the road to home

**stand by vtr5**
**roll 5**
**got speed, take 5**
Most of my readers that will likely see this know very little about my new home state. Let me cover this pretty quickly…
There’s Interstate 40 that goes in an east-west direction. This is the road that replaced about two-thirds of the old Route 66. In Arizona, it runs through the Navajo Nation, but stays south of the Hopi Nation. It intersects with one of Arizona’s major cities, Flagstaff. Whenever you hear about snow in Arizona, it is often pictures and video from the Flagstaff area that you see.
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You can continue on 40 through Arizona and in to California, or take a couple of turn-offs to major tourist sites, that being Las Vegas & the Grand Canyon.
Besides Flagstaff, most people know of Arizona’s other two major cities. Those are Phoenix and Tucson.
Since Phoenix is the location of the closest airport to my new home, that is where I will start.
Phoenix sits around 1,000 feet in elevation. When most people think about Phoenix and Arizona, they think of hot, boiling temperatures. It’s a place where it is not unheard of to have LOWS in the 90s (at least during the summer).
However, Phoenix is a little more diverse than that. The metro area is surrounded by a handful of native sovereign nations that contribute to the vibrant economy. The entire valley area is in the top 10 most populous areas of the entire United States.
Right in the heart of the metro lies the Phoenix airport. It is called Sky Harbor. A little bit of a dramatic name, but in my own opinion beats out something like the “Sunport” in Albuquerque. While not entirely up to scale with something like DFW, O’Haire, or JFK, it is a massive complex in its own right. It serves as a western hub for US Airways and Southwest Airlines out of terminal 4. Terminal 3 is the home of the One World Alliance airlines. I’ve not been in terminal 2, but it is the smallest of the public access terminals. Terminal 1, while not called that, is the private jet terminal. Jerry Jones probably arrives and leaves Phoenix from that terminal anytime the Cowboys come this direction to play the Cardinals. Also at Sky Harbor is what might very well be the most expensive on-site parking at a US airport. You do not want to park directly at the terminal for anything longer than about 3 hours. Parking for a whole day in that garage rings up a whopping $25 rate. Adds up if you’re gone multiple days.
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Phoenix was among one of the first airports to build an off-site consolidated rental car center. It is an impressive structure. The feel inside is like yet another airport terminal (just without those pesky TSA agents).
Whether you leave by a rental car or your own car, it can get hairy since you’re in the heart of Phoenix. By the time you find yourself starting to get on to I-10, you can already look up and see the exit sign for your direction, that being US Highway 60 eastbound. The safest idea is to stay in your entrance lane, especially if it is during rush hour. However, if traveling with someone else and not alone, I’d highly recommend getting in the HOV lane as soon as safely possible.
Drivers in Arizona are much more courteous on the whole versus in Texas. However, the one law they still love to break on the roads out here is the speed limit.
Once you find yourself on US 60 eastbound, you’re on a straight away out of the valley. But remember, the valley is populated across a large swath of land. To finally appear like you’re leaving civilization, you must drive around 30 minutes (at posted speed limits).
Along the way, you will pass the interchange with the inner loop, dubbed the 101. Further out, the outer loop, dubbed the 202. Once you clear out of Mesa, you’ll cross out of Maricopa county (the home of Sheriff Joe, infamous for pink inmate uniforms and his tent city in the desert for prisoners) in to Pinal (pronounced pi-NAIL) County. The last city before US 60 abandons its straight line of traverse is Apache Junction. There you will get a good look at the Superstition Mountains.
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The next installment will cover from the edge of Apache Junction to our next stop, Superior.


So, we hit the road to go see Tara’s sister, Tammy.  Our first stop is in beautiful lovely…middle of nowhere…Oklahoma.  You know it.  It’s that long, lonely trek through the barren, desolate areas of Texas along I-40 from Amarillo allllllll the way to Oklahoma City.  You get to drive through Indian reservations.  The cool thing is that is was a lot less dusty and a lot less brown than my drive through the Indian reservations of Arizona a few weeks ago.  Shoot, it was a lot less brown than Texas is right now (not counting the areas that are black due to wildfires).
The hotel we ended up landing with Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” feature ended up being a historic hotel in downtown Oklahoma City called the Skirvin Hotel that is now run by Hilton.  These historic hotels are nice surprises, especially considering that you know Hilton has done everything to restore the place, while keeping with modern conveniences.
The Skirvin was right downtown in Bricktown.  We get off the Interstate and 1) they’re doing a bit of construction downtown, and 2) it looks like we’re possibly going to have to fight the zombie-pocaplypse.  Downtown looked practically empty.  When we finally find the hotel, we start looking for where the self-park is located.  Another fail.  We finally decide to valet park.  It was a great decision as the valet parking staff at the Skirvin is one of the best in the industry in my opinion!  The attendant on duty told us exactly where the self-park was (but Tara and I still agreed to valet because it was a pain in the neck).  He was also able to tell us that the meters on the street were free for the holiday weekend.
Being July 3rd, I was surprised that OKC was having a fireworks display that night.  We could hear the concussion shots from our hotel room, but it took us a moment to figure out it was the fireworks.  There were storms developing in the area, so we thought it was thunder at first.
Once we raced out in to the street to find the fireworks, the valet attendant was able to tell us we could go up on the parking garage of Santa Fe Plaza to watch.  It was actually on of the highest points around with an unobstructed view.  It was a pretty nice fireworks display.  (It was better than we would have gotten at home…can anyone say “laser show”?)  The fireworks finale looked and sounded a little like battle explosions with shells and mortars.  However, the highlight of the show was Mother Nature’s addition!  We had several lightning strikes in the distance.  We even had a couple of cloud-to-cloud strikes overhead.  We were lucky that no lightning struck anyone on the top level of that parking garage!