S: Arizona Trip August 2012
FC: Arizona Vacation August
1: How crazy are we? We are going to go to Arizona in August! For our 10th anniversary, Dad and I had stayed at the Pointe Hilton, Tapatio Cliffs. Remembering how nice that trip was, we decided to go on a short trip with Matt. This time, we stayed at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort because it had a water park, a barbecue place and just looked like a fun spot to hang out. With all that water, who cares about the heat, right? We planned to spend the first day by the pool, and the rest of the time exploring Phoenix.
2: The first day was all pool. Matt spent the day wet, while Dad and I relaxed by reading, doing puzzles and generally doing nothing. The Lazy River beckoned though, and with Matt, I got on an inner tube and took a ride, using Matt's flip flops as paddles. Yep, I went under, more than once.
5: It takes a waterfall to escape 109 degree heat. Matt thought he might climb up, but realized it was impossible.
6: We enjoyed the hotel grounds. It was tropical in the desert, an oasis with numerous pools. There were several gift shops, ice cream, a good barbecue restaurant and our room was clean and quiet. The mini-golf course was fun but way too hot.
7: Matt at the pool bar. Mom and Dad are having a drink and watching him swim. We are nearly swimming too, as water sloshes over our feet. It is the day before a holiday, and we know the resort will get busy tomorrow, so we enjoy our quiet.
8: It doesn't get much cooler than this. The balcony of our hotel room was the perfect place to test the effectiveness of new sunglasses and take a couple of photos.
11: Saguaro cactus are everywhere, and so beautiful. I remembered them from my first trip and couldn't wait to see them again. They dot the hills of Phoenix like an army. After we paid our respects to the Saguaro on the resort grounds, we went out to eat. I loved the prickly pear butter with honey.
12: We sat by the pool on the first night and enjoyed an outdoor movie, "How to Train your Dragon." Is there anything more fun than sitting in the warmth of an Arizona night, watching a Dragon movie? Not much!
13: Every night for well over a year, Matt takes a photo of himself. Vacations are no exception, so before we went to bed, Matt set up the camera and took his photo. Someday, looking at his growth over time is going to be fascinating.
14: Day Two was all about exploring Phoenix. We had decided to start with the Botanical Gardens and get a close-up look of cacti (the only plant I can't kill). We arrive to a breathtaking scene - some Chihuly glass sculpture. For a minute, I thought it was a real cactus and I said, "Look how the ends of those are shining." Then I recognized that these were art pieces and by an artist I've long admired. Spectacular.
15: Here is our obligatory family photo near the sign. Little did we know that we were about to see some truly beautiful and interesting examples of desert landscape. And we were about to sweat. A lot.
16: We tried to pay attention to the sign boards so we could recognize the desert plants. Some were in bloom and their flowers were lovely, but the ones not in bloom were also beautiful.
19: We had a short but hot climb through the park to see the view. The rocks had interesting formations and the variety of desert flora was endless.
21: Amid the desert landscape, the games began. We were getting hot and a bit silly. A quarter inch closer and Matt would have had his face full of spines. I thought the red flower was pretty enough to make an earring out of.
23: Saguaro cactus are beautiful and fascinating - I think it is my favorite growing plant. We learned about how they grow and how water is kept inside them. We also rested a lot. There were some shady sitting spaces, although not really cool.
25: There were also examples of Native American tools and art. The cactus that draped itself over the tree was pretty amazing. And, we saw these rocks in wire boxes everywhere - they even decorated one restaurant. Not sure what they were about but was interesting.
27: During our hike, we came across a building where we could buy a drink, and which had some artwork. We sat at the top of the hill and looked at the desertscape. According to the hourglass planting, it was about 12:30 pm.
28: Path through the gardens | Matt inspects some cactus | He finds a little creature | Its hind legs
29: More garden beauty. Matt exhibited some talent as a photographer, taking most of these photos with a point and shoot.
30: We have decided to wrap up our visit to the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. It was an amazingly beautiful place, but very hot and exhausting for a person on chemo. We decided to try something with air-conditioning next.
32: We had been told that the Arizona Science Center was the place to be downtown, so we went there. However, we discovered they closed very early. And, downtown Phoenix was a virtual ghost town, crawling with metal scorpions and little else. We decided to go the next day and for now, we found a nice, air-conditioned sports bar that was open for lunch.
33: I don't remember what I had to eat but it was really good. It had some chili on it that was amazing. We had a few good meals in Arizona; our favorite was a place called Black Chile. Their signature dish (black chile) was amazing.
34: Lunch at Black Chile Restaurant. I could not believe a restaurant could have such a racist name, until I realized they meant "chili" and not child. Oops. Anyway, the food was great. It is near Fashion Square Mall. After we visited downtown Phoenix, (a ghost town), and went through the snoozefest that was the Science Center, we realized there was not much else for us to do. The trip to the botanical gardens had been too much for me, so I was not up for a trip to Sedona. Unfortunately, we discovered Phoenix has little to offer tourists. So, we were kind of stuck. The hotel concierge recommend a mall in Scottsdale. Seriously.
35: So, we went to the mall, which of course, bored the males in the family to death. I didn't stay long so as not to prolong their agony, but I did buy a top at H&M. We found a couple of mid-century furniture stores that we walked through, and then we went to Pier One so I could show the family some furniture I wanted to buy. | At a store, Matt became fascinated with a large, decorative fork. We know teenagers like to eat, but this was ridiculous. He also found an expandable one for snatching food of another's plate. While it turns out that Phoenix had little to offer but the great pools and botanical gardens, it was a fun trip. Being with family is everything.