since my computer died, I have a bit of somewhat guilt-free time at work while I have to redo some clearcase/related processes. wheee. thus I bring you my arizona road trip report, part one. apparently I've had a lot to say about this trip, so I'm breaking my recap into a couple posts.
got the rental car, went to whole foods and got some snacks. back home to pack up snacks and the rental car. then went to get lori and all her stuff at the hotel…got all her stuff in, so was a relatively drama-free experience. everything seems rosy at the beginning. we leave sunnyvale about 230pm, heading for ontario. should get us in about 7-8pm but we have to stop every 2-3 hours for food, gas or other biological imperatives. stopped for an early dinner at mimi's café in gilroy (very yummy scallop dish). later stopped for gas in extremely hot and smelly coalinga (bovine hell). so it is that we arrive at the completely unimpressive best western ontario about 11pm.
min had some minor trouble with them confirming our AAA rate, but worked it out. also lori had called ahead to make sure the room was scent-free and conformed to whatever other medical specifications she had. unfortunately the hotel van was parked in the only handicapped parking next to our room. after some wrangling, she got them to move and I was lucky enough to get to move the car closer. incidentally lori had already moved all of her stuff over already on foot. but I digress.
the room itself was pretty damn basic, but clean enough. except for the bathroom which had a minor ant problem (hi baby! bet you're glad I didn't tell you that til now, eh?). I got rid of what I could that night and didn't see any more in the morning thank goodness.
had a mediocre continental breakfast at the hotel around 9am. went to get gas before we left town and took one curve, and then a few moments later, a bump a little too quickly. lori yelps, practically screams both times. apparently she has some kind of problem with her back. which we knew about. and we'd been trying to drive carefully but … well, sometimes the unexpected happens, especially when you're driving somewhere new. and you can't remember to announce (let alone notice) every bloody curve or bump in the road that could potentially be a problem. so min asks lori to calm down a little and not shout every time we encounter something like this. lori says she can't help reacting. blah blah blah. I SO don't want to be in the car.
after a few minutes, they work it out, we get gas and get on i-10 east in relative silence (music, little talking) for the next few hours. all I can say is it's a good thing I really like being a passenger on road trips. I just zone out, appreciating the scenery whether it's the peculiarities of a small town we're driving through, watching clouds move across distant mountains, or noticing how this one type of arizona cactus and its budding blossoms look like a little tiki god. there are hundreds of them and they're all providing me the teeniest bit of comic relief. also providing comic relief is lori, talking with the oxygen tank people in tucson, trying to arrange replacements and a wheelchair since we didn't have room for all that.
we roll into tucson around 7pm and check into our hotel (4 pts sheraton) briefly before going over to lori's hotel to drop her off. then min and i go back to our hotel and chill out the rest of the night. tried to get together with her sister wilma but she was at matt's viewing til almost 10pm so just agreed to see her the next morning at the funeral. anyway, our sheraton room was VERY comfy. a big luxurious bed, lots of room, very clean. and video games, so I get my yearly fix by kicking yoshi's ass until my eyes got too blurry to continue.
went to a place called the good egg for breakfast. min can't eat a lot so we split some not-too-shabby eggs benedict. funeral was at 10am. drove up to a ton of gangster-looking types hanging outside the funeral home chapel. apparently this group comprised several of matt and jr's friends, many of whom were wearing special tshirts they'd made, with matt's pic on it, saying 'you will not be forgotten' on the front and little hands praying on the back.
we went inside but didn't see anyone we knew right away. after a minute we found vanessa (min's neice), who let us know where the rest of the family was. apparently a friend of jr's had gotten pulled over en route so jr (and friend) were waiting to proceed until said friend finished with the cop. so while we waited, we stepped into the sanctuary. matt was about 50 feet in front of us and it was (in my opinion) unfortunately an open casket. I say unfortunate not because it made things 'too real', although sure, there was an element of that. no, it's because IT DIDN'T LOOK LIKE HIM. it had nothing to do with how he died -- I just didn't realize how much embalming could change how someone looked. min wanted to sit further away because this was weirding her out (rightly so) but other family members started balking so we moved up to the fourth row, maybe 15 feet away.
within a few minutes the service started, and that itself was very weird. mostly because it almost completely glossed over his extremely checkered past and instead focussed on his recent churchgoing ways (in between prison stints, that is). all I can think is that SuperMinister (who freely admitted to not really remembering matt - a nice touch, I thought) thought that this funeral was the perfect opportunity to bring all the gang attendees to the lord. during the 20 minute service/sermon, SuperMinister informed us at least 5 times that we should take this opportunity to reflect on the direction of our lives and accept jesus as our lord and savior, because if matt were able to speak, that's what he'd tell us. the hyper-christianity led lori and her husband aaron (who are jewish) to leave about halfway through. a bit drama queenish but I expect nothing less, really! SuperMinister also closed the service with a direct altar call via prayer. very classy.
also during the service they asked the attendees to share stories about matt. several relatives spoke, and it became clear that he really did earn the nickname smiley legitimately. apparently he had a habit of smiling a lot - with certain people - especially ones that he visited/called out of the blue, just to say hi and how it was going. while very sweet, it also made me sad. he must have had a real soft, good side to him that just got twisted and shadowed by the thrill-seeking side that perpetually landed him into trouble.
afterwards, we all went outside and drove over to the part of the facility where the actual cemetary was, to have another mini-service while they laid him in the ground. amazingly it wasn't too horribly hot - around 100 but a very nice breeze. it took a while for everyone to get over there, but in the meantime I got to see min's dad's plot. her mom's name is already on the other half of it, which is a little creepy but I was informed that it's relatively traditional for spouses to do that. anyway, once everyone arrived, matt's brother jr read a few words, then everyone said goodbye by placing flowers or dirt on the casket. also they released balloons into the air.
from there we went to wilma's house (min's sister) to have lunch and reminisce. it was pretty damn mellow and many people hung out for several hours. in the late afternoon min started feeling really sick and had to lay down for a while, but eventually felt well enough for us to go back to our room. if I remember right, she got a nap for a little bit and we also watched the interpreter (pretty good!) on pay per view. later we went out to dinner (mediocre mexican) with lori, aaron, wilma and min's mother. on the way there, saw the bargain sas fabric store that we would later visit on monday. :-D
part two coming soon...