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).

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Brookgreen Gardens is more then just gardens

As I leave Brookgreen Gardens, thinking back on my day, it is too hard to pick just one favorite thing.  Perhaps it is the overall history of the property and what it has become over time thanks to Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer Milton Huntington. Wandering around the gardens, at every turn there is another sculpture just as beautiful as the first. I particularly liked Fountain of the Muses – a large fountain with 8 major figures & 7 secondary figures (formerly installed at the Met).   Or of course the Live Oak Allee  was particularly amazing that day for it had rained the night before. (I keep thinking the name of the gardens is Brooktree!)  Walking through the Low Country Trail, I felt more in tune with the former history of the property as I looked out over the former rice fields.  And as I entered the Aviary, I am not sure I have ever had such an encounter at a zoo.  I felt like the animal on exhibit as the birds surrounded me from all sides.   They have woven these three areas together.  However to take in everything in just one day is overwhelming …. This place definitely deserves a second visit. Oh .. and how could I not mention grasshoppers the size of your first… this was the first one we saw that day… but would not be the last 2014-08-19 11.00.54

Storm King

On our journey north we had many destinations in mind to stop for a quick visit.  And the first, Woodbury Outlets was such that.  However the next stop along the journey now that we had left the busy highway was Storm King.  And there we spent the afternoon amazed by the sculptures we saw.  Each twist down the wooded path would lead to another. And down the rolling green hills the sculptures were even larger in size.  We quickly realized many were just as amazing from afar … some even better.  We spent hours only just getting through the Meadows covered in black eyed Susans and never even made it to the south side.  An amazing visit and one worth exiting the highway to enjoy even when still many miles still to go…….