Arizona, April, 1992

By Jack Welsch

Monday, April 27

Pointe at Squaw PeakLeft AVP at 8:00 and got to PHX around 11:30 local. Arrived at our hotel, the Pointe at Squaw Peak in Phoenix, about 1:00. The hotel is very nice; two main buildings on about 65 acres. When we arrived, the clerk said we could have an “OK” room immediately but, if we’d wait hour, we could have a better one. We opted to wait and went to have lunch at the poolside bar. Definitely a good move as we were given an executive suite. While this is an all suites hotel, the one we got was huge with a large conference/dining table, king size bed, 1½ baths, etc. It was set off a small lobby on the 4th floor. There are only 4 rooms on the floor! We sat at the pool for a while but at 102º, we couldn’t stay there for long. The hotel had free drinks from 4:30 to 6:00 so we had a marguerite each, then walked about 2 blocks to “Aunt Chilada’s” for dinner. We ate too much, then walked over to the stables to check them out. After driving to a drug store for groceries and supplies, we got in bed by about 9:30.

Tuesday, April 28

Cactus flowerNot surprisingly given the time change, we were up early. We had room service breakfast, then I swam while Lin got ready to go out. When she was ready, we drove to the Desert Botanical Gardens. What a fantastic place! Just as we were buying tickets, a tour was starting so we had a nice 1-1/2 hour tour. Got some nice photos. The pavement was so hot, however, that Lin burned her feet through her shoes! Max temperature for the day was recorded at 104.

Pheonician HotelWe drove to the Phoenician Hotel so I could try to relive the sales meeting we'd had there in January of ’89. This place is unbelievably opulent. We had a great (but expensive) lunch, then walked around the pools, etc.

Returned to our hotel for some pool time, then walked to the “Hole in the Wall” for a fantastic mesquite-broiled filet mignon. We ate too much again! After dinner, we drove to a shopping center for some sneakers for Linda. Back at the hotel again, we touched base with our friend Adit for Saturday night. (We'd met Gary and Adit on a cruise in 1990.)

Wednesday, April 29

StablesWe ate our breakfast in the room; blueberry muffins bought last night, then went horseback riding at 8:00. We felt we'd better get it in early before the heat! We took a 2 hour ride and there was only one other person, a girl from Chicago, with us. The guide was a guy named Barry. My horse, Whitey, was full of energy and a bit hard to handle at first. Linda’s just kept wanting to stop and eat! We rode along the highway, then under it to Squaw Peak Park and up into the hills. It was a great ride but never far enough from the highway that you couldn’t hear it. The terrain was very rough and there was lots of shale. Two hours is rough on the butt and Linda had trouble getting down and walking away! It was rough duty but still fun.

We sat by the pool ‘til 12:30. Boy, is it hot in the sun but I don’t think it’s as hot as yesterday. We got dressed and drove to the Scottsdale Fashion Mall as recommended by Adit. It’s a nifty, upscale mall. We had a great lunch of pork at a Mexican restaurant outside the mall, then we walked around, bought some gifts, and had some ice-cream at Godiva. By the time we got back, we were exhausted so we laid down for a while, then I got up and headed for the hot tub. We were too tired to go out to eat so we ordered sandwiches from room service and didn’t even finish! We were in bed by 8:00.

Thursday, April 30

SedonaWe were up at 4:30 and off by 5:30 for the Grand Canyon. We followed I17 North but left it to go up through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. SedonaThe scenery was magnificent. It took a long time to get to Flagstaff because I kept stopping to take pictures! At one overlook, we bought some things from some Navajos on a blanket including a turquoise money clip (that I still have as I type up my notes in November of '01.). We took I40 to Williams, then directly north to the South Rim. It’s amazing how different this is from Phoenix. It’s also a LOT colder! Nothing can prepare you for the first glimpse of the Canyon – WOW! It’s really beyond words.

We had lunch at the El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim. Since we got there at 11:30, the place was still uncrowded. The hostess was seating us at a table in the center but I asked for and promptly got a table by the window. “He who asks…” The view from the window was great! We had a great meal; I had spinach fettuccine with shrimp and smoked salmon while Lin had a smoked chicken Caesar salad. Grand CanyonBy the time we left, people were stacked up waiting to get in. Timing is everything!

