Sep 27, 2007

Day 4 – Tolleson, AZ to Phoenix, AZ

I’ve headed into the home stretch of our business trip and find myself blogging from The Hilton Phoenix Airport in Phoenix, AZ.

This morning we began our day by driving from Yuma, AZ to Tolleson, AZ which was the last leg of our historic tour of the Southwest. Tolleson is where our West Coast distribution center is located and we had a busy agenda. Several key players from Corporate and Columbia, SC were all convening for a day-long conference to discuss some Bose-y things. We were hoping to reach the DC by 9am, but we experienced a few bumps along the way.

We went through a border patrol crossing station as we left Yuma. The crossing station had about three border patrol officers and one officer had a large yellow Labrador with him to sniff the vehicle as we were being questioned. I was sort of chuckling to myself that our officer wouldn’t have looked so intimidating if he had a Beagle on the leash instead of the yellow lab. But the checkpoint was quick and we moved smoothly through.

We had quite a laugh as we passed because the other member of our group, whose name is Mark, was in the car behind us and we were wondering if the dog would let him through considering all the meat he’s inhaled these past few days. (We were afraid his meaty scent would cause some issues that his US citizenship wouldn’t protect.)

There wasn’t much to see for roadside attractions. We passed Dateland, AZ known for The Date Shake which is an actual drink made from dates. One word: Gross. I thought the billboard advertising The Date Shake was some sort of speed dating dance club. I know it sounds strange, but when you’ve seen a full-blown casino at 4500 feet elevation in the mountains like I have then you’re prepared for anything.

We landed in Gila Bend which is a little slip of a town in Arizona. However, it does have two famous attractions: The Best Western Space Age Lodge (affectionately known as The Outer Limits Motel by the more experienced Bose travelers) and The Desert Sweet Shrimp Farm purporting to have "The World's Best Tasting Shrimp."

We had intended to stop at The McDonald’s for a bathroom break, but it was under construction. We proceeded down the street to Burger King (strange that there would be two fast-food giants located in the same town where it seems no one ever visits) for our intended bathroom break and a snack of Cini-Minis. It was the best $.99 dollar value meal I’ve ever had. Cini-Minis are a poor man’s version of a Cinnabon and come available with a little tub of glazed icing for dipping. At 10am, I greedily scoffed a 4-pack of Cini-Minis and an Oreo Shake. Bad Kim…Bad!

While Tricia and I were snacking, my poor boss was stuck on a conference call with his boss talking about inventory levels. Believe me when I say how surreal it was to be in a Burger King parking lot in the middle of nowhere watching him teleconference under a Burger King sign. (Don’t worry-I have pictures) The things he does for our Supply Chain. After his call, he went into Burger King to have his own bathroom break and guess what? He couldn’t use the bathroom because the power went out in the town. It was a good thing that Tricia had the foresight to buy Ron a pack of Cini-Minis.

However, the best was yet to come because Ron took pity on me and stopped at The Outer Limits motel so I could take some pictures. The Outer Limits looks like something out of a Trekkie’s wet dream come to life. It was amazing. I saw the words “Gift Shop” and nearly bolted out of the car before he came to a full stop. I began snapping pictures like a Japanese tourist on speed and burst into the gift shop. There were a few women standing behind the counter in uniforms that looked like they were straight out of the 1976 sitcom ALICE.

Knowing time was critical, I asked one of them, “Show me every kind of souvenir you have that’s related to this motel.” In the meantime, Ron asked to use their bathroom and was directed to a pitch-black men’s room where he had no choice but to answer nature’s call by the light of his cell phone. I ended up buying a glow-in-the-dark alien t-shirt and a commemorative coffee cup for $29.50.

We continued onward to Tolleson passing dairy farms, alfalfa and cotton fields, rotting cactus and miles of nothingness for as far as the eye could see. We arrived into Tolleson around 10:30 and began our day.

I hit one snag when it came to hotel accommodations. We realized that Tricia and I were staying at The Hilton Garden Inn in Midtown. Ron and Mark were booked at The Hilton Garden Inn at the Airport. Both were in Phoenix, but about 45 blocks away from each other. So I called American Express around 3:30 to change our location so all four of us could be in the same hotel.
We all met for dinner at The Texas Roadhouse in Phoenix. We had a really good time and I personally found it very enjoyable to be around all these guys who have been working for Bose for years sitting around over steaks sharing logistical war stories.

The table next to ours had a little girl that was calling out, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy” trying to get her mother’s attention and as the mother passed by our table she said to her daughter, “I’m going to cut out your voice box.” We all just kind of stopped talking and looked at each other in disbelief wondering what she says to her kid at home when she’s not out in public.

We drove to the hotel and to our surprise discovered the Hilton had no record our recently changed reservation. The man behind the desk was clearly frazzled and a bit of a snit, but eventually we worked out another solution. Tricia and I got rooms at The Hilton Phoenix Airport hotel and got transportation between the two hotels using a shuttle service. Our driver was telling us on the way that we actually were staying in a very nice hotel.

After checking in, we retired to our rooms. We had seen a little gift shop, so we got settled and headed back out to do a little shopping now that we were free of the boys. As I left my room, the bolt on the door mysteriously engaged itself and I wasn’t able to shut the door. We went to the front desk and was told we just needed to turn the handle up and the lock would disengage.

My room was beautiful and I have all the comforts of home within. A big bottle of Dasani water, an alarm clock that has an MP3 cord so I could attach my iPod and an amazing desk setup. I was chomping at the bit to finish my Day 4 Blog entry so I attached my Ethernet cable to the high-speed modem and was surprised to see a screen come up advising a 1-day Internet access cost $9.95. I was in disbelief. I called the front desk and sure enough-this gorgeous state-of-the-art Hilton hotel doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi. But the Best Western Space Age Lodge and Coffee Shop does! What the hell?

Excerpt from their postcard: All guest rooms have 27 inch television, 50+ cable channels & HBO; in addition, the rooms have wireless Internet access, refrigerator, coffee maker, hairdryer, iron and board, data port.

I suppose one could say it’s reasonable to expect that a hotel with a big spaceship would have free Wi-Fi. But how can a prestigious well known chain like the Hilton charge ten bucks for it when a bunch of space freaks out in the middle of nowhere are giving it away for free?

That is…if the power ever comes back on.

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