Howling Coyotes! Stephanie was awakened by coyotes at 4am this morning, and this was just another surprise for us by the city of Buckeye, Arizona. We have spent the last three full days in Buckeye and this town does not cease to amaze me.
It started the first night we arrived when we drove a few miles down the road to Walmart. We encountered only a handful of cars as we drove down the six lane street to the store. Once at Walmart, we had the place to ourselves. I have never seen a brand new Walmart with as few people in it, as I did that night.
As we continue to drive around town, it sure appears we are living in a ghost town. Scott & Erin visited the Buckeye downtown today, and compared it to the smallest of small towns (Perkins, OK to be exact).
This town has overbuilt to the nth degree. Rumor has it, they expect a population of 100k by the year 2020. Their population as of 2010 was 50k, and to their credit the population in 2000 was only 6k. One unbuilt, planned community in Buckeye will hold 300k residents!
Only Buckeye could make a town of 50k appear that there is nobody here.
The main attraction on our list today was to attend the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Stephanie, the kids, and I were the only ones interested in going so we took off and arrived at the parade route a little after 10 am, an hour before it started. Even at this early time, the parade route was lined several people deep in every direction.
We picked out a location at Camelback & Central with easy access to port-a-potties & the kettle corn vendor. (We visited both.) We situated ourselves next to a friendly couple from Chandler, Arizona. Their granddaughter was in a marching band from a Minnesota high school who was performing in the parade.
The Fiesta Bowl parade is the single most well attended event in Arizona each year. They were expecting about 200k parade lovers today. After attending the parade, I understand why it was so popular.
Perhaps the most important reason that the parade was so interesting is that there are a lot of Arizonians with too much time on their hand. When that happens to you, you start to think it would be a good idea to join a club of people who like to dress up as Superheroes, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Wild West floozies, or a variety of other characters. And of course, they all want to march in a parade.
The most fascinating entry in the parade was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This is the renowned Sheriff who dresses his prisoners in pink boxer shorts, feeds them peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and works them on the chain gangs. What’s not to love, right?
The Sheriff drew enthusiastic applause from most onlookers and boos from many others. Have you ever heard boos at a parade? Me neither. I guess that is why he had an entourage of several nasty looking bodyguards walking alongside his convertible.
We had family from St. Louis that arrived in Phoenix last night and we finally met up with them at the tail end of the parade. We asked a Cowboy fan sitting nearby to take a group picture of us. I don’t want to complain about a free photo, but her photography skills did not match her ability to pick a winning team to root for.
Thankfully, our St. Louis family likes football, because it seems like the only times we are able to get together are for Homecoming in Stillwater, and at bowl games. In the group photo above, there are six Oklahoma State graduates, one High School senior who has been admitted to OSU, our three kids, and a University of Minnesota senior (black sheep). It is always great to see them!
Once the parade was over, our gang went out to lunch at Yardhouse, which was located in Glendale in the shadows of the stadium. It was a good time to catch up and try some of their wide variety of beer. My suggestion – try the Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat. Outstanding!
The small dining & entertainment district where we ate still had a very large Christmas tree on display. Stephanie wanted to get a touching photo of our three angels in front of it. Mission Accomplished.
After lunch, we all met back at the house in Buckeye. We were able to spend New Year’s Eve as a family. Is there anything better than that?
At one point in the evening, a neighbor stopped by to return a trailer hitch he borrowed from KK. The only form of repayment accepted was for him to take our picture. With unfortunate timing, Neal (tall man without a hat) visited the necessary room just as we were lining up for the picture, so we had to wait on him. The neighbor said, “Everybody say ‘Neal’ ” as he took the picture. Needless to say we used that line all night long.
Our family from St. Louis left around 9 pm, as Neal & Allison were running in a New Year’s Eve race before Midnight. The rest of us finished the evening by playing Mexican Train Dominoes, shooting some pool, and lighting sparklers.
As gung ho as we all were 6 hours earlier to ring in the New Year, only Mallory & Scott celebrated at Midnight. Everybody else in the house was in bed by 11:30 pm. Safe & sound before the Coyotes started their celebration.