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Arizona – Monday, November 14

November 15th, 2016 Comments off

Monday we were up fairly early, ate some chocolate frosted donuts, and took off for the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The regular admission price is rather high at $22 per person but thanks to our Morton Arboretum membership we got in for free. It was definitely an interesting place that was laid out nicely so we never really went far out of the way just to get back on track, but it’s a desert so it wasn’t full of flowers like our regular botanic garden either. I appreciated that there were bathrooms in most of the areas which included bottle filling stations so you could remain hydrated. Also, the bathrooms smelled like you just stepped into a Yankee Candle which I thought was a nice touch.

Landscape

Cactus

As the morning went on it got warmer out, but what I noticed was that even with it being in the mid 80’s I wasn’t sweating due to the lack of humidity. There was a distinct difference in temperature between the sun and shade as well. I’m sure when it’s 100 degrees the lack of humidity doesn’t help as much, but it was definitely nice in the 80’s.

As we were walking toward a particular section, one of the garden employees let us know that a great horned owl was in a tree nearby. Sure enough there were a bunch of people around the area trying to get a photo of him.

Owl

We’ve been trying to spot wild owls near us for years – it figures we’d see one while on vacation.

Once we had seen everything we headed to lunch at McGurkee’s Italian Kitchen.

Sub Sandwich

I was a little thrown by the sesame seeds on the subs but it turns out they really made the taste of the sandwich, along with the fact that the bread was toasted.

Afterwards we drove over to a place called Churn for dessert. Their ice cream was ok, but not really worth the high price ($10 for the two of us).

Categories: Excursions, Food, Photos, Vacation Tags:

Arizona – Sunday, November 13

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

For some reason I was up at 4:30 am so I had to wait for everyone else to get up before getting ready because I didn’t want to wake anyone up (T was sleeping on the living room couch). Once it was safe, I took a shower. OMG I had forgotten how small it is in there! You can barely turn around.

Joe, T, and I went to the Mesa Swap Meet (just like seven years ago, lol) where we took advantage of their cheap #2 breakfast. I ended up buying a wallet since my makeshift one, which is really a business card holder I got at Staples several years back, is falling apart. Luckily it was only $5 because it really doesn’t hold everything the way I wanted. Unfortunately I had to wait til we got home to figure that out since I didn’t bring my full wallet on vacation. Oh well.

Afterwards we stopped at the Dollar Tree for a shower caddy since it’s a bit of a walk from T’s room to the bathroom and there’s no room in the bathroom to actually keep all our stuff there. Well worth the $1 to buy something and then throw it out once our vacation is over.

We ended up going to Gilbert for lunch at a place called Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles. We each ordered the Betty Boob which is a single piece of chicken and a waffle, both of which were delicious.

Betty Boob

The waffles have a distinct cinnamon flavor which Joe and I liked more than T did. We also shared an order of Stupid Fries which were awesome as well although I could have done without the chicken on them. The gravy and peppers made it tasty enough.

Stupid Fries

I love how all the restaurants have ample outdoor seating since the weather was perfect. The entire block was just one trendy restaurant after another and everyone was just having a great time, including us.

That evening we had dinner at the trailer – Joe’s mom made turkey and a bunch of sides – and just hung out. T went to spend the night at a friend’s trailer since sleeping on the couch was getting to be a pain. We knew we’d be more or less on our own the rest of the week since T was due to start her new job on Monday.

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Arizona – Saturday, November 12

November 13th, 2016 Comments off

Our day began with a trip to Midway airport. We used Midway Park Ride Fly since I was able to get a decent discount by pre-paying online. I had our boarding passes printed so getting our bags checked with the new self-serve terminals was a breeze. I was incredibly anxious so before going through security I took a Xanax, used the restroom, and then dumped what was left of the water in our bottles but kept them since there’s a bottle filling station after security which saved us from spending $4 on water

There wasn’t really a line for TSA so we breezed through that and were at our gate an hour and a half before departure. We had a nice view of the planes taking off so we watched them while I texted with my brothers and cousin. When our plane pulled up to the gate, I took a photo of it.

