Jessica and James
Phoenix, Arizona

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Jessica and James in the Computer / Anime Room

I arrived at Jessica's (My oldest niece) apartment around 4:10 pm on Tuesday March 12th. Since she or her fiancé James was not home from work yet I walked around a little and read some. It was a beautiful sunny day and around 85 degrees. When Jessica got home I came inside. I showed her the pictures from the first part of the trip and we talked for a bit. Then we watched some Anime. James has a very large collection. Including lots of stuff that never got released in the US. It was stuff fans translated and put subtitles on. I got to see a Final Fantasy Episode and get an idea of what that series was like. We ate dinner and then went out to Fry's Electronics. That is very big store, kind of like Comp USA or Best Buy, except much much bigger and kewler :)

Jessica got another 256 Megs of ram for her computer. That evening Jessica and I talked for a bit and she showed me some pictures from her last trip to Portland, and from several camping/hiking trips she has been on with the Anime club.

On Wednesday March 13th Jessica and James both had to work. So I hung out at the apartment typing up e-mails and watched some Anime and rested some from that long drive. Jessica told me that she should be able to get Friday off from work. I also scheduled an oil change for 8:00 am Monday morning before I would head out to San Diego to visit Rani.

Looking off the Balcony at Jessica's Apartment

Jessica and James had to both work again on Thursday. So during the day I hung out at their apartment. I sent e-mails and chatted on the Internet some. I also watched some anime on DVD. I went out and walked around a little as well. Thursday evening Jessica and I played a game of the British version of Monopoly where all the streets are based on names from London. Jessica beat me at that. After that James, Jessica and I played a game of Risk. I won that game :)

Jessica stayed home from work on Friday. In the morning she and I watched some old home videos of mine. Some of the videos had her Aunt Rose (Becky) and her cousin Dan in them. Jessica was not feeling all that well that morning so we canceled the trip to the mall that we were planning and just hung out at the house instead. The videos were making her a bit motion sick in her condition so we shut them off and talked for a while.

After telling her some about Reiki I asked if she wanted me to send her some. She said sure, so I did. After I sent to her she told me while I was sending the dizziness went away almost right away. It also made the stomach flu go away for a little while, but it did come back later. She also said it made her feel fuzzy inside and released some of the tension in her shoulders. After that we talked a bit more.

James came home from work early around 1:30pm. I drove my car with him to the auto shop so he could drop his car off and then gave him a ride back home. We rented the movie AI on DVD. It also came with a disk with special features like interviews with some of the actors and how they did some of the special effects. We watched some more anime and then watched the movie that night. We ordered out from Pizza Hut for dinner, but Jessica was not feeling well enough to eat yet. So she just had some jello juice. I never had the stuff before so I tried some. It was not too bad :)

James, Jessica and Myself Outside Their Apartment

After watching AI we went to bed. On Saturday we went to Anime Club at Devry University. It is a club that Jessica and James started shortly after they moved out to Phoenix, Arizona. Since then they have let other people take it over so they are no longer running it. The club gets together on Saturdays and watches Anime for around 6 hours, then goes out to dinner afterwards. They also go on hiking trips sometimes and some of them get together after the dinner on Saturday at James and Jessica's apartment to play Dungeons and Dragons. They also have LAN (Local Area Network) parties, where they play games like Warcraft III.

So after watching a bunch of anime, 17 of us went out to dinner. It was a nice restaurant with decent prices. I got the Mushroom and Swiss Burger there. Several of the people in the club were going to the Art Institute of Phoenix. That is connected with the one I went to in Pittsburgh. After dinner one of the club members came over with their laptop and I brought my computer and monitor in from my car and we all played a game of Warcraft III. Since the guy that came over was really good at the game he was on a team by himself and Jessica, James and I were all on the other team. We ended up beating him. It was a fun game, and the first time I played it. I had only played earlier versions of Warcraft before and never a network game on it.

Then we watched the other DVD from AI with the interviews and stuff on it and ended up going to bed around 1:00 am. On Sunday morning we got up around 8:00 am. A friend who had a vehicle with high enough clearance to drive along the long dirt road to where we were going to be hiking that day came and picked us up. We stopped at the grocery store on the way out of town to pick up some necessary supplies (Some sandwiches, cookies and stuff to drink).

We headed north on I-17 towards Flagstaff. We got off at the Dugas Exit. The road was paved for a very short distance at the exit before it turned into a dirt road. Then one dirt road led to another as the quality of these roads kept on getting worse. They got to the point where a simple car with low clearance would not have been able to make it. We passed through the town of Dugas. That town consisted of three houses and a kewl looking windmill. We had to drive through a little stream that ran through the one and only road in that town. So that town gets the new record for the smallest town I have been in.

Jessica and James On the Dirt Road to Pine Mountain

We drove about 20 miles on the dirt roads out in the middle of nowhere before we finally got to the trailhead. There were a few people camped out by the trailhead. Aside from seeing them at the trailhead we saw no other people on our hike at all. It was about a 7 mile hike. It was a very nice hike. James had a digital camera with him and took around 170 photos along the way. It started along this nice little stream in the mountains. As we continued along, the stream dried up and we started going up the step mountain. The mountain we were walking to the top of is called Pine Mountain. Once we got to the peak we located the peak marker that gave the elevation. It was something like 7400 feet. I don't remember the exact number now. But we went up about 1000 feet in a mile. The view from the top was amazing. We ate lunch up there and enjoyed the view for a bit before looping back around for the trip back to the car. There were lots of kewl looking trees and cacti along the trail. They said I lucked out with this hike because it was one of the nicer ones they have been on.

Jessica and Myself at the Top of Pine Mountain

That night Jessica cooked up lots of spaghetti along with some garlic bread for dinner. We looked through all the photos James took with his digital camera and I copied all of them to my hard drive as well. The next morning I woke up and packed up my car and got ready to go. Rani called to tell me she would not be getting home till later in the evening and that she would be leaving a key for me so I could get in the apartment when I arrived there. I said good-bye to James and Jessica and thanked them for having me over. I really did enjoy the time I spent there with them. This was only my second time I have seen Jessica. I saw her once before last year in Portland, Oregon for a few days, but did not get to talk to her that much there. That was due to lots of family being around and things being pretty busy with Laura's birthday party. So it was nice to have more time to talk to her and get to know my oldest niece better.

It was around a 6 hour drive to San Diego. It was sunny when I left Phoenix, but it did rain a little later on in Arizona. It was just a light shower and nothing I needed to slow down for, and it did not last that long. Driving into California was like driving into Canada. They had an inspection point with police where they asked if you had any fruits or vegetables in the car, and then just after that they had another spot you had to stop where a police man asked if you were a citizen of the United States. There was some snow on the ground when I drove thru the mountains in California, but thankfully none of it was on the road :)

As I got closer to San Diego there was quite a bit of traffic. There were six lanes of traffic going in one direction so 12 lanes total if you count both directions. The speed of traffic was between 80 and 90 miles per hour. I arrived in San Diego, California around 1:48 pm on Monday March 18th. In spots in Arizona I saw road signs warning you to take the curves at 70 Miles Per Hour (MPH). Also at one point on the trip I saw a sign saying the minimum speed for the left lane was 65 MPH.

View from Top of Pine Mountain

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