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I have to say that working for a corporation does have some advantages. While I'm not a fan of flying, having a limo drive you to the airport and drop you at just the right spot so you can check your bags and get your e-ticket without standing in line, is a godsend. Sure takes some of the stress off. Now if they could do something about the whole taking your shoes off while going through security, I'd be even happier. Part of the reason I don't like to fly is all the hassle of getting on the plane. If it were not for that, I wouldn't mind flying so much probably.

So I got to O'Hare and through security about 1.5 hours before having to board and discovered we had 30 people from our company on the same plane. The folks from Dubuque had to fly into Chicago and then back out to Phoenix. Someone remarked it would be cheaper for the company if they just chartered a plane from each location and flew us all to Sales Meetings. I'd have to agree it would be less hassle and less logistics.

I actually enjoyed the flight. I had a window seats both coming and going and daylight flights for the most part. It was interesting to see the landscape I'd just driven through from a different perspective. I'm intrigued by the different emotions that snow evokes on different landscapes. The snow on the prairie and plains from the recent blizzards made the landscape feel desolate and uninviting.



but on the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the snow invoked a feeling of freedom and adventure.

That flat spot in the high upper right is Alamosa, CO in the San Luis Valley where I went to college.

We got to Phoenix in the mid afternoon. It was sunny and warm and instantly no one wanted to go back to Illinois. The Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa where we were staying for a week was easily the nicest place I've ever stayed for corporate or personal travel.



I don't think that everyone who went appreciated the place. I think you might get a little jaded if you have to travel all the time and then even paradise is just not home. But to people like me who sleep in their cars or on friend's couches when they travel, it was truly a paradise. Someone in our group described it as a pretty prison. Well I could be a prisoner there for quite some time before I'd start wanting to leave. My room was immaculate. Plus the non-discounted price was over $350 a night. So 3 nights and I could have paid my monthly rent back home.





One of the coolest things about the room was the bathroom. As far as I'm concerned, at 6'3" and 260 lbs, if a hotel room has a bathtub that I can comfortably soak and fall asleep in, I've achieved Nirvanna. To top it off, this place had a killer shower that was a sheer joy to bathe in each morning. It smelled like a spa with lavendar and tea tree scents all around.

The resort itself was built on the theme or Water, Earth, Fire and Sky and I have to say the planners and architects for this place were geniuses. I was constantly wandering the grounds checking out the swimming pools,the amazing terraced fountains, the manmade river you could float down, the palm trees, the desert botanical gardens the tropical plantlife, and the variety of desert critters.



The sunsets each night were amazing as well, especially if there were a few clouds around.



I was at the sales meeting in a support role. I was in charge of photography at the various events and video taping all the sales presentations and role plays as well as creating media to support presentations that developed on the fly. So I was constantly walking around with a video camera, digital camera and my laptop. But the nice thing about being there is if you are a participant in any way, you get to take advantage of everything the meeting has to offer. So I got a free water bottle, fleece pullover and a new pair of New Balance running shoes. Plus all my meals were paid for and I could order room service whenever I wanted. I could really get used to being able to get a cup of green tea with jasmine just by walking outside the conference room or a beer by walking up to any of a number of bars or ordering a creme brule at 3 in the morning from room service. I'd hate to see the bill for all of that.

Evenings we had lots of dinners to go to but we also had a fair amount of free time to go explore the city and surrounding countryside. Many nights were spent on the patio outside the hospitality suite, drinking complimentary beer and wine and getting to know all our colleagues. I got to know Brian, our Executive Assitant person quite a bit better which you don't get to do in the office setting. One night we had the chili cookoff which my team won by the way, with our Cojones de Chili or Balls of Fire chili. If you would like the recipe, I'll share it.



That's Kelly who also works in my office, beside me. She and I have become buddies as a result of planning and staging the Sales Meeting.

Another night we had an all-company reception out under the palm trees and by the pools. The reception was complete with a live band



and Native dancers.



The large fellow was Hopi and the skinny guy was Ho Chunk. I got to talk to them at length after their performance. anyone know the name of that instrument the guy in the band is playing?

The highlight of the week for our business unit was our awards dinner. People treat it like going to the Oscars really. The men are all in suits, that's Brian, and the women buy new dresses. We decorate a room up really nicely and give out all sorts of awards and prizes. We always have live entertainment. This year is was impersonators for Dolly Parton and Johnny Carson who both did a great job.





We set the stage up as the set from the Tonight Show and Johnny introduced Dolly and other guests. Then later people posed with both of them on their own.



We had a whole afternoon free one day so I rented a car and Brian, myself, Janean, our Production Supervisor and Jess, our boss all went to Sedona. We stopped along the way at Montezuma's Castle to tour the ruins there.



Brian caught me climbing someplace I shouldn't have been.

Then we went on to Sedona. My favorite road, Schnebly hill road which takes you up into the red rock area above town was closed due to recent rain and snows. But we did manage to get some great landscapes just the same.



We went part way up Oak Creek Canyon which was snowy and shrouded in fog but gorgeous nonetheless. Then we went back to town to do some shopping. Brian and I got back massages done by this tiny little Asian girl who did a great job, Then we all went for Mexican food at Oaxaca.

