Doing the Loop: Apache Trail

On our past trip to Arizona we had read about the Apache Trail but it was the wrong direction to where we were headed (Sedona).  On this trip we decided to squish this in on and drive the loop on our last full day.

It takes close to 45 minutes to just get to the start of the Apache Trail from Scottsdale. When you do reach the Apache Trail, it is an amazing drive with the most incredible scenery and natural formations.  On the chilly day that we went,  there was light snow on the ground and snow capped Superstition Mountain up above. We took so many incredible pictures that day.– Without question it was the best scenery we saw on our trip.  I had found this guide to use which was a great help for there are not a lot of signs along the way to describe what you are seeing.

Out on the LedgeWe made several short stops –  especially enjoyed stop right before FishCreek Hill.  A paved path takes you out to the edge and we then followed a dirt path out even further to look over the Canyon.  It was really incredible.

However my words of advice for fellow travelers —  You need a full day to devote to this if you want to do  and truly enjoy the entire loop.  And be sure to include a nice hike at Lost Dutchman State Park or a boat ride ( I read there is a great one) to breakup the drive. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way at one of the stops. Between the time to get there and back and to do the loop can be very tiring for the driver. I wish we had made one long stop and turned around partway through.  Nevertheless, it still was a spectacular drive well worth seeing.

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Phoenix in December (It snowed.)

As the sun just began to rise over the desert, and we could see our breath in the frigid morning air, we began our journey to Koli Equestrian Center about 30 minutes south of where we were staying.  To think I had originally planned to begin our riding adventure at 7:30 AM…  Due to freezing morning temperatures we changed it to 9. 

Continue reading “Phoenix in December (It snowed.)”

Sun upon the Desert

A family climb up Cholla Trail was the perfect way to celebrate our first sunny day although the coldest day of the year in the dessert.   We were lucky to be able to walk to this trailhead that climbs up Camelback Mountain from our hotel.  We began the hike close to sunset and so only made it up to the first lookout.  The view stretched to the left of where our journey began in Phoenix, to the golf course just below us where my husband had playing that morning, beyond to Scottsdale on the left where my daughter and I had explored earlier that morning, and way out to snow capped Superstition Mountain that we would explore later on this trip. What an amazing view.

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We finished our day with dinner in Old Scottsdale with a restaurant chosen by my daughter, Mission Restaurant.  We were lucky to get a last minute reservation at the shared table and even luckier that a table opened up for us in this packed restaurant serving delicious modern Latin cuisine.  Uniquely prepared dishes wowed us from the appetizers, to our main courses, to dessert.

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There is usually a Thursday night ArtWalk but not tonight. Instead we wandered the deserted streets in the freezing temperatures enjoying the freedom to browse into windows without crowds.

Although our New Years was a huge disappointment (I chose to not post that pitiful evening), the first day of the new year was perfect!

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Freezing Rain and Fate

If it were not for the continuous downpour added with cold temperatures, the road taken that day would have been very different.  The free tickets began the turn and we decided to pursue.  And what to our welcoming surprise then an adored sculptor of mine to welcome us –  Anna Hyatt Huntington – (for those who follow my posts you may immediately recognize this name –  the Visionary behind Brookgreen Gardens that we visited this past summer).

You could take everything out of the Phoenix Art Museum – all of the artwork – and still have an amazing time.  The building itself is a piece of art with wonderful nooks and crannies,  built in benches, glass banisters that make you feel there is nothing separating you from the steps above and the ground below. (And what to no surprise the architect,  Alden B. Dow, was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright)

Add allowing a young artist such as my daughter to freely take pictures in some galleries added to the experience.  Stuffiness was not present in this museum. We fell in love with the works of Philip Campbell Curtis and were certainly more then just a little intrigued by his paintings.

Rain or No rain.  Free or Not Free.   Add this to your list of places to visit in Phoenix.

Hot Chocolate in the Desert

On December 30 we boarded the plane leaving behind mild winter temperatures in our otherwise usually frigid mid Atlantic region to enter similar, if not cooler at times, temperatures in the Arizona desert. This certainly was not we paid inflated airfare prices for but we were happy to arrive with sunny skies.

I was led to believe that our room at The Phoenician  would be ready for an early arrival. It was not and it was hardly warm enough to stay at the resort and swim. (However the pool was filled for unbeknownst to us this would be the warmest it would get.) We decided to explore offsite and have lunch.

We  drove to St Francis – a place I had wanted to visit  and enjoyed a delightful meal sitting outside under heat lamps trying to pretend in our mind as we stared at the sand and cactus landscape eating unique southwestern dishes like flatbread with chilis, honey and almonds that it was indeed very warm outside. Heat Lamps can lead one to such a belief.

We returned and walked the beautiful resort property until our room was ready. Unfortunately our misfortune would continue by being given a room that did not match the category description. The hotel did correct the issue and put us in a Grande Deluxe Room – and it was very grande!

Of all the beautiful features at the Phoenician, one of our favorites was the Cactus Garden. It was lit up with Christmas lights.  We layered on clothes that we thought would remain in the closet during our stay.  With scarves and hats and coats on we ventured through winding and colorfully lit up trail.  Cactus with Christmas lights in the desert when it is 30 degrees. Juxtaposition indeed (and a reoccurring theme during our stay).