Aug 25-26: Nonstop Driving in the Southwest

Another weekend, another whirlwind trip.  This one started by heading from home to O’Hare Airport, Chicago, at 3:30 AM Saturday morning.  Tonight, technically early tomorrow, I catch the 12:30 AM flight from Phoenix and arrive home at 6:30 AM Monday, just in time to get to work.  In between, I’m visiting Tucson, AZ and Las Cruces, NM.  Busy weekend, but well worth it!

As of now, I’ve completed the Heist escape room at Lost Cruces, which was a wonderful experience.  I’ll be posting a separate entry about my experience there.  I’m not yet done with solving escape rooms here and I plan to get one in Tucson today, too, before heading home.

So much driving, though!  I started my trip by driving halfway from Phoenix to Tucson, then turning around and going back to Phoenix, then turning around and going back to Tucson again.  After that, I drove the four hours to Las Cruces and back.  So 1+1+2+4+4 = 12 hours of driving yesterday!  But it was a lot of fun.  My friend Adil volunteered to drive some of it, but because the rental car is registered to me, I had to go the whole way- thank goodness for coffee.

Why did I need to go halfway to Tucson and back before starting the journey?  It’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short.  When I arrived at the Phoenix car rental location, the attendant told me to pick any car in the row.  I picked a car and headed for the exit, but I was notified this car had been purchased and I had to go back and pick another.  I picked one of the same model and was on my way.

About halfway, I reached for my pack to get a granola bar… only to realize I didn’t have my pack with me!  I had left it in the back of the first car I tried renting!!!  I pulled off ASAP and called Dollar Rental at the Phoenix Airport.  The number connected me to a generic line, and the guy on the phone wasn’t helpful at all.  It was pulling teeth to even get him to try dialing the actual location (he wouldn’t transfer me or give me the direct number), and he said no one answered and that he couldn’t give me any guidance other than that I should return to the location in person and ask around for help there.

I wasn’t even sure where to park at the rental place and wasn’t looking forward to pulling into the rental car return when I didn’t actually want to return the car.  Thankfully, I spotted a visitor lot and ran through the garage to back where I left the first car I tried renting.  It was gone…

I asked the staff there for help.  One of their people, a man named Joey, was a tremendous help.  He promised to do what he could to help me and started by searching with me both the immediate area and the car service area.  When these searches turned up nothing, he got on the walkie talkie and contacted the others who may have known where the car would have gone.  In a few minutes, he located the bag and had a colleague bring it up.  It would have been easy enough for him to turn me away, and I really, really appreciate the help he gave.

So after that, my trip could begin in earnest.  I drove to Tucson, met Adil, grabbed brunch at Poco & Mom’s Cantina (a very popular Mexican breakfast joint), and hit the road for Las Cruces, stopping at a rest stop tourist trap called “The Thing?” and nabbing four squished pennies for my nephews.

We booked a time slot too early due to the time zone difference between Arizona and New Mexico, but the folks at Lost Cruces were understanding when we called and helped us sort it out.

And thus concludes the pre-adventure!


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