious, half-inquisitive, half-cryptic tone that inspired an exchange between us straight from the gift wrap scene in Love Actually.
“Um, no, I’m moving to the Netherlands, I think I’ll be ok.” I replied.
“But sir, what if we lose the modem?” he volleyed back to me.
“What if you lose it? Should you really be throwing that out there? Anyway, naah, I’m good, you seem like you know what you are doing.” I lobbed back to him thinking it was pretty weird he would suggest they may lose it, but hey, I guess anything could happen in a solutions store at night.
He then approached the conversational net and smashed this one down on me:
“If it gets lost and you don’t have proof you returned it, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars.”
With that it was game, set, match, and took my place in line to see a solution specialist while Holly and Julia stayed in the running car. In about the time it takes to call and have a pizza delivered, I was summoned, dealt with accordingly, and then handed my paper solution, which ended up finding a nice home in my wallet for the next few months.
It was time to head east, by way of a slight detour to the northwest part of Arizona.
You see, my crazy little scheme about California wasn’t just about the whole coast-to-coast thing or even drop-kicking celebrities, it was mostly about having a good excuse to stop at the Grand Canyon. I had never been to the Grand Canyon, and since we had lived in Arizona a few months, I wasn’t going to leave the state without laying eyes upon it.
We entered Interstate 17 headed north from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon area, turned on the cruise control, and then set our sights on the splendors speeding by us.
The run of Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff is one of my all-time favorite drives. They journey begins on the dusty desert floor of Phoenix surrounded by palm trees and suburban sprawl, scales hills full of cactus and places with names like Bloody Basin and Rabid Badger Springs, skirts the red rocks of Sedona, and then finishes 6,000 feet higher than when you started in the cool air and pine-laden terrain of Flagstaff.
All in only about two hours.
If there was any part of this entire AZ to Amsterdam adventure where I got a little sentimental about leaving America for for the foreseeable future, it was on this stretch of Interstate 17. And I’m not even from Arizona! It’s just that cool of a drive for me.
Once in Flagstaff, we hooked a left and followed the signs to the grandest canyon of them all.
Our time at the Grand Canyon was a rush-job, no question, as we only ended up spending an hour-and-a-half or so total in Grand Canyon National Park. We truly only had time to meander around the South Rim, pose for a few pictures, and badger a park ranger about how long a drive he thought it was from the Grand Canyon to Albuquerque, where we planned to stay the night.
The Grand Canyon was as gorgeous as advertised and made me really want to come back one day and spend a few days exploring the park. I’d love to walk on paths, look at rocks and rivers, and maybe even see something called wildlife that the free magazine we got with our admission fee was going on about.
We weren’t the only ones inspired by the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, either.
While we were shuffling along the South Rim with Holly, there was a commotion behind us and a gaggle of awestruck Italian tourists started yelling “Bella!” “Bella!” “Bellissima!”. Being from the land of Michelangelo, Bernini, and the hills of Tuscany, they obviously know beauty when they see it, and while they were a bit boisterous, I couldn’t blame them for being overcome.
They then approached us, knelt down and … starting petting Holly. It turns out that she had been the object of their attention all along and Holly accepted their pets and ear rubs with the dignity and poise you’d expect from a graceful world wonder.
With that, we were back in the car and finally really heading east.