February 27, 2013
A Love (Hate) Letter From Arizona
If you set out to design a place that I would hate, it would look a lot like Arizona.
It’s got natural beauty, sure, but it’s usually way too hot, or too cold, to enjoy. Everything is spread out, Houston- or Los Angeles-style; you have to drive everywhere to get anywhere. And once you get there, odds are “there” is a prefab thing conceived by a team of hospitality management experts.
People carry guns and drive enormous trucks and elect Joe Arpaio sheriff over and over. But they also have baseball nearly year-round, and that more than makes up for all its shortcomings. I will brave the bro-laden concourses of Old Town Scottsdale to get my fix. And so Tracy and I have made the pilgrimage again this year.
The culture shock usually begins when we touch down at Sky Harbor. I have full sleeves of tattoos, which are pretty much ubiquitous in Oakland, CA. When you move to the Bay Area, you’re issued a band, a job at a record store or coffee shop, and tattoos. (You can opt for job-blockers -- hand and neck tattoos -- but I never felt the need.) Apparently this trend has not yet taken hold elsewhere in the world, as my fellow travelers seem to regard me with a mix of revulsion (80 percent) and wonderment (20 percent).
We collect our rental car which, for reasons I can’t explain, costs $6 a day. And it’s not like a Kia or a Le Car; it’s a Jetta. Six dollars! With taxes and fees the total comes out to around $85 for the six days we’re here, but still. I hold on to the $6/day figure as a small but important consumer victory.
Home base for this trip is the Hyatt Place in Old Town Scottsdale. We’ve stayed here on and off since it opened a few years back; it’s pricy, but the location and amenities are unbeatable. It seems like every other year we forget this and try staying someplace else -- someplace cheaper and further from Scottsdale Stadium -- and every other year, we regret it. So we’re back at the Place this year, and it’s lovely.