Thursday, April 29, 2010

from IL to AZ and back

Back to the real world.

I just returned from an amazing week-long vacation in Arizona. And by amazing, I mean... amazing.

I am blessed with a very generous and kind aunt & uncle who have a guest house and family center attached to their home in Paradise Valley. Their home is built into a mountain. Literally, you can climb their backyard to the top and see the city below.

This past week, 4 of my other great friends joined me to stay there and relax in the sun, enjoy the pool and jacuzzi, and go out on the town. Some highlights & memories of the week:

-Flying into Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon around 10:30 am, just in time to... lay out in the clouds. It was overcast, so we spent the rest of the day grocery shopping, which took place at 3 locations: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Alberston's.

-Waking up to a frigid and cloudy day on Thursday. We decided to spend the day in Sedona at Tlaquepaque, and ate lunch there.

-Deciding to drive from there to the Grand Canyon, which we thought was in Flagstaff.

-Taking a detour to stop by Oak Creek Canyon to see my family's cabin there, on the way to Flagstaff.

-Driving through the switchback mountains, and into a snow storm once in Flagstaff.

-Finding out, while in Flagstaff, that the Grand Canyon was still an hour and a half away.

-Forgoing the scenic site (which most of us had already seen, anyway) and going shopping at an outlet mall instead.

-Going to Jester'z, a family-friendly comedy club with people who specialize in improv. It was hilarious! We quickly made our presence as the girls from "Illi-NOISSSSE."

-Visiting Starbucks at least 8 times.

-Eating at amazing places (2 meals which were free!) at PF Chang's, Ruth's Chris, In N Out, 25 Degrees, & Marcella's.

-We enjoyed 3 different yogurt places, all with the same general theme: You grab a cup, put as much (or as little, but in my case, AS MUCH) yogurt as you want in whichever flavor you choose. You can combine flavors, choose just one, or mix them. Then, you head over to a long stretch of toppings which include but aren't limited to fresh fruit, candy pieces, and syrups. A make-your-own ice cream delight: you pay for what you pick, based on weight.

-Laying by the negative-edge pool with beautiful scenery, pure blue-sky days, and good company.

-Spending some cool nights in the jacuzzi's hot bubbles.

-Climbing Camel Back Mountain with Holly, Tracy, and my cousin, Stefanie. It's quite a climb... a little challenging, but very fun, and definitely worth it!

-Eating at Cibo's, an amazing pizza place at a charming place in downtown Phoenix with the Knochels (Bethany, Tyler, and Andy), and a couple others, including Carissa K. Topping it off at Lux, a lovely coffee place tucked away in a vintage-y building with a lot of mac-users and delightful iced coffee.

-Our visit to Sprinkles. They have numerous cupcakes- you pick your flavor and they give it to you in a lovely little bag. They even had a gluten-free cupcake for Heather with a big "G" on it. I tried the peanut-butter chocolate cupcake- it was very tasty.

-Assigning oxymoron names to everyone on the trip:

-Seeing almost all of my AZ family & friends while on the trip. I love them all, and I love that place!

Below are some pictures so you can have a visual taste of our trip. Love you all, be back soon. T

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