The Atlanta Airport can be an absolute nightmare sometimes.
But after the hurry up and wait at the gate, I was finally settled into the window seat with my newly downloaded Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour books on my Kindle.
I sat back to enjoy the views of verdant green forests shift to sand-colored ridges below.
My final destination was the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona.
The room reservation was in a wing that had a balcony overlooking the emerald fringes of the TPC Golf Course, with dusty mountains in the distance forever outlining the sky.
A LAZY DAY IN ARIZONA
OLD TOWN SCOTTSDALE
While we had intended to spend the day hiking one of Scottsdale’s many scenic trails, the weather, however, had a different plan in mind.
Hail in Arizona…that possibility had not been taken into account.
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.
The streets of Old Town Scottsdale are lined with several stores containing loads of silver and turquoise jewelry. After browsing through the majority, we collapsed for a coffee at the nearby Cartel Coffee Lab.
Caffeinated, rested, and shopped out, we decided to go for a barrel-aged cocktail at Citizen Public House, a short walk up the street.
Our dinner that night was set for the Thirsty Lion Gastropub, a casual 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.
HIKING | LOST DOG WASH TRAIL
The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for.Louis L’Amour
The next morning dawned clear and bright with 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.
SCOTTSDALE RESTAURANT SUGGESTIONS
FINAL NIGHT AT THE FAIRMONT
Back on the room’s balcony, I watched groups of people wander to the fire pit and rocking chairs 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 Arizona. The fires that illuminate the cool desert nights.
A DAY IN 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 at Big Iron Shooting Gallery. I am definitely not the best shot, 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.
In Tombstone, 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.
We did see the reenactment of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Virgil was our favorite. The actor had obviously seen the Tombstone movie. 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.
TUCSON | J.W. MARRIOTT STAR PASS RESORT
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.
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.