We walked along the rim for a while, then drove west to Hermit’s Rest. I took lots of pictures. What a place!!!

Going back, we took 180 directly to Flagstaff and saw some much different scenery including some big ponderosa pines. We’d thought we might stay overnight in Flagstaff but found it to be a bit of a dump so, after some driving around and discussion, we agreed to come “home” to Phoenix. We got in about 8:00 after 494 miles and 18½ hours. We had dinner at “Beside the Pointe” at the hotel and crashed.

Friday, May 1

Hotel PoolI’m still having a bit of trouble sleeping in but it’s getting better. We had breakfast at “Hole in the Wall” and took a few pictures. Spent most of the day sitting by the pool. We met some young (~22) girls from Elgin, IL and had a nice chat for quite a while. Lin got burned quite badly and I got a bit on my face. I accidentally got my thumb wet but it was OK. (I’d cut the tip off at work shortly before the trip; pretty smart, eh?)

We drove over to Old Scottsdale to look around. It’s really much too hot to shop but that didn’t stop Lin from spending over 2 hours at it. She bought some nice rings for both of us, though, so I can’t complain.

We changed for dinner and searched out the Szechwan Inn that Gary had recommended but it was in a terrible neighborhood. In light of the Rodney King riots all over the country and some rumblings here, we retreated and ended up in a Japanese steak house. We had a good meal, met some nice folks and had a good time.

Saturday, May 2

Hot air balloonsWho’d believe Linda in a hot air balloon?? I wanted to go and expected I’d have to go alone since she's terrified of heights but she surprised me by asking to go along. We were up at 4:00 AM and got picked up at the lobby at 5:00 by Bill Heck of Cloud Chasers. We picked up a guy at another hotel and a family of 3 at yet another, then drove out into the dessert north of Scottsdale. There were LOTS of balloons going up. The ride was fantastic! The balloon was 95 ft. high and 75 ft. diameter. Our maximum altitude was about 1200 AGL. We flew for about 8 miles and took about an hour to do it. There was absolutely no feeling of being in the air; it seems like we were stationary and the earth was simply moving beneath us. Linda was actually leaning out of the basket to look down! It was amazing how Bill could change directions by changing altitude to catch different air currents. He put the balloon down exactly where he said he would. As his crew was stowing the balloon, they set up a tabletop on the basket and served muffins and champagne. Mimosa was also available. At 7:30 AM, this seemed a bit decadent but was most enjoyable! We were sorry to see the experience end.

Back at the hotel, we had breakfast at the Hole in the Wall and got to the pool by about 10:15. Linda left me by the pool to go back to bed and showed up again at about 1:00. We sat by the pool until it was overrun by little girls. The screaming and splashing drove us out. I checked the North pool but it was even more crowded so I gave up and took a shower.

We had a drink at the cocktail hour and were then picked up by Gary and Adit. We visited their home in Scottsdale, had dinner at an Italian Swiss restaurant and finally had a drink at the Hyatt Regency.

Sunday, May 3

Hotel PoolWe went to church at “Christ Church of the Assumption” in Pleasant Valley. It’s a beautiful church in a beautiful setting but the people were not very friendly. The greeters and priest were fine but at the coffee hour we were ignored so we left. We drove to the Fashion Mall for some shopping and croissants for breakfast, then back to the pool where we spent the rest of the day. As opposed to yesterday, the pool was very quiet even though there were quite a few people there, mostly French. I hated to leave.

We got dressed and headed out for dinner at “A Different Pointe of View" at the Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs. We sat by the window and had a magnificent view of the valley from this point on North Mountain. There was lots of lightning but no rain. We had a glass of wine on the terrace before dinner, then had Caesar salad, chateaubriand and bananas Foster. Magnificent meal at the low-low price of $135.

Monday, May 4

We were up at 7:30 and I sat by the pool while Linda packed. By 10:00, I found myself watching the time so I went up to get ready to leave. We didn’t have a flight until 1:40 but were at the airport before noon. The return trip was uneventful and essentially on time. It was good to see the kids again and to learn there had been no problems.