Let's Get Together in Scottsdale, AZ
1985. Doing some quick math tells me that was 33 years ago! Yes, a long time ago. 1985 happens to be the year I graduated from Trinity High School in Shiremanstown, PA. My graduating class was small at 131. Because our class was on the smaller side, I would say our class was close. We normally get a really good turnout at our class reunions which are held every five years. I haven’t made it to all of them, but I’ve made several and also enjoy catching up with old classmates. You may be wandering why I’m wasting your time talking about my glory days in high school over 30 years ago. Well, I wanted to give you a little background on why Betsy and I would take a break from our time working in and exploring Texas to spend a long weekend in Scottsdale, AZ.
I had a close group of very good friends at Trinity who continue to stay in touch after all of these years. Now, I must admit it is much easier to stay in touch, and up to date, with the whereabouts of old friends with the current state of social media today. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram make you almost feel like your experiencing everything in other people’s lives. Yes, even for old people like me and my classmates! Most of us have picked up this social media thing pretty well. One of those friends, Dan, had reason to be in Scottsdale for business in January 2018. So last October Dan began floating the idea of all of us getting together in Scottsdale for a long weekend. Dan was persistent with emails to all of us and spent a great deal of time working on the details for our trip. A couple of people could not make the trip, but we still ended up with a nice gathering of people.
When Betsy and I made our arrangements for the weekend we had just started working at Texas Lakeside RV Resort and our work days were Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Well, as luck would have it, shortly after we booked our flight and hotel for the trip, some circumstances changed at our campground and our work days changed to Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Hmmm, a slight conflict. Fortunately, the owners at Texas Lakeside are understanding and flexible, and assured us they would cover our days away. So on Friday afternoon, Betsy and I headed out for the drive to Austin where we would catch our flight to Phoenix. Even though the drive to Austin is a little more than 2 hours, it is not a difficult drive, even on a Friday afternoon. We were at the airport in plenty of time, only to have our flight depart about an hour later than scheduled. But we were airborne by 8:45 pm and on our way to Phoenix.
With the one hour time difference, we were on the ground in Arizona shortly after 10:00 pm. Till we gathered our bags, navigated the under construction Phoenix Airport, and hailed an Uber, we were safely at our hotel, the Hyatt House Scottsdale/Old Town, shortly after 11:00 pm. We checked into our room and all seemed quiet at the hotel. So Betsy and I unpacked and prepared to rest our somewhat weary eyes. Then my phone dinged. A text, “Where are you?” My answer, “In bed”, was not acceptable to the young lady on the other end, Kathie. I was advised that everyone was waiting up for us in a room by the pool, and they weren’t taking no for an answer. Betsy was already comfy under the blankets, so I headed down on my own to greet the gang. Ok, some of the group had already retired for the night, but most of them were enjoying some beverages and there was hugs for everyone. After catching up for a bit, it was decided we had all had a long day and it was time to rest and be ready for tomorrow.
Betsy and I got a good nights sleep in our comfortable room before heading down for the complimentary breakfast buffet around 9:00 am. When we arrived at the breakfast area, well, the gang was all there. Yes, I’ll bore you with their names. (Just in case any of them read our blog!) Our group included: Dan and his wife, Deanna; Kathie and her husband, Mitch; Kris and her husband, Jan; Angie and her husband, Roy; Joe and his girlfriend, Amy; and the only local to Phoenix in our group, Tommy and his girlfriend, Rachel. So there they are, including Betsy and I, that’s seven classmates and their significant others. We all chatted over a yummy breakfast and made plans for the day. First up after breakfast, a planned hike up a local landmark, Camelback Mountain. Now not everyone opted in for the hike, but eleven of us piled into two cars and headed for the trail. There are two hiking trails that ascend 1,280 feet to the peak of Camelback Mountain. The Echo Canyon Trail is 1.14 miles and the Cholla Trail is 1.4 miles. Both trails are considered strenuous with steep grades. The hiking path has dirt, gravel, boulders, and some handrail-assisted sections. The average hike requires a round trip time of 1.5 to 3 hours. We chose the Cholla Trail and the trailhead is in a very nice residential area. After stopping for the required cases of water we found a street parking space about a mile away and headed for the trail. The lower portion was not too strenuous, a steady grade and decent footing. The higher we got the more our group of eleven began to separate. Some stopping to take in the view and deciding the view was better than continuing hiking higher up the mountain. The trail got more difficult and narrower, which was all the more difficult because of the volume of people. Oh yea, did I mention all of the people. There were literally hundreds of people on the trail. Some running, some walking, some sitting. Finally I suggested to Betsy that we should consider stopping, taking a picture and then starting back down. We could see the largest portion of our group a good distance below us on the trail. We were curious how far we had made it up the mountain so we asked a couple who was walking past us. Turns out the guy was a local and knew the trail pretty well. He told us we were about a third of the way to the top and the last third was considerably harder, which included some scaling of rock faces. Good to hear we had made a correct decision. We soaked in the view, snapped a picture, and began the trek down. After our group was back together, we journeyed back to the cars, satisfied with our walk for the day.
