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Arizona – Saturday & Sunday, November 19 & 20

November 23rd, 2016 Comments off

Saturday was puppy day. Wait… what?!?!

It all started on Wednesday morning when one of the neighbors was walking by with this little puppy in her hands. I was inside getting ready to head to the zoo when Joe spotted her and asked what she had. Then he poked his head in the trailer and called for me to come outside to see the puppy. Unbeknownst to us this would set off a chain of events that ended with us adopting a puppy. I know, I can barely believe it myself.

Basically the puppy was an 8 week old, female Schnau-Tzu who the neighbor was originally only watching for another neighbor who ended up in the hospital. The woman was a breeder/horder and the puppy was later given to the neighbor by mutual friends to help her get over the loss of her own dog in September. Except as much as she liked the puppy she wasn’t ready to move on or for the responsibility. She asked if we knew anyone who wanted a dog, or if we would be interested ourselves. We thought about it for a day or so and on Thursday decided to adopt her. We didn’t actually take her until Saturday though because we had so much going on we wouldn’t be able to watch her anyway.

Saturday morning we went back to the Mesa Swap Meet to look for a collar and leash but it was a total bust so we ended up at Petsmart where we purchased those items plus two cans of puppy food. (We also ordered a travel carrier on Amazon which was delivered to M’s house and she brought it over that afternoon).

When we got back to the trailer Joe’s sister, T, was in a mood for some reason because immediately she was all “where’s the puppy going to stay? I don’t want her on my bed. I don’t want her messing up my rug and if she has an accident you’re going to clean it up”. I was flabbergasted with the way she was talking to us since a) we didn’t do anything to provoke it and b) she was implying we are inconsiderate assholes. Joe got so mad that he started yelling at her and they really got into it and she left.

Then we went out to breakfast with Joe’s parents and when we came back we went to the neighbor’s house to get the puppy. We gave her $150 (to cover previous vet costs) and borrowed her crate and some other supplies. We also got info from her on what vaccinations the puppy has had and her birthdate which is September 21st.

Basically we spent the rest of the day hanging outside and playing with the puppy. I just about had a panic attack that evening telling Joe I’m not sure if we should have agreed to the puppy since it’s so much responsibility, plus the costs involved while he’s still out of work. As a result I ended up not sleeping most of the night and we were up at 2:30 am to ensure we made our 6 am flight home. Since Joe and his sister weren’t speaking M drove us to the airport.

They tell you to get to the airport two hours before your flight. What they don’t tell you is Southwest doesn’t open their ticket counter until 4:30 am on the weekend so we arrived earlier than necessary and had to wait. We used the automated kiosks (which an employee had to turn on one by one) to print the tags for our bags but we had to visit the counter to pay for the puppy. It’s $95 each way even though it’s a carry-on just like anything else. For whatever reason my boarding pass had the TSA pre-check so I got to bypass the regular security line and not have to take off my shoes. I walked with the puppy through the metal detector and she got a lot of attention from the security guy as well as another passenger who went through the line behind me. Both made a remark that she doesn’t even look real but more like a toy. Here’s a few pictures I took a few days after we got home for your perusing pleasure.

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Isn’t she adorable? We’re still trying to pick an appropriate name for her.

Our boarding positions were A 32 and 33 which was awesome: we scored seats in the exit row where there’s only two plus extra legroom. Once everyone had boarded I went up front to use the bathroom and say hi to the pilot (since just like on our flight to Phoenix, the other pilot went into the bathroom right before I got there). When I tried to get out, the stewardess was on the phone and wouldn’t let me past her. When she hung up she said they had to move us “a few rows back” because we weren’t allowed to sit in an exit row with a pet. Well, it was more like several rows back on the other side of the plane and Joe was not happy. I had to grab our carry-ons from the overheard bin and move them as well. We went from choice seats to the crappy ones in the back surrounded by kids. Oy! That’s on me for not reading the pet policy though; it does state you can’t sit in an exit row. Oh well, lesson learned. On the bright side I was so tired from no sleep and taking two Xanax that at some point I fell asleep. Also, the puppy behaved perfectly. She didn’t whine or have any accidents, so it could have been worse. She was good about not having to pee until we got back to the car and I was able to put a puppy pad down so it didn’t get on the floor mats.

I wouldn’t say I’m over my fear of flying (I’ll always fear the worst case scenario) but I don’t think I’m going to panic months before our next flight like I did this time around. There’s definitely something to the whole exposure therapy thing since this was the first time I’ve flown two years in a row and I’m getting a little more comfortable with the idea even though I still really hate take off and any time they bank the plane to turn since it’s always at a lower altitude. We’d like to visit Joe’s parents more frequently so there’s a good chance we’ll be flying again in six months or less so it will be interesting to see how I feel then.

