Arizona: Hot, yet a lot of fun in the desert!

My family and I got an opportunity to travel to Arizona this past July to visit with some family friends that had just recently purchased their new home. My friend Viedell Stewart, his wife Lori and their daughter Breauna, who is our Goddaughter, moved to Arizona from Minnesota about 4 years ago.

We, my wife Kim, our son Tyler and I, flew down on a Thursday evening after Kim and I had worked our jobs that day and got into Phoenix at approx. 10:30 that night local time. After a 20 minute wait to start de-boarding the plane, we went to the luggage carousel and grabbed our luggage and slowly made our way to the shuttle area for a ride to the rental car location which was about 15 minutes away from the airport. After we got to the Enterprise rental desk and checked our reservations, we went down to the 2nd level to be shown to our car. All was going well until the rental attendant, Michael, started leading us to a small pickup truck. My wife was the first to react and looked at me and said that she didn’t expect or want a truck to ride around in while there. I was in total agreement and told Michael, that we didn’t want a truck and pointed to a silver Honda SUV that was sitting across the aisle from the truck. Michael looked a bit confused at first and then told me that we had chosen the “you rent, we pick” option and that Enterprise had the choice to make the decision as to what vehicle they wanted us to use. I told him, as nicely as I could because it was really late and I was very tired and cranky at that point, that there was no way on this planet that I was going to be driving out of there in a truck and that I wanted the Honda. To make my point even clearer, I went over to the SUV and started opening doors and checking it out. Michael was a bit taken aback I think, because then he told me that if I was going to choose a different vehicle that I would have to pay more. I just looked at my wife and started laughing. I responded by saying “I am on vacation and spending money is part of the enjoyment”, and then I started loading our luggage into the rear of the Honda. After not saying anything for about a full minute and a half, Michael must have come to the realization that we were not going to take the truck and started talking about the Honda and that he would have to change all of the paperwork. I said “just do what you have to so we can be on our way and thank you for being so considerate of our wants and requests”. It was about a full forty-five minute drive from the rental location to my friend Viedell’s house according to Google Maps, so I sent him a text to let him know we were on our way and set out according to the directions and made it to his house a little after midnight.

The following morning I was up early, but I didn’t realize how early it was apparently. It had felt like I had been asleep for hours, even though we had sat up the night before sitting out by the pool and drinking some bourbon. I had called Viedell earlier that day to have him pick up a bottle of Knob Creek Maple bourbon so we could sit out by the pool when I got there and chat a bit. I think we sat out there for about an hour or so before turning in and I got to bed about 2:am. But for some reason I woke up feeling refreshed and when I ventured out to the kitchen after hearing some noise, I found Viedell up as well. When we had gotten in Thursday night, Viedell and his wife Lori were up and we chatted for a bit before Lori stated she was going to turn in because she had to get up the next morning to take their daughter Breauna to the doctor at about 7:15: am. So, I thought that when I heard the noise that morning that they were back from the doctor’s office and I wanted to see my Goddaughter. But, when I went into the kitchen only Viedell was there and when I looked at the clock it was only 6:45 in the morning. I was really confused and he told me that the same thing had happened to him when he first went to AZ to look around for a place to stay. He said that my body was still on Minnesota time and that it was 8:45 back home so my body thought I had slept longer. Weird, but apparently true.

mountains across the street from Viedell’s house

So, I went back to bed like any real person on vacation would have done. I did get to sleep for about another 2 hours and got up feeling even more refreshed.

We went out to breakfast that morning to a local spot that they liked and had a wonderful breakfast.

Breauna and Kim reading menus.
Kim and Lori trying to decide what they want for breakfast.
the guys at breakfast…

After breakfast, we followed Lori and Viedell around town a bit as they had a few errands to run. During this time, Lori went to get some gas at Sam’s Club. I thought there was a serious gas shortage going on in Phoenix as there were lines of cars waiting to get gas. It was hilarious watching them get the gas too because when they pulled up for their turn, they were on the wrong side of the gas pump and had to pull the nozzle across the car to the opposite side to get gas.

gassing up the car….

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect to see in Arizona, but I have to say that it was awesome. You see nothing but mountains when you look out on the horizon. The whole time we were there, I was always amazed at the scenery.

Palm trees and cacti adorned the landscape no matter where you were. It was truly picturesque. After we finished running around for those two, we had a tour of the Arizona Cardinals football stadium lined up.

heading to State Farm Stadium..home of the Arizona Cardinals
Our Cardinals Stadium tour guide, Dixie.

Our tour guide was this totally funny and entertaining young lady named Dixie! She was a hoot. She was very friendly and outspoken, yet warm and open. She led us around the stadium and it was really fun to see and hear some of the behind the scenes background. Like the fact that the Cardinals Stadium was only one of a few stadiums in the world that had a retractable field.

