Tuesday 7:30 a.m.
The day is not starting out well. The plan was to get on the road before 10:00 a.m. but that is not going to happen. The Cat is sick and I have to try to get it to the vet before I leave. My normal vet is across town so I am combing through the phone book to try and get a vet appointment.
The good news is that I have an appointment for the cat. The bad news is that one car is not running and my wife has to be at work. Luckily Cat Tracks staffer Matt Messina is already packed and he will take me to the vet.
The Cat freaked out and shredded me and my shirt. No blood, but I'll need a new shirt. $80 later to find out the cat has a sniffle. He'll need some antibiotics but will be just fine, despite having a bit of blood in his sneeze. We'll get on the road by 11:15 in photographer Carl Shifflette's shiny new PT Cruiser.
Carl has a GPS in his car and it tells us the fastest route will be through Flagstaff and Page, not through Vegas. We have just put our faith and possibly out lives in this little device.
We stop at a gas station off of I-17 called QT. Unlike a 7-11 or a Circle K which usually have two varieties of slushy, the QT has eight kinds. Not just your typical cherry or cola, but they also had white raspberry, orange dream and something called Red Rooster High Energy Boost.
There is all of this white stuff on the ground. According to Connecticut native Messina that stuff is called snow. Apparently it is quite common in colder climates. Who'd a thunk it?
SOMEWHERE ON THE NAVAJO RESERVATION
Messina and I bet on whether Arizona or Connecticut has more counties. I say that despite the size differential that Connecticut would have more than 14 counties. A quick call to a friend in front of a computer and I am wrong. The Nutmeg State has just eight counties and I am down $1.00.
LAKE POWELL, AZ
This is a gorgeous view. The water, the setting sun, the red rocks, the smoke stacks of a factory.
The sign welcoming us to Utah has images of the 2002 winter Olympics. Apparently an event that occurred three years ago is still a major selling point. Never mind all the other great attractions, it's all about the Olympics.
Utah is nice, but it was uneventful at night on the highway until we get outside of Salt Lake City. It is too bad that it is so dark because we are missing most of the great looking mountains. Due to the snow cover we can see some of the closer ones in the darkness, but we are missing a great view.
My Aunt lives here and this is where we will crash for the night. She is a writer for the Standard-Examiner and wrote the novel "Lone Star: Ice and Fire" .
NEAR LOGAN, UT
Back on the road, we drive past the off ramp to Logan, home of the Wildcats' first round opponent Utah State.
Matt and I yell "Idaho", to which Carl replies "I Da Pimp".
At first Idaho looks a lot like Utah. Lots of hills and mountains. You get a very wild west sort of feel. After awhile it starts to look more and more like the Midwest, lots of flat farmland. The only difference is the stunning snowcapped mountains in the distance.
They have barns here. Real barns, like in paintings. Classic, rustic, red barns. Very Americana.
Another unique thing is farms with llamas. That's right cows, horses, the occasional goat and llamas. At least three farms have had llamas. I guess it is no stranger than the ostrich ranch near Picacho Peak, but I can't remember ever seeing llamas on a farm before.
We get to a rest stop and they have a special on something called "Anti Monkey Butt Powder". Of course I have to buy some. I mean, it has a picture of a monkey with a swollen posterior on the label. Am I the only one who finds this hysterical.
A few hours later we hit another rest stop, could this one be an omen? They have a rack of hats and prominently displayed are not one, but two different Arizona hats.
We get to the arena right as the Wildcats practice. They do a lot of shooting drills but put on a little dunk display for the fans at the end. Some of those on hand include athletic directors Jim Livengood, Chris DelConte and Gail Hopkins.
Adams steals the show with dunk after dunk that would make him a contender for the NBA dunk contest. His best is a one-handed, lefty slam off a bounce. Ivan Radenovic was up next, but knew he couldn't hang so he launched a three.
At the end several players signed autographs including Salim Stoudamire.
During the interview session a reporter makes the mistake of asking Lute Olson about the NCAA's new academic standards and the index used to measuring them. He spends the next 20 minutes pontificating about the problems with how they measure what schools are doing well. At one point the person running the press conference tries to wrap things up and Lute says "hold on, one more thing" before continuing for another five-plus minutes.
The Utah State players sounded confident, but a bit in awe of the Wildcats during their interview session.
We wrapped things up by going to a fast food establishment for a quick meal where we were waited on by the slowest person on earth. It took him almost 30 seconds to rip the receipt for the machine.