Circus Mexicus: Day 4

I type this to you on the eighth-floor balcony of our condo rental in Rocky Point, with the waves of the Sea of Cortez crashing against the shore to my right side. The day was a fairly lazy one and this seems a fitting end to this portion of the trip. I’ve had a chance to see the good and bad sides of Mexico, and I still do love this country. All reinforced by the opportunity to experience something like this.

The day started with a small set of five or six songs on the same balcony, strumming the guitar to “Red Light” by David Nail, “What Led Me To This Town” by The Jayhawks, “Ashes of American Flags” by Wilco, “Change” by Blind Melon and a series of bits and pieces of other tracks. From there it was time to fill stomachs after 16 hours of famine, not an oddity on this trip. We seem to be eating small amounts very sporadically, but what we’re having is top notch. It was off to JJ’s Cantina in Cholla Bay for Mañanathon, a combination brunch and concert held in conjunction with Circus Mexicus. This is the older part of town, still boasting sand roads and buildings that largely may not be as modern as some would hope to see on their vacations.

It was right perfect for the two of us, though, and we started our marathon with an order of chorizo con huevos and a beer for myself. We’d add fish tacos for lunch, and otherwise spent six hours sitting in a chair watching Gooder, Jason Boots, Eddie Spaghetti and The Railbenders motor through sets. Before Random Karma were able to take the stage we decided to head back for a quick clean-up and then drove into the Old Port region of Rocky Point for an authentic dinner of enchiladas and margaritas at The Friendly Dolphin. From there it was back here for another late night swim, this time properly done in bathing suits and provided pools, and thus it ended.

And that leaves tomorrow, the final full day browse this site. A drive from here to Tucson with stops at Kitt Peak and the famous airplane boneyard, lunch at 1702, and who knows after that. Whatever happens it’ll come with photos and videos. :)

Cheers,
Rick.

Circus Mexicus: Day 3

As expected this trip is proving that time alone or with a computer is difficult to come by. Although here I am, Sunday morning after the show and my compadre remains dead to the world, thus I’ve got a bit of time to recap. Yesterday was spent heading back to Matt’s Big Breakfast a second time, a decision that likely cost us an hour but which was quite worth it. Staff are very friendly and the food was awesome. From there was the long ride to Rocky Point, Mexico. I had wanted to film a video of the entire trek but found the camera didn’t have a battery big enough to support the trip, thus I present to you someone else’s facsimile that actually well represents the drive:

We arrived to find the condo was exactly as advertised, a pretty incredible place overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Once we were settled it was only a walk to Chango’s, the home of Circus Mexicus 2010, with a quick burrito dinner. I had sadly left our wristbands at home but that didn’t stop us from managing to get in, without buying new ones, and we made our way to the stage front and enjoyed six hours of live music. Awesome show, tiring night. Yet, on the way back – while completely sober I should add – the lure of the sea and its crashing waves was too much to pass on. We got down to the underlayers and ran in, enjoyed some of the waves and a pretty cool night sky before retiring back. And thus ended the concert that prompted the entire trip. Today? Should be a nice brunch and maybe some touring.. we shall see!

Cheers,
Rick.

Circus Mexicus: Day One

So I type this from the free Internet in my Pricelined hotel here at the Sheraton Phoenix Airport Hotel Tempe. Yesterday wasn’t too eventful – a late start but we made it to the airport in Buffalo on time, having had no stop for food at that point. Near the gate we found a restaurant called Which Wich that I hadn’t heard of before. Interesting concept where you grab a bag, use a Sharpie to select what you want, hand it to them and they make it for you there, then slide it into your bag. Tasted pretty good, loved the idea of the place.

I have to note that Southwest is all you’ve heard they are and more. They’re the airline Westjet patterned themselves after, which is noticeable, but they really take it beyond. From walking people’s children around the plane to singing through the PA, even to just plain old jokes and fun. We were even allowed to store our guitars in the overhead containers because the steward noted he also played and he’d never let someone touch his instruments. Lucky us.

We were barely here when we headed down to the Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe to meet up with Nick Jasken. Nick and I have a storied history dating back about 16 years by our best estimate, but this would be our first real meeting. Back around 1994 we connected over a mutual love of the band Extreme, and from mailing lists to message boards to newsgroups just built up a rapport for some time. Our contact broke apart until I found his MySpace Music one day and realized that we were both bald guitarists who’d moved on to become big Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers fans. So long story short we met up, had a great evening that lasted about five hours of just conversation. Four Peaks has awesome food and even better beer, I managed to try the Bleu Light Special Burger and the Kilt Lifter, Hefeweizen, Hop Knot IPA, The Raj IPA and Oatmeal Stout, all quite nice. Ended the night with a night swim and hit the sack at what was almost 2am Toronto time for the end of a long day.

So today? Today will be the Diamondbacks game, and a pretty cool story to tell courtesy of our old friend KP – check back tomorrow!

Delta Dawn

And I’m back, firmly seated in the office chair here in Mississauga and driving right into the grind as I have an event to pull off on Wednesday. Lots to talk about as far as vacation went, but I shall say that it was great, times were fun, the company was excellent, and I do miss it now that I’m back. Unfortunately I dragged a bug of some kind back with me and I’m well under the weather, so much so I’m actually considering a clinic visit on the way home tonight. So, as I will be posting things in stages, let’s start with the tale of heading there.

Mary and I had sourced out a great hotel on Priceline for the Saturday night before the cruise, the Gallery ONE Doubletree for only $125. We were flying out of Buffalo, but not until 4:00PM, so we took our time getting the bags ready and putting our ducks in a row. We were off with plenty of time to spare and got ourselves to the airport shortly after 2:00PM where we found out about the snow issues in Atlanta, home to our connecting Delta flight. Having not seen snow in 10 years they were unaware how to handle it, and as just about every Delta flight that doesn’t originate there stops off there, it was wreaking havoc. As we “weren’t allowed to land” they held us up almost two hours in Buffalo before we finally got off, hoping our connection would suffer the same fate as our initial lift-off.

I should note that we had asked about other flights and told there were none. We asked about other airlines and were told that they didn’t have relationships with them and couldn’t. We asked about driving back to Toronto and perhaps flying direct and were told that Toronto was “overseas”, and thus they couldn’t do that. I noted that Ontario was actually quite close, and connected by land, and it shouldn’t be an issue but I was told, again, that to Delta, Toronto was overseas.

Once in the air I asked the stewardess if she’d check with the ground on the status of our connection, and if it was on time, to inform them we were scheduled to arrive 20 minutes late and perhaps hold it. I knew there were others on the same flight looking to catch that connector but was told “we don’t do that”. I said other airlines we’d flown with not only did that but did it without being asked; US Airways will, in my experience, take the time as descent begins to announce all connecting flights, times of departure, and gates so you can plan your exit. But, as was becoming clear, this wasn’t US Airways – it was Delta.

We landed and Mary ran ahead while I hit a ticket counter to ask them if we were too late – apparently we were, they were loading the plane but had given our tickets away. This was obviously pleasing to me and they quickly rebooked us on a 7:00AM flight, making sure my wife and I weren’t seated together for it, of course. By the time I caught Mary we were at the gate and, wonder of wonders, the plane wasn’t being boarded – it was being cancelled. From pure ineptitude to outright lying, Delta continues to establish their reputation for me. We headed down to grab our bags only to discover they wouldn’t be offloaded, they were already ready for the next day and we couldn’t have them. So now we were in Atlanta, stranded, with no jackets in sub-freezing weather with no hotel.

I hit the ticket counter and politely requested a hotel, which to my shock they actually offered up. They made sure to mention more than once they usually don’t give them out for “weather”, but they’d make an exception. So we waited out in the sub-freezing weather with no jackets for transportation for over an hour before being shipped off to a seedy HoJo near the airport and checked in, it now being 11:30PM.

Surprise! $50 for our free hotel room, as Delta apparently only “negotiated a better rate”, not a free room as we’d been told.

So, in the interest of ending this we got up after three hours sleep, made it to the airport, flew to Lauderdale, got to the pier early and found the Royal Caribbean folks very friendly and helpful, even letting us carry our bags on (typically not allowed) so we could change our clothes for the first time in over a day. All’s well that ends well – we were on the ship quickly and enjoying some food before the rest of our party, and the vacation began.

Bon Voyage

I’m leaving the house in some good hands and taking myself away for a week, heading out cruising. It’s unlikely that any of you would have noticed I was gone as it’s frequently at least a week between posts, but probably worth mentioning anyways. Hopefully some of the locals who have posting access will take advantage of it in my absence, and otherwise, I implore you to return a week tomorrow for some stories and pictures.

For those wondering it’s here to Buffalo for a flight to Fort Lauderdale. From there to the Gallery ONE hotel, which I obtained on Priceline for $125, and tomorrow down to the Port Everglades to board the Jewel of the Seas. Monday we’re in Key West (touring), Tuesday in Cozumel (touring), Wednesday in Belize (city and animal sanctuary tour), and Thursday in Playa del Carmen (Chichen Itza?), before a day at sea brings us back to Lauderdale on Saturday.

Don’t try to break into my house, as usual we’ve got a house sitter with a black belt and a mean streak. So until then, have a good one, and hope Mark shows up to post things!