Tuesday April 15, 2003 11:49 PM
Monday and Tuesday out West

Monday was a good day of vacation. It was relaxed with plans kind of forming as we made them instead of being lined up ahead of time.

Isaiah woke up in a rather somber mood. He was subdued and kind of clingy and surprisingly he didn't want to ride with Dad and I when we went to run a couple of errands. We needed to go to the hardware store to find a replacement for the spare tire retaining nut that had stripped on Dad's scout and we also needed to go by the water store to lay in a few weeks worth of potable water. The tap water in Mesa, this part of it anyway, is safe but with a taste that is rather un-waterlike so Dad and Sherry keep the water cooler filled with store bought stuff.

I remember going with my dad to get water from the grocery store on a previous visit about a decade ago. We lugged the big plastic ten gallon bottles to a vending machine in the store and filled them up. They still have those around he tells me, but you can save money by going to the water store. Yes, the water store sells only water (well, water and candy bars and impulse purchase items like that). You bring your own containers, though they'd be glad to sell you new ones, and fill them from the large hoses hanging from the ceiling. For less than $6 we laid in what Dad said was probably a two to three week supply of water. We laughed when I said that was less than we would pay for a two week supply of carbonated soft drinks for home consumption back in Alton.

When we got back to the hacienda to drop off the water the women and Isaiah had decided to make the trip up to downtown Mesa to find something for lunch and to look at some shops. Isaiah seemed to be in somewhat better spirits and was even cheerful and happy as they were getting into the scout to drive up there.

Dad and I then took his van to go have some lunch ourselves and to visit a couple more destinations. I wanted to go to Fry's Electronics to get a new color ink cartridge for the printer my dad hadn't used in so long that it's cartridge had dried out so that I could make postcards from a picture of Isaiah by some cactus to send to friends and relatives. I also wanted to meet a fellow from whom I was going to make a purchase. For about two years now I have been making paper models as a kind of hobby and "therapy". One major creator and distributor of paper models, mainly of aircraft, is FiddlersGreen which is based in Chandler, AZ about a 20 to 30 minute drive from our vacation home.

I had sent an email to the owner/creator of FiddlersGreen, Chip Fyn, last week inquiring about meeting him and buying some models from him. He replied that such a thing would be possible and we spent almost two hours visiting with Chip and his wife Annie. They are nice folks and they sell terrific products. I bought the Aircraft Mega CD. There are over a hundred models in PDF and jpeg formats, a great number of which (if not all eventually) I will be printing and building when we get back to Alton.

At Fry's we found a printer cartridge and then looked around a bit. I really wish we had Fry's Electronics back home. They have just about everything the eletronically oriented person could want from whole computers to individual integrated circuits, from cable installer's tools to mini-R/C cars- like the one I got Isaiah. You've seen them. They are a couple of inches long and take 2 AA batteries. They had some for $10 by the cash registers instead of for the $19.99 you see most places and since Dad insisted on giving me $10 for the cartridge, we compromised. I could either buy the whole cartridge and he could buy the car for Isaiah or he could contribute to the cartridge and I'd buy the car. In the end it would come out the same so we didn't worry about it too much.

When Dad and and I got back home, we found that Ruth, Sherry, and Isaiah had just gotten back too. Isaiah had found a toy robot at a dollar store and it's been in his hand ever since. The robot had helped to cheer him up up even more and he was pretty much his energetic crazy self by then. He fooled around out in the courtyard while Dad and I spent a frustratingly long, but not untypical amount of time tinkering unsuccessfully with the two computers in his office trying to get the printer set up on the same computer with the scanner. It was only later that we discovered the cause of the consternation and diffuculty we encountered with this apparently simple configuration change- his Windows98 CD was really scratched up and the scanner computer was unable to find some required dll file. In the end we left the printer on the other machine and connected the two computers with a good old-fashioned sneakernet.

After we got our fill of fiddling with computers, Dad, Isaiah, and I walked to the playground that is just across the alley from the hacienda. It's still a bit of a walk, though, because the playground equipment is separated by the back fence by a couple hundred yards of open grassy field. Dad and I talked while Isaiah climbed, ran, went down sliding boards, and buried and dug up the robot in the sand.

"Are you ready to go back and see Mommy, Isaiah," I asked.

"Almost but not quite," was the reply.

I asked the same question and got a similar reply a few minutes later and I finally had to impose the 'five more minute' policy.

When we got back Ruth was hungry and had decided that we were all going out to eat. Dad suggested a mexican restaurant that turned out to be very good despite having a cafeteria style line where we got our food. The upside of that was that the waiter would bring us more of whatever we wanted, though, so I like that place.

After dinner we returned home for the standard operating procedure for evenings around these parts: relaxing and hanging out in the courtyard with good conversation and good music while Isaiah had a blast just playing like only a four year old can.

On today's agenda was a visit to the Champlin Figher Museum. It is billed as 'the world's largest figher musuem'. It has aircraft from every conflict up to Viet Nam- from the beginning of areal combat to the F-4 Phantom. This museum is amazing. The WWII era hangar was where we started- I wanted to save the WWI era hangar, my particular favorite age of aircraft, for last. Isaiah liked the airplanes, but didn't have quite enough patience for all the reading of informational placards and displays the adults were doing. Fortunately in the jet era hangar there was a cockpit which had been a blindfold-trainer set up for kids to play in. While we were looking at the jets he had a great time in the cockpit. When it was time for us to move on to the WWI era hangar he didn't want to get out.

"Come on, Son, let's go look at some more neat airplanes over there."

"No, I can't," he replied. "I'm flying an important mission."

Dad stayed behind to watch Isaiah fly while I ogled all the wood and canvas marvels. I took pictures, and listened to the docents talking about the planes and enjoyed myself immensely. Dad eventually got to see some of the WWI planes, too when Ruth went to watch Isaiah. We all had a good time and not only saw some terrific airplanes, but created the kind of memories that Isaiah will remember and tell his kids about when he's my age.

After the museum we engaged in more of our default vacation pastime. Yes, that's right, simply enjoying the Arizona weather in the courtyard. Tonight, though, our evening was rounded out with hamburgers on the hearth grill and home made fries, sliced from real potatoes and dropped in the deep fryer.

As a note to regular readers (Hello, all 3 of you) please let me advise you that if you are getting tired of hearing about what a marvelous time we're having and how much time we are spending just sitting around in the sunshine, you may wish to suspend your reading of this publication until April 23. On the other hand, if you don't mind hearing me go on about such things over and over, come back tomorrow. ;)