Arizona continues to enchant us and our 6th trip there since 2000 had not been a disappointment. Even though there have been talks of boycotts, problems of illegal immigration and the fact that the State has a governor named Jan Brewer who has a problem understanding the US Constitution along with two Senators; John McCain and Jon Kyl who are troglodytes at best, the state remains a great place to visit.
One thing for sure is that politics is alive and well in that beautiful state. On almost every vacant corner of Scottsdale, as we drove to and from the Camarillo Tennis and Fitness Center, there were scores of campaign signs flacking for each candidate. There seem to be hot contests for governor, US Senator, the Congress, superintendent of schools and other positions. Though most of the stations we receive at the Westin Kierland are national cable outlets, we were able to see a commercial or two for McCain. He’s not much different from what he was in 2008; just over the hill and a poster child for term limits. Ironically compared to some of his GOP Tea Party colleagues, he comes across as a Rhodes Scholar, not the dolt who was a high school flunky and 895th out of 900 in his class at Annapolis.
The flight left at 9:30 am, was decently smooth on Jet Blue, and except for some turbulence over Oklahoma, we cruised at 492 mph at about 34,000 feet above sea level. (On the way back we reached over 675 mph and were 25 minutes early.) We arrived at sunny Sky Harbor International Airport right on time, deplaned, gathered our luggage, found the jitney to the rental car pick-up, and picked up our brand new Ford Taurus with Sirius-XM radio. We listened to Frank Sinatra all week!
Its about 15 miles and 20 minutes to the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, and after arriving and checking in, we headed down Scottsdale Road to Olde Town Scottsdale for a little shopping. We bought a lot of post cards and quickly noticed this key shopping districts for visitors was quiet. Of course, it wasn’t a big travel week, but according to most of the store-owners traffic was off, and there were many sales.
Finally we headed back to the Kierland, did a little shopping for vittles at the Safeway on Greenway Drive, unpacked, and rested a bit. Linda had bought tickets to see, “Backwards on Heels, the Ginger Musical,” about Ginger Rogers, produced by the Arizona Theater Company at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. We drove down Route 51 South, were able to park on the street, and walked a few blocks to the theater. It was the 2nd to the last performance, it wasn’t sold out, and it was a pleasant review of Ginger Roger’s career from the time she was in Texas at age 15, through her early movies with Fred Astaire, her battles with her stage door mother, her various marriages and her Academy Award for “Kitty Foyle” in 1940 at the age of 29. The dancing and the music were entertaining and though the production was a bit disjointed, and the characterization of Astaire was a bit silly, but it was overall worth the time and the price of the tickets.
Meanwhile every morning we were able to play tennis on the hard courts of the Camarillo Tennis and Fitness Center. There were always many players early in the morning, but by the time we finished between 10:30 and 11:00 am the courts were empty.
One afternoon we drove up Scottsdale Road to both Cave Creek and Carefree, two small towns north of Scottsdale. We’ve been up there a number of times. In Cave Creek, where it is more casual and reminiscent of the old west, there are stores on Cave Creek Road which sell all sorts of pottery, bric-a-brac, tiles and cowboy-style garbs. We stopped in at Buffalo Bill’s Store and bought some more $1 tiles and then worked our way to Frontier Towne where we had lunch at the Smoke House Restaurant. Across the street was the Cave Creek Cowboy Company, which featured Ostrich boots and belts that ranged up to $2500 and $500. Too rich for my blood!
Not far up the road is the modern, planned town of Carefree, which is much more upscale and has many various stores which specialize in Native American pottery and all sorts of Hopi and Navajo dancing figures, known generically as Kachinas. We even got haircuts by a very nice woman from Tashkent, named Tatiana Makarova. In Carefree, on their main street which is called fittingly Easy Street, we visited a branch of Ortega’s, the English Rose Tea Room, the Desert Treasures and the Native American Gallery. The owner of the English Rose Tea Room is a British woman named Jo Gemmil, and we have met her, now and again, over the years. She has some interesting China and a lovely place to have high tea. At about 3:30 pm we were on our way back to Scottsdale.
After returning to the Westin Kierland, we decided to go over to the Westin Hotel and watch their piper play his bag pipes at sunset on their deck. As we listened to his sonorous and age old tunes, we had drinks and engaged in conversation with some young women from Ontario and other folks more from our generation. Amongst their group was a woman named Sylvia Bennett who was an entertainer who sang with Lionel Hampton and his band for ten years.
The next day, after tennis, our usual trip to the post office and a few other chores, we headed for our rooms, showered, changed and packed for out 100+ mile trip to Sedona. The roads in Arizona go quickly from 55 to 75 mph as one leaves the more populated areas and as soon as we reached I-17 we were flying along at over 75 mph. We cruised into the red rock region of Sedona in less than two hours. We found our time-sharing unit at the Sedona Pines, which is about six miles south of Upper Sedona on Route 89A. It was quite comfortable and, ironically, we had toured this place as part of a “time-sharing” meeting that we had years earlier.
Once we were settled in, Linda had an appointment at The Spa at Sedona Rouge which is on 89A. By the way almost everything in Sedona is on Routes 179 and 89A. I took Linda over to the Sedona Rouge; she then went to the hot tub, and would eventually get ready for her 90 minute massage. I left at 5:30 and came back at 7:00 PM. After her treatment we went to dinner at a nearby and very crowded restaurant named Dahl & DiLuca. We enjoyed a wonderful salad, an appetizer of mushrooms stuffed with mozzarella, and entrees of tortellini with Bolognese sauce and chicken picata. We sat at the bar; the service was good and the food was excellent.