We’re at the midway point of our Scottsdale visit -and it definitely has been a week of contrasts.
On the one hand, our time here is for business. If you’re following this blog because you know us as a traveling family and not much past that, I have two businesses that are keeping us fed. One is Boyink Interactive which provides internet strategy and development services for clients. That business is almost 9 years old now - 9 years since I was ushered out of the corporate world, with its supposed security. 9 years since the formula of sacrificing ownership of my days for a (supposedly) steady paycheck and retirement plan made sense. 9 years since having a “boss”, 360-degree reviews, and my work, at times, micromanaged to a word-by-word level in the documentation I was writing. 9 years since…ach. That’s probably another post. Maybe one I write then delete.
Anyway - the other business is Train-ee which provides training around the ExpressionEngine content management system (CMS). If you just want a bit hazy on that last sentence, a CMS is a piece of software that web developers use to build websites on such that clients can manage their own content. If you have any sort of blog then you probably use a CMS to generate it. ExpressionEngine can generate blogs as well as any other type of website you can imagine. In addition to self-paced learning tools like books and screencasts, Train-ee also provides the only publicly available classroom training for ExpressionEngine. My running joke with Train-ee is that “I train my competitors” because often the students are web professionals running businesses like Boyink Interactive - but contrary to what you might think becoming a teacher has been probably the most rewarding aspect of my professional career.
Our first week here was for my own 4-day class which wrapped up two days ago on Friday. We held the class at a local Regus facility here in Scottsdale, chosen for it’s relative closeness to airports & hotels. While we knew Scottsdale had a bit of a reputation for being a high-income area, it didn’t really strike home until we got here. We first noticed that it was quite hard to find the stores and businesses we were looking for. Not only do the buildings mostly look alike with similar architecture, there are obviously signage ordinances in effect to control how businesses promote themselves. We saw strip malls where every business had to have it’s name in red. Gas stations have 4’ - 5’ block walls between pumps and the street, and gas prices are only shown on small ground-level signs. We didn’t realize how well we had programmed ourselves to find destinations by architecture and signage until those tools were taken away from us.
We also noticed how full parking lots were around businesses. No matter the time of day it seemed like parking was always a chore with every row lined with cars. I almost wondered if they achieve this feel by making lots and spaces smaller, on average, than what we’re used to. Parking our full size crew cab truck has been a chore with many back & fills needed to get into a space.
The other thing we noticed about our class location was the specific road leading to it felt very much imported from California. Towering palm trees, golf courses, upscale apartment complexes - very different from our experience in AZ so far. Nary a cactus to be seen.
The specific building that Regus occupies is very nice with it’s large glass doors, marble hallways, and professional dressed staff. I felt like I had taken a new 9-5 job and was back in the corporate world.
But then? We’d go back “home” and that impression would get flipped on its ear.
In researching this area the only place we could find to park the trailer at was the Scottsdale-owned WestWorld complex. WestWorld is most notably home of the Barrett-Jackson auto auction. WestWorld is close to our training spot, has no age restrictions (most of the RV parks around this area are 55 and older only), and only $25/night for a site with electric and water hookups. We were happy to find the means to stay in the trailer during our training and not have the cost and hassle of booking a hotel (because that has gone SO well the past couple of times. Not.)
We belatedly thought to check the WestWorld event calendar to see what was going on during our stay. So, some horse events. No biggie, might be cool as Miranda is a huge horse fan. And? Arizona Bike Week. Ugh. Really?
Yes, we called back. “Will we really be able to sleep?” Assured that the complex was a mile long and all the bike stuff is at the other end we retained our booking.
And it hasn’t been bad. We are parked just off the road that loops around the complex so do get a bit of traffic from two-wheeled explorers, but most of them turn around once in front of us and head back the other way. Events seem to be keeping them busy later at night - by running our trailer AC or fan we’ve managed to cover up any noise and get an OK night of sleep. It’s been no worse than any Wal-Mart on any given night.
But we’re showering just a few feet away from horse stalls, negotiating a mix of bikers and diesel trucks pulling horse trailers, and all the while chuckling at this lifestyle that has us going from gravel roads with horse-pies to the Rodeo-drive knockoff just a few miles away.
We discovered a sports park with ball diamonds and a dog-park just a short bike-ride away, all accessible from a multi-use trail which runs next to then crosses over one of the local canals. The kids are over there right now enjoying themselves but armed with a cell-phone for communication.
We met Jack, retired from owning a 300 employee contracting firm in Albuquerque, NM and now living large in a beautiful diesel pusher with his wife of 60 years. Jack brought us freshly picked oranges and gave us his card, offering a free site with full hookups if we ever get to Albuquerque (which I’d love to do, if only to make a wrong turn there. You 70’s era kids will get that).
I talked to the owners of a show-winning chopper getting it photographed for a national magazine. The owner had never ridden it, because then the exhaust pipes would get discolored. I suggested a second set, but at $1200 that was out. After the photographs were done they pushed the lime-green with orange flames chopper (painted by the owners one-armed uncle) back into the U-Haul trailer and hit the road for the 16 hour drive back to Colorado.
I talked to a local biker at the show, who said he wore a vest lined with pockets for freezer packs so that he could stay cool in the Arizona heat. He said Harley riders and pocket-rocket owners all get along at Bike Week, because they were all “just bikers”.
The biker show is winding down now, with rigs rumbling past on their way to the line at what appears to be the complex’s only dump station. The next week is looking much quieter - which will be both nice and a little bit boring, I think, as we lose a way to have fun noting the contrasts.