The Atlanta Airport can be an absolute nightmare sometimes. But even as I was hurrying to catch my flight to Arizona, I couldn’t help but pause to admire the rainforest “leaf” canopy that appeared unexpectedly along my path.
“Back out of all this now too much for us, back in a time made simple by the loss of detail, burned, dissolved, and broke off like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather” Robert Frost, “Directive”
I was lucky enough to score a window seat, so I sat back and enjoyed the views of verdant green forests shifting to sand-colored ridges.
“There is a house that is no more a house upon a farm that is no more a farm and in a town that is no more a town” Robert Frost, “Directive”
Our final destination was the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our room is in a wing overlooking the emerald fringes of the TPC Golf Course, with dusty mountains in the distance forever outlining the sky.
That night we dined on-property at La Hacienda where they seated us outside at one of the many flickering fire tables where we sampled guacamole, mole, and margaritas as the night grew cooler. After, we walked to the Plaza Bar and cozied up at yet another fire table for a final cocktail in the cold desert night air.
“The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you who only has at heart your getting lost, may seem as if it should have been a quarry” Robert Frost, “Directive”
“As for the woods’ excitement over you that sends light rustle rushes to their leaves, charge that to upstart inexperience. Where were they all not twenty years ago?” Robert Frost, “Directive”
Corn Empanadas from Toro — I’ve tried to recreate them and I’m still trying. Shockingly delicious. I could have sipped aged rum cocktails at Toro all afternoon, watching the golfers, one after another, spill across the 18th hole.
After a quiet afternoon spent reading on the balcony, we drove to meet two dear friends, Beth and Rane, who were in the middle of road tripping through the mid and southwest. We had collectively chosen the Twisted Grove for dinner, and we were all pleased with the choice.
The night ended with a final drink back at the resort at a corner fire table near a putting green for the four of us to show off our (at this point) less than stellar golfing skills.
“The height of adventure is the height of country where two village cultures faded into each other. Both of them are lost.” Robert Frost, “Directive”
Beth and I had intended to spend the day hiking one of Scottsdale’s many trails while the boys played golf. The weather, however, had a different plan in mind. Hail in Arizona…we had definitely not taken that possibility into account. Through the crackling, hazy downpour, we drove to Old Town Scottsdale for lunch at Arcadia Farms Cafe and an afternoon of shopping.
If you EVER find yourself in Scottsdale, a visit to Arcadia Farms for at least a lunch is a must. Situated in an old house, the atmosphere is absolutely charming, but the food is the real reason to go. Everything we ordered, we agreed, was a win.
On the shopping front, Beth found the most striking cactus boots at a consignment store.
After several hours of browsing through mountains of silver and turquoise jewelry, we collapsed for a coffee at the hipster Cartel Coffee Lab. Caffeinated, rested, and shopped out, we decided to go for a pre-dinner cocktail at Citizen Public House, a short walk up the street. Barrel Aged Cocktails are the new thing, and I pray they never go away. Next time (because I always believe in next times) we’ll have dinner there as well.
But, our dinner that night was set for the Thirsty Lion Gastropub, a casually chic spot offering Scotch eggs and some surprisingly awesome veggie burgers. The only drawback was that it’s housed in the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall, but once inside, we didn’t mind.
“And if you’re lost enough to find yourself by now, pull in your ladder road behind you and put a sign up CLOSED to all but me, then make yourself at home” Robert Frost, “Directive”
The next morning dawned clear and bright, no sign of hail in sight. We chose the nearby Lost Dog Wash Trail Head, part of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy for our hike where cool breezes came and went as the bright sun lit up the prickly desert landscape. The hike was relatively flat and easy although the rocky terrain could catch your ankles by surprise.
Mid-conversation, we both saw it happen. A jogger took a tumble off the path and fell into a cactus patch. We had no idea how bad the injury was at first, and neither did she. Painfully long, thin, spiny needles–clusters of them– had lodged themselves into her left upper body, neck, and face. We did what (we hoped) any decent human being would do. We helped her back to the trailhead and drove her to the nearest medical facility for immediate care.
I will never look at a cactus the same way again. Ever.
Grassroots Kitchen & Tap was our post-golf, post-hike lunch meet-up. While the boys regaled us with golf stories and sights of coyotes and rabbits, we horrified them with the story of our cactus accident rescue mission.
