As an early first anniversary trip, we decided to do a West Coast swing earlier this month, with stops in Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Napa. It wasn’t my first time visiting these cities. In fact, I used to live north of Phoenix (Scottsdale) ten years ago while pursuing my Master’s degree in Mass Communication at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. I’m aging myself…let’s move on.
We headed to Newark Liberty International Airport — and parked. We usually take a car, but decided to just use the long-term lot instead (more on this later). It’s a ways from the airport, but there’s a shuttle bus running every few minutes to pick you up. Very convenient. We were able to purchase first class airfare throughout the trip using the points we weren’t able to use for our honeymoon last year. I was shocked, however, to find out that U.S. Airways (in a partnership with United on this particular flight) did not offer in-flight entertainment for this five hour flight — even in first class. Thankfully, we figured this out ahead of time and rented movies on our iPads for the journey. (As an aside, The Five Year Engagement was a cute movie, but a liiiittle long.) With something to help me kill time, good food and a friendly staff, we actually enjoyed this flight quite a bit before finally reaching the first destination of our trip — Phoenix!
Our bags came out quickly and we hopped the next shuttle bus to the rental car area. There, Avis gave us a free upgrade, a nav and the keys to our car — we were off! That’s when we noticed — it was humid…and raining…and below 100 degrees! Chris has listened to me talk about the dry heat for years. Oh well.
We headed straight to our hotel, The Phoenician, where we had a beautiful room overlooking the pool area. We loved the grounds, the lobby, our room and the staff at the hotel. Also loved this view from our balcony!
Before we left NJ, I had texted my friend (who currently lives in Scottsdale) asking her where we should eat throughout our stay in Phoenix. One of the places she recommended was Olive & Ivy, so I booked a reservation on OpenTable before our plane took off. Not only was this restaurant located in a fun area by Fashion Square, but the food had to be among some of the best I’ve ever eaten. We shared the bruschetta trio of funghi, chorizo and vine-ripened tomatoes, then I had the sweet potato cannelloni while the husband had the natural chicken. TO DIE FOR! It was, in a word, perfect. We split the ice cream bar dessert even though we were stuffed to the gills. It was our first night of vacation, after all.
Our old age started to kick in, as did our lack of adjustment to a three hour time change, so we headed back to our hotel room to find a bottle of champagne from the hotel, wishing us a happy anniversary. So incredibly thoughtful!
We woke up early the next morning (stupid time difference!) and went straight to a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives recommended breakfast joint, Over Easy. We went to the North Scottsdale location, as I wanted to visit my old apartment complex, Vintage at Scottsdale.
It was strange being back. In any event, we both ordered the Chilaquiles at Over Easy — a mixture of tortillas, ranchero sauce, chicken, sour cream and cheese topped with one egg (over easy for me, scrambled for him). Divine.
We headed down to Tempe so I could show Chris around my alma mater. We popped over to Mill Ave for some Sun Devils gear in preparation for the ASU v Illinois football game that night.
We tailgated in the parking lot with some friends before heading inside to watch the Sun Devils absolutely crush Illinois. I forgot how much I loved watching ASU football live (yes, even when we lost).
We also visited Old Town Scottsdale and spent some quality time at the Phoenician pools that day (including their fun water slide). By the time we got back to the hotel after the game, we were BEAT! Next day’s itinerary – the Grand Canyon!