The last night we were all there, Brian, myself and Megan, our Marketing Manager wen out to Cave Creek to eat at a place with exotic game recipes. I had the elk and buffalo quesadillas. Then we all went back to the resort to drink and socialize with all the folks who would be departing the next day.

The next morning several of us met for one last glorious breakfast of fresh berries and fruit, omelettes, pancakes and lots of bacon. Yummmmm. Jess was supposed to ride the shuttle with Natalie and I. Nat is one of our Sponsoring Editors. But Jess got a ride with the company president. So Nat and I elected to take a town car to the airport and have someone drive us. On the way out of the resort, Nat looked back and said, "Good bye pretty prison." I don't know about her but I was actually going to miss it. I was getting a little homesick though. Several members of the company were staying a few more days on the company dime to participate in PF Chang's marathon. I had the option of doing this but seeing how my back was feeling midweek and how my heel spur was feeling by the end of the week, I opted not to.

The flight home was uneventful and quiet. I think everyone was tired. We flew farther south than on the trip down and there was less snow but the scenery was still nice.



Shortly before landing in snowy Chicago after being in 70 degree weather all week, the sun was setting and I got this nice shot of sunset at 30,000 feet. Kind of helped seal the memories.





Chicago was cold and wet. We landed at rush hour but at least my limo was and the driver was pleasant to talk to. Deb was glad to see me home and our president told us pointedly not to come into the office the next day. We spent much of the day cuddling and she got to enjoy all the presents I'd brought home. Now a couple weeks of grey skies later, I think we would both go back in an instant. The next trip will be to Memphis on the 3 day weekend in February though.

Peace,

Wander

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
ryl
Jan. 30th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
That hotel is really pretty and all, and I'm sure it was more comfortable but...I prefer the Rural Ruin desert that you usually take pictures of. It feels more real to me. That's the desert I'd like to see.

I am not a girly girl. Why does this surprise me so much?
wander
Jan. 30th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
More real to me too. But staying in Phoenix is pretty insulated. Other than our brief forays out, we didn't get to go exploring that much. So this was a pleasant substitute.

W
yndy
Jan. 30th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
It's called a Triple Neck or Three-necked guitar
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=triple+neck+guitar&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

Blame the guy from Yes for popularizing it.

That was a lovely trip - thanks for sharing!
yndy
Jan. 30th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
wander
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC)
Glad I could inspire you!

W
wander
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
I love Yes and I figured it was one of my friends who liked Prog rock who would come up with the answer. Thanks!

W
prairiesong
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
This is a great telling -- and the pictures are also wonderful.
wander
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
They've been on my hard drive nagging at me for a couple of weeks now. Hard to justify taking pictures if you never show them to anyone. Thanks!

W
piscesdreams
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing all these pics... I can see that your camera is in good hands!

I saw a very good female ring dancer last spring. She had won many awards and it was especially impressive to know that she is a rarity in this male-dominated dance.
wander
Jan. 31st, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
Female fancy dancers of that sort are almost unheard of. That would be an interesting sight to see.

W
piscesdreams
Jan. 31st, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Maybe it's not the same as seeing one live but...

Hoop Dancer

Hoop Dance

Hoop Dance

... the women are taking over the world! ;)
wander
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
What is the world coming to? heheh

Great shots!

Wander
(Deleted comment)
wander
Jan. 31st, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
I wouldn't mind going back right about now. The memories are still pretty strong.

W
beautyofgrey
Jan. 31st, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
What do you think possesses a person to become an impersonator?

Do you just wake up one day and think, "you know, my boobs are kinda busty....I should pretend to be Dolly Parton". And not that it's a shameful occupation or anything...but when you go home for Christmas, what kind of hell must you catch from the folks?

wander
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Actually "Dolly's" mother was there and was just as big and busty. It hink it might be a family tradition. Johnny's wife was there too. But yes, I do think impersonators are kind of sad. Not good enough at something to forge out on their own so they have to copy someone else. That being said, there is something to say about imitation being the sincerest for of flattery.

W
squeakyramone
Jan. 31st, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
I always love your posts! Your pictures are awesome.
wander
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It's just a good way to remember things I've done. Lots of places I go, I've been there a million times so it's a way to remember distinct things that happened. My fiancee goes on cross country trip and hardly takes any pictures at all.

W
squeakyramone
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
Thats awesome. That is the way I usually try to be.

For our 11 months, Ryan and I are driving straight on Rt. 15 in PA down through MD and to VA for about three days. We don't plan on staying in hotels or anything, just kind of wandering around and sleeping in the car. I'm excited. I'll have to make sure that I take some pictures.
wander
Feb. 1st, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Sounds like a very cool bit of wandering and I'm sure you will see lots of things you never knew existed. After you get past the big cities, you find that America lives on the backroads. Good luck and Godspeed!

W
dominitus
Feb. 3rd, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading this particular post. Great pictures and a great story from what was obviously a happy trip. Best to you and yours, my friend! :)
wander
Feb. 3rd, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
That trip will hopefully get me through what has otherwise been a long and dismal winter. I'm definitely not a snow person.

W
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )