After scouring for and finding a motel next to Phoenix’ Scottsdale area, renowned for its liveliness, we sallied forth into the night.
Phoenix held memories for both Pete and I as we’d been there before during pre-Afghanistan training, losing ourselves in its bar scene after guiding A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft onto targets out on a desert range–an experience surreal enough to get a nod and a raised eyebrow from Hunter S. Thompson himself.
The Scottsdale night was blissfully warm after an evening in Flagstaff, akin to walking through the blast from a large hair dryer set to medium power, and we were soon reminded how Phoenix has one of the highest plastic surgery rates in the U.S.
One waitress we encountered was so ravishingly proportioned that a little bit of my heart was lost in Phoenix’ flames when we came to pay the bill. She had charm to boot and Pete and I agreed she deserved a good tip though we disagreed over her laughing at a couple of my jokes–I thought we were bonding like two long-lost friends; Pete pointed out she was making sure of that good tip. I knew he was right but I so wished it was otherwise.
During the day we found a biker bar where after overcoming the fact we looked colossally out of place we experienced the finest and largest margaritas this side of Prohibition–I swear the bar lady held the Tequila bottle inverted for about 10 seconds as I watched and gulped.
We planned to stay just two nights but had to make it three after I left my credit card at a club Saturday night and had to wait until Monday to get it back. We met a group of ladies on the dance floor and I enthusiastically bought a round of Vodka Red Bulls, an investment that like most rounds bought in a club proved the law of diminishing returns and meant my card remained at the bar counter as I sauntered away clutching a handful of drinks.
Despite that hiccup, in Phoenix–as in most cities we’d visit–it felt, to again quote that fine chronicler of road trips, Hunter S. Thompson, that “you could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.”
Pete and I occasionally considered this over our drinks, reasoning it would be next to impossible we’d ever be able to again take time off for month-long road trip with enough cash, enough energy and a willing partner to make it work.
We knew our winning streak would end, but until that moment came we were going to enjoy it.