Arizona Cardinals football field

Their football field is stored outside the stadium, as it was on this tour because they had a home and garden show going on that Friday.

Or the fact that they painted the visitors locker rooms

waiting on the tour to start

plain gray, while the Cardinals locker room is painted White and Red with a giant picture of a Cardinal’s head in the center of the floor. We got to go into the owner’s suite and were told that their suite was just like the rest because the owners didn’t want to make people feel that they were superior to any of their fans.

in the visiting teams locker room

Afterwards, Lori had to go on her own to a doctor’s appointment. Viedell, Breauna and the rest of us went to a recreational area called Westgate, located a few blocks from the stadium and spent the next few hours at Dave and Busters playing video games and having a grand old time.

having a blast at Dave & Buster’s
Kim was a bit tired after all of those games…
Lori and Kim trying to spend points after the games

As we were leaving Dave and Buster’s we had decided to stroll down the street to get some donuts. As we were walking past one of the stores along the way, we say a display in the window that was just too funny. My favorite football team is the Chicago Bears, and Viedell loves the San Francisco 49s. Well, what do you know? This window’s display said it all.

After we got back to the house, it was time to do what my son had been wanting to do all day long. Hit the pool!

I am sure that the only reason my son wanted to go visit in the first place was because I had mentioned to him that their new home had a swimming pool in the backyard. He was really looking forward to that more than anything else.

On Saturday, it was just a relaxing day as we just played in the pool all day. Viedell threw some ribs and chicken on the grill for dinner and Lori made one of the most delicious dishes of macaroni and cheese that I had tasted, including my own.

I had always heard that the temps in AZ were hot. That is actually an understatement in my opinion. But it’s also true that the lack of humidity makes it bearable.

During our trip, my wife had wanted to visit some of the other areas in and around Phoenix. so on Sunday we decided that we would head out to do some touristy stuff. We got to take our goddaughter, Breauna, with us which was a real treat. We decided to head over to Scottsdale as there was this family entertainment center that we wanted to see. We passed by downtown Phoenix while on the highway but decided not to detour and go there.

Phoenix skyline from I-10 Eastbound….

We also actually saw one of those car vending machines as seen on those Carvana commercials. I didn’t have time to get a picture, but it was weird and awesome at the same time to realize those were real. We did get a picture of the downtown Phoenix skyline.

Our trip to Scottsdale was about a 45 minute drive and was well worth it when we got to Ody-Sea World. This was an entertainment complex that consisted of several unique shops including a Titanic museum, Pop-art museum, and a Pre-historic Dinosaur park.

There were some restaurants scattered throughout the complex as well. We had decided to stop by an ice cream shop before heading back home and found out it was National Ice Cream Day! What a treat that turned out to be as they were having a buy one scoop and get a 2nd one free special in observance of that day.

from the parking lot at Ody-Sea entertainment center….

On the way back to the house, I spotted a sign that I had to have a picture of as it said a lot about where we were.

Across the street from Viedell’s house is a walking path that leads into the mountains. He and I had talked a few times about going out there to see the view. I had asked him why he hadn’t done that yet and he mentioned that he was told by one of his neighbors that on at least 3 separate occasions, hikers that went out there had to be rescued due to heat strokes and/or other causes, and one that just got lost and couldn’t find his way back for whatever reason. So, after we had gotten back from our trip to Scottsdale and had dinner, he and I ventured over to the path. Again, the views of the mountains that outline the valley are spectacular.

view from Viedell’s driveway to the walking path
the path after the fork in the road…

During our walk and about almost a 1/4 mile into the path we came to a fork in the road. For some reason, I remembered someone telling me that if you ever come to a fork in a road to take the right fork.

And so we did, then we came around a bend and saw this cactus.

Viedell telling me about the vegetation

I think we may have walked about a half mile into the hills before we decided that maybe it was time to turn back as we started seeing some animal droppings.

looking North and West from the trail
No road that I could find got us closer to this airplane lot.

During our travels around the neighborhood and surrounding areas, the scenery was just fantastic. And there was this one road that took us by this area that had a bunch of old airplanes parked there.

We spent the rest of Sunday evening, you probably guessed it by now, in the pool.

Monday was our last day in Arizona for this trip. By now, my son had overcome any and all fear he may have had about swimming and was having a blast with Breauna and Viedell doing cannonballs into the pool.

Our flight was scheduled to at about 4:30: pm, so we got packed and loaded the car, while Viedell grilled up some hotdogs and brats for lunch.

Viedell asking when are we coming back to visit….funny guy

Then, it was time to head out. And after some long hugs and sad goodbyes,

it was time to head back to the airport for the long wait and short flight home….

heading home…
above the clouds….
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