It felt weird to check out of my hotel room today. I’d started to feel really at home there.
I started Sunday with a quick trip down memory lane, driving by the university and then my old apartment. I recognized a lot of what I saw (there was the history department! Those were the railroad tracks I had to cross on rollerblades! That’s where Hollywood Video was!) but there’s a lot that’s been built up since I left. In the vacant space beside my apartment complex there is now a huge modern multicolored monstrosity that looks like it belongs, well…it doesn’t belong anywhere really, certainly not in the southwest.
I spent most of the rest of Sunday with Ashley and Wayne at their place. We started with brunch (waffles and eggs and bacon…so much bacon!) then visited for a long while. Ashley and I took a mile long walk along the back of the complex. Even though we spent a good while catching up on things because it’s been nearly a decade since we last spent time together and even longer since we were in school, I’m pretty sure we look just the same as we did at graduation.
When I left to go back to the hotel, I took the roundabout way, going past the cheap, fast-foodish type restaurant that I used to love: Samurai Sam’s. Their teriyaki bowl was one of my go-to weekend dishes, so I had to have it again. It was just as tasty, even though it’s just a cheap thing. Maybe I wouldn’t love it so much if I could have it in Ohio from time to time.
Monday started with a trip to Bookmans, another used bookstore. I met Bethany and Diana (another grad school friend) there and spent some time catching up. Then it was on to the most important stop of the trip, Sacks.
Sacks is a sandwich shop. No, it’s the best sandwich shop. I loved it in school and whenever I’ve been back since I had to get food there. Even the trip when I had only a few hours during a layover, I got Sacks. I picked up sandwiches for me and for Ashley and had lunch with her at the historical society. I got an extra sandwich for dinner tonight.
With a few hours to kill before my flight I set out for South Mountain. I’d forgotten how curvy and high the roads are. The drive up and down the mountain is beautiful in that desert way: browns and blacks and greens, saguaros and other flora I don’t recognize, rock formations that beg you to try climbing them.
I made it to Dobbins Lookout and was rewarded with a spectacular view of the city. It was cloudy, but still impressive and less oppressively hot than other times I’ve been there.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a hike, although there are a lot of trails. Instead I settled onto a rock to do some reading in the fresh air. I didn’t manage much before the cold breeze forced me into the shelter, and even then I was quickly chilled.
Eventually I had to face reality and head back to return the car and get on my flight back home. It was a quick trip, but great to see my friends. Next time I’ll plan more time so I can fit in some more touristy activities.