Plane to Phoenix

I also asked the gate agents whether I could meet the pilots and they said sure. I mulled that one over while we waited to board since I didn’t want to lose out on prime seating by making a stop in the cockpit first. I purchased the early bird check-in specially to avoid getting stuck in the back of the plane and it paid off – we were in group A positions 43 and 44 so we were able to snag seats in row 13 just aft of the wing. I really wanted row 15 since on the 737-800 that’s the exit row and there are only two seats instead of three but someone beat us to it. They had their head down when we were getting closer so I was pretty disappointed because I thought we were going to luck out.

After everyone finished boarding I made my way up front to ask if I could use the restroom just as one of the pilots went inside the lavatory. As I was waiting I decided to inquire if I could meet the other pilot and the steward said sure. The guy was really nice: he introduced himself (unfortunately I don’t recall his name), shook my hand, and invited me to take a seat. It was so cool! I asked if I could take a photo of the cockpit controls and he said sure.

20161112_161700802_ios-cockpit

Then I asked him whether they’d be making any turns shortly after takeoff since I hate that part and he told me unfortunately they would need to once reaching 1000 feet. I joked that at least now I’d know what to expect. Around that time the other pilot appeared and made a joke about whether I had learned enough to fly the plane. I asked whether he’d mind taking a photo of me in the cockpit and he happily obliged. I also asked them both how long they had been flying and it was over thirty years! Then I hurried up to use the restroom since they needed to get going. It was a really cool experience and helped calm my nerves somewhat. I quickly posted my cockpit photo to Facebook before putting my phone in airplane mode.

Takeoff was still scary for me, but it helped that I was listening to The Cure and holding onto Joe’s arm. I also kept my eyes closed until we were out of the turn since seeing us tilt toward the ground freaks me out. The main part of the flight wasn’t bad at all even though the seat belt sign was on the majority of the time. There was some very mild turbulence here and there but nothing concerning. I passed the time watching YouTube videos I had pre-downloaded thanks to a free trial of YouTube Red.

Interesting enough, shortly into our flight Joe pulled up the plane stats and it showed we only had about two hours and thirty-six minutes left. We were confused since the posted duration was three hours and fifty-five minutes. I asked a stewardess whether it was accurate and she said yes, and we’d be arriving early. That was nice because the flight didn’t feel nearly as long as I had visualized it would.

The only part that really freaked me out was the steep bank we made at 5000 feet to line up with the runway. Other than that it wasn’t so bad. Plus I only got up once to pee! IF you know me at all you know that is pretty darn impressive.

Once we landed and got our luggage we were picked up by Joe’s sister, T. We were pretty hungry (especially me since I ate absolutely nothing since the evening before) so we stopped at In-N-Out for burgers and fries (Joe & T also had shakes).

In-N-Out

The burgers were much better than I remember but the fries still suck. Interestingly enough, it was nearly exactly 7 years ago (only a difference of two days) that we did the exact same thing – got picked up by T and then got In-N-Out. How’s that for creatures of habit?

After arriving at Joe’s parents’ trailer – where we’d be spending the week in T’s room – and hanging out for awhile, we went to Target to pick up a few things including contact lens cleaner for yours truly. I was nervous about packing hydrogen peroxide so we decided it was worth the cost to just buy a bottle once we got there and throw it out before we left than risk ruining all my clothes.

For dinner we went to Mesa Festival Forest which is 15-25 food trucks every Saturday night at Pioneer Park. We ended up trying some ridiculously delicious Nutella s’mores crepes and an ok lobster roll. There was live music, picnic tables, toys for the kids to play with, and just a nice relaxed vibe.

Crepe

Since we shared the food amongst the three of us (T was with us), we were still a little hungry when we left so we stopped at Pete’s Fish & Chips nearby. Their food was ok but nothing so great that I’d go out of my way to eat there again.

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