Travel Log: Arizona

Wednesday, January 24

Day One in Arizona did not quite go as planned. Leaving Las Vegas was painless, checking in and getting through TSA was surprisingly quick, and everything seemed like it was going smoothly — that is, until we board the plane (as it goes) — and the pilots inform us that PHX is operating with one runway and incoming flights are delayed ~30 minutes to accommodate. The flight was only supposed to be about an hour. So we sat on the plane in Las Vegas for a while before finally taking off for PHX. But the fun didn’t stop there! After gathering our bags, taking the absurdly long shuttle ride to the rental car center, I was blessed with the gift of a 1.5-hour wait at Budget to get my rental car. Apparently, we arrived at shift change and they couldn’t keep up with the demand for cars. Ugh. (Follow-up note: Don’t ever use Budget for your rental car needs. They charged me a refueling fee despite me filling the gas tank less than two miles from the airport. Also, their customer service is generally terrible.)

So not only did we arrive quite a bit later than anticipated, we got an even later start out of Sky Harbor and were so very lucky to sit in Phoenix rush hour traffic getting out to our hotel in Glendale. After an unnecessarily long day of traveling, we were pretty excited to get to the hotel and drop our things and head out for dinner. We found this little Mexican restaurant called Lazaro’s Mexican Food a few miles from our hotel, where you order at the counter and the nachos were self-serve. But it was so gooooood. After that, we finished up homework and made an early night of it.

Thursday, January 25

shameless selfie

When searching for things to do in the Phoenix area, I came up considerably short on finding things to spend time on. For such a big city there certainly isn’t much to do, which actually surprised me. However, there is a zoo and as we all know by now if there’s a zoo in a city I’m in, I’m going to visit it (I think that marks my 7th zoo!). The zoo was all the way across town but we headed out just after the morning rush hour to check it out. As members of the Cincinnati Zoo, we got reciprocal membership prices (50% off!) and they have free parking, so it was a pretty sweet deal for about $13 apiece.

Unfortunately, a few bits of the zoo were under construction so we didn’t quite get to see everything and my favorite fennec foxes were off exhibit. 🙁

Overall, though, the zoo wasn’t bad and was a good use of a warm, sunny afternoon. It was nice to be outdoors in January and also actually remember what warmth feels like while home is a bit of a tundra.

After the zoo, we went for a quick walk around Old Town Scottsdale and had lunch in a place called Sugar Bowl. This place was seriously one of the cutest restaurants I had ever been into — it’s a diner opened in 1958 that still has the same vibe it probably did 60 years ago. The pink vinyl and decor was too cute, the food was delicious and surprisingly inexpensive.

After that, we stopped briefly at a brewery called OHSO (Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost) where I had a delicious blonde ale called Popcycle Blonde made locally by OHSO. Oh, how relieved I was to find some craft beer again.

That night, we were set to see the Blue Jackets play the Coyotes at Gila River Arena. This time they did not disappoint! It was a bit of a slow go, but the Jackets pulled ahead with less than three minutes left to get the go-ahead goal. I love road wins! Even if they are accompanied by home fans who want to talk smack without any ground to stand on. (“You only have three playoff wins!” …okay but where are your playoff banners?)

Also, we ran into some people we know!

Friday, January 26, 2018

The final full day of our vacation began with a bit of sleeping in before setting off to Sedona. Originally, we planned to go to the Grand Canyon but had a hard time justifying the long day of travel for a place we didn’t think we’d spend a ton of time. Sedona, however, was just over a hundred miles from Glendale and a scenic one, at that. (Just as long as you heed the “last services for 25 miles” signs and pee while you still can). Also – the speed limit is 75 in rural Arizona!

Look, I’m from Ohio. I am used to cornfields and forests, not cacti, deserts, and mountains. I maybe took about a million photos of the scenery on our drive and in Sedona. It was honestly the most beautiful place I have ever traveled to.

After the trek to Sedona it was back to Glendale for dinner and sleep before a busy day of travel back home on Saturday. It was a long week but I saw a whole new part of the US, got to feel warm, got a little sunburned, and got to see my hockey team steal a win.

Overall Arizona Rating: 8/10, would come back

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