Adjective #1: Exhausting. Oh sure, it sounds glamorous. A bunch of economists, lots of open road, a TV crew, a massive and hard-to-drive RV… what else could you possibly need? Well, the missing ingredient was, unfortunately, sleep. On this trip, eight hours was pretty much an impossibility, and it got even worse our last night. We rolled in around 10:30 pm and had stupidly scheduled a 6 am start to our day of horsing around. If I had wanted get up that early, I’d have gotten a real job instead of becoming a professor.
Adjective #2: Dusty. People talk about water being a problem in the arid Southwest, but I think a bigger issue is dust. Once we got over the hill from the Bay Area to the Central Valley, it was pretty much a 24/7 dust-o-rama until we hit Vegas. Tulare is about maybe a 8 on the dust-o-meter. Victorville/Adelanto ramps it up to nine or nine-and-a-half, and middle-o-nowhere Arizona is an 11. Yes, northwestern Arizona is to dust as Spinal Tap is to amplifiers.
Adjective #3: Classic. As in Rock. We were just past Barstow on I-40 when Paul found Lucky 98 FM from Bullhead City, Arizona. (Tagline: Rockin’ the River and Shakin’ the Lake.) This is our kind of station. We heard two — count ’em, two! — Eddie Money songs (Shakin’ and Take Me Home Tonight) and got Billy Squier’s Everybody Wants You twice! That on top of the standard dose of Zeppelin, Beatles, Van Halen/Van Hagar, and Hendrix. Paul gave it 9.5/10 (no ELO, he whined), while I gave it 9/10 (it would kill you to play some Rush??) Mike, as usual, tried to ignore our enthusiastic-but-off-key singing when Foreigner came on.
Adjective #4: Edutainment. Wait, that’s a noun. But the whole thing was both entertaining and educational… We had fun and learned a lot.
Adjective #5: Uncomfortable. We’re professors, so public speaking is sort of our thing. After 20ish years of doing it, we’ve gotten quite comfortable on our feet, and it’s easy for us to spout sensible (or at least sensible-sounding) stuff from behind the lectern. But put a video camera in our faces and a boom mike over our heads — and we turn into blithering idiots. How does Ellen make TV look so easy?
Adjective #6: Grateful. We want to thank Noel and Rolland Rosa at Rosa Brothers, Bill and Linda Scott at Scott Turbon Mixer, and Carrie and Don Rynders at Stagecoach Trails Guest Ranch. You were all so generous with your time and are such thoughtful and passionate business owners. We learned a lot from talking to you. We also want to thank Steve (our Aussie producer — and sorry for no AC/DC on Lucky 98 FM) for putting in so much work and handling all the details. And also our crew: Mike (camera) and Hugh (sound). You guys were good to hang out with and we appreciate that you didn’t make fun of us (to our faces).