Published: March 21st 2011March 8th 2011
I'd not been back in the UK more than two days and it was time to head off to Phoenix, AZ. Melissa lives about 2.5 hours away in Flagstaff a laid back town in a unique micro climate. Surrounded by a desert but at 7,000 feet it has a wonderful feel to it.
I arrived into Phoenix airport and was waiting for my baggage when I saw Melissa. We'd spent the last two month seeing each other as travellers and no matter what I always looked at her as if she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever laid my eyes on. When she walked over to me, her smile made me melt and she looked incredible. I'd had all these images of how I would greet her and they all fell appart in an instant. I could barely move such was the beauty I saw before me. She wrapped her arms around me and I didn't want to let her go.
We'd booked into a nearby hotel, as the next day we were due to fly to San Francisco for a few days. I was tired. The flight to the US and the time difference means that you
leave and arrive not much later that day even though 20hrs has passed since. Still I didn't want to sleep. We got up early the next morning and headed to the airport. We're a bad combination when it comes to airports and were the last to board the plane again. This time it was partly because they kept giving us the wrong gate!
We checked into a hotel near Union Square. The owner was eccentric to say the least! He took great trouble to explain things to us. Warning us that we should only turn left out of the hotel as there were homeless people AND they were black to the right. Shocking! Then he would pick up a map and explain it was a good map because you could see everything on one page. Really! Thanks for those pieces of advice.
The next day we headed to various restaurants and did some shopping. I love the food here. Big slices of pizza and clam chowder served in a sour bread bowl. Nom Nom! We visited an old arcade which had vintage games machines. A lot of them were from England, but the one which allowed you to
watch a puppet execute an Englishman wasn't my favourite!
We had spent Valentines in Thailand and my plan of arranging a table on the beach had fallen through when the owner changed his mind and decided to ask for 5000THB (£100). We could have booked into the most expensive hotel on the Island for that much, so I refused to be conned. In the end we headed to Same, Same but different, which was lovely. Still I'd promised Melissa that we would do something when we go to the US. So we donned our best threads and headed out to a wonderful steak restaurant which Brian had recommended. It was very old school with sumptuous leather booths and great service. We both enjoyed a delicious Fillet Mignon and some wine. It was a lovely evening.
Over the next few days we explored the city. I must say that I loved San Francisco. It didn't feel just like any other city and the hills and trams gave it its own charm. We took a guided tour of the city on a bus, its a very touristy thing to do, but I figure you have to do these things every
now and again. We stopped at pier 31 and watched the sea lion who rest there, then jumped back on the bus to meet with Melissa's brother, Brian. Our second bus driver was hilarious and was kind enough to stop off route to drop us off. Brian works at Industrial Light & Magic and anyone who is anyone will know that they came about as a result of the effects George Lucas wanted to create for the Star Wars films. Since then they been involved in various films and have become legendary in the film industry. He gave us a tour of where he worked and there was memorabilia everywhere from the films. Original sets and pieces which looked so real in the films. I was like a kiddy in a sweet shop. We spent the evening at an Italian restaurant and then took a look at Brians pad, which looks lovely. Good to see he has his priorities right and unpacked the xbox and tv first :)
It was soon time to head back to Flagstaff and so we caught our flight back to her house. Melissa lives with two other girls, Kristen and Sarah and three dogs.
I love dogs and as my Mum knows have had to resist getting one for years because I didn't have the space or time to keep one. We spent most of the day tidying up and getting her room ready for her after it had been empty for so long.
Melissa was due to start her new job on the Monday so we made the most of the weekend and headed out with Kristen and her boyfriend Cager to Rendezvous, where Melissa used to work. I sampled her own cocktail creation, a Jenna Jameson (Ginger Balls!) which was delicious. On the Sunday we headed to Sedona and hiked a trail through the red rocks. We'd got a little picnic with us and a friends dog, Tug boat. Tuggers was in his element as he explored the countryside and swam in the river.
Monday came and it was time for Melissa to start her new job. I got up and made her breakfast and then walked her to work. I met her in the afternoons for lunch on several occasions. In the evenings we went to her friend Walters birthday meal. Walter is 87yrs old and remind me very
much of my Granddad. A kind natured man, who loves recounting stories.
We also went out to a Women's rights fund raiser, which was a little strange for me. The UK has its share of problems, but two of the things we do right are having unarmed police who will always help you and the National Health Service. The dinner was to raise money and awareness of the difficulty women can have in getting everything from contraception to an abortion. Its an important issue and there were anti-abortion protestors on the road as we drove in. The policeman on the entrance confirmed the lengths some people will go to force their opinion on you. I listened to the various speeches intently and was shocked at what I was hearing. In the UK, if you need the pill, you simply go to the doctors and tell them what you want. Its completely free and there is no moral debate over it. Its your decision and the doctor is simply there to make sure you are making the right decision on health grounds. Nothing more. Melissa had been suffering from a nasty cold for a few weeks, but couldn't go to
the doctors as she would be charged until her health insurance kicked in. Again, a quick phone call and it could have all been sorted in the UK. I'm not saying we're perfect, but on the subject of free public heath care, we're spot on.
The last week went quickly. I fixed Walter's PC for him and despite my protests he insisted on taking us out to a Japanese restaurant as a thank you. We had Teppanyaki, which was a first for me. Cook on a large griddle in front of you, its as much about the Chef's showmanship as the delicious food. He performed various tricks whilst cooking, including flipping a bowl of rice onto his head. Unfortunately for him it landed upside down and the rice remained there! Still the skill he showed was incredible and the speed with which he performed breathtaking.
It was soon time for me to go and I found it very hard. I had ordered Melissa a canvas to hang on her wall. I'd spent hours in Kuala Lumpar trying to make a photo I could give to her. I wanted her to have something to remind her of me and
brighten her room. On the flight back I sat and wished the time away, even though in doing so I was wishing every mile away from Melissa :(
I don't think this will be my last entry, not just yet anyway...
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