Private jets, SUV limos, gourmet meals, what a great 3-day vacation

From the Sports Editor

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Brad Spencer

Let me tell you about my recent 3-day vacation, in which I decided to live like a king.

My leased private jet (Southwest Airlines with non-refundable Fun Fair ticket) landed in the dry, desert valley of Paradise (Phoenix, Arizona) Sunday morning. An SUV stretch limousine (standard-sized Ford Durango), roomy and equipped with deluxe shock absorbers, was arranged to meet me. My driver was friendly, a tall, gray-haired man not shy with a hug and then a handshake (it was my Dad). His navigator was also friendly and polite. She asked if I had eaten anything that day (my stepmom).

"We now go to La Casa Resorto de Cabino (Dad's cabin in the mountains)," said the driver as he climbed into the SUV limousine (standard-sized Ford Durango).

The Arizona Highway Patrol was gracious enough to clear me a lane on the busy highway during rush-hour traffic (we used the car-pool lane). I was hungry so I had the driver pull into a five-star restaurant (In-and-Out Burger) near Prescott, where I had made arrangements to spend the night in the presidential suite (guest bedroom) of the La Casa Resorto de Cabino (again, Dad's cabin).

After thanking the bellman for hauling my 5-piece Pierre Cardin luggage to the room, I was ready to partake in a bit of sightseeing (I carried my one strapless Eddie Bauer duffel bag). I hired two experienced hiking guides to take me about the mountainous terrain (Dad, stepmom and I hiked down along a creek). Afterwards I was a bit parched so I ordered a Manhattan martini, shaken not stirred, at the resort's bar (I got a can of beer out of the refrigerator). Out in the courtyard overlooking a majestic scenic view, I met a plucky fellow who was willing to partake in a few rounds of cricket (Dad and I played putt-putt golf on the patio).

After awhile my worthy opponent and I retired to the game room and partook in a rather vociferous round of pinochle (We played Texas hold'em at the kitchen table). After falling a bit short on my finances and eating a hearty bovine meal, we took our competitive exploits to the billiards room, where I hoped to rebound from my earlier defaults (I had lost my shorts in poker, but I was full from steak and potatoes, and Dad and I went to the basement to play pool). But my luck was diminished after a brutal game in which I lost valiantly (I stink at pool too; I knocked in the 8-ball at the beginning of the game).

The very next day I had the driver and his navigator deliver me back to the valley and into the Stadio Olimpico to watch the first quarrel between little bears and snakes this season (we went to Bank One Ballpark to watch the Cubs open the season against the Diamondbacks). I sat in the highest throne in order to feel a cool breeze through the floating arches (I sat in the upper deck next to the air conditioning vents; it's an indoor stadium). But I was happy to see the little bears (Cubs) maul the snakes (Diamondbacks) 16-6, with 23 hits mind you. I was so impressed, I reserved another seat, this one closer to the action (on the first level), for the second match-up between these two competitors.

I stayed the night at the Valley Chateau, where I watched a buoyant display of gamesmanship while feasting on authentic and delicious Italian cuisine (I spent the night with Dad and step-mom at their townhouse, where we watched the NCAA Tournament Championship while eating pizza from Pizza Hut).

The next day I took a dip in the Olympic-sized pool and bathed between lisping palms before I had the Chateau's chef grill me up a thick, tasty fowl (I hung out at the community pool underneath a table umbrella before Dad cooked chicken on the grill).

The fowl was so entirely delicious I lingered a bit in reverie and was then forced to press my driver and his navigator to jettison me to the Stadio so I would not miss the night's duel (the ballgame).

Thankfully, I made it to my luxury suite (standard seat in right field) before the opening pitch.

The next day I was back on my leased private jet and headed home to the extravagant estate I share with three beautiful and exuberant women. (It was back to the modest home I share with my wife and two daughters).

My vacation (fantasy) was over.

CONTACT: bspencer@wjinc.com

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