Two things –

We met a really nice woman at the airport who was flying with her dog too. She was very helpful answering my questions about how she handles letting the dog relieve itself before the flight although our puppy wasn’t interested in doing that anyway.

Our plane home was the sporting Southwest’s special Illinois livery. I couldn’t see much of it other than the word “Illinois” as we boarded since it was still dark out (I specifically scheduled day time flights because I didn’t want to fly in the dark but forgot that it’s still dark at 6 am in Phoenix. Oh well, it was’t that bad). I mentioned the design to the pilot and he commented that it’s ugly, LOL. Then I looked it up on Google once we got home and he wasn’t wrong. Ew!

Southwest Illinois Livery

Categories: Family, Pets, Photos, Vacation Tags: ,

Arizona – Friday, November 18

November 19th, 2016 Comments off

Friday we headed over to Arizona Mills in Tempe so I could check out the Arizona Sea Life Aquarium while Joe met up with a friend for coffee. The aquarium was definitely geared toward kids so despite me doing my best to take my time I was done touring it in 45 minutes. I thought I got some decent photos by messing with the settings on my little point-and-shoot, but most of them still came out crappy. Here’s a couple of the decent ones. Funny that they both happen to be species of fish in Finding Nemo.

Blue Tangs

Moorish Idol

I spent the next 45 minutes or so killing time. I went to the food court and posted a bunch of Yelp reviews and then walked around the mall. Joe met up with me when I was looking at a store called At Home which is like Garden Ridge here.

After a quick walk around the mall we went to Corleone’s for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. They were almost as good as I remember from seven years ago.

Later that evening we met up with M and her family to see the Lights of the World Festival. Trying to find the parking entrance was a nightmare, however. We were driving all over the place able to see the festival in the distance but unable to figure out which actual road would take us there. On top of that, no one seemed to speak English so stopping and asking people who were standing around wasn’t very helpful.

To add insult to injury, once we did find the correct road, we had to pay $10 to park in a completely dark parking lot. Yea, that’s right – they hadn’t turned any of the lights on at a light show. WTF?!!? We were both so pissed. I posted on their Facebook page and they just deleted it so I posted it on my page and tagged them. A few days later their response was “#fixed”. No apology or anything. So despite how cool the light show itself was I would never attend one ran by that company again since they have the worst customer service and planning skills. How no one thought to put up some signs directing traffic to the entrance is beyond me.

Anyway, here’s a few of my favorite displays from the festival.

Lights Of The World Festival

Lights Of The World Festival

Lights Of The World Festival

Categories: Excursions, Photos, Vacation Tags:

Arizona – Thursday, November 17

November 18th, 2016 Comments off

Thursday morning Joe’s parents took us out to breakfast at another one of their favorite places called Mickey D’s Cafe. The food was ok, although I only ordered potatoes and a cup of fruit since by the time they asked I had eaten my BBQ leftovers from Wednesday as my breakfast.

Later that afternoon we met up with M and her daughter at TopGolf where M’s husband works as the executive chef. We got a nice 2nd floor stall where we were able to hit some golf balls. I actually did better than the last time I tried many years ago. They have nice couches in the area and a TV. It’s pretty sweet – I can certainly understand the appeal. Everything was really clean and new looking; I think the location is only a couple of years old.

We didn’t order any food at TopGolf, although we did snack on the chips and guacamole M had them bring out. We wanted to stay hungry since we had lunch plans to revisit this Thai place we discovered and loved on our last trip. So around 2 pm we did just that and it was the most disappointing meal of our vacation. I don’t know if they changed chefs since our visit seven years ago, or we just happened to pick all the right dishes last time, but my Pad Se Ew was nothing special at all and Joe wasn’t impressed with his Pad Thai. I briefly considered ordering the Thai fried rice I enjoyed so much last time but was afraid to spend any more money there, so we just left. What a bummer! I was literally excited for days to go back too.

That evening Joe’s mom treated us to BINGO at Lone Butte Casino. I hate casinos, and this one was no different – loud and full of cigarette smoke. The BINGO hall was much quieter and we sat in the non-smoking section so it wasn’t too bad. We sat across from the restrooms so that Joe’s mom and sister could smoke when they wanted. We got the electronic BINGO devices which, while expensive at $39 (!!!) each, are pretty cool.

Electronic BINGO Machine

The machine keeps up with the game for you and even lets you know when you’re close to getting BINGO. They allow outside food and drinks which is cool too, although we purchased some food there and took advantage of the free (non-alcoholic) drinks in the BINGO hall. We got there so early, and we had a free $15 for joining their casino program, so we played on the Poker machines for a bit but cashed out before we lost any real money. They make you put at least $5 of your own money into the machine before you can access the $15 they give you. I hate gambling so it was just something to pass the time before BINGO begin.

