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So I thought I'd finally see the Grand Canyon, found a great fare to Phoenix, crazy low hotel and car rates on Priceline, it all seemed to come together. Too bad a huge snowstorm prevented traveling to the northern part of the state so we never saw that major sight. Oh well, that sucked but we had a great time with our last minute change of plans. I got to PHX a day early and had to adjust to driving everywhere in that sprawled out city. Give me a cute European city any day and while there were pockets of good things, you really couldn't park your car and just hang out in too many sections of town. After settling in, I whipped downtown for an art walk that happens the first Friday of every month. It was pretty cool but I couldn't really take my time to check things out (and it was 38 degrees!) since I was meeting Rubee and her hubby for dinner. More driving, now to Tempe which actually has a downtown, where I was surprised to see Boston prices for fancy cocktails. But we had a nice meal and met the chef, Payton who's their friend. After dinner, I headed to the Yucca Tap Room which Nicole from the Love Me Nots suggested (no thanks to our nice but direction challenged waitress) and saw a little bit of music, no cover charge!
and Botanical Gardens
Sat. was a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen West then I picked up Andrew at the airport and let him do most of the driving after that. Got some Mexican, hit a good happy hour then over to Mesa for the very cool club,Hollywood Alley, and the local band Scorpion vs. Tarantula who were kind of like Bikini Kill meets, someone. That club has a lot of personality.
Sun. was a nice day at the Botanical Gardens, but seeing that the Pats eventually lost to Miami on my stupid new iPhone (which came in handy for stuff like that and getting us around) was a bummer. Next was some down home cooking at Lolo's Chicken & Waffles, then back to Tempe for an arts festival and a stop at a good record store. That nite was my very nice "travel agent" dinner which was amusing cuz we ended up at a new restaurant FnB in Scottsdale when I thought we were going to a long time local fave Cowboy Ciao (which was next door). Stupid but it all worked out for the best since we had an excellent meal, made friends with the manager Pavle (as with Eric and Sean at Cowboy Ciao when we eventually got there), ran into Payton again, good time. Food details here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/674036
Clubs and Stores
Mon. was the aborted trip to Flagstaff and/or the Wig Wam Motel in Holbrook. Had an amusing snack in Payson with the locals but as we drove away, the snow got heavy the higher you went and when the police stopped us saying a truck had blocked the highway further up, we cut our losses and headed south to Tombstone not knowing what other roads would be like (and indeed, even some major highways were closed). Tombstone was a trip, just like you picture it in the movies and the very windy first night and dust blowing, it felt like High Noon. Had an early dinner and hung out in our most expensive hotel, which was free after finding ants and various other things. We only stopped at one museum and missed the OK Corral, kitchy but fun.
Pricelined two nights in Tucson and hit the small Sabino Canyon on the way into town, to try to get a feel of some canyon, any canyon.
I liked Tucson more than PHX since there's a real downtown (although it's a bit depressed) and 4th Ave. is a fun strip not too overtaken by college kids. Found some fun bars, saw a silly metal cover band at the cool Hotel Congress, caught an Ansel Adams exhibit at the museum, ate Sonoran hot dogs (Mexican style wrapped in bacon with beans) and then back to PHX.
Got a good deal (non Priceline) at the cool Clarendon Hotel a little more downtown then some more hanging out, happy hour, Thurs. artwalk in Scottsdale, more friendly restaurant workers, a drink at the fancy Biltmore Hotel, biker bar, etc.
So it didn't go as planned but it was a good time. Other than missing the canyon (and Flagstaff, Sedona and the Wig Wam Motel on Rt. 66), I just wish the temperature had been higher, esp. when it was 35 at nite. Who knew? Next report will be Madrid and Marrakech.