After all of that exercise, locating our next meal was on everyone’s mind. Where to go? It sounds like such an easy question. Oh, but far from easy it was. We’re talking about fourteen adults with a variety of tastes, requests and allergy requirements. (Yes, as most of you know, I have to eat gluten free, which isn’t a huge problem but something I also have to consider when choosing a restaurant.) It was mid-afternoon on a Saturday so you would think our options would be wide open. Somebody in our group mentioned tacos, so we headed out into Old Town Scottsdale in search of some Mexican grub. We found a promising place, but now our other problem reared its ugly head . . . we were a group of fourteen looking to be seated together! We decided against the lengthy wait at the first place and continued our search on foot. We stumbled upon a nice little place, with a table that could seat our fourteen guests, a menu with a good variety for everyone, and, well, yes, they had alcohol. Ok, that’s all most of the group really wanted anyway, so we found a winner. Cowboy Ciao ended up being a tasty option and all ended well. After some tasty food and drink our group split up a little. Some headed back to the hotel, a group of girls headed to the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, and Betsy and I headed for Starbucks! We’ve grown quite found of a good coffee or latte so off to Starbucks we went. (Feel free to share your opinion about how much you love or HATE Starbucks.) We enjoyed sitting, just the two of us, sipping our coffee, and watching the fancy cars parade through the valet parking at the mall. Yes, we are easily entertained! On the way back to the hotel, Betsy and I decided to hop on one of the FREE trolleys that criss-cross the Scottsdale area. We weren’t really too concerned about where it was going. We considered it a little tour of Old Town Scottsdale. It was a short loop, but it did ultimately get us a little closer to the hotel, and did I mention it was FREE. The group’s plan for the evening was to sit around the fire pit at the hotel, share some beverages along with some stories, and enjoy some tasty tacos and pizza. Ok, we are kinda old, so this was fun to us!
Sunday morning had us all gathered back at the hotel breakfast buffet, discussing plans for the day. This morning had us headed towards Topgolf Scottsdale. If you’re like myself, and have never heard of Topgolf, well then you should really look into the closest one to you. My description would be a high-end driving range, with all of the amenities of a restaurant and bar, with the format of a bowling alley. Your group gathers in a “bay”, laid out similar to a bowling alley. Servers bring you drinks and food, all while you alternately hit golf balls. The format allows for all skill levels. There are targets you are trying to hit and the computer keeps track of your score depending on how close your ball lands to the targets. As we all quickly learned the good “golf” shots were not always rewarded with points, and the worst mis-hit could easily reward you with several points. In summary, it was a beautiful Scottsdale day weather-wise, and we got to hang out as a group enjoying food, drink, and a little sport with good friends.
The afternoon found most of us napping or lounging around the pool. Again, a chance to catch up and share what has been going on in everyone’s lives. The good news was our dinner plans were already decided. (Thanks for the recommendation Dan!) We all headed out to Roaring Fork in Scottsdale. It was only a mile or two from the hotel, so we all piled into two golf carts. you see, there are a couple of companies who provide transportation around Scottsdale on fancy six seat golf carts. Ok, we had twelve people (Kris and Jan departed on Sunday to head back to Texas) that had to fit in ten seats! The nice driver took one of the six seats. It’s safe to say that Betsy, Joe and I had more than one good laugh as we squeezed ourselves into the rear-facing seat in one of the carts. I wouldn’t call our ride comfortable, but it beat walking, and was definitely a good time. Dinner at Roaring Fork was excellent. Everyone in our group seemed to enjoy their meal and beverages.
Monday morning came early as most of us had really early flights. Betsy and I were picked up at 4:30 am at the hotel and headed to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. With not much traffic we were there in plenty of time for our 6:45 am flight. Everything was on time and went smoothly. We were back in Austin before noon. Before heading back to Port Lavaca we made a couple of our already favorite stops in Austin. Lunch at Torchy’s Tacos, groceries at Trader Joe’s and whatever people always get at Costco. As always, it was good to be home. We enjoy traveling and visiting, but we really enjoy our life together in Charlie. Until we see each other again my friends, be happy and healthy!