M and her mom (Joe’s sister) got into it less than halfway through the evening so that put a damper on things. Plus none of us won even though a woman two tables away won twice! THAT is why I could do without casinos altogether. I don’t get the appeal but old people really seem to love going there. Most of them look miserable, however.

Categories: Family, Food, Vacation Tags:

Arizona – Wednesday, November 16

November 17th, 2016 Comments off

Macaw

Wednesday we got up early to heard to Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, Arizona. The drive is about an hour from Joe’s parents’ but wasn’t too bad thanks to the awesome HOV lanes – we flew past the traffic! I love the expressways in Arizona because they are all in fantastic shape thanks to the lack of snow and ice. Plus they are all absolutely free; no tolls whatsoever. Gotta like that!

We were meeting M, J, and O so we had time to stop at the nearby McDonald’s for a quick breakfast since we were due to arrive at the zoo ahead of them by at least twenty minutes. We arrived at the zoo about fifteen minutes after they opened and they were already there. Doh! Turns out their GPS overestimated how long it would take them to get there.

It was a rare cloudy/overcast day – our first one since arriving – which turned out to be perfect since it got into the mid 80’s throughout the day but without the sun beating down on us it felt very comfortable.

The zoo didn’t seem that large at first glance but it turns out they have a ton of animals. The highlights included the zoo show where they introduced some of the more intelligent animals such as Ollie the Otter and an African Grey Parrot. The baby animal nursery was awesome too – they had a white tiger cub, a leopard cub, and two lion cubs.

White Tiger Cub

Lion Cub

Included in the admission price was the chance to feed the lorikeets.

Lorakeet

They only allow the feeding at certain times but we were able to attend the first feeding. Before going into the enclosure it was explained to us that the green bucket of apple pieces were to feed the birds and the red bucket was for any pieces eaten or that have fallen to the ground. We were also warned that anything that went into the birds would be coming back out within fifteen minutes and that we’d get a two minute warning so we could clear the enclosure in time. Feeding the birds was fun although a bit stressful when you have three of them digging their claws into your arm while picking apart a quartered apple in the palm of your hand.

I also got some great photos of the resident leopard which was exciting since most of the time they are sleeping.

Leopard

Leopard

Oh, and for 50 cents (per handful of food) you can feed the giraffes. You can’t get as close to them as at the Phoenix zoo, however.

Giraffe Feeding

I finally got a sharp photo of a meerkat too!

Meerkat

Around 2 pm we were super hungry so we decided to take a break and eat at the on-site restaurant, Dillions KC BBQ. I had the half chicken and Joe had the beef brisket, both of which were good. Their $2 onion rings were awesome as well.

After lunch M and crew decided to leave while Joe and I stuck around to look at the aquarium portion of the zoo which was the only section we hadn’t seen yet. I toured the majority of it alone, however, since Joe had a phone interview (his second of the week; he had one on Monday for a different company while we were at the Botanical Garden).

We left the zoo around 4 pm and made a pit stop at Walmart for a couple of things.

Later that evening everyone met up at Joe’s parents, including M and crew, who bought a Nothing Bundt Cake for Joe’s mom’s birthday. M had asked for lemon but apparently someone screwed up because we ended up with white chocolate raspberry. Luckily it was delicious anyway!

Arizona – Tuesday, November 15

November 16th, 2016 Comments off

Tuesday morning Joe’s parents took us out to breakfast at one of the places they like to frequent that they call “the hole”. I enjoyed a breakfast burrito with bacon while Joe had eggs with biscuits and gravy.

Breakfast Burrito

After dropping his parents off at home we ran some errands (I think to get a towel and some toothpaste) and then decided to try a place called Joyride Taco House for Taco Tuesday. We arrived at 1:30 pm and it wasn’t until we were ordering that we learned their special $2 Taco Tuesday event doesn’t start until 2 pm. It would have been nice if they had mentioned that on the phone when I called to ask which tacos were included in the special. Grrr!

While it was nice to enjoy their outdoor seating (I really love that part about Arizona), the taco themselves were not worth almost $4 each. I think the meal was the second most disappointing one we had during our trip.

Later that afternoon Joe’s niece, M, came over with her daughter, O, who is just the cutest little thing. She’s sixteen months old and very smart – M taught her sign language. They aren’t deaf – it’s just easier than trying to understand baby babble. We had ran to Target before heading “home” to grab a gift card and a few little things for the baby. I got her a small purple Care Bear and a sippy cup with Minnie Mouse on it. I wanted to buy her so many things but tried to control myself. M’s husband, J, came by in the evening and grilled steaks for dinner. We left it to him since he’s an executive chef at TopGolf so he knows his stuff. Needless to say, dinner was delicious! J is a really nice guy too. I’m happy for M.

Categories: Family, Food, Vacation Tags: