Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Arizona Adventure - Day 1

Luke's grandparents have a house in Arizona where they live in the winter. For years, Luke and I have been saying that we'd love to go visit them. This year we finally decided we were going to do it! (Well, technically, Luke's been there 2 times before, but I never have!)

We both had a couple of days off of work for Martin Luther King Day, so we scheduled our vacation at that time. That way, I only had to take 3 days off from work instead of a whole week.

We stayed in Arizona from last Wednesday until yesterday (Tuesday), and this week I'll be recapping our trip. It was such a wonderful week!

Our day of departure was Wednesday, January 12. I started the day after a mere 3 hours of sleep, when my alarm went off at 3:30 AM. Luke and I somehow got ready and loaded all of our luggage into the car in a half-sleep, half-awake state.

A little after 4 AM, we were in the car headed to Luke's mom's house, because she had volunteered to drive us to the airport. Did I mention there was basically a blizzard going on? Well, there was. And we had to drive all the way to Pittsburgh to make our flight (about an hour-and-a-half away). But we made it safe and sound, thankfully!

I hadn't flown since my mission trip to Belize in 2000, if you can believe that. I was so incredibly nervous about all the logistics of checking in, going through security, and whatnot, since I hadn't flown anytime after 9/11. But it was not nearly as bad as I had expected. When we were in the middle of the never-ending line for the security check, a nice man pulled a few of us aside and took us to a different line that was empty, so we got through security super quickly and with no problems at all! Lucky us!

I was sure our flight would be delayed since it was basically Snowmageddon Part II going on outside. However, by some miracle, our flight was on time! And although we did have to sit in the plane for about an hour on the ground while they de-iced it, we somehow made it to Denver a few minutes earlier than we were supposed to for our connecting flight to Tucson.

At the Denver airport, our bodies were telling us it was lunchtime, but our watches were telling us it was breakfast time. It was a weird feeling, but we settled for McDonalds since everything else was outrageously expensive, and I enjoyed a surprisingly delicious breakfast burrito (I was so hungry at that point, anything would have tasted delicious. I hadn't eaten since dinner the night before).

As we were walking to our gate at the Denver Airport, I could see mountains in the distance, and I had to get a picture. This was just a taste of what I was about to experience in the next 6 days! By the time we boarded the plane to Tucson, I was feeling so antsy and excited I could hardly contain myself. Luckily I had purchased a Sodoku booklet at the Denver Airport, and finished 22 of the puzzles on the 2-hour flight. And that was only until I started feeling a little nauseous, and decided I should quit. For the rest of the flight, I enjoyed the view out the window of this strange new was sunny, the sky was blue, and everything below looked so brown. So different from home. It felt so foreign to me, I might as well have been landing on the moon. Foreign in a good way, though.

We landed in Tucson, headed to the baggage claim, and 2 minutes later had all of our belongings and were ready to begin our week in Arizona! I was absolutely blown away by how smooth the whole flight experiences had been.

We walked outside to wait for Luke's grandparents to pick us up, and I practically squealed with glee at the sight of my first cacti (I keep wanting to say "cactuses"). I had never seen any in their natural environment before, and it was so exciting to me!Luke's grandparents' Avalanche pulled up to the sidewalk, we said our excited hellos with beaming smiles, and hugs were shared all around. We were so excited to see them and finally be there after about 8 hours of flying!

Immediately they whisked us away to Coldstone Creamery. And the massive consumption of food that would continue all week began.
After our ice cream, we drove around a little and I was in awe of everything. The sky was so blue and everything else was brown with a little bit of dark green mixed in. I was surrounded by mountains every direction I looked. I couldn't stop saying, "Wow, look at the sky! There are no clouds!" And I was also giddy about the fact that the temperatures were in the 70s, when we had been in what felt like The Arctic Tundra earlier that morning.

Our first stop on the way home was on "A Mountain." It's called that because it has a giant, painted "A" on it. Go figure. I think it's there for The University of Arizona. we could see great views of Tuscon from A Mountain.
Luke was also (unsuccessfully) looking for Air Force 1, because President Obama came to Tucson just hours after we did for the memorial service for the victims of the shooting. (Also, check out that sky!! See why I was so amazed??)
After A Mountain, we headed for Gates Pass, another pretty lookout place. I loved admiring the giant Saguaros (the big, tall cacti). I learned this week that it takes around 60 or 70 years for the Saguaros to start growing a side arm, so that tells you how old some of them are! Anyway, here are some pictures from Gates Pass
Majestic Saguaros
Here we are at another lookout point
And before we got to his grandparents' house, we stopped to admire the beautiful San Xavier Mission.

We then headed to Luke's grandparents' place in Green Valley. It was so cute! All decked out in Southwestern decor. We had such a cozy little room and bathroom for the week!

Not only that, but we had gifts waiting for us on the bed. Luke got another silly hat (he is building quite the collection!):
And I received this Arizona cookbook that I can't wait to use, and also this adorable photo album that I can't wait to fill!
Oh, and we both got this awesome back-scratcher! Love it!

We got all unpacked and situated after our long day of flying. Then we all settled in to watch the coverage in Tucson of the memorial service for the victims of the shooting. So sad...

Later, we went out to dinner at Wisdom's, where you can find the best Mexican food around! It had such a fun atmosphere, I wish I had taken more pictures. I was barely conscious at this point though, so I wasn't really thinking about taking pictures :-P

I ordered a chimichanga, which was pretty good. But nothing compared to the dessert Luke and I shared:
An apple burro (apple and sweet sauce, wrapped in fried dough, and rolled in cinnamon and sugar) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was to die for.

When we got back to the house, I literally went to bed at 8, Arizona time. I honestly felt like I wasn't going to be able to keep my eyes open during dinner. It was 10:00 Ohio time, so I guess that's not too pathetic :-P


Tomorrow I will be recapping day 2 of our Arizona Adventure: our trip to Kartchner Caverns and Tombstone!


  1. I love reading about your travels and seeing pictures! :) Some of those red rock pics on facebook look familiar. ;) Can't wait for the rest of the recap! Hawaii is great... but man, for me nothing compares to Sedona.

  2. I am enjoying seeing all the photos from this wonderful state! I am so happy you enjoyed your time!


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