That the real world looks nothing as it does in owners manuals is the principal reason that I consult them only under duress. I suffer quite enough humiliation elsewhere! The OM for my leased Smart® asserted that I needed to loosen a screw to get at the tiny engine beneath the tiny luggage compartment, but then it turned out that the screw needed a weird star-shaped male screwdriver, which I don’t have, so I wound up driving down to the dealer to get them to check my fluid levels before we set out for Arizona. The awful embarrassment (it turned out that the screw didn’t need loosening at all, of course) was mitigated by the fact that my fluid levels were all A-OK. To their credit, the boys in the service department didn’t start snickering until I was well out of sight.
We headed for Lake Havasu City because my bride, as a 10-year-old, had watched London Bridge being dismantled to be shipped hunk by hunk to Arizona, there to be reassembled in its present location. She got a little misty at the sight of it, and I at the sight of her mistiness. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant many Yelp contributors had thought the bee’s knees, and which we found pretty dreadful. Our server addressed us as “you guys,” which I hate, and chirped, “No problem [, dude] (dude being implicit)!” whenever I thanked him for anything, and I, when dining, thank the servers for just about every breath they take. We returned to our motel and watched Ferguson explode on CNN while that nincompoop Anderson Cooper asked his on-site correspondents inane questions.
Our breakfast the following morning was at the International House of Pancakes near the Bridge. My bride’s waffle breakfast looked like something one might be served for dessert. We proceeded to Meteor Crater, which she had long longed to glimpse, and accompanied a guy called Eduardo on a wee walking tour. We weren’t sure if we were supposed to tip him at the end, and did not. We retraced our path west to Flagstaff, where the Luxury Inn of course turned out to be fervently unluxurious. CNN’s correspondents seemed to have come to outnumber protesters in Ferguson. My bride was undelighted by my choice of the China Star buffet as our dinner destination. I found the fried fish delicious, and it wasn’t my fault the sexy-voiced GPS lady had never heard of Regent Street, on which Pita Jungle was thought to be located. It gets cold in Flagstaff, and we had to leave the heater on all night. Every time it kicked in, it sounded as though a 767 were landing in our room.
We didn’t have breakfast the following morning before heading for Monument Alley. Our tummies rumbled eloquently when we glimpsed a Denny’s sign as we approached Tuba City. A lot of glorious ‘50s pop — and Neil Sedaka’s excruciating “Happy Birthday Sweet 16” — played as we enjoyed Senior Omelettes (one need be only 55) in the company of the place’s 95 percent Hopi clientele and staff.
Arriving in Monument Valley, we of course argued about the expense of a private guided tour, with Hubby, as ever, arguing against it. Our Sherpa, a Navajo named Gary, told us about the many notable movies that had been shot in the Valley, and it struck me as distasteful and saddening. I’d have preferred to hear what the various rock formations meant to the native people than where scenes from Clint fucking Eastwood’s The Eiger Sanction were shot. I also got tired of being expected to leap out of the car and take lots of snapshots every 90 seconds. I’m with Susan Sontag.
We dined in the dining room at Goulding’s Lodge, and it was indescribably horrid. My bride was displeased by her inability to order wine. My own displeasure owed more to the food being utterly flavorless, approximately the sort you’d get in a convalescent hospital. We were delighted on returning to our huge, luxurious room to discover that we had HBO, and then dismayed to discover that HBO was showing a Zac Efron film about cute young people with cute young people problems. I hated such films even when I was myself a cute young person.
We returned to Tuba City the following morning. This time the music wasn’t so good, but our Hopi server, Megan, was no less pretty and vivacious. Halfway through it, I realized I hadn’t asked her to instruct the kitchen to leave the bacon out of my Senior Omelette. I haven’t eaten pork or beef or lamb since 1978, but didn’t let on, lest I ruin my bride’s breakfast. I didn’t dash into the men’s restroom and make myself throw up or anything. What you’ve heard about my being a drama queen is all lies, damnable lies, I tell you!
We proceeded on to the Grand Canyon. I will admit to being less awed by it on this fifth visit than ever before. We made the awful mistake of spending most of our time on crowded shuttle buses on which one can travel from view point to view point. There are entirely too many people, all posing for photos, many self-inflicted, at every last one. We made friends with a young couple from Argentina, to the extent of our taking each other’s photos. They had the first selfie stick I have ever seen, but were not smug.
And then it was down, with a breathtaking sunset absolutely blazing to the west, to Williams, our Thanksgiving dinner at which you have read about already.