Golf reigns supreme in Scottsdale, Arizona and even though the guys had been playing almost nonstop since we met, they couldn’t resist trying out the Top Golf experience. I am not a golfer and neither is Beth, but even we had to admit the experience was really cool.
Energized, we were ready for a change of pace. Enter the seductive, dimly lit Mission with its Himalayan salt wall and variegated chandeliers. Although the portions were small, the flavor was intense. We enjoyed letting the evening sift away, ensconced at our cozy corner table,
“First there’s the children’s house of make-believe, some shattered dishes underneath a pine, the playthings in the playhouse of the children. Weep for what little things could make them glad” Robert Frost, “Directive”
The next morning I spent exploring the resort, finding quiet spots to read and enjoy the cool morning. At lunch, I even met the hotel falconer and his noble bird of prey.
“Then for the house that is no more a house, but only a belilaced cellar hole, now slowly closing like a dent in dough. This was no playhouse but a house in earnest” Robert Frost, “Directive”
Sometimes, Yelp and Trip Advisor lead you to the most delicious and memorable restaurants; but sometimes, they absolutely do not. My verdict? If you’re with friends, it really won’t matter all that much, but Pure Sushi Scottsdale is one of those places I will never seek out for a return visit. Perhaps it was just an off night.
“Your destination and your destiny’s a brook that was the water of the house, cold as a spring as yet so near its source, too lofty and original to rage” Robert Frost, “Directive”
Back on the room’s balcony, I watch groups of people wander to the fire pit and rocking chairs just below. Fire still draws us. Even in a day of tentacular social media that seeks to distract our every moment, everyone stops at a fire.
Maybe it’s the elemental need, the one energy force we can’t resist. Fire…water…the dirt and trees of a mountain range. We need them like air, although we rarely ever stop to think about it. I can smell the fire from here, three stories up; it’s a smell I find synonymous with the area. The fires that illuminate the cool desert nights.
“There is no normal life, Wyatt, it’s just life. Get on with it.” Doc Holliday, Tombstone
The last leg of our trip led us to the legendary town of Tombstone – home of outlaws, violence, guns, and gold. We knew exactly what to expect, and yet we didn’t. Who knew we would end up walking the dirt streets to an indoor firing range? We stopped to fire old six-shooters filled with paint pellets at paper figures on the wall. K is a far better shot than I am, but I will (apparently) nail you where it hurts. You’ll live most likely, but you won’t like it.
The Birdcage Theatre was up next, and, in many ways, it was untouched. I thought for a moment we had stepped back in time. Bullet holes in the ceiling, gambling tables in the corner, a rickety original piano, and the whorehouse downstairs. It was all a neglected museum of Old West artifacts in no particular reason or order. I don’t know, now that I think about it, perhaps it’s a fitting tribute to a time long gone.
Folks in reenactment garb amble about the streets in flowing dusters, announcing their various shows about gunfighters or ghosts. I guess the two do typically go hand-in-hand. The only show we were interested in was the reenactment of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, so see it we did. Virgil was our favorite. The actor had obviously seen the Tombstone movie and was milking it for all it was worth. Wyatt Earp looked like he had visited the fast food joints a few too many times. Doc Holliday was clearly the crowd favorite–a fact I’m sure he would have found more than mildly amusing.
We had a whiskey at the Crystal Palace and toasted those wild adventurers who had come to Arizona in search of gold, fame, or who knows what else…maybe they didn’t even know.
Like two people at the end of an old western, we drove off into a glorious sunset to the Tucson JW Marriot Star Pass Resort.
“I have kept hidden in the instep arch of an old cedar at the waterside a broken drinking goblet like the Grail under a spell so the wrong ones can’t find it, so can’t get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn’t” Robert Frost, “Directive”
After a particularly delicious Italian dinner at Tavolino Ristorante, we checked into the resort. Large, open, and so inviting, we couldn’t wait to explore the grounds. The resort is laid out in a terraced fashion. The fire pit table terrace cascades down to turquoise pools. The green of the golf course sloping into the distance.
Our explorations ended with a cocktail by the fireside patio. Our long day of highways and history melting into the white-hot flames.
“(I stole the goblet from the children’s playhouse.) Here are your waters and your watering place” Robert Frost, “Directive”
“Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.” Robert Frost “Directive”