Day 1 – Monday, June 29th – Phoenix, AZ

By Gennadiy Kofman

My trip started when I left the house at 5 am and went to pick up Vlad. As I got there, we took a quick picture of what we looked like before we left (just in case they have to identify the bodies)

and left at about 5:30. The drive to Phoenix was relatively uneventful. The goal was to get out of California as fast as possible. We did see a beautiful sunrise to what could be a great road trip.

On the way over we stopped at a couple of places. At first it was just a McDonald's. We had sandwiches, so I only bought a drink, however Vlad wanted to try their breakfast items, so he ordered a value meal.

Other than that, the stops mainly consisted of bathroom breaks and once to get some gas. We did see a really large cactus on one of our stops and although Arizona is full of cactuses, this one was super sized.

On the way over, we found a motel in downtown Phoenix for only $50. As soon as we checked in, we left to our tourism destination. The weather in Phoenix at the time was extremely hot. On that day, my car thermometer showed a high of 111 degrees F. We tried to document it as proof, but the flash made the digital screen look blank.

Our first stop was the government center. Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and so we went to take a look at their museum. When we got there, we saw a park with many different statues that we promptly took a few pictures with. However, we decided to come back as we saw a bunch of people and newscasters huddling in front of the government building. Curiosity took the better of us, and we went to check it out. It turned out to be some kind of rally by the Native Americans so that they could keep their education in school. There was some lady that was speaking and saying things like “We have been here a long time, etc”

and there were some people that were dressed in what looked like some traditional Native American outfits.

Eventually, the sun won the battle and we took refuge inside the museum. The Museum was fairly interesting. There were all these different rooms specialing in a specific area of Arizona. By area, I mean things like a room for Arizona wildlife, a room for balloting history, flag history, we even saw an old assembly room where the house used to meet.

It had all the original desks with peoples names on them. Thinking our fun there was over, I went over to talk to the information people about some questions I had. And I jokingly asked about where MaCains office is. He laughed, but he mentioned that we could go see the goverment at work if we wanted to. He said that the seante should be in session, while he wasn't sure about the house. Se we went and checked it out. The square is comprised of 3 building. The center building is the one we were at, the museum. The other 2 were for the senate and the house. We went over to the senate building. We expected to get frisked, strip searched, even getting a cavity search, but alas, the security people were ignoring us. I tried to provoke one by asking were can we see the senate at work, and he very calmly, told me, take that elevator to 3rd floor and no flash photography. So I expected the rape to happen on the third floor, but I have been dissapointed once again. Nobody stopping us or asking any questions. As we walked in to the house assembly room, we were taken by a spectacular site.

We were on the floor above them but they were completely out in the open. There were a bunch of desks facing the front, and 2 facing them. And there was a heated debate going on between them. Nothing outrages, everything seemed completely organized and by the rules. But it was trully something to see the government at work. The desk of each representative was unique. First, it had their name plate completely attached to the table (so no one can switch them). Then each senator had their own “toys” on the table. Most of the people had a toy elephant on the desk. But they were different kind, stuffed animals, figurines, anythign you can think off. And a few had toy donkeys on the table. Each toy would represent the party that they were in. After watching for a short time, they called a resses and there were a great big “Ayes” in the room. Thinking the party was over, we went to check out the house or representatives. Again, we walked in with great ease, but to our dissapointment, the house was no longer in session. It was pretty similar to the other room, only with more desks.

After taking a few pictures, we finnally left to finish up our statue photographing parade in the park until we could no longer stand the heat.

For our next stop, we decided to go and check out the firefighters museum.

Although somewhat interesting, it started to get kinda repetative. The Museum contained firetrucks from all sorts of time and all sorts of countries. It had pumping mechanisms, steam engines, parade trucks, helmets, tags, comunication machines and a little play area for the kids (where we could finally touch things). It took us about an hour to finish that up because the air conditioner in the museum was not very effective (although it was on at full blast). On the drive back, we saw this beautiful rock formation and we decided to try to get closer to it.

It was actually a little park right next to the zoo. We didn't go to the zoo, but we did climb the rock and it offered us spectacular views on the whole city and beyond.

After some picture time, we fiannaly gave in, and we back to out hotel room. We took a short rest to wait for the sun to lose it's powerfull rays, and went out to explore the downtown Phoenix. We discovered an interesting statue(?) hanging on top of some park.

We quickly discovered that we were located in the middle of ASU (Arizona State University). It didn't looks like classes were in session, and the school itself didn't look all that big, but it had interesting buildings that we photographed. We also took our time to play in their dancing water fountain.

We then went to a little strip were there were a few stores and restaurants. We bought some souvenirs and decided on a restaurant called Uno. It was a sports bar and grill type of place. One thing that we noticed is the high number of girls (fairly young) touring the city in groups. And when we came in there, there were about 4 groups like that already in the restaurant. We bought their local beer (which wasn't all too bad I must say) but Vlad unfortunately didn't get his french fries. Why? Cause those girsl ate their daily stock. After eating, we took a little stroll through that plaza. There were waterfalls, lights, all kinds of things but the area was fairly small. We then took to the streets to hopefully see the stadium where the Phoenix Suns play. On the way over, we were passing by the convention center. There were more of those girls coming out, so we decided to check it out. After walking around and seeing some conference rooms and some weird statues,

we ended up on the bottom floor, where we casially walked in to a room where it said Exit only cause we didn't want to get stopped and checked. And what we saw was only an eye can explain. There were about 40 volleyball courts, and alot of them still had games going.

The players were all girls ages 12 to 18 (as we discovered from looking at the posted bulletin). And there were thousands of them. It must have been some national competition as the people there were from all over the US. After watching a few games, and after coming to a sad realization that a 12 year old girl makes volleball look so easy, we decided to leave the convention center and continue on to the US Airways Center. That is where the Phoenix Suns play. Unfortunatelly, when we got there, it was all dark and was closed.

The whole city looked dead actually and it was only about 9 oclock. We decided to just go back to the motel and go to sleep to get an early start for El Paso, TX in the morning.

You can look at the rest of the pictures here.

Continue to day 2.