Exploring Scottsdale, Arizona

Last week K and I spent six days in Scottsdale, AZ. I told everyone we were going to Phoenix, but after we got there we realized we were actually in Scottsdale- which is a totally different animal.

Anyway, we vacationed over K’s birthday, but it was less of a b-day trip and more of a (much needed) escape. We work a lot, K owns the business, and we’re usually tied up with business stuff while on the road (for business). It was nice to travel with no agenda.

We work with awesome people who took over our job duties & put out most of the fires at home. And we have a dog/house sitter who keeps the home calm in our absence. Thank JESUS for the people in our lives.

I’m modeling my trip recap after Alexandra‘s travel posts.
(Thanks for the inspo, friend!)

Where We Stayed:

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Pros: It was a gorgeous resort with nice (heated) pools, complimentary bike rentals (which we didn’t do), two delicious restaurants, a spa (did not visit), and cafe with drinks, pastries, and custard. The location was great & our room was stunning with a great view of Camelback Mountain. The valet service was so attentive and friendly and quick.

Cons: It was a pricey… and nothing was included. You had to rent the open and empty poolside cabanas if you were interested in poolside shade. The walls were paper thin- kids and adults walking up and down the corridors could be heard and K even got to listen in on a domestic argument next door while I was poolside. I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel like we got our money’s worth. The weather prevented me from lounging around the pool all but one day- and even if I’d spent all 6 days doing that, I’d have to sell a kidney to buy one drink a day while lounging. So… next time we’re Holiday Inn Express-ing it πŸ˜‰

What We Did:

We arrived late Monday night. Tuesday through Friday we did…

  • A Train Ride on Verde Canyon Railroad (Clarkdale, AZ)
    Such a cool experience. We booked first class tickets and had complimentary champagne, appetizers, and our own table & soft seats. Each cabin had an attached open-air car for 360ΒΊ viewing. Our stewardess was great, the info was interesting, and, even though the weather was less-than-great (rainy & cold), we saw some beautiful things. The ride back was a little long and boring (K wasn’t a fan) since it was the same rails we rode out on.
  • A Spring Training Baseball Game (Goodyear Ballpark- Goodyear, AZ)
    When in Rome… right? We’re not huge baseball fans (I went to one game last year), but we figured since we were here with an open schedule (and a hankering for beer & ‘dogs), we’d pop in for an Indians game. Bonus: They won!
  • Penske Racing Museum (North Scottsdale)
    We’re race fans so we took advantage of this free museum. If you don’t care about Formula One or NASCAR racing, this isn’t for you. It takes less than an hour to walk through, it costs nothing, and it’s located in the middle of luxury car dealerships (which we also wandered through). Definitely interesting for car/racing people!
  • Desert Monsters UTV-ing (Tonto National Forest)
    We booked the sunset tour through this guided utv company. It was AWESOME. We got 2+ hours of guided utv-ing through the desert and we were provided with helmets and goggles and bandanas (to keep). Since it rained earlier in the week, the trail was bumpy and puddle-y and everything you want in an off-road experience. There were multiple opportunities to switch drivers, the tour supplied water bottles and snacks, and the guides were so informed on desert life. This was the coolest (literally- it was chilly) experience!
  • Goodguys Spring Nationals (Scottsdale, AZ)
    By happy coincidence, there was a huge car show going on the Friday/Saturday we were in town. Obviously K was gunning to check it out so we got our tickets and spent Friday morning and early afternoon wandering around thousands of cars. I walked over 4 miles at the show.

Where We Ate:

We had a few meals at our hotel and they were admittedly very delicious. The restaurants at the hotel were Prado, Centro, and Crave (cafe).

  • Roaring Fork (dinner)
    If we ever go back to Scottsdale we are visiting this place again. Delicious salmon (me) and steak (K).
  • Daily Dose (breakfast)
    I am still dreaming about the Strawberries & Creme waffle I had!
  • Cartel Coffee Lab (coffee)
    Overpriced, miniature cups, bitter coffee. NOPE.
  • In-and-Out Burger (dinner)
    We were in the place so we did the thing. It was a good meal- I get the hype.
  • Bobby-Q’s (dinner)
    Delicious barbecue AND THEY GIVE YOU COMPLIMENTARY DONUTS WITH YOUR BILL.

When we were in Scottsdale we spent quite a bit of time in Old Town. That’s where the cute shops, cafes, and restaurants can be found. Most of the actives we did were 30+ minutes from our hotel, so unless you just want to shop & eat, plan to rent a car and put on a few miles.

Fun fact? I brought a coat and left it on the d*mn plane. Thank goodness the pockets were empty. The army green coat in all my pics was an emergency purchase from GAP in Scottsdale. I love my new coat more than my old one, though…. So who’s the real winner here >>>?

I was fussy about the weather (couldn’t be helped) and the cost of our hotel amenities (my stupid error), but we had a really nice, relaxing trip. We filled our days with yummy food and activities that we love. We never felt rushed or stressed to get anything done, and I loved every laid back minute πŸ™‚

Annnnd now we’re back to reality this week! Haha.

Our Ohio Bucket List

One Saturday afternoon K and I were watching our weekend staple- Aerial America- and we came across the episode featuring Ohio. We were excited to recognize almost all the landmarks, but it got us thinking about the place we’ve never been in this great state. I suggested an Ohio bucket list for us to work on over the course of our lives (because let’s be real- we’ll probably live here forever) and K agreed! A while back I shared some Midwest weekending ideas so you’ll see them show up here, too.

(I want to note that K and I have different definitions of “fun” so we probably won’t go to all these places together. He doesn’t like amusements parks or caves like I do so some of these will be explored with friends or family!)

Alright, here is our list of must-visit Ohio landmarks, museums, festivals, and tourist traps!

American Sign Museum (Cincinnati, OH)

Ashtabula County Bridges drive in the corvette

Belamere Suites Hotel [stay]

Brandywine Falls in the fall

Cedar Point

The Cleveland Arcade/Hyatt [stay]

Cleveland Cavaliers at the Q

Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field

Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Cleveland Orchestra outside at Blossom Music Center

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

COSI

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Franklin Park Conservatory

German Village (Columbus)

Gervasi Vineyard [stay]

Great Serpent Mound (Adams County)

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Hocking Hills State Park

Hot Air Balloon Festival (Jackson Twp. or Marysville)

Kings Island

Lakeside

Marblehead Lighthouse

Melt [eat]

Mohican Treehouses

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Ohio Caverns (West Liberty)

Ohio State Reformatory

Pine Tree Barn [eat]

Play: Cle

Put-in-Bay

Ravenwood Castle [stay]

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Stockport Mill Inn [stay]

Sweet Carrot (Columbus)Β [eat]

Taste of Belgium (Cincinnati)Β [eat]

Toledo Museum of Art

Troy Strawberry Festival

West Side Market (Cleveland)

The Wilds [stay]

Zoar Village (near Bolivar, OH)

(And Surrounding Areas…)

Fallingwater (PA)

Mammoth National Park (KY)

Mackinac Island (MI)

National Corvette Museum (KY)

If you pop over to the new OHIO tab on the blog you can see which ones we’ve already been to! I opted to leave this list unmarked in case you wanted to snag it for your next Buckeye State adventure! I have a feeling that we will alter and add to this list as cool things cross our radar. Also, when we have kids I imagine our list was expand. πŸ™‚

Tell me, have you ever been to these places? Where would you go first??

The India Archive [3]

In 2012 I spent four weeks in Bangalore, India. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I cried a lot, I complained a lot, and there were at least two instances that I was positive I would die. That said, I learned a lot and went on adventures and had so much fun. On a bi-weekly-Monday basis I will share my trip here.

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Our first “night” in Bangalore was one of my lowest lows. I’m not proud of my attitude or my mind set, but that’s culture shock for ya. Anyway, as I mentioned, it got better. A huge aid to the initial shock was the company I kept while I was across the world. There were 6 of us from my university and another 10 students from all over the United States. We also had two teachers (both from my school) and a study abroad advisor from Maryland who was checking out the program.

Alicia, Kinsey, and Sydney were my Ohio-native roommates and my main travel companions. Our fifth roommate was a lovely girl from Tennessee named Elizabeth. There were only two guys in our group of 16, but I think everyone got along really well. In addition to Ohio, there were students from Texas, California, New York, N. Caroline and more. Honestly, our group of 16 was a great mix and I felt comfortable adventuring with any and all of them.

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My roommate & travel buddy, Kinsey (OH)

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Alex (NY) & Blair (TN)

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Dr. Capuzza & Dr. Lyons (OH)

Our first full day in Bangalore was a whirlwind. I won’t bore you with an hour by hour retelling of my trip, but we covered a lot of ground in a little bit of time. Visitors that stay longer than 3 weeks are required to get a visa in India so we spent time at the photo shop to get the right photo and then at the police station to get our visa approved. It was a little scary- no visa means you go back on a plane and travel another +36 hours back to where you came from. Fortunately, with a little “bribing” (I’m not kidding… it’s pretty customary), it all went smoothly.

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At the college (Christ University) we had a nice little welcome ceremony, took a tour, and were given our schedules for the term. I was signed up for Intercultural Communication (the class I needed for graduation) and yoga. I feel a teensy tiny bit of pride that I studied yoga while in India πŸ™‚

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The entrance to our little area of class

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Entrance to our building on campus

We also went shopping for some groceries and clothing. Students from the university acted as our guides. I’d brought things from the US that I thought would be appropriate, but I purchased three tops and a scarf (THANK GOODNESS- I’ll explain why later) while we were shopping. During our time abroad a few girls purchased Saris, but it was impractical for me to get one.

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Breakfast on Day 1 from the cafeteria

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School courtyard

So we settled in and found some comfort foods (spaghetti! pb&j! cereal!) and got some clothes and used the school computers to email and check our Facebooks. Around this time we decided that we could probably survive for 4 weeks.

Did you miss part 1 and part 2? Be sure to check them out!

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